Welcome to the third annual ABA Journal Blawg 100 - the best legal blogs as selected by the Journal's editors.
Our readers clued us in to a few law blogs we'd never seen before, and you'll find them among the 40 blawgs that are new to our list this year.
For a list of all 100 blawgs, complete with their companion Twitter feeds and extra quick takes, click here.
Readers who registered with ABAJournal.com were able to pick up to 10 favorite blawgs in the 10 categories below.
Click here for FAQ about the Blawg 100 and voting.
Voting is now closed.
In a Supreme Ambitions post this fall, David Lat summed up the blog he founded in this way: “Above the Law ... covers the legal profession at large, in a sweeping, high/low mix—from the heights of the U.S. Supreme Court to the depths of disgraced and depraved attorneys.” That pretty much nails it. We’ll also note that ATL has added directories of law schools, law firms and recruiters this year, as well as a few new columnists.
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.
With a team of reporters on tap and supported by a network of legal publications, Am Law Daily covers the happenings at the country’s largest law firms, from firm finances and business models to the latest lateral moves and partner defections.
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.
For audio enthusiasts, LexisNexis Legal News offers a free way via podcast to get a daily dose of legal news and case activity updates.
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.
Legal Blog Watch has a knack for spotlighting the legal news of the weird. Posts are well-written and, as Lowering the Bar blogger Kevin Underhill says, “very witty and always interesting.”
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.
This blog is indispensable to us for its exhaustive District of Columbia coverage: from happenings at the U.S. Supreme Court (and news about individual justices) to rulings from the District of Columbia Circuit to BigLaw churn in the Beltway.
As Nicholas Wagoner from Circuit Splits points out, Howard Bashman not only continues to churn out links on this appellate news-watch blog but also points readers to high-quality reporting on the subject. Bashman, practicing out of Willow Grove, Pa., also sends readers directly to federal and state court opinions so they can brush up on the latest appellate news from original sources.
Bench Memos is the National Review Online’s critical look at judges, jurisprudence and constitutional authority from a largely politically conservative perspective. A mainstay of the blog is “This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism,” a series primarily authored by Ed Whelan.
The layout, lineup of writers and libertarian leanings have stayed the same, as well as the blog’s focus on constitutional law issues in the news (although there is a little more about legal education in the past year). Which is to say, it’s still a great blog, and there’s no other one with contributors so engaged with each other that they’ll spontaneously post dueling updates on a topic within the same day—or maybe within the same hour.
HALL OF FAME Paul Caron, a professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, covers tax reform in the news and scholarship related to U.S. tax law, and he notes celebrity tax disasters. But we like TaxProf at least as much for Caron's exhaustive coverage of news and debates covering legal education. He became the sole owner of the Law Professor Blogs Network and a makeover of that group of blogs soon followed.
Drexel's Dan Filler is the new blogger on the block, joining the University of Chicago's Leiter to keep the legal academy on top of law school news, including people moves, appointments and goings-on in administration, plus rankings and data to rival those published by U.S. News.
Feminist Law Professors have zero tolerance for discrimination at work, at school or in pop culture. Moderators Ann Bartow (U of South Carolina) and Bridget Crawford (Pace) praise and recognize self-identified feminists in an expansive blogroll. And they lead the charge when they see affronts to equality.
Concurring Opinions doesn’t shy away from weighty legal theory and con law issues. The dozen-plus authors and guests pull from a broad background of academic interests to draft well-written posts that can strike a chord and draw thoughtful discussion in the comments or on other blogs.
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.
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.
You can now read 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner's Reflections on Judging in hardcover. But you can read his takes on almost anything else—from law school reform to population growth to patent trolls—at this blog. And, of course, Nobel Prize-winning University of Chicago economist Gary Becker logs in his own thoughts on the same subjects.
Grab a chair, sit back and enjoy the banter about legal academia and the musings of the lounge’s 10 primary contributors and their guests. The authors know their stuff, but posts are devoid of legalspeak and instead are inviting and conversational.
The posts here often have us wondering, “What were they thinking?” If a lawyer strays from ethical boundaries, the professors who blog here are quick to pick up on the trail of any discipline with to-the-point, snark-free dispatches.
Conglomerate, aka The Glom, is a group effort by academics who emphasize, however loosely, business, law, economics and the catchall—society.
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.
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.
Late last year, Marc Randazza and his Las Vegas-based law group took on so-called copyright troll Righthaven and won. And Randazza continues to blog on First Amendment, copyright and fair use cases, never mincing words if he thinks the basis of a party’s accusation or defense is ridiculous.
HALL OF FAME George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley draws on his own experience in high-profile litigation as he analyzes breaking news items that raise legal questions. His posts, and those of his guests, show a particular interest in the First Amendment, rights of consumers, the rights of criminal defendants and the patently bizarre.
Brit Charon QC, known in the physical plane as Mike Semple Piggot, writes with varying degrees of seriousness about legal education and individual liberties in the U.K. And because of the time difference, he always seems to be tweeting about going to the bars while we’re at work.
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.
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.
HALL OF FAME This is a highly specific niche blog that nonetheless deserves its spot in the top 100 because of how utterly indispensable it is for its demographic. If you practice law in or around China or if you do any business with Chinese companies, you probably already have this bookmarked. Heck, if you're even visiting China, give it a read because the bloggers provide excellent practical advice on not getting kidnapped. (We admit being fascinated by the anti-kidnapping advice.)
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.
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).
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.
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.
Eric Turkewitz’s blog remains a great source for news and commentary from a plaintiffs-side tort lawyer. He may not be blogging as often as in years past, but when he does, it’s worth reading. Despite the name, it’s not all personal injury law; he talks about topics as diverse as politics, long-distance running, legal outsourcing and online extortion.
HALL OF FAME Why are we featuring an employment law blog for Connecticut and not a state with a higher population? Because Hartford-based blogger (and '09 Legal Rebel) Daniel Schwartz consistently impresses us with concise and incisive analysis of the latest cases and issues to arise in employment law, although occasionally venturing into more lighthearted territory. ("Ten of the Best Workplace Songs for Labor Day," for example.)
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.
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.
We’ve consistently heard from readers like Chris Holly who check Patently-O daily to keep up on developments (and jobs) in patent law. “I’m a patent prosecutor and reading the blog every day keeps me up to speed with what is going on in the patent world,” wrote Holly, an associate with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz in D.C. Co-authors Dennis Crouch of the University of Missouri School of Law and Jason Rantanen of the University of Iowa also have guest posts by other patent practitioners “that are insightful,” Holly wrote. We were excited to see a “Patent Ethics” corner started by Mercer University law prof David Hricik, but sorry to see it go on hiatus during his clerkship.
We couldn’t agree more with one fan who held up SCOTUSblog as “extraordinary,” a site that “sets the gold standard to which all blawgs should aspire.” Indeed, SCOTUSblog was on a roll in 2012 as it celebrated its 10-year anniversary, crossed over into pop culture as founder Tom Goldstein made an appearance on The Daily Show, and saw an astounding response to its live blog of the Supreme Court’s health care ruling. The coverage attracted 5 million hits and 1 million simultaneous users, including President Barack Obama.
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.
HALL OF FAME Philadelphia lawyer Kelly Phillips Erb finds the tax angles of the day's major stories, sometimes consulting experts and sometimes sharing her own opinions on U.S. tax policy. Celebrities' tax woes often make appearances. This year, she also did a series of "back to school" posts that answered tax questions tied to the beginning of the academic year: Are tutoring services deductible? How do you document school-supply donations for tax purposes? Can you deduct expenses related to kids' sports?
HALL OF FAME "Gene Quinn is fearless. He is not hesitant to point out what he perceives to be injustices spawned by particular court decisions or other developments. Furthermore, when reporting on statistics concerning patents, he drills down to discuss the reasons why the numbers read as they do, or why there may be more to the statistics than meets the eye. IPWatchdog also hosts excellent guest posts on patent law developments." —Mike Cicero, Atlanta
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.
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.
From one post: “We love finding fissures in the conservative movement and its generally disparaging views about the civil justice system.” Here, the plaintiffs-side Center for Justice & Democracy makes strident observations about newsy tort cases and never misses the humorous angles.
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.
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).
"The Drug and Device Law blog is the most timely, comprehensive blog I have found on prescription drug and medical device litigation. For recurring issues, the blog updates its scorecards and cheat sheets. For other issues, it offers in-depth summaries with thoughtful analysis. The quality of writing is excellent. As a result, despite its defense slant, the blog has garnered a diverse readership." —James M. Sullivan, Hollingsworth, Washington, D.C.
"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
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.
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.
After 10 years of blogging, D.C. lawyer Carolyn Elefant is still a voice for solos in a profession that she feels—as far as costs and ethical obligations—favors too much those practicing at large firms. Elefant isn’t really one to blog on innovative law practice management solutions she reads about elsewhere; it’s usually her own ideas and opinions she shares with readers day after day.
The Client Revolution is where practitioner Jay Shepherd is waging war with the billable hour. With witty, easy-to-read anecdotes and commonsense commentary, Shepherd makes the case for alternative billing.
At Legal Ease Blog, lawyer/law practice consultant Allison Shields offers detailed, thoughtful and original posts aimed at preventing “lawyer meltdown.”
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
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."
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.
Hull McGuire’s Dan Hull doesn’t pull any punches when he challenges readers to go beyond what’s currently en vogue, take a step back and be sure they’re serving the people who matter most to the firm: clients.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 21st century has been tough on traditional legal business models, and it's widely felt that law firms need to innovate or die. But what, exactly, do these lawyers have to do? And why aren't they doing it? Canadian management consultant Jordan Furlong tackles these questions at his blog and in a new e-book: Evolutionary Road: A Strategic Guide to Your Law Firm's Future. Some interesting posts from this year look at how law firms' values and culture contribute to their woes.
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.
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.
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.
22 Tweets houses Lance Godard’s live, often insightful “Twitterviews,” essentially mini-profiles of lawyers who tweet. In 22 tweets, lawyers reveal professional challenges, marketing tips and how to best interact with clients.
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.
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
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.
No time to evaluate all the latest platforms geared toward practitioners? No worries. Bob Ambrogi has it covered at LawSites, where he test-drives the latest releases—from new law- and law practice-related apps to new e-tools for legal research, billing and document management. Reviews cover ease of use, usefulness, functionality and cost. But his blog isn’t only about technology. Ambrogi of Rockport, Mass., cross-posted his popular Lawyer2Lawyer podcast on the blog and keeps his readers up on news about ethical implications for lawyers’ use of technology. (Editors' note: The Oct. 31 Lawyer2Lawyer podcast was the final one.)
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.
HALL OF FAME LexBlog founder Kevin O'Keefe of Seattle blogs for a tech-savvy lawyer audience about how to make the most of their legal blogs and presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But don't misunderstand—blogging isn't all about marketing to O'Keefe. "Search results may not be the be-all and end-all for good law blogs," he writes. He thinks it's great how blogs have democratized publishing for lawyers who can now avoid gatekeepers for law reviews and trade industry publications.
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.
Strategic Legal Technology’s Ron Friedmann covers “project management, legal outsourcing and legal innovation in a way that makes you contemplate what is happening in the industry and what we need to do to keep our competitive edge." —Greg Lambert, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog
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.
Manhattan criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield has his finger on the pulse of the blawgosphere. His early morning posts offer biting commentary, often uncovering by breakfast what we’ll be talking about for the rest of the day. Although he announced his retirement in February, by March he was back in business. “Truth be told, I was bored,” he wrote.
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.
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.
Ohio State law professor Douglas Berman notes congressional hearings, scholarship and general trends related to sentencing, and sometimes handicaps 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.
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.
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.
The Namby Pamby, a civil litigator in Chicago, still suffers fools gladly and updates us on “facepalm moments” prompted by his clients, his colleagues and his own lapses. We’re still laughing, and we’re interested in his evolving perspective: Namby has been blogging since his law student days, but his blog (not sure about the new layout, BTW) notes he’s soon to be married, and he must be 30 by now.
While this blog's most popular posts help female readers steer clear of the fashion police, former Wall Street lawyer Kat Griffin also takes questions from young lawyers and others about how to avoid career pitfalls. Posts written with empathy cover business etiquette, troubles with co-workers, interviewing, networking and more.
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.
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.”