The 5th Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100
Posted Dec 1, 2011 6:20 AM CDT
By Molly McDonough, Sarah Randag and Lee Rawles
On our 5th birthday, you’ll see some familiar faces at the party: bloggers who’ve been on our list in years past.
But 2011 also brought along a lot of newcomers, and we’re delighted that so many RSVP’d our invitation to nominate their favorites. We received more than 1,300 Blawg Amici this year, and that made for a hard time narrowing the field to 100 law blogs in 12 categories.
As usual, we couldn’t help mixing things up a bit. In print, you’ll find the blogs in alphabetical order, color-coded by category. And as always, you can vote for your favorites online through Dec. 30 at ABAJournal.com/blawg100.
After you vote, you’re also welcome to browse our Blawg Directory, now featuring some 3,500 law blogs in dozens of categories and author types. And only a handful of blogs aren’t on Twitter these days, so follow this year’s picks on our Twitter List, as they post at 140 characters a clip.
But most of all, put your hands together for this year’s ABA Journal Blawg 100.
A witty, irreverent examination of products liability law, Abnormal Use posts every weekday, with Friday Links being a popular feature. Sarah Walling of Jenkins Fenstermaker in Huntington, W.Va., adds, “The Abnormal Interview series and the film and television reviews provide insight into the legal profession from pop culture icons and law professors alike.”
Above and Beyond KM
Blogger V. Mary Abraham is a lawyer focused on knowledge management at Debevoise & Plimpton’s New York City office. Most posts focus not on incremental news developments in her discipline, but rather its “nontech challenges” and big-picture concerns: strategy, productivity, and encouraging strong-willed attorneys to share information systematically.
Above the Law
Breaking Media’s Above the Law is developing into a legal publishing empire, with streams on BigLaw, small firms, in-house, law schools and legal technology. Blogger Ken Adams of Koncision Contract Automation in Garden City, N.Y., says he’s “way older than the target demographic,” but nevertheless he finds “Elie Mystal to be the most engaging writer in the legal blogosphere.” Adams says Mystal is “combative, entertaining” and refreshingly self-deprecating. We agree.
Adam Smith, Esq.
If the eponymous Adam Smith had been a stakeholder at a law firm in the 21st century, he would surely be reading Bruce MacEwen’s take on the economics of law firm management. Ron Friedmann, Arlington, Va.-based author of past Blawg 100 honoree Strategic Legal Technology, describes it as a “must-read,” with “penetrating economic and business analysis of the global law firms, especially the Am Law 200.”
Canton, Mass., solo Martha Sperry’s posts keep a tight focus on the latest updates in gadgets (she’s an iPad user), apps and social networks. Her posts point out the best apps to use (and simple tips on how to use them) to conduct research, organize documents and live your life—all while protecting your privacy.
In nearly eight years of blogging, Ann Althouse doesn’t miss a chance to offer her conservative take on the latest political dustup. Or become part of a dustup, as she did this year in a well-publicized (and videotaped) altercation with a pro-labor demonstrator in Madison, Wis., where she lives. Readers less interested in her commentary on pop culture or politics can “make Althouse an all-law blog” in her main nav bar.
The Am Law Daily
To get a quick take on the goings-on at large law firms in the U.S. and increasingly abroad, this is a go-to American Lawyer magazine blog. It offers quick, insightful takes on firms working the big deals, the career paths of rainmakers, the churn of partners jumping from one firm to another, legal industry growth areas and weak spots putting practices (and sometimes firms) at risk.
The Appellate Record
Houston appellate lawyer Kendall Gray doesn’t persuade juries about facts; he persuades judges about the law. And that’s greatly a written exercise. Gray’s breezy posts focus largely on grammar, writing, editing and even typography. There are also occasional asides about the members of the Supreme Court of Texas and the antics of trial lawyers.
This new blog by Ford & Harrison’s Dinita James—a onetime newspaper reporter—inspired Tony Kessler of employment law publishing house M. Lee Smith Publishers to fire up this brief: “Who would have ever thought that a blawg about medical marijuana in the workplace would take off and reach such dizzying heights? The blawg is indeed creating quite a buzz among Arizona employers and employment law attorneys. Each new installment creates a stash of valuable information that readers can put in their pipe and smoke.”
A mixture of Zen Buddhism and law practice management, Keith Lee’s blog posits that an experienced lawyer’s mind is fixed, while a young associate’s mind is open to more possibilities. Fellow associate Peter Smith of the Apex Law Group in Seattle says, “That theme, viewing challenges of legal practice from a beginner’s mind, has helped me grow in my own practice—it reminds me to approach problems with the vigor of a beginner.”
At the Intersection
Pam Woldow of Philadelphia, general counsel of global legal consulting firm Edge International, taps her background as a BigLaw litigator as she explores topics of legal project management in transactional practices.
Blog Law Blog
“Professor Eric Johnson draws on his media law background to monitor and comment on the emerging law of blogs. This is a blog on the rise,” says fellow Blawg 100 nominee Eric Goldman, author of Technology & Marketing Law Blog.
The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times
Inside the Beltway, the National Law Journal’s BLT has the practice and politics of law covered. We’re particular fans of the blog’s gavel-to-gavel coverage of the high court (and its players) as lead writer Tony Mauro cuts through jargon, and wades through dense opinions and briefs to deliver easy-to-read posts featuring momentous cases and, on occasion, offering unique perspectives about the lesser-known side of SCOTUS.
Bow Tie Law
We value Joshua Gilliland’s Bow Tie Law blog—an exhaustive look at e-discovery issues—for being on the cutting edge of evidentiary news, and for explaining the nuts and bolts in a clear and concise manner. This attorney from Santa Clara, Calif., is also quite the snazzy dresser.
Vivia Chen is the chief blogger at Careerist and a senior reporter for American Lawyer. A major source of news tips for us, the blog discusses the industry’s employment outlook, hiring trends and career advice.
CEB Blog: Your Partner in Practice
Offering valuable tips for practitioners on legal writing, litigation strategies and a broad range of legal topics, this continuing education blog, affiliated with the State Bar of California and the University of California, is both informative and on point. “I learn something new every time I read it,” writes solo Mary Rupp of Oakland. “It is well-written and always topical, with useful citations and a fresh look at the legal aspects of current events.”
China Law Blog
Day in and day out, Dan Harris (blogging from Seattle) and Steve Dickinson (corresponding from Qingdao) educate readers about what it takes to successfully do business in China, with personal observations and professional analysis of China’s regulatory system, the evolution of Chinese law and the latest legal news.
Connecticut Employment Law Blog
Thoughtful posts and insightful analysis that touch on subjects well beyond Connecticut are signatures of blogger Daniel Schwartz of Hartford. University of Connecticut professor Nancy A. Brouillet notes, “This well-written, timely blog provides an objective description of cases and decisions of concern to employment attorneys, employers and unions. It has become such an outstanding resource that most attorneys check it daily.”
Constitutional Daily is a young blog but an influential one. Its news summaries and columns are the product of a bitterly funny, mostly anonymous cadre of authors. The Namby Pamby, whose blog also makes our top 100, partners with editor-in-chief BL1Y to produce the podcast Blind Drunk Justice.
“Terrence Hart’s Copyhype has rapidly established itself as one of the best copyright blogs on the Web,” writes Ben Sheffner, author of the Copyrights & Campaigns blog, which is on hiatus. The site’s clean and spare design echoes the fine print of a contract, and this is fine print you’d actually enjoy reading. Its column Friday’s Endnotes links and summarizes the week’s most relevant copyright news.
Broc Romanek’s posts—which appear every weekday, usually before you’ve had your coffee—provide exhaustive coverage of corporate governance topics, the Security and Exchange Commission’s latest moves, and reactions of both companies and shareholders.
Billed as “a fashion and lifestyle blog for overachieving chicks,” Corporette features fashion tips, etiquette lessons, guest authors and sweet bargains. Are thank-you notes on personalized stationery a thing of the past? Can women of color wear their hair naturally in a corporate environment? These questions and more are hotly debated.
Crime & Consequences
This frequently updated and bluntly written blog focuses on sentencing decisions in violent crime cases. Other posts touch on the Department of Justice’s approaches to terrorism and the negative impacts of slashed court budgets on crime victims seeking justice.
The Criminal Lawyer
New York City solo Nathaniel Burney writes analytical and philosophical posts about criminal justice writ large: misconceptions about the rate of violent crime, how to fix the jury system, “overcriminalization” and the high rate of incarceration in the U.S. Though one popular post discussed why someone should or shouldn’t go to law school.
Prosecutor Mark Pryor (who just switched to the juvenile division) writes witty posts about his satisfying and touché moments in the courtroom and personal impressions he has as an assistant district attorney in Austin, Texas. Recent posts include installments from an unpublished true-crime book he researched and wrote.
The D&O Diary
This blog reports and analyzes what happens after shareholder lawsuits strike a corporation’s directors and officers, and courts rule on the extent of insurance carrier liability. But look out for Beachwood, Ohio, lawyer Kevin M. LaCroix’s off-topic posts as well—they’re very entertaining.
Mark Bennett frequently takes aim at the court system in Texas, where “ludicrous is pretty much par for the course,” and presents sensible solutions. The Houston lawyer also is attentive to ethics codes in Texas and elsewhere and calls out lawyers and vendors whose practices are out of bounds.
Delaware Corporate & Commercial Litigation Blog
UCLA law professor and blogger Stephen Bainbridge writes: “Delaware is the most important state in corporate law, and [Eckert Seamans partner Francis G.X.] Pileggi offers more comprehensive coverage of Delaware developments than anyone. Well-written. Scholarly but practical.”
Delaware Employment Law Blog
Molly DiBianca has largely taken the helm at this Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor blog, which features timely, useful posts covering the rapidly changing social media landscape (including the publication of a sample social media policy) and other significant or under-the-radar developments in employment law.
Drug and Device Law
“Although on the surface this appears to be a very specialized blog, it continues to offer some of the best analysis of civil procedure (e.g., “TwIqbal” pleading, preemption), tort (e.g., general defenses in products liability) and evidence (e.g., Daubert) available anywhere,” writes Ted McClure, a law librarian from the Phoenix School of Law. “Unabashedly biased in favor of civil defense, it is accurate, astute, cited by courts, and fun to read.”
Election Law Blog
Within this blog, Rick Hasen has amassed and maintains a valuable resource, one that we expect will get much use in the coming months as 2012 campaigns reach full speed. “This law blog allows me to keep current on a wide range of election-related issues at no cost to the state of North Carolina,” says Susan Nichols of North Carolina’s Department of Justice. “I routinely recommend the blog to others who litigate elections cases, draft legislation or are just interested in the political process.”
The Employer Handbook
Attractive, well-written, funny and often laced with entertaining pop culture references and quirky illustrations, the Employer Hand book is a new favorite. Debra Schafer of Education Navigation in Malvern, Pa., adds that Eric Meyer’s blog is “smart, sassy, current” and features “diverse topics.” She notes it’s an “excellent resource for anyone in human resources and the legal profession.”
Employment & Labor Insider
Written primarily with a client audience in mind, this blog by Constangy, Brooks & Smith partner Robin Shea is devoid of legalese and chock-full of practical advice that other employment lawyers find valuable. Clearwater, Fla., lawyer Sean Moyles writes that it’s his favorite, noting that the blog is “timely, exceptionally well-written and always entertaining.”
Equine Law Blog
This blog by Alison Rowe of the law firm of Kelly Hart & Hallman in Fort Worth, Texas, is “informative and up to date in a relatively undeveloped area of law,” says Holden Hoggatt of Jennings, La. He says posts aid practitioners, himself included, who are focused on the practice of equine law.
The Federal Criminal Appeals Blog
Washington, D.C., solo practitioner Matt Kaiser “has set out to do something valuable and unique: read and write about every federal appellate case in which a criminal defendant wins,” Zuckerman Spaeder associate Doug Miller wrote us. “It’s a surprisingly manageable read: Such cases happen about once every other day, and you learn the cutting edge of federal criminal law from someone who is actively practicing in the field. Kaiser has been both a federal public defender and a private practice defense attorney, so he understands this stuff from a ‘trenches’ perspective.”
For those confronted with regular questions about the developments in and applications of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Chicagoan Jeff Nowak’s blog is one to bookmark. Tuscaloosa, Ala., lawyer Bruce H. Henderson recounts that in April, when large swaths of his state were devastated by a string of tornadoes, he posed several leave-related questions to FMLA Insights. The response was a post addressing many of his disaster-related issues.
Food and Agriculture Law Blog
Straddling the divide between the legal and agricultural worlds is Cari Rincker, who Farm and Dairy editor Susan Crowell says “offers great insight into today’s issues and challenges from both perspectives.”
From the Sidebar
Cozen O’Connor partner Hayes Hunt and a formidable in-firm backbench give concrete criminal defense trial practice advice, share personal anecdotes from the courtroom and offer commentary on criminal cases in the news.
Are you an Android power user? Then this St. Petersburg, Fla., solo’s blog is for you. Rick Georges puts up one or two brief but substantive posts a day, alternating between content related to Droid apps and other software, and op-eds on law practice issues.
When celebrities battle studios over publicity rights or take their employment disputes to court, the Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq., has the scoop. Tightly written—and, yes, entertaining—the blog also chronicles intellectual property rights assertions and the comings and goings of lawyers working in and around the entertainment industry. As one Hollywood insider tells us, it’s “by far, the best site for entertainment legal matters.”
No trial practice advice here, but Willow Grove, Pa., appellate lawyer Howard Bashman digests the most relevant and interesting opinions, headlines, blog posts and press releases of interest to litigators for up to 16 hours a day every weekday. We defy you to open the home page and not feel compelled to click on a link.
Inside the Law School Scam
Once known only as LawProf, Paul Campos finally outted himself as a tenured University of Colorado professor holding strong, against-the-academy opinions on the cost and quality of legal education. Constitution Daily’s BL1Y is a fan: “The writing is intelligent and focused enough that I feel bad even calling him a scamblogger. It’s a very new site, but I think he shows a tremendous potential, not just in the value of his writing but to the legal community as a whole.”
Evan Brown is a prolific Twitterer, and his blog posts of breaking Internet law news have informed our own coverage of news events. His summaries of cases nationwide offer a window into this emerging field.
New Orleans lawyer Jeff Richardson learned how to program on an Apple II in sixth grade and became a Mac fan for life. Richardson stays up-to-the-minute on the most recent operating system updates and counts the ways readers will love them; he also notes the latest apps relevant to lawyers, and these posts—complete with screen shots—walk readers through how to use them.
Top dog in 2010’s IP category, Gene Quinn’s IPWatchdog “provides a nice summary of recent patent-related decisions, along with original content and analysis,” says Robert Wagner of Pittsburgh’s Picadio Sneath Miller & Norton.
Jackson on Consumer Class Actions & Mass Torts
J. Russell Jackson returns for his second year as a Blawg 100 honoree. Writing from a defense attorney’s point of view, the partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York City examines recent court decisions and the latest class action news nationwide with irreverent but substantive posts.
Maybe it’s our journalism bias, but we like when D.C.-based constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley opines on the news of the day and isn’t always satisfied with the version recounted in media reports. In February, he went straight to the source to tease out the sequence of events that cost an Indiana deputy attorney general his job. Of course, we also get a kick out of the occasional random, off-topic posts, especially the penguin videos he shared after his son Ben pointed them out.
The Jury Room
“I look at a lot of material for my classes and for my students,” University of Texas law prof Tracy McCormack wrote us about this litigation consultant-authored blog that covers research findings and current events that inform jurors’ decision-making. She says she “would have killed for this level of reliable, sophisticated insight” back when she was a trial lawyer.
Those who wrote us in support of this blog consider solo Jamison Koehler to be the (refreshing) voice of humility in the criminal law blogosphere as well as an excellent writer. Some posts highlight problems he encounters in the D.C. criminal justice system; others are relatively personal slice-of-life vignettes from his work as a defense lawyer.
Law and the Multiverse
“Law and the Multiverse is a great blog dedicated to legal realities and the fiction of comic books (and related geekdom),” writes Joseph McClusky of Massey, McClusky & Swanson in Memphis, Tenn. “The analyses are always well-presented, well-reasoned and well-researched. What’s more, it is so successful in bridging my hobbies and my work that I enjoy it as much on the weekend as I do during the week.”
For most of the year, former BigLaw litigator Nathan Koppel held the reins at this Wall Street Journal blog. He grabbed hold of breaking legal news and reactions to significant legal developments while staying on top of the business of law firms (from layoffs to big hires) and covering the cases and court decisions affecting the business community. He heads to Texas for the WSJ, and we hope his successor picks up where Koppel left off.
Law Law Land
While its amici were divided over whether its jokes are witty or awful, we come down on the side of “awesomely bad.” Run by LA’s Greenberg Glusker, it’s consistently one of the most entertaining entertainment law blogs out there. Full of pop-culture references, its posts are lighthearted but informative.
Ottawa, Ontario, lawyer Jordan Furlong is a management consultant, speaker and ex-journalist whose writing is clear and forceful. He addresses cutting-edge topics in law practice management, with a look to the future of the industry.
“Lawyerist is one of the best practitioner-driven blogs that I’ve come across, and they cover practice management topics from an unusually practical, war story perspective,” writes David Whelan of the Law Society of Upper Canada. The topics of legal marketing, technology, news and career advice abound, written by various authors; and new posts go up several times a day.
Legal As She Is Spoke
New York Law School students from the Program in Law and Journalism rip cases from the headlines, break them down and assess their merits (and the media’s accuracy in reporting the case). Though its name pays homage to English As She Is Spoke, a laughable, incoherent 19th century Portuguese guide to the English language, these bloggers have shown they know of what they write.
Environmental and law professors from University of California campuses in Berkeley, Los Angeles and Davis have the planet (and the EPA) covered with timely, thoughtful posts noting and analyzing developments in the ever complex and increasingly front-page arena of environmental law—from climate change and air quality to conservation and even discussion of environmental law in religious and children’s literature.
Legal Practice Pro
Consumer bankruptcy lawyer Jay Fleischman is also a legal marketing consultant who writes on the business of law. Written primarily for solos and small firms, his posts discuss client billing, law practice management, professional development, legal technology, virtual law firms and, of course, marketing and social media.
Legal Profession Blog
We rely on this blog for the best cautionary tales of lawyers who’ve run afoul of bar discipline authorities. Step out of line in a major way and these law professors will be posting your travails to the world. There is other more erudite content as well, but we’re in it for the schadenfreude.
Sharp-tongued and sometimes as crude as the free expression Marc Randazza and his Satyriconistas champion and critique, this blog isn’t for the faint of heart. But it’s a must-read for raw commentary on the latest in media and blogging law. We also respect that one of the recently added Satyriconistas regularly consults her Magic 8 Ball for guidance.
Trial consultant Ken Broda-Bahm uses research to describe the struggles sitting jurors have with their duties and how lawyers can address them. Jackson, Miss., litigator Jeffery P. Reynolds says the blog “has valuable information about how to approach voir dire in general and with respect to many different types of lawsuits. I often rely on this information in preparing my voir dire outline and with regard to developing my trial themes.”
Lowering the Bar
“Kevin Underhill has a knack for finding the most absurd lawsuits and law-related events and then describing them with amazing wit,” writes Jeff Richardson of iPhone J.D., also in this year’s Blawg 100. “Every visit to Lowering the Bar is guaranteed to bring a smile to my face.”
You may never look at a produce aisle the same way again once you’ve read Seattle lawyer Bill Marler’s exhaustive coverage of food safety violations. Marler tracks food poisoning cases with a single-minded fervor, offering a valuable resource to trial attorneys, food producers and anyone sitting down to dinner.
Carolyn Elefant is the “queen of solos,” says blogger Nicole Black, a Rochester, N.Y., lawyer who co-authored Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier with Elefant. “She’s a true thought leader,” Black says. Elefant of Washington, D.C., was featured as a 2010 Legal Rebel, in part for the time she devotes on her blog to mentoring other solos.
The Namby Pamby
“Namby blawgs/tweets, and hilarity ensues,” says University of Arkansas law student Erica Durr. “I appreciate his candor, pithiness and ability to make the practice of law seem like a fun (albeit tumultuous) roller-coaster ride.”
New York Personal Injury Law Blog
Eric Turkewitz consistently makes our Blawg 100 list for his original content, breaking news and prominent role in the law blogging community. A committed runner, Turkewitz has been working his own experiences with injuries into broader looks at injury and accident law.
Not Guilty No Way
As Associate’s Mind blogger Keith Lee puts it, Takoma Park, Md., solo Mirriam Seddiq “has no filter. Sure, that might mean her blog might occasionally be NSFW for language, but it’s worth it to read her honest and frank opinions of criminal law and running a small law practice. She might not be the most frequent updater of her blawg, but I read every time she makes an update.”
The Not-So Private Parts
As our personal information goes electronic, is stored and shared, Forbes writer Kashmir Hill keeps watch, homing in on abuses, controversy over social media policies and developments in the fast-evolving realm of “privacy law.” Regular readers will find themselves locking down privacy controls and learning how to secure personal networks.
Ohio Employer’s Law Blog
Even readers outside of Ohio will benefit from Clevelander Jon Hyman’s consistent employer-side posts and reading list roundups. Chicago-area lawyer and fan Tim Eavenson writes, “I made a joke once that my career motto was ‘Do whatever Jon Hyman does.’ When it comes to blogging, that’s not far off. Jon posts breaking news ... before I’ve even gotten my coffee. Even when there’s 50 posts on a topic by noon, Jon’s take will be unique. Style-wise, Jon’s writing is exactly what employers are looking for: professional and personable. He writes plainly and has fun, but never lets it get in the way of the point. Anybody who pays somebody else should be reading Jon’s blog.”
Written predominantly by Walter Olson, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America, Overlawyered makes his case against a litigious society. Advice Goddess columnist Amy Alkon agrees, writing, “Walter Olson does a terrific job of chronicling the negative results of too much law.”
“This is my most important resource for keeping current on intellectual property,” writes Robert P. Cogan of Continuum Law in San Diego. “It provides news of the legal community, decisions, developing legal trends, pending legislation and agency announcements that affect my day-to-day practice. ... The comment section is very important. I can get the benefit of detailed discussions of new devel opments with many attorneys in the intellectual property community without having to leave my office.”
Passionate, cleverly written and sometimes painfully funny, Pink Tape is often a meld of the personal and professional life of opinionated Bristol family law barrister Lucy Reed, who this year published a pro se guide called Family Courts Without a Lawyer. The book is her response to cutbacks in legal aid in the U.K., also a frequent topic of blog posts.
The irreverent yet poignant Popehat blogger Ken has, as Criminal Lawyer blogger Nathaniel Burney writes, “a distinct voice that stands out from the crowd in the blawgosphere.” Burney also notes that Ken’s posts are “structured well, with an eye for flow and tone that many would do well to emulate.”
Day in and day out, law professors post conversational entries that are ahead of the curve. Posts take note of interesting law review articles, describe dilemmas that law professors encounter in the course of their jobs, and make intelligent and timely observations on other subjects of interest to them.
The Prime-Time Crime Review
Ripped from the headlines, but with a twist! Law & Order: SVU is in its 13th season and Allison Leotta, novelist and former federal sex-crimes prosecutor, is fact-checking their work. Leotta analyzes each episode, then discusses what they got right and wrong. She’ll also comment on high-profile crimes of the day and crime novels.
Stephen Bainbridge’s posts discuss corporate governance in the context of his role as a UCLA professor, and his posts are informative and readable even for those who are perhaps only students of corporate law. He is a champion of the private sector and wary of the public one, and this viewpoint often shines through. A couple of times a week, the professor gives letter grades to bottles of wine he consumes.
The Race to the Bottom
Law student contributors summarize recent securities opinions while Uni ver-sity of Denver law professor J. Robert Brown writes posts with more analysis about shareholder actions, corporate governance and self-regulatory organizations. Brown will also sometimes detour with a post about law schools or legal scholarship.
Real Lawyers Have Blogs
Kevin O’Keefe, the Seattle-based CEO of LexBlog, “isn’t afraid to speak his mind as he challenges the legal community to use social media effectively,” Technola blogger Kate Bladow wrote us. And O’Keefe, not to put too fine a point on it, thinks a lawyer needs a blog to be taken seriously on the Internet. But we regret that the lion’s share of the blog’s posts are increasingly devoted to promoting blogs in the LexBlog network.
UCLA law prof Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy summed up why to follow Religion Clause: “It’s the leading news source on cases and controversies dealing with law and religion, both in the United States and abroad.”
Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog
While his blog is new (turning 1 this month), D.C. lawyer Richard Zorza is an access-to-justice veteran, which Allison McDermott of Pro Bono Net says makes his blog a “must-read.” She writes that Zorza’s “breadth of knowledge and contacts comes across in each post, and he is not shy about strongly recommending changes to the status quo, while always keeping his eye (and voice) on those who cannot afford justice in our country.”
Ride the Lightning
Sharon Nelson of Sensei Enterprises in Fairfax, Va., does an “excellent job of covering electronic evidence cases and giving superb tips and forecasts; writing clearly and well with wit, charm and acknowledgment that her subject does not exist in its own vacuum; and reminding lawyers of professional responsibilities and professionalism concepts,” wrote Judge Clifford R. Weckstein of Roanoke City Circuit Court.
Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites
LawSites—which tracks new websites and blogs of interest to lawyers—has been online for more than nine years. And its author, Rockport, Mass., lawyer Robert Ambrogi, is definitely a source of institutional memory when it comes to the legal profession’s presence on the Web. If lawyers or law students have launched something new online, Ambrogi is bound to have blogged about it already and contrasted it with predecessors you weren’t even aware of.
If it’s before the U.S. Supreme Court or headed that way, SCOTUSblog—now sponsored by Bloomberg Law and sporting a new look and community-focused feel—most likely reported it first or most. As Appellate Daily blog author Michelle Olsen says, “SCOTUSblog has it all—briefs, argument schedules, analysis and news round-ups.” And we heartily second Olsen, who enjoys “Lyle Denniston’s in-depth, intelligent coverage.”
Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home
As Winston Salem, N.C., lawyer Robin Shea points out, blogger Donna Ballman of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., represents plaintiffs in employment law while Shea represents the defendants. “That said (or perhaps because of that), I love her readable blog with the employee’s perspective. We don’t always agree, but her blog is well-written, reasonable and contains great information. (And how can anyone not love that title?)”
Sentencing Law and Policy
Ohio State law professor Douglas Berman notes congressional hearings, scholarship and general trends related to sentencing, and sometimes han dicaps the sentences that can be anticipated by those convicted in high-profile criminal cases. Unlike most criminal law bloggers, he writes with a fairly objective tone.
As far as developments in the news on criminal justice or trending topics in the legal blogosphere, nothing slips under New York City solo Scott Greenfield’s radar. And his dedication and straight shooting have paid off in influence and readership. At press time, even his refrigerator had nearly 500 followers on Twitter.
“Slaw is to law what Slate is to popular culture,” law blogger Robert Ambrogi writes. “It is an online magazine with a diverse array of writers and perspectives covering a wide array of legal topics. It is always interesting, always smart and always insightful. It represents the best of what a legal blog—strike that—any blog can aspire to be.”
Small Firm Innovation
Written by a slew of prominent bloggers, Small Firm Innovation is a resource for small firms and solos, with advice and anecdotes covering everything from legal marketing to technology. Months have posting themes; August was devoted to “Dead2Me,” where columnists shared the concepts, tools and technologies that they no longer use in their practices.
Kelly Phillips Erb has a passion for tax law that is infectious, but more importantly she has the ability to explain that which so many fear. We’re not the only ones who think so. Earlier this year, the witty, engaging Philadelphia lawyer was invited to move her blog to Forbes.com, where she continues to uncover email tax scams, analyze pending tax legislation and examine every inch of the IRS she can access.
Staying on top of developments in tax law without being bored silly is the main reason to keep the blog of the University of Cincinnati’s Paul Caron on your reading list. But Caron’s reach goes well beyond tax, as illustrated by a plea he posted about a colleague’s 13-year-old daughter in need of a kidney and a touching follow-up when an anonymous law student stepped up to donate.
Technology & Marketing Law Blog
Santa Clara University law prof Eric Goldman and Seattle lawyer Venkat Balasubramani primarily summarize and analyze court decisions concerning Internet, privacy, copyright and trademark law. Goldman also regularly posts themed “quick links” news roundups and links to Internet law scholarship.
Tempe Criminal Defense
Matt Brown is a Gen-Y lawyer in Arizona who takes his job seriously, and this blog is a collection of the wisdom he’s gained in his (so far) short career. Brown is reflective in most posts, describing his experiences in practice—or those of his clients or other defendants he sees in court—and trying to make sense of them.
That’s What She Said
The lawyers at Ford & Harrison take a closer look at the employees of Dunder Mifflin on NBC’s The Office—more specifically, at the egregious violations of labor and employment law featured in every episode.
3 Geeks and a Law Blog
“It is a vital resource of ‘law geek’-related news, and I rely on it,” Jan Rivers, competitive intelligence liaison at Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis, wrote us. Last fall, the geeks started their Thursday Elephant Posts, which pose a question (What will your firm stop buying in five years?) and post answers from librarians, marketers and other legal practitioners.
Truth on the Market
This blog’s “academic commentary” on economics, antitrust law and corporate governance is never stuffy. These profs make astute observations and find concrete examples to make their points—and very often, they think the point is that there should be less government regulation all around.
The Velvet Hammer
Karen Koehler, a plaintiffs PI attorney in Seattle, offers her lawyer-readers trial tips, sometimes even posting transcripts from her trials to give readers the whole story. Koehler posts on her small defeats and frustrations as well, but emphasizes the importance, as a trial lawyer, of taking everything in stride.
Virtual Law Practice
Solo practitioner Stephanie Kimbro has operated a virtual law firm out of Wilmington, N.C., for five years. She uses her experience to write about the ethics, technology and practical aspects involved in virtual lawyering. Her Twitter stream is a great place to look for any stories written about virtual law practice.
The Volokh Conspiracy
The 19 or so (all male) contributors to the Volokh Conspiracy present and debate constitutional law and headlines that grab them at the moment. While commentary generally flows libertarian and conservative, no opinion is likely to go unchallenged by other contributors or their active reader base.
Wills Trusts & Estates Prof Blog
Prolific and timely, the blog of Texas Tech University’s Gerry Beyer is a favorite of D.C. lawyer H. Carter Hood, who notes that it’s the only professionally relevant blog that he looks forward to reading. Houston lawyer Mary Galligan agrees, noting that “with so many things changing in the area of estate planning and probate, this blog is a fun way to stay up to date.”
John Wallbillich, founder of Lexvista LLC in Birmingham, Mich., and a former energy company general counsel, publishes our only blog nominee focusing exclusively on in-house counsel. Written with an eye to the future of legal billing, BigLaw trends and legal technology, Wired GC is thoughtful, thorough and a great look at what the corporate law hivemind is thinking.
A reader favorite, Dallas lawyer Michael P. Maslanka consistently produces thoughtful, insightful pieces breaking down recent cases and discussing employment law issues in the news for a blog hosted by Texas Lawyer.
Wonder what's happened to past Blawg 100 honorees? Read our article We Honor the Fallen: Past Blawg 100 Entries Which Have Departed.
Where Is the Love?
We at the ABA Journal don’t have a stake in who wins the online voting segment of the Blawg 100, though we can’t help but feel that our decision to pick a given blog is validated somewhat if it gets a lot of votes from readers.
Here we’d like to note a handful of law blogs—some of which have been on this list all five years—that are loved by ABAJournal.com bloggers and editors but didn’t get many votes from readers last year. We realize it may be because the authors of these don’t tout their Blawg 100 status on their sites. Still, we want to give a shoutout to them now:
Adam Smith, Esq. by New York City law firm consultant Bruce MacEwen.
The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times by Legal Times reporters and editors.
Hollywood, Esq. by Hollywood Reporter staffers.
How Appealing by Willow Grove, Pa., solo Howard Bashman.
Legal Profession Blog by Georgetown University Law Center ethics counsel Mike Frisch.
Prawfsblawg by a large roster of regulars and a steady stream of guests (all law profs).
Truth on the Market, founded by University of Illinois law prof Larry Ribstein.
In our December cover feature “The Blawg 100,” the URL for the law blog Litigation Postscript should have included the prefix “www.” The correct URL is www.litigationps.com.
The ABA Journal regrets the error.