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Dennis Kennedy is one of the most knowledgeable legal technologists you will find. - Michael Arkfeld.

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Dennis Kennedy’s 2009 Law-related Blogging Awards (The Blawggies)

Welcome to the 2009 edition of Dennis Kennedy’s annual Best of Law-related Blogging Awards, better known as the “Blawggies.” The Blawggies, which honor the best-related blogs as determined from my personal and highly-opinionated perspective, were first unleashed on an unsuspecting blogosphere in December 2004 and are now an annual pre-Christmas tradition here at DennisKennedy.Blog. I’m very pleased that this sixth edition of the awards makes them the longest running annual awards list for law-related blogs selected by a lawyer named Dennis Kennedy living in St. Louis, Missouri.
Background.
The Blawggies are not based on any popular votes, surveys or, God forbid, objective criteria. They are highly-opinionated choices made by me alone, based on my experience, expertise and likes and dislikes gained from nearly seven years of blogging and several more years before that of reading blogs voraciously.
Over the years, the reaction to the Blawggies has run the gamut from “who does this guy think he is?” to “if he’s so smart about blawgs, why isn’t mine included?” Actually, almost all of the reactions fall into the first category.
Seriously, though, I want to accomplish three things with the Blawggie awards:

1. To highlight the law-related blogs I read and like and to say thank you to the bloggers who write them.
2. To direct my readers to the law-related blogs I enjoy.
3. To prompt others to give their own awards so I can learn about other blogs I should be reading.

From the beginning, I expected that many bloggers would pick up on the idea and do their own awards posts. That has started to happen in the last year or two. When you realize that there is no reason that you can’t simply post your own awards, you move you from merely blogging to becoming a Blogger with a capital “B.”
So, the best response to my list is to post your own list, although I do invite your comments and discussion about my list. See, e.g., ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 or the Clawbies.
The Blawggie Criteria.
In general, I like to see blogs (1) consistently useful content, (2) a generous and helpful approach, and (3) a combination of commitment and talent, with an emphasis on good writing. In other words, I like blogs that compel me to read them on a regular basis. I read almost all blog posts in a newsreader, so the awards will reflect a bias toward blogs with full-text RSS feeds, as well as my many other biases and personal preferences, which are too numerous to list here.
It’s very important to remember that the awards also, necessarily, reflect the blawgs I actually read. That reflects my own interests and the focus on my own legal work. I read a lot of law-related blogs, but it’s still only a small fraction of the available blawgs. For example, I’m a transactional lawyer, so I’m simply not familiar with most litigation-oriented, criminal defense or regulatory blogs. You get the idea. I also tend to focus more on law practice management and legal technology blogs than others might. Another reason to do your own list.
A Word about the Name “Blawggies.”
Among the historic documents of law-related blogging is a series of emails in which Denise Howell (@dhowell), blogging pioneer and coiner of the term “blawg,” had on the question whether “Blawggies” should be spelled with one or two “gs.”As a result, I’m pretty confident of the correct spelling.
I tend to use the word “blawg” in the sense of “law-related” blogs. I find “lawyer blogs” or “legal blogs” (as opposed to “illegal blogs”?) to be limiting and inaccurate for what I want to cover. You’ll also notice that the blogs I highlight fall more into the law practice category than the substantive law category.
The Twitter Factor.
Last year, I said, fairly presciently in my Blawggie post: “It’s easy to overstate the importance of Twitter as of right now, but the potential for the future is very intriguing. Even in the last month or so, you can see many of the law-related bloggers using microblogging as an alternative channel. Definitely the trend to watch.”
Many active bloggers actually tend to post more to Twitter than to their blogs. It’s definitely had an impact on the frequency of blog updates for many bloggers.
Executive Summary.
First, let’s do away with the suspense.
Here’s the “executive summary” of the award winners. I do encourage you to read the whole post for details and the runner-up choices.
2009 Blawggie Award Categories and Winners.

1. Best Overall Law-Related Blog – SLAW
2. The Marty Schwimmer Best Practice-Specific Legal Blog – Tie: Steve Nipper’s The Invent Blog and Patrick Lamb’s In Search of Perfect Client Service
3. Best Law Practice Management Blog – Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Management Tips
4. Best Legal Blog Category – Non-US Blawgs
5. Best Legal Blog Digest – Stark County Law Library Weblog
6. Best Blawg About Legal Blawgging – Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs
7. Best Legal Podcast – Bob Ambrogi’s and Craig Williams’ Lawyer2Lawyer Podcast
8. The Sherry Fowler Best Writing on a Legal Blog Award – Allison Shields’ Legal Ease Blog
9. Best Law Professor Blog – Paul Caron’s The TaxProf Blog
10. Best New Law-related Blog – Social Media Law Student
11. The DennisKennedy.Blog Best Legal Technology Blog – Ron Friedmann’s Strategic Legal Technology
12. Most Important Trend in Law-related Blogging – Tie: Group Blogs and Microblogging

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I encourage you to read more about the winning blogs (and why they were winners) and the runners-up. If you’d rather simply see if your blog is named on mentioned, simply use the “find on this page” feature in the edit menu of your browser. ;-)
THE 2009 BLAWGGIE AWARDS
1. Best Overall Law-Related Blog – SLAW
SLAW is a repeat winner. It is a group blog written by a steadily growing list of the brightest minds in Canada on the subject of law practice management and other legal topics. Like last year, whenever I sat down and thought about what blawgs were candidates for this award, I always came back to SLAW. It can be very difficult to achieve continuity and continue to keep momentum and quality with a group blog (especially where contributors have their own individual blogs), but SLAW has continued to succeed. I like the steady stream of high-quality, useful posts on a variety of topics, often with practical advice you can use immediately. Simon Fodden is the SLAW administrator and there is a stated aim “to share knowledge, offer advice and instruction, and occasionally provoke.” Which they do.
Runner-up - Bruce MacEwen’s Adam Smith, Esq. provides the best analysis of the business and economic aspects of the practice of law you will find. Constantly thought-provoking, this blog is mandatory reading in these complicated economic times).
2. The Marty Schwimmer Best Practice-Specific Blog – Tie: Steve Nipper’s Invent Blog and Patrick Lamb’s In Search of Perfect Client Service
I named this award for Marty Schwimmer’s lifetime achievement with The Trademark Blog in setting an example of what you can do with a practice-specific blog and because, otherwise, he would win every year. His blawg still rocks. This category is always a difficult one for me because I don’t read a lot of practice-specific blogs and there are many great blawgs in that cover topics well outside my area of focus (that’s another it makes sense for you to do your own awards).
I chose the two winners this year because they illustrate how you can maintain great practice-specific blogs with names other than “ Blog” and how the best practice-specific blogs can go “off topic” with great results.
Steve Nipper’s Invent Blog covers patent law, with lots of great practical information, but he also covers topics in his local community, technology tips and other useful information. When you combine Steve’s efforts on his blog with his Twitter presence, you can see how the many ways you can use social media to create visibility and community. The one thing that always stands out in Steve’s efforts is a sense of helpfulness.
Patrick Lamb’s In Search of Perfect Client Service is a great example of a way to use a blawg as platform for thoughtful commentary and grow an audience for that material that also cannot help but conclude that this thoughtfulness and insight must also be part of your lawyering skills. Patrick is in the forefront of alternative billing and client-focused innovation in providing legal services and his blog will keep you on top of developments in those areas.
Runner-up – Matt Buchanan’s Buchanan Intellectual Property Office is the continuation and evolution of Matt’s Promote the Progress. I really like where Matt is going – he is one of the most insightful of all lawyer bloggers – but, as he reminded me recently, this is a blog-in-progress. I want to see where the progress takes us.
3. Best Law Practice Management Blog – Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Management Tips Blog
Every now and then, a blogger will get in the “zone” and write a string of great posts, one after another. Jim had one of those stretches this year, where everything he posted was great. Jim is the Practice Management Advisor of the Oklahoma Bar, a popular author and speaker, and one of the most knowledgeable experts on law practice management you will ever find, especially in the solo and small firm space. His genuine helpfulness and willingness to teach always shine through in his blog.
Runner-up - Bruce MacEwen’s Adam Smith, Esq. could win this category every year and has long been one of the best law practice management blogs, with an audience of some of the biggest decision-makers in the legal profession. Bruce has a great talent for applying economic analysis to the business of the practice of law and writing about it in a compelling and engaging manner. The blog offers vital insights and perspective in these complex economic times.
4. Best Legal Blog Category – Non-US Law-related Blogs
There is a whole world of law-related blogs outside the US. If I could read a language other than English, I’m sure that I’d know even more about these than I do now. The United Kingdom blawgs got my attention this year, but, as many readers know, I really like the Canadian bloggers. As I’ve said before, “If you only have US blogs on your reading list, you need to go global and there’s no better place to start than in Canada.” The Clawbie Awards are a great starting point for Canadian law-related blogs, which cover a wide variety of law practice management, technology and knowledge management. It’s time to diversify the list of blogs you read and move outside the US.
Runner-up – For my money, you just can’t beat the law librarian blogs for great information, links to great resources and just plain interesting insights into topics like knowledge management and our changing world of information.
5. Best Legal Blog Digest – Stark County Law Library Weblog
Another repeat winner. Some blogs that aggregate information from other legal blogs, digest posts from other legal blogs or highlight and point to posts on other legal blogs. You can effectively monitor the best posts from a number of blogs in one place. Nancy Stinson at the Stark County Law Library Weblog is my favorite example of this category. She makes excellent choices and it’s a great way to keep up with developments in the blawgosphere when you don’t have much time.
Runner-up - Legal Blog Watch. There was a momentous transition this year when Carolyn Elefant stepped away from the Legal Blog Watch, but they’ve done a good job of keeping momentum. Legal Blog Watch is another great place to find links and commentary on some of the best blawg posts of the day in one handy place.
6. Best Blawg About Legal Blawgging – Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs
The name of this category is an inside joke so I could make Kevin use the word “blawg,” which he hates, when he mentions that he won this award. As I said in 2008, “No one covers the world of legal blogging (and now related topics like Twitter and social networking) better than Kevin does. And no one today knows more about the practical aspects of legal blogging and what lawyers are doing in blogging than Kevin does. . . . If you want to learn how to start blogging and how to blog better, there’s no better place to start than Kevin’s blog.”
Runner-up – The vast majority of attention has been on lawyer’s using Twitter and other forms of social media than blogs this year. However, you can learn a lot about blogging simply by looking at and reading as many blogs as you can and noting what you like and dislike. For years, Tom Mighell’s Tom Mighell’s Inter Alia has offered a Blawg of the Day feature that both provides a service to the blawgging community and gives you a way to find lots of new blawgs. It also is a great way to spot trends and patterns and see what is happening in terms of design and content in new blogs.
7. Best Legal Podcast – Bob Ambrogi’s and Craig Williams’ Lawyer2Lawyer Podcast
Disclosure: Our podcast, The Kennedy-Mighell Report, is now produced by the Legal Talk Network and I’m an unabashed fan of the production team at LTN. That has no impact on my choice, but you might wish to factor that into account Interestingly, we’re at LTN in part because of an off-hand comment I made about re-starting our podcast in last year’s Blawggies post.
The winning podcast is Bob Ambrogi’s and Craig Williams’ Lawyer2Lawyer Podcast is, I believe, the longest-running regularly-scheduled legal podcast, with well over 100 episodes. The podcast does a great job of pulling in great guests on the leading topics of the day. The coverage is broad, which is both a plus and a minus, since an episode might stray outside your area of interest.
Runner-up – While I’m really likely where we are going with The Kennedy-Mighell Report, I’m not sure I have a clear runner-up this year. There are some good law-related podcasts out there, especially on the , but, even more so than blogs, your interest in legal podcasts will be directly proportional to what you are interested in. As a big podcast fan, let me just highlight a few good ones for you to sample – Denise Howell’s This Week in Law; The Digital Edge with Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway; Charon Podcast, and Adrian Dayton’s Weekly Voir Dire.
8. The Sherry Fowler Best Writing on a Legal Blog Award – Allison Shields’ Legal Ease Blog
I’m a big fan of the pure writing ability of some of the best legal bloggers. I named this award after the legal blogger who had the biggest influence on my blog writing, Sherry “Scheherezade” Fowler (who is now blogging at Rhubarb Pie). This is my favorite of the Blawggies. In most years, I spend a lot of time making my decision, but I’ve known who the winner this year would be for a long time.
This year’s winner is one of last year’s runners-up, Allison Shields at the Legal Ease Blog. I said last year that “Allison has a practical, comfortable style, focused yet informal, that strikes me, after meeting her, as right in line with her speaking style – I enjoy her writing, no matter the topic.” Allison covers a number of areas- law practice management, legal marketing, legal technology. She is succinct, well-organized and fills her posts with a surprising amount of sage advice, often in a fairly short post. I always read whatever she writes.
Runner-up – Tie: showcases Jordan’s stylish and thoughtful essays on a variety of law practice topics. Often the first to delve into a topic, Jordan always makes you think and his posts are often retweeted by many people on Twitter. Ernest “Ernie the Attorney” Svenson is one of the pioneering lawyer bloggers and, although he doesn’t write so much about law any more, he’s great on legal technology, New Orleans and wry observations about the human condition. I always enjoy reading whatever Ernie writes.
9. Best Law Professor Blog – Paul Caron’s The TaxProf Blog
The Blawggies have always had a spot for the best law professor blawg. In part, it’s my little effort to bring closer (unsuccessfully, as of yet) the great divide between practicing lawyers and law professors (although realizing that a favorable mention of a law professor’s blog outside academia might be disastrous for his or her tenure chances, I try to be careful). When I find an interesting post in Google Reader, I star it. I’m not sure any law-related blog has gotten more starred posts than Paul Caron’s The TaxProf Blog, although my early background in tax law has something to do with that. Paul covers not just tax issues, but the economic turmoil, law school topics and more.
Runner-up - Tie: Jim Maule’s Mauled Again is another great tax law blog with a broader scope and very interesting posts. Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog has great coverage of cyberlaw and intellectual property law issues.
10. Best New Law-related Blog – Social Media Law Student
As you will see in the next award, the two biggest trends in law-related blogging in 2009 were group blogs and social media. This category’s winner combines both and answers the question “what will blogs of people who establish a reputation in Twitter or other social media look like?” In fact, I’ve argued that this blog gives us a glimpse of what the next generation of blogging will look like. For the purists out there, I realize that the winner had a few posts in late 2008, but I’m still counting it as a new blawg for 2009.
The story of Rex (@rex7) Gradeless and his immense Twitter following has been widely told, but fewer people know about the blog that grew out of the initial Twitter success. Social Media Law Student is a group blog that he is a founder of and it covers a lot of territory in the areas of social media and law and law practice. It’s evolved into a great resource with thoughtful articles with a slightly irreverent style and lots of energy. Definitely a blog to watch.
Runner-up - Tie: Jeff Richardson’s iPhone J.D. and the Hildebrandt Blog. Jeff Richardson’s iPhone J.D. is the perfect example of a niche legal technology blog. Great coverage of the use of the iPhone in legal practice – developments, tips, news, apps recommendations. I don’t even have an iPhone and I’m a regular reader. The Hildebrandt Blog is almost too new for me to mention, so I hope they keep it going for a while. Suffice to say, it’s off to a great start with insightful and incisive posts on law practice management topics, exactly what you’d hope to see from one of the leading law practice management consulting firms.
11. The DennisKennedy.Blog Best Legal Technology Blog – Ron Friedmann’s Strategic Legal Technology
Longtime readers will know that I used to give my own blog this award every year, which had more to do with the tendency for the author’s attribution on a list like this to disappear when the list gets reposted on the Internet than my sense of humor about putting myself on the list. Last year, I simply named this award after my blog so I could keep a mention and a link in the post. There’s no bigger fan of legal tech blogs than I am and it’s always difficult for me to pick a winner, but this year I felt one blog really stood out.
Ron Friedmann’s Strategic Legal Technology was last year’s runner-up and Ron has, especially lately, been posting great items on the “big picture” legal technology topics (he’s great on outsourcing, for example) and legal technology strategy. In a way, his blog reminds me on an Adam Smith, Esq. on legal technology. The fact that Ron and I have similar perspectives on legal technology and similar interests doesn’t hurt either.
Runner-up – I couldn’t decide on a legal tech blog as a runner-up, so I decided to go with a tech advice blog I really like that I think many lawyers will find quite useful – Ask Dave Taylor, which is a great Q&A blog that offers practical answers to all kinds of technology questions. Give it a try.
12. Most Important Trend in Law-related Blogging – Tie: Microblogging (Social Media) and Group Blogging
It is impossible to overestimate the impact Twitter and social media have had on law-related blogging in 2009. I use the term microblogging to describe the use of Twitter as a vehicle to publish content that might have otherwise gone into a blog post. Because a post on Twitter (known as a “tweet”) is limited to 140 characters, microblogging consists of quick insights, short observations and pointers to links. There are also community and communications aspects to Twitter/microblogging that are somewhat different than what you get with blogging and comments.
What happened in 2009 was that microblogging siphoned a huge amount of content and energy away from blogging into social media. I like to say that any tweet on DennisKennedy.Microblog (my blog’s Twitter account – @dkennedyblog) would have probably ended up as an extended post on my blog in the past. The same is true for many other bloggers. So, we are seeing a movement of bloggers into social media and, even more interesting, a movement of people successful in social media into blogging (e.g., Social Media Law Student). Where it will end up, I don’t know, but it’s definitely where the action is in law-related blogging.
A second trend, somewhat related, is the movement to group blogging. If a blogger is running a blog, participating in other blogs, using social media, podcasting and other things as well, something has to give. Often, the traditional blog post is what gets pushed back and you see bloggers posting to their blogs much less frequently than before. One solution is to add additional bloggers to an existing blog. Another approach is simply to start group blogs. Law firms are also using the group blogging approach to get blogs up and running.
I, only half-jokingly, like to say that I’ve participated in more now-dead group blogs than any other blawgger. I can attest to the fact that it is very difficult to sustain group blogs over the long haul.
Runner-up – Federation. There might be a better word for this. The idea is that, if I have all of these outlets for what I am producing, I should be able to see them automatically in one place and people should be able to subscribe to everything I’m doing in one place. People are looking at things like FriendFeed, Posterous and other tools/services for help with this.
And there you have it – the 2009 Blawggie Awards.
As usual , it’s painful not to give awards to all the blogs I like, but, as with any awards, you have to make some choices. I’m making available for download soon an OPML file with the Blawggie winners and a list of many of the other law-related blogs to which I currently subscribe and grabbed for this list. Follow the instructions in your RSS reader for importing OPML files and you’ll be able to instantly start reading the law-related blogs I do. I welcome your feedback, but, as ever, I really invite you to post your own awards as a way of saying “thank you” to the blogs and bloggers that matter most to you. Or, perhaps most important, if you don’t have a blog, but have been thinking about starting one, I encourage you to jump right in.
Best wishes for 2010.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog; Follow me – @denniskennedy
Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools
The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast – Legal technology with an Internet focus.
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6 Responses to “Dennis Kennedy’s 2009 Law-related Blogging Awards (The Blawggies)”

  1. Dennis,
    Thank you very much for your inclusion in the 2009 Blawggies.
    It is a great honor to be selected by you and to be a part of such a wonderful group of legal blawggers.

  2. Dennis, let me say thank you on behalf of all of the members of Slaw. This is a great honour, and it will keep us rocking on for another year, for sure.

  3. Charon QC says:

    Thank you for the mention in dispatches.. appreciated… enjoy doing podcasts so always good to hear that people enjoy listening to them… the stars are, of course, the guests – lawyers and others who give up time freely to talk to other lawyers and non-lawyers.

  4. Dennis:
    Wow! Thanks for honoring me and the Legal Ease Blog by including Legal Ease in the 2009 Blawggies. I am humbled to be a part of your list.

  5. Thorne says:

    Kevin O’Keefe won an award, in part, on good writing?

  6. Hi Dennis,
    Thank you so much for the “Blawggie!” It is indeed an honor to be included on your list.
    I agree that Slaw is definitely a winner!

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