Seven lawyers who started the blawg revolution
Posted Dec 1, 2007 11:48 AM CST
By Molly McDonough, Sarah Randag
See related story: The Blawg 100
Photo by Max Dolberg
• Solo appellate, IP and tech lawyer, Newport Beach, Calif.
Surf the Net to the O.C.-based Bag and Baggage and you may wonder whether you’re seeing a lawyer-mama site or, on another day, a blog devoted to exploring the legal implications of the latest Internet trend. Denise Howell strikes that balance like no other, switching from quick hits about her virtual baby shower to reviewing the latest legal blog in a single afternoon. A true social Net veteran, Grandblogress Howell launched Bag and Baggage in 2001 and is credited with coining the term blawg. Lest she get bored with one blog, however, Howell has branched out with Lawgarithms, which has a more decidedly tech-law focus. And she contributes to Corante’s Between Lawyers. That’s clearly still not enough though, because Howell also finds time to produce podcasts: This Week in Law at Twit.tv and Sound Policy at IT Conversations.
Thomas C. Goldstein.
Photo by Ron Aira
THOMAS C. GOLDSTEIN
• Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, partner, Washington, D.C.
A Supreme Court wunderkind, Tom Goldstein made a name for himself by scouting out splits in the lower courts and pleading with the parties to let him file for cert and argue in the highest court in the land. His tally is now 17 appearances before “The Nine.” In 2001, he began chronicling his boutique practice and appellate advocacy experiences at SCOTUSblog. Posting with his wife—sometimes on the marble steps via BlackBerry—SCOTUSblog became the place for the latest news and developments about the high court. Goldstein elevated the blog in mainstream media circles when he recruited Supreme Court veteran Lyle Denniston. In 2006 Goldstein took it to Akin Gump, where he heads the firm’s Supreme Court practice. With commentary and analysis from a host of blog authors, SCOTUSblog remains fresh and vibrant. Recently, SCOTUSblog launched ScotusWiki, which is updated to track cases, petitions and SC stats.
Photo by Ron Aira
Above the Law, editor-in-chief
Q: Who knew legal gossip could be so salacious?
Onetime federal clerk (and BigLaw associate, and Yale Law grad) David Lat entered the blogosphere with Underneath Their Robes, a gossip blog about, of all things, the federal judiciary. There he posted as “Article III Groupie,” an anonymous lawyer—who claimed to be a woman in private practice in San Francisco. As the site gained notoriety, so grew interest in unmasking A3G. By the time Lat, then a federal prosecutor in Newark, N.J., revealed himself in 2005, it was a New Yorker scoop. The revelation of his alter ego cost him his job, though he left willingly. Lat landed squarely at the enormously popular Wonkette but left a few months later to helm Above the Law, where his exhaustive legal gossip is no longer limited to “superhottie” judges and clerks, and his voice is his own.
Photo by John Nelson
• UCLA School of Law, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law
A child prodigy, Ukrainian-born Eugene Volokh earned his B.S. from UCLA —in math-computer science no less—when he was 15. Given his early entry into higher learning, it’s no surprise this computer programming whiz decided to take on law school, earning his J.D. from UCLA, then landing prominent clerkships for 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. He melded his computer interests with his legal interests on the Web with the launch of his blog. His star has only brightened as his libertarian/conservative-leaning group blog (with authors including Volokh’s brainy brother Sasha) has gained international attention. Living the American dream, Volokh teaches classes on free speech and criminal and copyright law at UCLA, and he keeps an interest in a software company that sells software he wrote.
Richard A. Posner.
Photo by © Reuters/Corbis
RICHARD A. POSNER
• 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago
Posner is the nation’s most prominent judicial blogger. He’s been on the 7th Circuit since 1981, but the work of the court cannot contain his intellectual curiosity. He’s written more than 15 books and countless articles since taking the bench, and in 2004 began blogging. The Becker-Posner Blog—co-written with Nobel laureate economist Gary Becker from the University of Chicago, where Posner was a founder of the law and economics movement—takes on some pretty deep topics like the First Amendment, the future of unions and globalization. And it’s daily proof that judges can blog without violating ethical rules.
Photo by Chris Crisman
• How Appealing • Law Offices of Howard J. Bashman, Willow Grove, Pa. Described by a fellow blogger as the “Energizer Bunny” of legal blogging, appellate lawyer Howard Bashman got into the legal-blogging game relatively early—in 2002—and found himself catapulted to pundit status. But he insisted in a 2003 ABA Journal article that How Appealing is a labor of love: “If I wanted to drum up business, there are better things I could spend my time on. World domination is not the goal.” He’s been an appellate lawyer for 15 years, but was able to go solo in 2004. He writes a monthly column for the Legal Intelligencer; writes On Appeal, a weekly Law.com column; and mans How Appealing seven days a week, often writing a whopping 30 posts per day.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Greenwald.
• Salon Magazine columnist, New York City
Glenn Greenwald cut his teeth on BigLaw litigation, then with a small firm pursued con-law cases, especially those championing the First Amendment. He represented white supremacist Matt Hale in a trademark dispute over the name World Church of the Creator. Greenwald hit the blogosphere by storm in 2005, picking apart the leak investigation of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. But he earned his Net stripes with constitutional analysis of the National Security Agency surveillance controversy and other Bush administration strategies and legal policies. In 2006 he published How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok and in 2007 came out with A Tragic Legacy: How a Good v. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency. And Greenwald’s done what so many bloggers and unhappy lawyers dream about—he made the leap from full-time law practice to full-time blogging.
CLARIFICATION: Some readers of the "ABA Journal Blawg 100," December, 2007, page 30, incorrectly inferred that David Lat, author of Above the Law, was fired or asked to resign from the New Jersey U.S. Attorney's Office because of his blogging. As the story said, "he left willingly."