Third Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100
Posted Dec 1, 2009 11:50 PM CST
By Molly McDonough, Sarah Randag
Welcome to the third annual ABA Journal Blawg 100—the best legal blogs as selected by the Journal’s editors. This year we did something even more blog-like. We asked our readers to help us find blawgs worthy of note.
We called it our Blawg Amici and we asked law blog readers to make the case for their favorite law blog, keeping their friend-of-the-blawg briefs to 500 characters or less. We were pleased with the contributions, many of which you’ll see scattered throughout this year’s list.
Our readers even clued us in to a few law blogs we’d never seen before. You’ll find them among the 40 blawgs completely new to our list this year. Those that didn’t make the top 100 are now cataloged in our online Blawg Directory alongside more than 2,500 other law blogs.
And this being the year of Twitter, we’ve also included for the first time Twitter handles for those who have them. According to an October report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, an impressive 19 percent of Internet users now utilize a form of status update like Twitter. More than 70 of our top blawggers use Twitter.
Again this year, you can go vote for your favorite in each of our 10 categories. We’ll be counting votes Dec. 1-31. The winners will be announced in the February edition of the Journal.
These are our A-list blogs, our go-to sites when we’re hungry for legal news to share. More and more these blogs aren’t simply summarizing articles of interest but finding and breaking news.
Above the Law Routinely credited by the mainstream media for breaking news of law firm layoffs and salary freezes, this self-proclaimed legal tabloid is a must-read for those who want to know the latest industry gossip. Editor Elie Ying Mystal is now ATL’s mainstay contributor, aided by anonymous tipsters and forwarded e-mails. In response to industry woes, the blog added a “Notes from the Breadline” column this year.
Quick Take: Just because Mystal’s name is on more posts, don’t count out David Lat, who breaks in from time to time with particularly juicy tidbits.
The Am Law Daily Here American Lawyer reporters write about the big law firms, their deals, their lawyers and their foibles in this daily news roundup. If you are interested in American Lawyer’s big annual features on the nation’s highest-grossing law firms, associate satisfaction and pro bono, look for the summaries here.
Quick Take: This is the blog (and Twitter feed) to follow if you want to get a first glance at Am Law’s big lists.
Bench Memos Should Ed Whelan have outed “Publius”? Some readers definitely don’t think he should have identified an anonymous blogger, but such controversy is part of what makes this National Review Online group blog so compelling.
Quick Take: Whelan clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia and now is president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
The BLT The Blog of Legal Times carries legal news with a Washington, D.C., focus from the journalists at the merged publications Legal Times and the National Law Journal.
Quick Take: Tony Mauro’s one-of-a-kind observations and insights about the Supreme Court are regular treats here.
FP Legal Post The financial section of Canada’s National Post points readers north and south of the border to legal news they might otherwise have overlooked. Although the blog’s mission statement also includes “gossip,” many posts focus on deals, litigation, ethics, lawyer pay, firm management issues and legislation.
Quick Take: Bloggers include veteran journalist Julius Melnitzer, author of the prison memoir Maximum, Minimum, Medium: A Journey Through Canadian Prisons.
How Appealing Willow Grove, Pa., appeals lawyer Howard Bashman chronicles the nation’s appellate litigation, linking to news stories and digging up court opinions before journalists can write about them.
Quick Take: Bashman’s keen eye has spotted grammatical errors by Judge Richard Posner and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Jurist—Paper Chase Stories here never lack for sources, always linking to original reports, legal documents and information on the people making news. Check out this site for frequent updates on the courts’ treatment of Guantanamo detainees.
Quick Take: University of Pittsburgh professor Bernard Hibbitts oversees the work of more than 30 law students, who report on substantive international legal developments.
Law & Disorder This Ars Technica blog covers policy concerns in the rapidly evolving arena of Internet law. Should Net neutrality rules permit heavy users to hog the wireless industry’s spectrum? Did Pirate Bay administrators try to conceal the controversial website’s ownership? Readers can readily debate such questions, even if answers remain elusive.
Quick Take: The tech-savvy authors of this blog live up to their promise to bring readers “the right answer the first time.”
Law Blog Law firm refugee Ashby Jones has taken over primary duties for this Wall Street Journal blog. Jones takes an informal tack as he summarizes the WSJ’s most interesting legal stories, but he doesn’t stop there. He includes interviews from law firm leaders and legal observers, as well as coverage of big cases and trends.
Quick Take: Jones has been posting solo on Law Blog since February, when Dan Slater was laid off.
NEW Law Shucks is more than the legal tabloid it professes to be, and it quickly rose to the top of our list this year. It focuses on life in and after BigLaw. A hallmark of the site is the Layoff Tracker, which is increasingly being relied upon as the definitive countdown of how many attorneys have been laid off in the U.S. and U.K.
Quick Take: “Law Shucks” served seven years in BigLaw but has escaped to an in-house post at a financial services firm.
Legal Blog Watch is often first on the legal news scene, alerting readers to the posts that are particularly noteworthy. On the lookout are lawyer/legal affairs journalist Robert Ambrogi and Bruce Carton, who edits Securities Docket.
Quick Take: Longtime contributor Carolyn Elefant bowed out as co-author to spend more time on her blog, MyShingle, and her solo practice.
For audio enthusiasts, LexisNexis Legal News offers a free way via podcast to get a daily dose of legal news and case activity updates.
Quick Take: LexisNexis editor Steve Berstler is the voice of the podcasts. Those in Philly will recognize him as Steve Michaels, a Saturday morning DJ on 93.7 WSTW.
For those looking for more than just casual musings and rants, these academics provide substance over sensation.
Becker-Posner Blog Aren’t federal appeals judges already overworked? The prodigious Richard Posner of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals still has time to share his thoughts on government policies from a law and economics perspective. Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker of the University of Chicago also weighs in on everything from tax policy to health care reform.
Quick Take: A stint as a columnist for Business Week helped Becker to write without jargon and to express himself succinctly.
Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports Warning to law schools that try to game the rankings in U.S. News & World Report: University of Chicago law professor Brian Leiter is on to you. Leiter covers the rankings and devises his own. He also weighs in on other hot law school topics, such as clout in admissions at the University of Illinois College of Law.
Quick Take: That which does not kill Leiter makes him stronger: He also authors a blog on the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and wrote the Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Nietzsche on Morality.
Conglomerate, aka The Glom, is a group effort by academics who emphasize, however loosely, business, law, economics and the catchall—society.
Quick Take: The Glom has hosted a Junior Scholars Workshop since 2005 as a way to mentor untenured law professors and those just entering law school teaching.
Concurring Opinions Group blogs this large can be difficult to pull off. But the “concurrers” come from diverse backgrounds, enabling them to draw on a variety of topics and present a regular menu of general-interest legal posts.
Quick Take: You can now get Concurring Opinions on your Kindle for 99 cents a month.
Empirical Legal Studies is the place to find the data to back up law-related theories and observations. ELS authors and their devoted readers provide a ready-made forum to not only discuss data already in the news but also evaluate emerging legal scholarship.
Quick Take: In a July post, ELS co-author Bill Henderson equated law firms with General Motors. He recalled thinking that GM was both complacent and invincible. Turns out he was only half right, he says.
NEW At The Faculty Lounge, 10 academics (plus a bevy of occasional contributors) create a virtual faculty lounge online, providing thoughts on a wide range of topics and copious links to documentation. Although some posts entertain, there’s no shortage of serious debate on topics of academic interest.
Quick Take: Keeping true to its niche, the blog keeps tabs on lateral faculty moves, the latest law school dean search and entry-level hiring.
NEW A Failure of Capitalism One law blog isn’t enough for federal appeals judge Richard Posner. He already posts at the Becker-Posner Blog. Now he also writes for the Atlantic on a blog named after his book A Failure of Capitalism. The book examines the reasons for the economic crisis; the blog offers a continuing critique of the government response.
Quick Take: The Boston Globe observed: “How fast does the prolific law professor and appellate judge Richard Posner write? Faster than the Harvard University Press can edit.”
If there’s a legal topic of concern to women, Feminist Law Professors is likely to cover it. Professors Ann Bartow of the University of South Carolina and Bridget Crawford of Pace provide frequent posts about court cases and news from a feminist perspective.
Quick Take: In the form of a blogroll, the site catalogs nearly 300 law professors who’ve identified themselves as feminists.
NEW IdeoBlog is the informal home to the online musings of business law expert Larry Ribstein, who teaches at the University of Illinois College of Law. Ribstein tackles posts having to do with the current economic crisis, cases in the news and, occasionally, legal education.
Quick Take: Frustrated with rants and spam, Ribstein banned comments from his blog so he could devote more time to developing substantive posts.
Legal Ethics Forum takes a dispassionate look at the choices and circumstances that get lawyers into hot water with professional regulators. With more than a dozen named co-authors from across the country, there’s always a fresh post and new perspective to consider.
Quick Take: We love lists, so we look forward to December, when John Steele posts his annual top 10 (or so) legal ethics stories of the year.
Legal Profession Blog Check here if you want to know about the law grad denied a law license because of offensive behavior, or the judge reprimanded for jailing a defendant who gave him a raspberry. These law profs chronicle lawyer misdeeds and the opinions that mete out the punishments.
Quick Take: Besides covering legal ethics, the site also takes a critical look at legal education and the law firm hiring model.
Mirror of Justice Catholic law professors note upcoming lectures, discuss how public policy affects the poor, and often discuss in serial posts how they can best integrate their chosen faith with their chosen profession.
Quick Take: There are no reader comments to Mirror of Justice posts. Those who want to respond to a post are asked to e-mail its author.
PrawfsBlawg A long list of contributors and a constant stream of guest-posters provide a mix of analyses of both headline and quirky legal topics. But at its core, PrawfsBlawg focuses on strategies to improve law schools and legal education and on other topics of interest to law professors.
Quick Take: The site runs a hiring thread that it moves to the front every 10 days or so. It solicits comments from those interviewing for law prof jobs.
At TaxProf Blog, University of Cincinnati law professor Paul Caron covers tax law and policy, with forays into law school news. Taxgirl blogger Kelly Phillips Erb says Caron “writes with authority and a clear understanding of the tax code.” It’s not all academic. He may digest a complicated tax proposal in one post and link to a news story on a tax-evading celebrity in the next.
Quick Take: Caron generates buzz with his regular rankings of the top 35 law professor blogs with public analytics. (TaxProf was No. 6 in the rankings released in October.)
The Volokh Conspiracy is named for its founder, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, but it’s authored by nearly 20 contributors, mostly law profs with a passion for con law, government policy and each other’s observations. One fan, Vanderbilt law student Alexander Denton, praises Volokh contributors for “engaging posts on a variety of topics, thoughtful interaction ... and writing styles that are [both] scholarly and accessible.”
Quick Take: Sometimes these fairly serious Joes go beyond their legal focus, commenting on everything from the demise of Jewish delis to the meanings of obscure phrases.
These legal bloggers aim to provide empathy and inspiration to their readers in a profession with a rapidly changing future.
NEW Jobless Lawyer It’s not that we don’t want this anonymous blogger to find a job—but we’re glad he used the time on his hands to create this sleek, entertaining blog.
Quick Take: The blog also sells prints of law-related cartoons. Its first offering was inspired by an Upton Sinclair-like description of a room full of contract attorneys doing document review.
NEW Lawyerist Posts are 150-word thought-bites snipped from the blogosphere, legal and otherwise. Minneapolis-based Sam Glover and Aaron Street mainly cover careers and legal technology.
Quick Take: Reader Danny Johnson: “I was drawn to this blog by the content, but what kept me was the way the writers interacted so well with readers.”
Law21 Jordan Furlong has a knack for looking at trees and seeing a forest. He doesn’t blog legal news as it breaks, but looks for trends and provides skeptical analyses of what all of the yay-sayers are spouting about the present and future of the practice of law.
Quick Take: Furlong spent 10 years at the Canadian Bar Association but left in October to be a partner at the law firm consultancy Edge International.
Ms. JD The law students who run this legal blog know where to find feminist essays, work-life balance studies and interviews with women who are leaders in the profession and can reconcile all of their goals and desires.
Quick Take: It’s also recapping The Good Wife, a CBS drama about a disgraced politician’s wife who becomes a law firm associate after 13 years away from practice.
The Shark Created by a mix of law students and Cal Law staffers, this site offers solid coverage of law schools and angsty posts from the trenches.
Quick Take: Since March, it’s been tracking BigLaw’s deferred and rescinded offers to 3Ls in “Economy v. Law Students: A Chart.”
There are an ever-increasing number of crime blawgs entering the field each year. For our ’09 favorites, we looked to the ones that offered up original, thought-provoking posts on cases close to home and policy issues far and wide.
NEW Crime & Consequences is, as Stephen E. Maher wrote us, “most informative for the prosecution crowd.” As the blog of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, posts often focus on events or policies that interfere with the swift meting out of criminal justice measures.
Quick Take: Kent Scheidegger, the CJLF’s legal director and general counsel, is a regular contributor to the blog.
Defending People is the hands on, nitty-gritty blog of Houston criminal defense lawyer Mark Bennett. Bennett doesn’t hold back as he shares his criminal defense practice secrets, successes and worries with his readers.
Quick Take: Bennett was a religious studies major at Rice before heading off to law school.
A perennial favorite, Sentencing Law and Policy doesn’t disappoint. Ohio State law prof Douglas Berman offers daily sophisticated reviews of cases in the news and headed for the spotlight.
Quick Take: If you can’t find Berman at SL&P, you may catch him teeing off at the Golf Blog.
World-weary as ever, Simple Justice continues to impress because there are no sacred cows here. New York City lawyer Scott Greenfield stays primarily on topic, with posts—er, make that rants—about the latest criminal justice nuggets to draw his attention.
Quick Take: One of Greenfield’s cases inspired the true crime book The Surgeon’s Wife: A True Story of Obsession, Rage and Murder.
The A-team at TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime—Jeralyn Merritt of Denver, T. Christopher Kelly of Madison, Wis., and Armando Llorens of San Juan, Puerto Rico—take a shamelessly liberal view of crime and justice news and issues.
Quick Take: When Merritt just has to stray off topic, she spares her politics-hungry readers and posts at PopLeft.
It’s not that these blawgs necessarily lack legal substance. But we tend to visit them for laughs and a break from the ordinary.
BabyBarista offers an entertaining fictional account of a junior barrister published by the Times Online. The blog’s author, Tim Kevan, described “BabyBarista” to the U.K. news site This Is North Devon as “a sneaky character who gets up to all sorts of shenanigans in order to succeed. You wouldn’t like his behavior at all, were it not for the fact that BabyBarista’s opponents are even worse.”
Quick Take: “BabyBarista” was anonymous until Kevan outed himself in March for the purpose of promoting his book, BabyBarista and the Art of War, which came out in August.
Bitter Lawyer is a category killer for legal humor websites, complete with video programming, daily reports from the Bitter Newsroom and frank interviews with lawyers with unusual stories to tell, such as the lawyer-founder of a dating agency for marrieds looking to cheat.
Corporette is an anonymous BigLaw associate in Manhattan blogging about work-oriented fashion for women. She features items every weekday and takes questions from readers with urgent style and etiquette issues.
Quick Take: At a panel in May, U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow recommended the blog to female lawyers who want to know how to dress appropriately for court.
Legal Juice’s John Mesirow puts up scores of tort-related news-of-the-weird posts that you won’t find on your Web browser home page. He seems to hit smaller news markets and locate complaints and unusual laws that other blawggers don’t find.
Quick Take: We tried to figure out why some posts are filed under “Juice Drops” and others under “Extra Pulp.” We failed.
NEW Litination tries to punk its readers at every turn; some of the humorous legal news on it is real, some fake. Other posts feature photos of unnamed associates with funny captions attached, or photos of unnamed partners next to their look-alikes.
Quick Take: The anonymous author also posts as “Newly Married Guy” at his other blog, Relationship George.
The Namby Pamby, Attorney-at-Law In general, Namby’s personal injury clients are the star of this blog, leaving him dumbfounded, day after day, with their insistent misunderstanding of what the law can do for them. Thankfully, he recounts everything in Q & A format for us.
Quick Take: Sue Sweeney praises the site for having “gotten me through countless 1L hours through laughter and sheer irreverence. Namby is the lawyer I want to be when I grow up.”
“That’s What She Said” Maybe you think you’re the only one watching The Office and seeing a workplace litigation goldmine. But you’d be wrong. A Ford & Harrison employment lawyer recaps every episode, attaches a potential litigation value to it and explains his or her reasoning.
Quick Take: This blog launched in September 2006, and all posts are archived by both date and character. You probably have some catching up to do.
These blawgs take on the corners of the law that they know best, combining clear writing and juicy detail to hook readers of all legal persuasions.
NEW Citizen Media Law Project These bloggers, who cover legal news stories of interest to media lawyers and bloggers, are definitely writing pros who produce timely, fun-to-read posts. They also naturally cover the actions of Harvard’s Citizen Media Law Project, which, among other things, tracks copyright infringement lawsuits directed at online publishers.
Quick Take: An accompanying user-friendly guide addresses legal issues writers may encounter state by state as they report and publish.
NEW Copyrights & Campaigns A main focus of Ben Sheffner’s blog this year has been the Recording Industry Association of America trials of Jammie Thomas-Rasset in Minneapolis and Joel Tenenbaum in Boston. He hopped planes to cover both via blog write-ups and Twitter. He continues his coverage, even as mainstream media interest wanes.
Quick Take: Sheffner, now of LA, spent five months in 2008 as special counsel on Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, handling copyright and trademark issues.
NEW Counterfeit Chic Designer handbags and shoes sometimes need lawyers, too, a fact never forgotten by the witty Susan Scafidi, the first U.S. law prof to ever offer a fashion law course. Scafidi highlights IP fights in the fashion and advertising worlds with such verve that at times you’ll feel like you’re reading Vogue (which is always in Scafidi’s briefcase).
Quick Take: Valerie B. Fink says “serious reports are coupled with photos when celebs are caught with fake bags or shoes—very funny.”
TheCorporateCounsel.net Blog takes mainstream news coverage of corporate governance issues and the Securities and Exchange Commission a step further with extra legwork and clear, concise analysis. Editor Broc Romanek still finds time for lightheartedness—like sharing short summer vacation videos from Paris with his readers.
Quick Take: Matthew C. Dallett says the blog “is backed up by what is absolutely the most comprehensive research site for securities lawyers that exists.”
At Drug and Device Law, two BigLaw practitioners write chatty posts on drug and medical device litigation from a defense POV. But Mark Herrmann’s off-topic posts about the legal blogosphere get notice from blawg-watchers like us.
Quick Take: Drug and Device Law crossed the 1,000-post threshold in September.
NEW At FDA Law Blog, lawyers from Hyman, Phelps & McNamara in Washington, D.C., cover conferences, court rulings and Federal Trade Commission actions related to the Food and Drug Administration, as well as FDA announcements and draft guidance documents. It also tracks legislation and citizen petitions related to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Quick Take: Reader Cheryl Graham works at the FDA but says she depends on the blog for up-to-date regulatory information. “There is no one within the agency that does what this blog provides.”
SCOTUSblog is the place to go for up-to-the-minute coverage of the latest U.S. Supreme Court news, including moment-by-moment colorful commentary this summer during its live blog of Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings.
Quick Take: Founder Tom Goldstein, who has argued 21 Supreme Court cases, spends $100K of his own money each year to fund SCOTUSblog.
NEW At Green Building Law Blog, Philly’s Shari Shapiro digests legislation and research on green building law and explains its significance with enough personality and clarity that a layperson can understand and stay interested. Occasionally, she snags an expert interview for a post.
Quick Take: Nicholas Klank adds: “These analyses make it much easier to argue for procedural changes within our practice and to understand what’s coming down the pipe in the green building industry.”
NEW HealthBlawg Health care law consultant David Harlow of Newton, Mass., covers health care legislation and regulations (both at the federal level and in his home state) as well as public health innovations in the private sector.
Quick Take: “As a health-care-lawyer wannabe, I am grateful ... for his ability to parse very complex legislation into easy-to-understand principles,” says Marc Cantor.
NEW IP Watchdog Did you sit down last Dec. 31 and draw up a list of patent wishes for 2009? Gene Quinn did. This Leesburg, Va.-based watchdog keeps tabs on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, devours and analyzes draft reports on gene patents, and speculates on what the Obama administration will mean to patent law.
Quick Take: IP Watchdog’s parent website, IPWatchdog.com, marked its 10-year anniversary this fall.
NEW Marler Blog is the flagship of Seattle lawyer Bill Marler’s fleet of 10 blogs devoted to food-borne illness. It covers reports of outbreaks and adds commentary on how governments and corporations should respond to them.
Quick Take: Marler took his show on the road, appearing on Larry King Live in October as an expert on food-borne illness.
NEW Diane Levin of Mediation Channel covers ethical pitfalls, fallacious arguments (she features one a month) and cognitive errors that mediators encounter, often drawing on her own experiences as a practitioner based in Beverly, Mass.
Quick Take: Levin has tracked more than 200 ADR blogs around the world at World Directory of ADR Blogs, but she put the site up for sale this fall.
Patently-O University of Missouri law prof Dennis Crouch covers the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Federal Circuit rulings, legislative rumblings on patent reform and available patent law jobs via his job board.
Quick Take: Patently-O is up to 1,387 fans on Facebook.
The Pop Tort This Center for Justice & Democracy blog covers tort law cases in the news with an unabashed pro-plaintiffs slant: As they say, if loving civil justice is wrong, they don’t want to be right. But the authors are definitely not asleep at the switch, writing daily impassioned posts with spunky commentary and art elements.
Quick Take: As far as we know, this is the only legal blog to have marked a Blawg 100 appearance with a YouTube video, but we welcome imitators.
TaxGirl is Philly solo Kelly Phillips Erb, who makes the case that tax law can be a fun read. Comments are so prolific that she’s had to revise her policy. She posts Friday polls to see where her lawyer-readers sit on tax law and answers questions from nonlawyer taxpayers on other days.
Quick Take: Erb was interviewed for the upcoming documentary An Inconvenient Tax.
NEW Work Matters is written by Michael Maslanka, the managing partner of Ford & Harrison’s office in Dallas. His blog offers practical information and advice about legal issues, legislation and other matters of interest to employment practitioners.
Quick Take: Maslanka learned to swear in Arabic as a hotel clerk, and once did so near guests who understood. The result was emp-law lesson No. 1: Try to temper justice with mercy.
(in my humble opinion) These sites, while sometimes taking a substantive look at the law, often attract our attention with rants—or let’s say strong opinions—about what’s in the news or creating a stir in the legal community.
Althouse Even though it was her whirlwind engagement to a commenter on her blog that earned her a headline in the New York Times in April, Ann Althouse hasn’t lost her edge. The University of Wisconsin law professor, whose posts often veer into the political realm, is already looking ahead to 2012.
Quick Take: Althouse took a break from biting political commentary to let readers know immediately after she and her fiancé tied the knot Aug. 3.
NEW Charon QC No longer in practice, a certain U.K. attorney with a taste for satire, British law and politics has awarded himself the nom de plume Charon QC. “Now, as no one can instruct him in any matter, or would wish to, he is free to comment as he wishes on matters which catch his attention,” he says.
NEW GeekLawyer’s Blog An intellectual property barrister with a yen for motorcycles and a way with words, “GeekLawyer” offers edgy, insightful and often funny commentary on British law, practice, politics and legal education. (He also detours to his social life and includes photos, on occasion, that have nothing to do with the law.)
Quick Take: A self-described “ex-physicist who did research and development work for the evil American empire,” GL says he went to law school at company expense, but resigned to practice.
Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University known for his work as counsel in cases involving military and national security issues. But Turley uses his blog as a way to lighten and liven things up. Under the banner of res ipsa loquitur, his posts focus on the oddities of the legal system within the criminal justice and tort arena.
Quick Take: Turley has begun inviting elementary students to GWU to participate in mock trials of B.B. Wolf for the alleged murders of two of the three little pigs.
NEW The Legal Satyricon A First Amendment practitioner in San Diego, Marc Randazza and his band of “Satyriconistas” prove time and again that no topic is off-limits.
Quick Take: Randazza vowed to kill kittens if readers don’t buy his sister’s book, Go Tweet Yourself: 365 Reasons Why Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Other Social Networking Sites Suck.
Lawyer2Lawyer is not actually a legal blog, but it’s one of the best sit-back-and-examine-a-legal-topic discussion shows, and it’s entirely Web-based. Hosts J. Craig Williams (Irvine, Calif.) and Robert Ambrogi (Rockport, Mass.) share views and butt heads in the podcast produced by Legal Talk Network.
Quick Take: When he’s not recording and practicing, Williams can be found riding his Harley-Davidson Thunder Mountain.
Savvy in the ways of legal technology and social media, these blawggers want to show readers how to use these tools to improve their efficiency and marketing reach.
NEW Above and Beyond KM New York City lawyer Mary Abraham takes lawyers’ use of social media to the next level, pushing “knowledge management” beyond just identifying problems and finding quickie tech solutions.
Quick Take: As a show of devotion to her blog, Abraham moved the site from the free Blogspot platform to her own domain on her one-year blawgiversary in January.
DennisKennedy.com This is where St. Louis lawyer Dennis Kennedy blogs his ABA Journal legal tech columns, aggregates tweets from his Twitter microblog, and prefaces new episodes of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, the podcast he co-hosts with Inter Alia’s Tom Mighell at Legal Talk Network on alternate Wednesdays.
Quick Take: Rex Gradeless says: “Always insightful, honest, and thoroughly written, his posts provide his audience with priceless information at no cost. A must-read.”
NEW e-Lessons Learned is primarily a student-run e-discovery and legal technology blog, where items are posted in a practical, easy-to-scan case digest format. Each post contains a summary of the “e-lesson learned” so readers can decide whether to keep on reading. We like that.
Quick Take: The blog has a YouTube channel. But with only one post (about a 2008 case), we’re comfortable saying it’s not ready for prime time.
NEW Eric Goldman: Technology & Marketing Law Blog Goldman, an associate prof at Santa Clara University law school, discusses Internet and intellectual property law with an emphasis on search engines, spam, adware/spyware and marketing topics.
Quick Take: Goldman has predicted that Wikipedia will fail, arguing that the ever-expanding e-encyclopedia will have to choose between high quality or being freely editable.
FutureLawyer is a detailed, informative daily diary of St. Petersburg, Fla., solo Rick Georges’ life as a PC user. While Georges isn’t constantly trading up his own technology, he reviews all of the latest laptops, PDAs, scanners and other gadgets, and lets readers know if they’re worth the price.
Twitter: @rickgeorges (His tweets are protected)
Quick Take: As of October, Georges was still using Windows XP. “I actually enjoy the extra couple of minutes it takes to boot my XP computer; I contemplate my navel, work on my putting stroke, get another cup of coffee.”
Inter Alia Dallas lawyer Tom Mighell’s bread and butter are his blawg-of-the-day posts and his newsletter, Internet Legal Research Weekly. He told Lawyers USA in August that he has tracked nearly 2,300 law blogs since 2000, and declared that failed legal blogs last an average of one year and 10 months.
Quick Take: Mighell wrote The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together with fellow blogger and podcaster Dennis Kennedy.
NEW iPhone J.D. is the brainchild of New Orleans lawyer Jeff Richardson. He launched the blog to explore lawyerly uses for the iPhone, which he describes in his bio as the “perfect handheld device” he’s been searching for since the late ’80s.
Quick Take: Richardson is an appellate lawyer and class action defender at Adams and Reese, where he serves on his firm’s technology committee.
Real Lawyers Have Blogs Kevin O’Keefe has been posting for years on how lawyers can gain a professional advantage by blogging. The Seattle-based CEO of LexBlog is now also pulling Twitter and Facebook into his embrace, seeking research on ways lawyers can market themselves with social media while avoiding ethical pitfalls.
Quick Take: LexBlog has released four semiannual State of the Am Law 200 Blogosphere reports, tracking the growth of law firm-published blogs.
Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites Rockport, Mass., solo practitioner and editorial, media and marketing consultant Robert Ambrogi posts reviews of Web-based research and practice management tools and directs readers to publications and events that help them bone up on Web 2.0.
NEW Social Media Law Student is the primary Web home and nickname of Rex Gradeless, who is now a Saint Louis University School of Law graduate with a passion for social media and its applications in the legal industry.
Quick Take: By late October, Gradeless had amassed more than 72,000 followers on Twitter. He had yet to translate that into steady employment. But we’re pulling for him.
NEW Strategic Legal Technology is the blog for Prism Legal. There author Ron Friedmann focuses on posts for law firms and law departments looking for greater efficiency.
Quick Take: Friedmann is an Arlington, Va.-based nonpracticing lawyer and senior VP of marketing at Integreon.
TechnoLawyer Blog covers the latest technology for law practice management and highlights the best of the legal blogosphere. Many posts are merely teasers for content that is only available on TechnoLawyer’s eight free electronic newsletters, but posts pulled from those electronic publications are thorough and solid.
Quick Take: The TechnoLawyer site has a search engine to help readers find archived newsletter content—but it’s for members only.
NEW 3 Geeks and a Law Blog is a smartly written, make-technology-fun kind of legal blog. The “dynamic trio” behind it are Houston-based Greg Lambert, a law librarian at King & Spalding; Lisa Salazar, Internet marketing manager at Fulbright & Jaworski; and Toby Brown, Fulbright’s head of marketing and knowledge management.
Quick Take: This site first caught our attention last December when it posted a list of “officially sanctioned” BigLaw blogs.
NEW 22 Tweets Once or twice a week, Cleveland-based law firm marketing consultant Lance Godard conducts live “Twitterviews” with leading thinkers in law practice management. His blog contains the transcripts of those interviews.
Quick Take: In October, Godard introduced a new Twitter interview feature: the roundtable. Its debut topic was work-life balance.
Business of Law
Lawyers and legal experts who have been there and done that tell war stories and cautionary tales, offering practical advice on the big- and small-picture facets of running a law firm.
Adam Smith, Esq. is the blog personality and consulting biz of Manhattanite Bruce MacEwen, whose posts are aimed mainly at large law firms on topics that include compensation, partnership models and practicing in a global marketplace.
Quick Take: The blog’s name pays tribute to the founding father of capitalism and author of The Wealth of Nations.
Quick Take: Adams is the author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting.
Quick Take: In March, Liebel of Northford, Conn., launched Solo Practice University, part online “practice of law school” and part professional networking site.
NEW The Client Revolution by Boston lawyer Jay Shepherd almost missed the cut this year because of fairly infrequent posts. But when he homes in on a client-focused topic, his insight and analysis is well worth the read. Shepherd also runs the employment law blog Gruntled Employees.
Quick Take: Lance Godard says Shepherd “envisions a different world where the focus is on value, not the cost of legal services.”
Larry Bodine LawMarketing Blog is a key resource for legal marketers. While Bodine blogs his rainmaking tips to practitioners, he also covers the legal marketing profession like a beat, seeking comment from BigLaw marketing officers and other experts.
Quick Take: Bodine is a former editor and publisher of the ABA Journal and a former director of communications at Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood.
NEW Law Department Management, as the name suggests, is in-house focused. The writer behind the blog is veteran legal department consultant Rees Morrison of Princeton, N.J.
Quick Take: Reader Doug Hagerman says Morrison is “well-read and draws on social science and other fields. As a general counsel, Rees keeps me thinking!"
NEW Mendelson’s Musings drew our admiration this year when Boulder, Colo., lawyer/venture capitalist Jason Mendelson tackled a weighty project: Law Firm 2.0. Over a 10-month period, Mendelson discussed frustrations with start-up lawyers, re-architecting law firms and what clients need to do to get law firms to implement change.
Quick Take: Mendelson, says reader Rich Baer, questions “the fundamentals of the profession but with far more nuance than the masses of blawgging heads advocating fixed fees.”
NEW At Legal Ease Blog, lawyer/law practice consultant Allison Shields offers detailed, thoughtful and original posts aimed at preventing “lawyer meltdown.”
Quick Take: Carolyn Elefant cites Shields as “the only person in the entire blogosphere who actually explains how to set alternative fees and implement them.”
MyShingle Carolyn Elefant left Legal Blog Watch this year to focus more on her practice and blogging, and we expect great things. But the truth is, MyShingle was already on our list of the best. Elefant’s personal experience—running a successful practice while building a family—shines through in keen observations on the life and law practice of solo and small-firm lawyers, and the legal industry in general.
Quick Take: Elefant was an early adopter of technology, having hand-coded her firm’s website in 1995 and joining the first generation of lawyer-bloggers in 2002.
NEW Beyond the Underground is where we go to keep tabs on St. Louis lawyer/writer Evan Schaeffer. There he lists links to his latest practice management posts from Trial Practice Tips Weblog. A favorite, however, is his “Weekly Law School Roundup” of worthy posts from future lawyers.
Quick Take: Schaeffer has collected and assembled many of his posts to form a sort of e-book, The Sixteen Types of Lawyers, and Other Observations from a Lawyer with a Weblog.
What About Clients? Dan Hull and Rob Bodine of Pittsburgh-based Hull McGuire ask that question daily. Their posts examine how corporate firms, even the small, scrappy ones, can better serve big, polished Fortune 500 clients.
Quick Take: Don’t miss the provocative post, below Hull’s photo, featuring “The 7 Habits of Highly Useless Corporate Lawyers.”
These blawgs have all-around high-quality posts on topics mainly relevant to the people in their neck of the woods.
China Law Blog If it’s law-related in China, Seattle-based Dan Harris and Shanghai-based Steve Dickinson have it covered. Posts are timely, thorough and often practical, focusing on what it takes to have successful U.S.-China business relationships.
Quick Take: A respect for Chinese culture and art shines through, adding personality to what could have been a run-of-the-mill business blog.
NEW Connecticut Employment Law Blog by Hartford lawyer Dan Schwartz offers thoughtful, original posts on the latest news and trends in labor and employment law. Schwartz also offers his readers free webinars on especially significant developments in the law.
Quick Take: Proloy Das says the blog “is often the first to report on significant employment law decisions.”
NEW At Delaware Employment Law, readers find out day in and day out that the labor and employment field is chock-full of bloggable topics. The authors here—lawyers at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, which is headquartered in Wilmington, Del.—approach posts with a lighthearted, breezy writing style, ensuring posts are quick and fun to read.
Quick Take: Don’t miss Molly DiBianca’s video resources, with tutorials on RSS readers and using Google Alerts for reputation monitoring.
NEW Head to Legal Pad for all legal industry news stamped California, from quick-witted takes on lawyer comings and goings to fresh perspectives on developments in the law.
Quick Take: Legal Pad posts the latest video from Cal Law’s Vimeo channel. Videos are often profiles of lawyers and judges in the state.
NEW Massachusetts Estate Planning and Elder Law is where Hingham, Mass., lawyer Leanna Hamill offers her readers practical information and observations about making tough decisions when doing estate planning and elder law, and caring for loved ones. She includes “action items,” which are to-do lists that readers can use to plan.
Quick Take: Carolyn Elefant: “Her posts address the needs of different readers—from the child caring for an elderly parent to a parent who wants an estate plan for a child.”
New York Personal Injury Law Blog is home to Eric Turkewitz and his musings, reactions and observations about personal injury law. Manhattan lawyer Turkewitz also isn’t shy about letting readers know what he thinks about new legal services (he’s not a fan of SueEasy).
Quick Take: When Turkewitz questioned on his blog last June whether “Sonia Sotomayor & Associates,” the SCOTUS nominee’s solo practice, actually had associates, he got a call from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s GOP staff.
Tex Parte Blog Reporters at Texas Lawyer offer snappy perspectives on developing stories, news briefs and happenings around the Texas bar (including who’s performing at Mark Lanier’s holiday party each year).
Quick Take: Bon Jovi is the headliner this year at Lanier’s party.
NEW New York Injury Cases Blog is required reading for anyone in or around personal injury law, especially cases involving author John Hochfelder’s bread and butter: traumatic injury. Hochfelder of White Plains, N.Y., discusses liability and details injury cases in his posts, then puts an estimated value on them—even for cases outside his primary practice areas.
Quick Take: Hochfelder, an emergency medical technician before becoming a lawyer, has seen his share of injuries up close and personal. And his posts are often accompanied by anatomical illustrations.
South Florida Lawyers. It’s “Boston Legal meets Miami Vice,” one reader tells us. And posts often keep a sharp local focus. But this anonymous blawgger uses enough humor to keep anyone interested and enough hyperlinks to help you keep pace. It helps if you happen to share the author’s dislike of social conservatism and his love for Bo Derek.
Quick Take: Every Wednesday, the blawg rounds up new cases in Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals.
Editor’s note: The online version of this story has been updated to include links to additional Twitter feeds.
Print editions of the "Third Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100," December indicated that LexBlog has released three annual State of the Am Law 200 Blogosphere reports; it has released four semiannual reports.
The Journal regrets the error.