The 2014 ABA Journal Blawg 100
Wow! It's crazy that we're already on our eighth Blawg 100. Every year, we find ourselves behind the eight ball as we struggle to rack up a great list and choose new nominees for our now 30-blog-strong Hall of Fame. No, we don't just go through the 4,000-plus blogs in our directory and consult a Magic 8 Ball to decide what to add or scratch off our list. We remember the blogs that have tipped us off to breaking news and the bloggers who have compelled us to write about their innovative ideas.
And over the summer, we cue readers—and other bloggers—to write in and let us know about their favorites: When we can see their love for a blog is real and not a marketing hustle, it catches our attention.
Now, it's time for you, the reader, to take a shot. Let us know what you think about our choices. Click here to peruse an alphabetical list. Each person gets a total of 13 votes, to distribute as they see fit among the blogs they like, with a limit of one vote per person, per blog. Once you've used all 13 votes, you'll notice the "Vote Now!" buttons will disappear. If you have trouble voting or questions about anything else, please see our Blawg 100 FAQ.
The polls open Nov. 24 and shut down at close of business on Dec. 19. For a constant feed of inspiration, go online and find our Blawg 100 Twitter list, which includes the handles of both this year's nominees and those of our Hall of Fame bloggers from years past.
Congratulations to everyone in the 2014 Blawg 100.
Having problems registering or voting? Your question is probably answered in the Blawg 100 FAQ.
Defrosting Cold Cases
Alice de Sturler used to investigate cold cases for the Champaign, Illinois, police department. Now, she gives victims of unsolved cases a Web presence—well over 100 victims so far—and also speaks out for defendants she thinks have been wrongfully convicted. If readers are able to find and send her more information about a case she's written about, she'll file follow-up posts. Other posts contain interviews with evidence experts and crime novelists about their work.
Jamison Koehler writes that he decided to live in Baltimore "not despite The Wire but because of it." As a criminal defense attorney and former public defender, he uses his blog to argue against the sort of corruption and injustice seen in that TV show, and to advocate for the rights of criminal defendants.
A Public Defender
This blog is unsurprisingly emphatic in its advocacy for the rights of criminal defendants. The pseudonymous "Gideon" exposes news stories about police and prosecutorial misconduct.
Grits for Breakfast
"Grits for Breakfast is a fact-packed, trustworthy reporter of the weirdness that makes up corrections and criminal law in the Lone Star State," writes Bob Mabry, a solo from the Woodlands, Texas. Public policy researcher Scott Henson has "shown more naked emperors than Hans Christian Andersen ever did."
NEW Every weekday, law professors—primarily the University of South Carolina's Colin Miller—post on the very latest rulings regarding the admissibility of evidence in criminal cases and what sorts of lines of questioning should be permitted at criminal trials. He also notes differences between the federal rules of evidence and the rules of various states. Occasionally, he will comment on whether he thinks courts have reached the right outcomes in these evidence cases or note fishy behavior by prosecutors.
HALL OF FAME Houston criminal defense attorney Mark Bennett has been at the legal blogging game for more than 10 years. In his posts, he sides against creating new laws and policies that might protect some but chip away at the First Amendment for all; calls out questionable ethical moves by fellow lawyers and judges in Texas; and shares random tidbits about little things he does to boost his advocacy—like taking improv classes and filing pleadings on quality paper stock.
Gamso - For the Defense
NEW Cleveland public defender Jeff Gamso's blog "is dark. Brooding. Angry. Profane. But he is always honest, and brutally so. I work mostly in the civil arena with a few criminal cases annually. My world is very different from his, but Jeff Gamso will have me as a reader as long as he writes. He writes beautifully about ugly things. I think Blawg 100 notice is long overdue for him." —The Jury Room blogger Rita Handrich
Crime & Consequences
The writers of Crime & Consequences are unapologetic advocates for prosecutors and victims and provide an important perspective on the criminal justice system. The blog, sponsored by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, contains blurbs about sentencing news, discussions about the death penalty (they're in favor of it), and information on how court decisions regarding defendants' rights will affect prosecutors and law enforcement.
NEW This anonymous prosecutor doesn't discuss pending cases but writes occasional "you be the judge" posts in which he or she describes a real criminal case's fact pattern and invites commenters to speculate on the sentence, which is then revealed in a follow-up post. In other posts, the prosecutor reflects upon on-the-job struggles, such as persuading witnesses to testify, moving on after a hung jury verdict, or the sticky wicket of needing to prosecute police officers with whom a district attorney's office generally works closely.
Jordan Maglich is committed to covering Ponzi crimes. This year, he spent his own money to liveblog and post audio recordings of the bankruptcy hearings of an international company charged with operating as a Ponzi scheme. Ponzitracker graphically illustrates how widespread and devastating this brand of financial crime is. Maglich reports that Ponzi schemes uncovered in the first six months of 2014 alone represented more than $1 billion in potential losses.
Tempe Criminal Defense
Blogger Matt Brown has a front-row seat at the counsel table for the war on drugs. He writes affectingly about his experiences defending clients on criminal drug and DUI charges, along with a secondary focus on the ethics and effectiveness of legal marketing.
Top Class Actions
NEW At this blog, a staff of news writers churns out a barrage of daily posts on the latest class action filings and settlements—ultimately creating a very searchable database of information. With a few clicks, site users can join class action investigations, submit a claim for settlement of an open class action or even submit information to see about getting a class action started.
HALL OF FAME Warning labels on products generally result from someone, somewhere trying something boneheaded, whether it be the consumer or the company itself. At Abnormal Use, breathtaking examples of the tort cases that result from such failures of judgment are cataloged and analyzed. If you're a comic book fan, you'll also enjoy the classic covers used to illustrate the Friday Links posts.
All About Advertising Law
NEW Venable's advertising and marketing team tracks the legal moves of the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and even Facebook's platform policy to call shenanigans on website language and the latest marketing tactics that do not (or soon will not) pass legal muster. Posts also note key appellate decisions and what they mean for advertisers.
"It keeps me very well-informed with respect to the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau]'s regulations, enforcement actions, plans and other insight. It is a key element of our compliance management process because we are so remote from Washington. This blog serves as our 'ear on the ground' to know what's coming next." —Germán Salazar, general counsel at AmeriFirst Financial in Scottsdale, Arizona
FDA Law Blog
"I do not practice law, but as a consultant working in the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry, I have found [Hyman, Phelps & McNamara]'s FDA Law Blog invaluable. More than once, I have seen a news item regarding an FDA action or guidance and thought: 'I hope FDA Law Blog reports on this so I can understand all the ramifications.' I have also recommended FDA Law Blog to many colleagues. It's enjoyable to read, and it's a great help to me in my work." —Faith Pomeroy-Ward, communications consultant, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Litigation & Trial
We never like deciding how to slip this blog into a category, but do—for the third year now—like to include it. Philadelphia plaintiffs lawyer Maxwell Kennerly's insights into work as a civil litigator range from very big-picture to calling out tort defendants and their BigLaw representation (and media outlets that don't question them) on their ethically questionable practices. "Deposition misconduct and discovery obstructionism are subjects I'm keenly interested in," he writes.
Posts cover securities litigation insofar as how the victorious plaintiffs, their law firms and the contract attorneys hired by those law firms get paid—and explore the fairness of it all. "It is one of the most insightful, well-written blogs around that gives a voice to constitutional conservatives who believe in our founding documents' limits on federal and state government overreach," DePaul University law student Rafael Mangual wrote to us.
Though titularly aimed at family law practitioners, Lee Rosen's Divorce Discourse is a law practice management and marketing blog with ideas that are broadly applicable across many practice areas. Using his personal experience in running the four North Carolina offices of his Rosen Law Firm, he spins out larger lessons for attorneys looking to better manage their small and midsize shops.
Solo Practice University
Solo Practice University founder Susan Cartier Liebel—as well as the lawyers, current and former, who round out her contributor roster—write thoughtful posts about how to succeed while maintaining your sanity in a solo practice. Posts covering ethical pitfalls, work-life balance or even search engine optimization are sometimes in the form of audio "guest lectures."
3 Geeks and a Law Blog
HALL OF FAME While some of our other "geeky" blogs focus on analyzing pop culture in terms of the law, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog devotes itself to actual technology and how it affects one's law practice. Visit it for tips on information management, discussions of new legal tech and analysis about the future of legal services.
HALL OF FAME If you like your law-practice-management advice tinged with humor and real talk, Lawyerist may be the blog for you. Though its format has changed a good deal since we first added it to the Blawg 100 in 2009, it's maintained its place on our list through its thoughtful-yet-humorous takes on a wide range of LPM topics, from marketing to technology to rainmaking.
Adam Smith, Esq.
HALL OF FAME Law firm consultant Bruce MacEwen's "synthesis of economics and the law is especially interesting in the work I do and because both topics, separately and combined, make for great reading post-2008. Moreover, MacEwen is a careful writer, and his articles reflect that." —Mark Reber, senior marketing manager at Bullivant Houser Bailey in Portland, Oregon
Attorney at Work
We love the listy posts by the deep bench of contributors for Attorney at Work, the blog with the mission of sharing "one really good idea every day" about technology, law practice management, career development, ethics—you name it. One fun occasional column we noticed this year is the Curmudgeon's Perspective. Blogger "Otto Sorts" contributes "when he gets really cranky about something." Also, with a free site registration, extra downloads are available, and readers are able to buy a number of law practice books directly from the site.
The Mad Clientist
NEW BTI Consulting Group explores law practice, conducting frequent surveys of in-house counsel and the firms that need to keep them happy. The results of this research are shared in lighthearted posts with illustrative charts and graphs. While the blog backs up most of its posts with numbers, thoughtful anecdotal advice can also be found.
The Legal Watercooler
Los Angeles law firm marketing director Heather Morse gives readers a nonlawyer's insider perspective into law firm dynamics. Her thoughts on shifts in her law firm's culture as Generation X lawyers inherit power positions from the baby boomers caught our eye this year. And once it was announced that her firm would become part of Hinshaw & Culbertson, her blog's readers got a glimpse of the work going on behind the scenes of an impending merger.
In Custodia Legis
NEW Here at the Law Library of Congress' blog, post authors interview other LLC staffers about their jobs, summarize recent, interesting legal history-based research assignments and share information about LLC resources for researching different areas of law. Most recently, posts have also been devoted to the LLC-curated Magna Carta exhibition and accompanying lecture series.
Dewey B Strategic
Legal research services—Bloomberg BNA, LexisNexis, Westlaw—are a big part of law firm library director Jean O'Grady's blog beat. But O'Grady also takes close looks at new legal research platforms such as Ravel, interviews legal publishing leaders, and explores the evolving role of law librarians as the profession absorbs new technology and law firms rethink how they serve clients.
Lovers of legal language are surely already aware of Black's Law Dictionary editor Bryan Garner's blog. His "Usage Tip of the Day" posts will make sure you never confuse "yoke" with "yolk" or wreak havoc by writing "wreck havoc." If you find yourself in a grammatical quandary, search the LawProse archive; your dilemma has probably already been addressed.
Lady (Legal) Writer
Megan E. Boyd, an adjunct legal writing prof at Mercer University, gives her readers pointers on brief writing and notes memorably written snippets from federal appellate and U.S. Supreme Court opinions. Sometimes, too, she'll tackle ways to cut back on excessive wordiness.
Adams on Contract Drafting
We're a big fan of Ken Adams' blog. It provides clear and approachable discussions of a topic that was not a favorite for many law school students. An enemy of "pomposity in drafting," Adams provides tips for streamlining contracts and providing clarity for all parties involved.
The Velvet Hammer
Seasoned litigator Karen Koehler's blog combines tips gleaned from her career as a trial attorney and glimpses from her daily interactions—all written like trial transcripts. We especially appreciate her legal writing advice, focusing on precision and the elision of unnecessary verbiage.
There's plenty of advice out there for trial attorneys, but what makes the Persuasive Litigator stand out is its use of data and statistical studies on jury behavior. Ken Broda-Bahm writes in a concise and readable style, and his posts are interesting not only for litigators, but also for anyone with an interest in jury psychology.
The Jury Room
The bloggers of Keene Trial Consulting offer an interesting overview of many psychological and sociological elements to consider when crafting an argument to appeal to specific juror demographics. We especially appreciate how they explicitly tailor their advice to address the concerns of both plaintiffs attorneys and defense attorneys.
Liz Kramer, a Minneapolis lawyer, tracks how well arbitration agreements are passing scrutiny in appellate court decisions nationwide—paying special attention to rulings that define the limits of arbitrators' power and giving frank opinions on this jurisprudence. And she's not above using her posts to answer her loyal readers' burning questions about rules hidden inside the Federal Arbitration Act.
"Simple, practical and succinct," writes Jorge Marquez of the Puerto Rico Department of Justice. Las Vegas lawyer Michael Lowry "takes issues that every litigator has to deal with and gives a detailed analysis on how he has had to address these obstacles. Great starting point for issue spotting, regardless of what jurisdiction you practice in."
The Legal Genealogist
Most people who want to uncover their family backgrounds generally have to rely on legal records to piece together their ancestors' lives. Genealogist Judy G. Russell puts her JD to work explaining what legal terms may have meant in various time periods, what kind of legal documents your ancestors would be likely to appear in, and how to gain access to obscure court and military records.
Texas Agriculture Law Blog
NEW Texas A&M professor Tiffany Dowell "does a great job explaining complex legal issues regarding water law, oil and gas law, leasing, property rights, right-to-farm statutes, and animal cruelty issues—all issues impacting Texas agriculture," writes Southern Methodist University law student Andrew Pape. "She provides a variety of information from current news stories to recent legal opinions to the basics of agriculture-related legal topics in an exciting and easy-to-understand format."
This blog, which covers the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, "is absolutely one of the best law blogs out there. Though it deals with a relatively specialized area of law, it also happens to be an area of law that has been on the front page of newspapers for the past two years. With great contributors and wide readership, the blog is the No. 1 go-to for every active-duty judge advocate." —Ryan Coward of Elkus Sisson & Rosenstein in Denver
On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog
NEW We raise a glass to this blog by Oakton, Virginia, lawyer Lindsey A. Zahn, who broadly covers news at the intersection of wine and law. The blog notes wine-related criminal prosecutions, injunctions against wineries accused of dishonesty in their labeling, trademark litigation between wineries, and information about upcoming wine law seminars and conferences.
Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act
NEW "I represent plaintiffs in civil rights and employment cases, and William Goren's blog is where I now start my ADA research," Minneapolis solo Karin Ciano writes about the Georgia lawyer's blog. "There's good coverage out there about ADA in the employment context, but not nearly as much being written about Title II. Understanding the ADA fills that gap and is a critical resource to educate civil rights lawyers who may not do employment law about the nuances of the ADA and how it's currently being interpreted by the courts."
The D & O Diary
Greg Myers, who works for risk management broker Beecher Carlson in New York City, says he checks the D&O Diary "every day for relevant news in the executive liability insurance world." Beachwood, Ohio, lawyer Kevin LaCroix's blog notes critical court rulings and litigation highlighting issues that could lead to directors and officers insurance liability exposures.
Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire
NEW "The protection of cultural heritage artifacts has quickly emerged as a hot topic on the world stage, first with the conflict in Egypt and, most recently, with the atrocities committed by ISIS in Iraq. The Cultural Heritage Lawyer blog does a great job of promoting awareness of these issues and keeping readers up to date on the legal developments that are affecting the protection of history and historical artifacts around the world." —Brandon Huebner, a student at Regent University School of Law
Open Law Lab
NEW Margaret Hagan, a Stanford Law School grad who is now a lecturer at its D.school, is exploring ways to increase access to justice through technology and design. Her blog documents her ongoing efforts, showcases her illustrations from recent presentations and links to projects she encounters that are compatible with her own mission.
Mountain View, California, solo Cathy Moran, who's been in the bankruptcy game for 35 years, writes her blog for "less experienced bankruptcy practitioners," sharing best practices on such things as hiring accountants, dealing with clients who obscure important information and finding things in the Internal Revenue Code that can come to your clients' financial rescue.
Chad Mitchell of the Summit Law Group in Seattle wrote "unbelievable coverage!" about Letters Blogatory, which covers international judicial assistance in civil and commercial cases. Boston litigator Ted Folkman "doesn't report just from the courthouse; he traveled to Ecuador to cover one of the biggest international environmental cases in history," i.e., the Chevron/Lago Agrio litigation. "His blog is on the peak of whatever divide remains between lawyer and journalist."
California Peculiarities Employment Law Blog
NEW Labor laws in the state of California are relatively employee-friendly—Seyfarth Shaw bloggers would even say peculiarly so. Posts cover the latest—and endless—rounds of workplace legislation at the state and municipal levels. Human resources manager Kris Anderson writes that she loves that there's a blog addressing "the craziness of the sovereign state of California. We are like no other!"
The Employer Handbook
As you may have gleaned from the name, this blog looks at labor and employment issues from the perspective of business owners. Topics covered range from accommodating employees' service animals to figuring out how to deal with Facebook posts insulting the boss. Eric B. Meyer, who is an attorney in Philadelphia, is most familiar with Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws. But even employers in other states can find useful tips and tricks.
Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home
While plenty of employment-law blogs are available to advise business owners, pickings are much more slim for employees. Fortunately, the blog Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home is available to anyone facing an issue with an employer. Offering plainspoken wisdom about just what an employee's rights may be, Donna Ballman's blog can help workers learn how to avoid being fired—or how to safely quit their jobs.
"I work on consulting teams that help large clients with their FMLA and disability administration," writes Liz Miller, a health and benefits analyst at Mercer in Washington, D.C. She says Chicago lawyer Jeff Nowak's "consistent updates not only make me look smart on the job; they are also entertaining and fascinating. Reading his posts feels like a form of procrastination because of the instant gratification factor, but they actually help me in my career. If that's not a win-win, I don't know what is."
Employment Discrimination Report
NEW "Even though I handle employee-side employment law, I find Fox Rothschild's Employment Discrimination Report a must-read blog. They cover all the latest issues in employment law—even the unusual ones—in an easy-to-understand way that is useful for employers and employees. If I want to know what the dark side is thinking on an issue, this is the first place I check."—Donna Ballman, blogger at Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home
The Delaware Employment Law Blog
HALL OF FAME How technology and social media affect modern employers and employment law has been a particular focus of Molly DiBianca, although she ably covers other topics as well. The blog is full of thoughtful and well-reasoned advice to employers and their attorneys; while the laws cited may be specific to Delaware, the broader principles are applicable across the country.
Employment & Labor Insider
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, litigator Robin Shea "writes the best employment law blog you're not reading. She may only publish once a week, but oh, those posts! They are witty, insightful and, most of all, easy to understand and relate to. It's a pleasure reading someone who writes as well as she does." —Daniel Schwartz, Connecticut Employment Law Blog
Lowering the Bar
HALL OF FAME Lowering the Bar's Kevin Underhill has been making us laugh—and earning a slot in the Blawg 100—since 2010 with his legal musings. Also, check out a book Underhill published this year that stemmed from some of his writing on the blog: The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance: and Other Real Laws that Human Beings Actually Dreamed Up, Enacted, and Have Sometimes Enforced.
The Legal Geeks
The dictionary may define a "geek" as someone with "excessive enthusiasm for and some expertise about a specialized subject or activity," but we would quibble about the word excessive. We hope that Josh Gilliland and Jessica Mederson never stop sharing their pop-culture enthusiasm with us. This year, we especially enjoyed the series of posts that coincided with the movie release of Guardians of the Galaxy. Their podcasts also should not be missed.
NEW When New York University law student Shana Knizhnik created a Tumblr blog devoted to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the name is a pun on rapper Notorious B.I.G.), she could not have predicted its popularity. Since the blog's June 2013 launch, it has even caught the attention of the justice herself. "Her website is something I enjoy—all my family do," Ginsburg told Katie Couric in a July interview. "I will admit I had to be told by my law clerks: What's this Notorious? And they explained that to me."
NEW "The Squawk is funny with bite. Her posts capture the absurdity and cruelty of the way the law runs in the real world, where constitutional rights are paid lip service but not enforced. She captures it on the streets and in the courts. And, once again, does it with great wit." —Jeff Gamso of the blog Gamso—for the Defense
Supreme Court Haiku Reporter
The Blawg 100 would be incomplete without this syllabic-conscious offering.
Any obscure case
Can be summed up by this guy.
Pithy, clever, great.
What the Public Defender?
WTPD proves that a picture can indeed be worth a thousand words. This Tumblr blog has provided a venting space for public defenders and winces and laughs for the rest of us. The format is this: The moderator of the blog receives a prompt from an anonymous PD about a situation faced, such as "when the prosecutor asks me when I'm going to switch over to the good side." WTPD responds with an appropriate animated GIF.
Law and the Multiverse
Using the world of superheroes to explore legal theory is this blog's raison d'être. Although the concept may seem gimmicky, the analysis is absorbing. If presented with sentient aliens, clones and mutants, how would our justice system apply its current laws? Authors James Daily and Ryan Davidson look at comic book, movie and TV show scenarios and then play out the potential real-world legal consequences.
Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog
Death and taxes are certainties for which we may plan. But quite a few of life's uncertainties can be faced with equanimity as well, if we just make some prudent preparations, Texas Tech law professor Gerry W. Beyer tells us. His blog provides useful advice on doing so, along with book and article summaries and thoughtful news analysis. Entries are concise and accessible, even to those who are unversed in estate law topics.
Jotwell—which stands for Journal of Things We Like (Lots)—features relatively brief law prof-authored reviews of recent scholarly articles in plain English. Its scope is vast: This blog sponsored by the University of Miami School of Law has well over 250 contributing editors in 18 active categories—several of whom have blogs of their own on this list. Jotwell even sponsored a two-day conference in November: Legal Scholarship We Like and Why It Matters.
Election Law Blog
"The most comprehensive coverage of issues related to election law, including campaign finance and disclosure laws and litigation; voting rights; tax laws governing nonprofit electoral activity; and election administration. Indispensable, with top-flight contributors and readers. Don't miss the associated Listserv, where the smartest academics and practitioners in the country duke it out on these issues." —John Pomeranz of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg in Washington, D.C.
Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform
NEW With all due respect to the revered Sentencing Law and Policy blog, this year we wanted to showcase Ohio State law professor Douglas Berman's latest. Now that marijuana is legal for recreational purposes in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and Washington, D.C, new legal issues are sprouting up. Berman points readers to news coverage and podcasts discussing the mainstreaming of marijuana and its legal ramifications.
NEW If you are interested in constitutional law and how it relates to civil rights, particularly with regard to race and gender discrimination, Nancy Leong's blog should be on your reading list. Leong has focused much of her blogging on the issues of LGBT civil rights and marriage equality.
Josh Blackman's Blog
Law prof Josh Blackman caused a stir on April Fool's Day this year when he announced on his blog that he and his colleagues had created a computer algorithm that could predict U.S. Supreme Court outcomes. The next day, the co-founder of FantasySCOTUS swore it wasn't a joke. In July, he announced that the computer model actually existed and had proved to have about a 70 percent accuracy rate based on past cases. We can't wait to see the results in upcoming Supreme Court terms as he pits his algorithm against the dedicated players of FantasySCOTUS.
HALL OF FAME "Religion Clause is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in religion in the law. It handles controversial issues in an extraordinarily evenhanded and useful manner. As a litigator working in this area of the law, I read it every morning to keep abreast of new cases and scholarship." —Charles Gokey, the Steven Gey fellow at Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington, D.C.
NEW 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner terminated his blog this year after the death of co-blogger Gary Becker. But at the end of last year, his son, University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner, started one of his own, focusing on constitutional law, international law, financial regulation and books on these subjects. The younger Posner also links to and comments on his own legal scholarship.
Excess of Democracy
NEW Pepperdine University School of Law professor Derek Muller covers election law cases in the news—sharing his opinions and sometimes calling out misleading mainstream media coverage of election law issues. For fun, he also has a regular "fictional attorney of the month" post, featuring the likes of Batman's Harvey Dent and The Simpsons' Lionel Hutz.
The long-form commentary from Justia's Verdict blog is much meatier than most legal blogs' offerings. Verdict provides a full meal, rather than a quick bite. If you want to delve deep into a legal issue, check out these thoughtful pieces written by the rotating contributors.
Arms Control Law
"This is by far the best blog for impartial, yet critical, discussion of important legal issues about arms control law and its application. The posts debunk the simplistic analysis one reads in the news media." —Nader Entessar, a professor at the University of South Alabama
NEW Do you have a product you're trying to choose a brand name or logo for? The aim of this Stites & Harbison blog is to illustrate how other brands chose their trademarks and have subsequently protected them. Bloggers here give the trademark enforcement backstories behind well-known advertising campaigns—or sometimes just note a brand's new look or slogan and share their blunt thoughts.
NEW All too frequently in corporations, the marketing team sees the legal department as buzzkill dream ruiners. Meanwhile, the company lawyers are convinced that the marketing folks are steering toward the shoals of litigation with berserker intensity. What's needed is a more harmonious cooperation, DuetsBlog's team of trademark attorneys argues. With an engaging mix of levity and real talk, they discuss recent examples of IP cases in which things may have gone horribly wrong.
Rebecca Tushnet's 43(B)log
By sheer demonstration of both a fervor for the intricacies of intellectual property and a deep interest in false advertising law, this blog offers thorough discussions of how the Internet age affects both these topics, as well as analysis of recent related cases. As might be expected from the legal work Tushnet has done for the nonprofit Organization of Transformative Works, she also has interesting commentary on fan-created artwork and fan fiction.
If you like your celebrity news with a legal twist, the Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq., is for you. Intellectual property battles, contract disputes, divorce cases—if it happens in the entertainment industry, these bloggers are on it. These are not just puff pieces; the blog offers some very decent legal analysis, raising itself above the pack of your average celebrity news blogs.
Trademark & Copyright Law
NEW Here you can find some straight-up yet colorful coverage of copyright and trademark rulings, but the authors from Foley Hoag often add the nice touch of noting similar older cases for context. You not only feel updated, you also get educated. Posts also sometimes take historic journeys, such as a fun one from August about trademark wars between the White Castle and White Tower burger chains in the 1930s.
Lawyers from Chicago's McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff keep track of patent rulings by the Federal Circuit and foreign jurisdictions, file a weekly report on new biotech and pharma cases that have been filed, note upcoming conferences and CLEs, and follow the progress of the Federal Trade Commission's "crusade against the pharmaceutical industry." Any editorializing is kept to a minimum.
You can actually take a law blogging class at Southwestern Law School, believe it or not. And readers everywhere can benefit from these students' classwork at Biederman Blog, which largely focuses on copyright law cases ripped from entertainment news headlines. The blog also relaunched in recent months with a responsive design that's easier to view on mobile devices.
Best Practices for Legal Education
NEW The bloggers here are an overwhelmingly female cadre of law professors who share their approaches to law teaching and engage in discussions about how to keep curriculum in step with the latest data, technology and literature—not to mention the ABA's accreditation standards. Posts also opine on the value students receive for their law school tuition and the relative value of the bar exam to the profession.
The Girl's Guide to Law School
This blog, for aspiring law students, current law students and newbie lawyers, is less about finding inspiration and more about finding answers to specific questions. Expert guest posters (FYI, not all of them women) are brought in to take on specific topics—such as preparing for the LSAT, writing a law review note or applying for a clerkship. But this blog isn't only useful for those breaking into law. Those trying to break out of the profession will also find acceptance and words of wisdom.
HALL OF FAME Ms. JD's blog is one way its namesake organization builds community among new or aspiring female lawyers. Some posts are written by Ms. JD's "writers in residence," who each commit to blogging on a particular topic—legal research or mentoring, for instance—every month for a year. Other posters, some anonymous, write about their experiences in the legal profession and offer advice or moral support.
The Law School Tuition Bubble
Matt Leichter makes data-driven arguments in favor of changes to the legal education system. Anyone concerned about the levels of student debt and the state of employment in the legal industry would do well to visit his blog and examine his data firsthand.
Tipping the Scales
NEW A veteran of Business Week and Fast Company started the digital media company behind this blog. It provides exhaustive coverage of the law school beat—law school curriculum innovations, interviews with law school deans and productivity tips for law students. Some of what you see here you may have seen elsewhere, but you'll find something here you didn't already know, we assure you.
Sometimes inspiring, sometimes infuriating and always irreverent, Popehat is one of the most stalwart blogs out there. A tireless champion of freedom of speech and civil liberties, this group blog delights in tweaking the noses of those it considers copyright trolls. Though its authors have always argued that Popehat is not strictly a law blog, so much of its content centers around legal matters that it easily meets our criteria.
This year, many of our cherished American Lawyer Media blogs (The Careerist, The Blog of Legal Times, The Am Law Daily) went behind paywalls. But late in 2013, the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog came out from behind its paywall, and we wanted to make sure you knew. Its multiple updates every weekday hit most of the highlights of the day's legal news, and we consider it essential reading.
Hercules and the umpire.
It's been a whirlwind year for Richard Kopf, a federal judge for the District of Nebraska. In January, he briefly decided to give up his blog, saying, "I have written all that I want to write and then some." But he returned in March, after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Despite his cancer treatments, Kopf has kept up a steady stream of wry and reasoned posts on the role of the federal judiciary. Though he has several times steered into controversy, he's always worth reading.
Gavel to Gavel
This National Center for State Courts blog covers new legislation affecting the courts in all 50 states. It also has a helpful database that allows a reader to search bills affecting courts by state, type or year. Posts also identify legislative trends among the states. The blog strives for thoroughness and excellence: If you see a bill that you think Gavel to Gavel should cover, blog editor Bill Raftery encourages you to let him know.
NEW In this blog, staff and fellows of the National Constitution Center explore constitutional law cases that hit the appellate level, promote exhibits and events at the Philadelphia-based center, and sometimes stop to remember moments in legal history. The center's president and CEO interviews leading experts for its affiliated We the People podcasts, and the blog's Constitution Cafe series of posts encourages discussions among readers about foundational constitutional issues.
NBC News courtroom sketch artist Arthur Lien uses his blog to post both his sketches of federal court proceedings—including those of the U.S. Supreme Court—and his takes on how arguments are going. He also offers insights on how he manages to complete his elegant sketches in tight time frames.
For better or for worse, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tends to find itself confronting some of the nation's most divisive legal issues. We appreciate legal journalist Pamela MacLean's blog for her exhaustive coverage of the trials and court opinions emerging from the 9th Circuit, as well as the federal courts in Northern California.
Third Branch News
NEW This blog, maintained by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, had a cool series of posts this year about World War II veterans—nearly 70 of them—who still serve on the federal bench. But the blog otherwise updates readers at least once a week with the latest from the federal judiciary. Posts cover innovations in probation and pretrial services, litigation trends and tools educators can use to teach their students about the third branch of government.
Jost on Justice
NEW The weekly posts here by author Kenneth Jost—The Supreme Court from A to Z and The Supreme Court Yearbook—offer an insider's perspective on oral arguments in major cases at the federal appellate level and news stories about sitting Supreme Court justices. Other posts offer his analyses and opinions on urgent legal news topics.
Electronic Discovery Law
NEW "Bloggers are often told to pick a niche and own it, but many do it wrong, randomly sharking up cases and then droning on about their feelings for the cases. Electronic Discovery Law does it the right way, selecting the most important and useful cases and bringing them to readers' attention with commentary, not blather. One critique: Every post is written by 'K&L Gates.' K&L Gates is some soulless corporate law firm that writes nothing. Real people wrote those articles, and they should be proud of them."—Max Kennerly from the blog Litigation & Trial
HALL OF FAME "Man is only as good as the tool he uses. Mobile computing has fundamentally changed the way lawyers practice law. Jeff Richardson writes about those tools and tells us how they can be used to make us better lawyers. His reviews of apps and accessories explain critical features and limitations in the context of how a lawyer would use those professionally and in personal life beyond work." —Ron Schultz, senior counsel at ConocoPhillips in Houston
Law Technology Today
NEW Staffers from the ABA's Legal Technology Resource Center put out a fine blog. Posts take note of the latest legal tech products and newsy podcasts as well as the most helpful mobile apps. Occasional law student contributors inject info on tech-related trends in legal education. The LTRC also sponsors webinars and promotes them here.
Ride the Lightning
With increased law firm reports of cyber-security breaches, it's clear to us that not enough people have been reading Sharon D. Nelson's blog. An expert in digital forensics and information security, Nelson has plenty to say about how to keep your firm safe and your client info encrypted.
The Droid Lawyer
"My first smartphone was an Android device, but then I got caught up in the hype and hoopla of Apple's iPhone and iPad. I switched and jumped quickly on board. I switched back to Android a year and a half ago and could not be happier. This blog is the pre-eminent Android legal blog. I anxiously await the weekly news roundup and utilize many of the apps and techniques provided. This is the go-to place for my tech questions." —Stephen D. Sciple from the Sciple Firm in Mobile, Alabama
The bloggers here not only give readers the skinny on the latest smartphones and "phablets" but also talk cybercrime. They try to pin down which parts of cyberspace are public and which are private in these techy times. They also raise compelling questions related to emerging technology and the law and attempt to answer them based on existing statutes.
Technology & Marketing Law Blog
One could be forgiven for assuming that this blog, founded by Eric Goldman, is a collection of law practice management tips. Instead, it's an intelligent discussion of broadly ranging areas of the law, including privacy, e-commerce, Internet security, intellectual property and advertising.