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Dennis Kennedy

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

Dennis Kennedy, a lawyer and legal technology expert in St. Louis, Mo., has been a significant influence in the ever-evolving relationship between lawyers and the Web. - Robert Ambrogi

The 2010 Blawggies – Dennis Kennedy’s Annual Best of Law-related Blogging Awards

Welcome to the 2010 edition of Dennis Kennedy’s annual Best of Law-related Blogging Awards, affectionately known as the “Blawggies.” The Blawggies, which honor the best law-related blogs as determined from my personal and highly-opinionated perspective, were first unleashed on an unsuspecting blogosphere in December 2004 and are an annual tradition here at DennisKennedy.Blog.

I’m very pleased that this seventh 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. It’s difficult to keep a blog going for that length of time, let alone maintain an ongoing feature on blog for so long. I’ve enjoyed seeing how what once was just a crazy idea has turned into a bit of an institution in the world of law-related blogging.

Some Background on the Blawggies.

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 eight years of blogging and from reading blogs voraciously for a good number of years before that.

The reactions to the Blawggies have traditionally run the gamut from “who does this guy think he is?” to “if he’s so smart about blawgs, why didn’t he give my blawg an award?” to “who is Dennis Kennedy?”

Seriously, though, I’ve always wanted to do three things with the Blawggie awards:

1. To highlight the law-related blogs I read and like and to say thank you to those 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 write their own awards posts. After all, there is no barrier to entry for posting your own awards. I thought that I could then get great recommendations for blogs to add to my reading list from other awards posts in much the same way you can get great recommendations for new music to listen to from the “best of the year” posts by music bloggers that appear at this time of year.

As I’ve said before, “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.’”

The best response to my list is to post your own list, although I do invite your comments and discussion about my list.

The Blawggie-winning Criteria.

I like blogs with (1) consistently useful content, (2) a generous and helpful approach, and (3) a combination of commitment, personality and talent, with an emphasis on good writing. In other words, I like blogs that compel me to read them on a regular basis.

The awards necessarily reflect my many biases and personal preferences, which are far too numerous to list here.

It’s very important to remember that the awards also reflect the blawgs I actually read. While I read a lot of law-related blogs, lately I find the number of blawgs I read is decreasing and the number of non-law-related blogs I read is increasing. Also, the blawgs I do read have become concentrated in my areas of interest and day-to-day focus.

While the trend toward creating niche blogs has its benefits, I’m not really able to follow law-related blogs in niche areas outside of my subject matter. For example, I’m a transactional lawyer, who focuses on information technology law, legal technology and law practice management issues. For better or worse, I’m simply not familiar with most litigation-oriented, criminal defense, regulatory or other specialized blogs. You get the idea.

A Word about the Name “Blawggies.”

Among the historic documents of law-related blogging are a series of emails in which Denise Howell (@dhowell), blogging pioneer and coiner of the term “blawg,” and I had on the question whether “Blawggies” (as well as “blawgger” and “blawgging”) should be spelled with one or two “gs”. As a result, I’m pretty confident of the correct spelling, although I’m seeing more of the single “g” approach lately.

I use the word “blawg” in the sense of “law-related blogs.” I find “lawyer blogs” or “legal blogs” to be limiting and inaccurate for what I want to cover.

The 2010 Social Media Factor.

As I predicted in my 2009 Blawggies post, the biggest trend in blawgging in 2010 is the continuing movement of blawggers into social media. It’s definitely decreased the frequency of blog posting by many blawggers and changed what gets written about on a blog as opposed to distributed via social media. As I considered the 2010 Blawggie awards, I was surprised by how many well-known blawgs were not very active this past year because the authors were using social media as their primary daily outlet.

Executive Summary.

Spoiler Alert I’ve found that many people do not like long blog posts such as this one, or long introductions to long blog posts, or needing to read through commentary to learn the award winners. What follows is the executive summary list of winners. If you’d like to keep up the level of suspense, you’ll want to scroll quickly past the summary list. If all you really want to know is whether I mention you or your blawg, hit control-F and search for your name or your blawg’s name.

Here’s the list of the award winners. I will encourage you to read the whole post for details and the runner-up choices, and my thoughts about the blawgs.

2010 Blawggie Award Categories and Winners.

1. Best Overall Law-Related Blog – Real Lawyers Have Blogs

2. The Marty Schwimmer Best Practice-Specific Legal Blog – Ken Adams’s The Koncise Drafter

3. Best Law Practice Management Blog – Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Management Tips

4. Best Legal Blog Category – Law Librarian Blogs

5. Best Legal Blog Digest – Stark County Law Library Weblog

6. Best Blawg About Legal Blawgging and Social Media – Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs

7. The Kennedy-Mighell Report Best Legal Podcast – The Legal Talk Network Family of Podcasts

8. The Sherry Fowler Best Writing on a Blawg Award – Jordan Furlong’s Law21.ca

9. Best Law Professor Blog – Tie: Paul Caron’s The TaxProf Blog and Jim Maul’s Mauled Again

10. Best New Law-related Blog – Tie: Jane Genova’s Law and More and Rebecca Stahl’s Is Yoga Legal?

11. The DennisKennedy.Blog Best Legal Technology Blog – Jeff Richardson’s iPhone J.D.

12. Most Important Trend in Law-related Blogging – Social Media, the Mobile Platform and Personal Portals

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I encourage you to keep reading this post to learn about the winning blogs (and why I felt that they were winners) and about the runners-up.

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THE 2010 BLAWGGIE AWARDS

1. Best Overall Law-Related Blog – Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs

Dave Winer has famously defined a blog as “the unedited voice of a person.” Nobody covers the ways lawyers are using blogging , social media and other outlets in the way Kevin does. His blog is informative, feisty, conversational in the best sense of the word, highly-opinionated and a treasure trove for anyone wanting to learn about how lawyers are using the Internet and the issues that arise. In other words, he has the unedited voice of a person and his blog is a must-read. I always learn a lot from Kevin and he regularly gives me new ways to thing about aspects of blogging and social media that help me question what I’m taking for granted. One of my favorite experiences of 2010 was a webinar on managing your online presence I moderated with Kevin and Jim Calloway – it’s definitely worth looking for the replay. Kevin is one of the early Internet pioneers who has had a big impact on lawyers using the Internet for many years. He’s a true believer in the best sense of the term. In the interest of disclosure, Kevin’s company hosts the companion blog for the collaboration tools book Tom Mighell and I wrote.

Runner-up – SLAW – It’s worth noting that Kevin kept the SLAW blog from achieving a Blawggie three-peat this year. SLAW is still a great blog, but I liked what Kevin did this year more and I’ve started to feel that the large number of contributors to SLAW might have caused it to lose some focus and personality. SLAW is still great, however, and has consistently useful posts, a welcome diversity of viewpoints and focus, and shows off the excellent Canadian blawgosphere.

2. The Marty Schwimmer Best Practice-Specific Blog – Ken Adams’s The Koncise Drafter

Legal drafting expert Ken Adams recently renamed his Adams Drafting blog to Ken Adams’s The Koncise Drafter and revamped his site. Ken covers every aspect of improving the drafting of contracts. If you ever find yourself in a debate over whether you need to say “indemnify AND hold harmless,” this blawg will be the resource you will want to know. His blog is a fantastic resource for transactional lawyers who draft and review contracts, and it would also be useful for litigators who need help in interpreting specific contract language. [Note #1: This category is named for Marty Schwimmer, whose Trademark Blog, has long been my gold standard for what a practice-specific blog should be. Note #2: This category illustrates how my choices are based on blogs I actually read and my own subject matter areas, and should give you a reason to create your own awards to highlight the best blawgs in your practice areas.]

Runner-up – Evan Brown’s Internet Cases – One the one hand, Evan’s blog is a model for a practice specific blog focused on a single niche topic (the title says it all), but it also shows how really good blogs can transcend the genre, show personality and create an enjoyable experience for those not practicing in the niche. If you want to keep up with legal developments on the Internet, Evan’s blog is the place to start.

3. Best Law Practice Management Blog – Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Management Tips Blog

Repeat-winner Jim Calloway is a model of consistently good blogging and Jim has a great understanding of what his audience will find helpful. 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. I’m happy to call him a friend, too.

Runner-up – Jordan Furlong’s Law21.ca – Jordan Furlong covers law practice both as a journalist and a thought-provoking commentator. His blog both keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments and gives you Jordan’s insights and analysis about these developments. Simply put, if you want to get the jump on what people will be talking about a year or two from now, you’ll want to read what Jordan is writing today.

4. Best Legal Blog Category – Law Librarian Blogs

I’ve long been a fan of blogs written by law librarians. These blogs are places to find great information, help for finding information, links to great resources and just plain interesting insights into topics like knowledge management and our changing world of information. Just this past week, I was noticing how often I was finding links to useful documents and information sources on a variety of topics on Sabrina Pacifici’s BeSpacific Blog. The Law Librarian Blog is a great starting place and there’s a great list of law library blogs here.

Runner-up – Non-US Law-related Blogs – There is a whole world of law-related blogs outside the United States. If I could read a language other than English, I’m sure that I’d know even more about these than I do now. There are many great United Kingdom blawgs and, as longtime readers know, I’m a huge fan of Canadian bloggers. As I’ve said before, “If you only have US blogs on your reading list, you need to go global.” Diversity is a good thing. Why not start in Canada? The annual Clawbie awards will give you a starter list and I’m proud to have received a 2009 Clawbie for being a “Friend of the North.”

5. Best Legal Blog Digest – Stark County Law Library Weblog

Nancy Stinson and the Stark County Library Weblog gets the three-peat this year. If you can’t or don’t want to follow a lot of blawgs, be aware that some blogs aggregate information from other law-related blogs, digest posts from other law-related blogs or highlight and point to posts on other law-related 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 selections and I find a lot of good posts from this blog. If you don’t have much time, this blog is a great way to keep up with the best of the blawgosphere. I always enjoy seeing that Nancy has highlighted a blog post that I also liked.

Runner-up -Legal Blog Watch – This blog has had a major transition from the halcyon days when blawgging giants Carolyn Elefant and Bob Ambrogi ran it, but it’s moved forward and is still a good place to find coverage of what’s being talked about on other blawgs as well as coverage of news and developments. Also, although technically not a blog, I really like Tom Mighell’s “Linkstream” as a resource for following the blog posts Tom finds most interesting and useful – I find lots of great information there.

6. Best Blawg About Legal Blawgging and Social Media – Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs

I have to admit that I started this category as an inside joke so I could make Kevin use the word “blawg,” which he hates (or used to), when he mentioned that he won this award, as he has done every year. I now think it really does deserve its own category, especially as social media has transformed the world of blawgging. 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 – Tom Mighell’s Inter Alia and its Blawg of the Day feature – For me, the best way to learn about blogging, especially as a beginner, is to look at and read as many blogs as you can and decide what you like and dislike. For years, Tom Mighell’s Inter Alia has offered a Blawg of the Day feature in which he has highlight thousands of blawgs. This feature 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 blawgs.

7. The Kennedy-Mighell Report Best Legal Podcast – The Legal Talk Network Family of Podcasts

[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 and it gives me another chance to remind you that these awards are my personal, opinionated choices. I used to get some criticism for giving myself awards or naming awards after me on this list (in fact, I still do), but, as I've explained before, most of the reason for that stems from my longtime experience of seeing lists I made republished without attribution or linkbacks. Adding myself to the list is a way to make sure that someone finds his or her way back to my work if the list is "repurposed."]

2010 has been the year of the legal podcast. There are many great legal podcasts and it’s difficult to choose just one. So, I took the easy way out (and went with my heart) and chose the whole family of blogs on the Legal Talk Network, the producers of the The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast. This family of podcasts includes the “granddaddy” of legal podcasts, Lawyer to Lawyer with Bob Ambrogi and Craig Williams, and excellent podcasts from Rodney Dowell, Monica Bay, Sharon Nelson and John Simek, and many others. With consistently great production values, top notch hosts and great topics, LTN is the place to go for legal podcasts. This award is, in part, a small way to thank LuAnn Reeb and the LTN team for all the great work they do.

Runner-up – Denise Howell’s This Week in Law – I’m not sure whether it was Denise’s decision to actually make this a weekly (rather than an occasional) podcast, the addition of Evan Brown as a regular, or great topic choices and guests, but TWIL really found its stride this year. The podcast covers new developments in technology law and occasionally strays into other interesting areas of technology. It’s a great place to find discussion of the legal issues arising out of technological change. The podcast is very long (usually at least an hour), which some might find off-putting, but you can always listen at double speed on you iPod (my favorite tech tip of the year).

8. The Sherry Fowler Best Writing on a Blawg Award – Jordan Furlong for the Law21.ca blog

I’m a big fan of the pure writing ability of some of the best blawggers. I named this award after the legal blogger who had the biggest influence on my blog writing, Sherry “Scheherezade” Fowler (who hasn’t been a lawyer blogger for many years). This is my favorite of the Blawggies, my most-opinionated award, and the one I historically get most criticized for. The bottom line: I like the writing I like.

On Jordan Furlong’s Law21.ca, Jordan writes longer essay posts of the type I favor. You will find well-crafted, thoughtful and thought-provoking essays on a variety of law practice management topics, including legal technology and economics of practice. Often the first to delve into a topic, Jordan always makes you reconsider your assumptions and to look at the world with new eyes. His posts often get retweeted by many people on Twitter. Highly recommended.

Runner-up – Ernest “Ernie the Attorney” Svenson – Ernie is one of the pioneering lawyer bloggers and one of my favorite people to read. He’s created a small family of blogs, including the excellent PDF for Lawyers blog. His writing on technology is patient, accessible and enlightening, as Ernie is in person. I always find something of value in his thoughtful posts, even those on topics I think I’m quite familiar with. Ernie’s perspectives and insights are always a welcome visitor to my Google Reader.

9. Best Law Professor Blog – Tie: Paul Caron’s The TaxProf Blog and Jim Maul’s Mauled Again

The Blawggies have always had a spot for the best law professor blawg and now that I’m a contributing editor to the new Legal Skills Prof Blog on the great Paul Caron’s The TaxProf Blog and Jim Maul’s Mauled Again. I like how they both cover tax law and tax developments, explain the practical implications, and branch out into the economic crisis, law school issues and much more. Both bloggers show how to write a blog with an academic focus and a a real world impact. I admire them greatly. Perhaps my highest compliment is that their blogs make me wish I could take a tax law class from them, which is no small feat when you consider that the late Martin Ginsberg was one of my favorite professors at Georgetown University Law Center.

Runner-up – Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog – Eric’s blawg covers my own area of work – information technology law and related and intellectual property law issues with gusto, style and excellent insights, all done in a way that keeps touch with the real world. Very helpful.

10. Best New Law-related Blog – Tie: Jane Genova’s Law and More and Rebecca Stahl’s Is Yoga Legal?

I found this to be the hardest award to decide on this year, in large part because so much of the new action seems to be taking place in social media and in part because most of the new blogs I’ve begun to follow this year are not law-related blogs. With today’s focus on niche-oriented blawgs and so much happening in social media, my sense is that it’s harder than ever for a new blog to get traction and find a general audience.

I found two new blawgs this year that have found a home in my Google Reader and that I enjoy reading on a regular basis. Both blogs illustrate my belief that good writers make for good blogs.

The first is Jane Genova’s Law and More. It’s one of my favorite types of blogs – opinionated, feisty, thoughtful and always interesting. Even if I don’t agree with Jane’s point of view, I enjoy reading the argument. I especially like the way Jane writes fearlessly about topics often like to avoid.

The second is Rebecca Stahl’s Is Yoga Legal?. This blog actually started in late 2009, but I wanted to include it and, since I make up the rules, I stretched the rules a bit. It’s perhaps turned into a blog more about yoga than law, but I find myself looking forward to reading each post. It’s like a small oasis in my Google Reader list. It’s always important for you to read some blogs that fall outside your beaten path.

11. The DennisKennedy.Blog Best Legal Technology Blog – Jeff Richardson’s iPhone J.D.

As I mentioned, I used to give my own blog this award in part because of the attribution issue I talked about earlier and in part because I thought some of my blogging friends would get a laugh out of it. They did, but others didn’t, and, instead, I started the tradition of naming the award for my blog rather than having my blog win it. I still get some criticism for that and my friends laugh even more at that.

Jeff Richardson’s iPhone J.D., as I mentioned last year when it was a runner-up in this category, is the perfect example of a niche legal technology blog and how a niche blog, if done well, can grow a larger audience as it expands its coverage and reflects the interests and personality of its author. This blawg has excellent coverage of the use of the iPhone in legal practice – developments, tips, news, apps recommendations. It also meets one of my favorite crtieria of a great blog – I don’t even have an iPhone and I’m a regular reader.

Runner-up – Tie: Ron Friedmann’s Strategic Legal Technology; Ernie Svensons’s PDF for Lawyers blog; and Rick Borstein’s Acrobat for Legal ProfessionalsRon Friedmann’s Strategic Legal Technology has long been one of my favorite legal technology blogs. Ron and I have similar interests in and perspectives on legal technology and he’s great at posting about issues that intrigue me, like outsourcing, strategy and bigger issues. Ernie Svensons’s PDF for Lawyers blog is a great resource to help practicing lawyers use PDFs in their practices. Rick Borstein’s Acrobat for Legal Professionals is both a great practical resource for tips and techniques for using Adobe Acrobat and a model for how a software vendor should use a blog to distribute useful information to users.

12. Most Important Trends in Law-related Blogging – Social Media, the Mobile Platform and Personal Portals

I really see this as one trend with three components. Tom Mighell and I have talked quite a bit about these topics on our podcast this year. Social media has had a huge impact on the frequency and types of posting blawggers do. If you take my blog as an example, my frequency of blogging might be the lowest ever (about once a week or so) and many of the things I probably would have blogged about in the past now appear as links on DennisKennedy.Microblog, my blog’s Twitter account.

Readers now find information you publish in many places, especially on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Part of my blog posting regimen is tweeting about a blog post after it has been published and issuing a Facebook status update about it. Readers often read your material using a smartphone as we all move onto the mobile platform.

It used to be that websites and blogs made a great effort to drive people back to the website or blog and capture the reader there. The website or blog was the one central “home base” (as Chris Brogan and others call it). Now, I see our web presence as much more distributed and our audience finding us in a variety of unrelated ways. The key thing is not to “drive and capture,” but to recognize the different routes people take and the different audiences, and make each location a “personal portal” that lets your audience easily find and get to your other presences, if they choose to do so. This means more repurposing, more linking and a more open and fluid web presence than in the past. It’s challenging, but it’s exciting. It will be interesting to see how much longer blogging awards like the Blawggies still make sense in the dynamic world of social media, apps and new developments.

I’m looking forward to seeing how all of this year’s winners deal with these challenges, the experiments they try, and the lessons we share. And I’m especially looking forward to those not even on my radar this year who will rise to the top and teach me new things next year.

And there you have it – the 2010 Blawggie Awards.

I wish I could give awards to all the blawgs (and blogs) Ilike, but this post is already ridiculously long (another Blawggie tradition). Once again, I encourage you to create your own awards (although I’d prefer that you not call them Blawggies – that makes me feel that you haven’t read my blog). The Blawggies are really my way of saying thank you to the blawgs I enjoy most. There are times when blogging can seem like a thankless pursuit, so remember that all bloggers welcome a thank you from readers from time to time.

Best wishes for 2011.

Dennis

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

A great addition to your bookshelf for 2011! 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

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One Response to “The 2010 Blawggies – Dennis Kennedy’s Annual Best of Law-related Blogging Awards”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much for the support. I waver between too much law and too much yoga. I appreciate you sending people my way, and now you are on my Google Reader as well. Happy New Year!

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