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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

Announcing the 2013 Blawggie Awards – Tenth Edition

Welcome to the 2013 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.

This historic tenth 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. What was originally just a crazy idea turned into a bit of an institution in the world of law-related blogging, illustrating my original premise: “Hey, I have a blog and there’s nothing stopping me from making up my own awards.”

I’ve included some explanatory and historical information about the Blawggies at the end of this post. As I’ve said before and explain in more detail at the end of this post, the Blawggies are not based on any popular votes, surveys or, God forbid, objective criteria. I choose the winners from only the blogs I read regularly. They are highly-opinionated choices made by me alone as I write this post.

Executive Summary.

Spoiler Alert In this era of short attention spans, many people, especially lawyers, do not like three thousand word posts such as this one. Even fewer like long introductions to even long blog posts, or reading 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 (or command-F for Mac users) 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. And I definitely encourage you to add the RSS feeds to all of these blogs to your RSS reader or “regularly-visited blogs” list.

2013 Blawggie Award Categories and Winners.


1. Best Overall Law-Related Blog – 3 Geeks and a Law Blog

2. The “Marty Schwimmer” Best Practice-Specific Legal Blog – Sharon Nelson’s Ride the Lightning

3. Best Law Practice Management Blog – Adam Smith, Esq.

4. Best Law-related Blog Category – Law Librarian Blogs

5. The “Kennedy-Mighell Report” Best Legal Podcast – The Return of the Legal Talk Network

6. The “Sherry Fowler” Best Writing on a Blawg Award – Sharon Nelson’s Ride the Lightning

7. Best Law Professor Blog – Legal Skills Prof Blog

8. The “DennisKennedy.Blog” Best Legal Technology Blog – V. Mary Abraham’s Above and Beyond KM

9. Best New Blawg – Jerry Lawson’s NetLawTools

10. Best Blawg Aggregator – Tie: TechnoLawyer’s BlawgWorld; Pinhawk Law Technology Daily Digest

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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 2013 BLAWGGIE AWARDS

1. Best Overall Law-Related Blog – 3 Geeks and a Law Blog

I decided to single out the excellent 3 Geeks and a Law Blog not only for great content, but also for its ability to generate serious discussions. With everyone involved in several forms of social media, “engagement” and discussion with blog posts and blog comments is becoming harder to find than ever before. This blog has raised a lot of great questions about law and law practice and gotten people talking about those issues. I admit the authors and especially like how they’ve been able to keep a group blog going in a vibrant way – a rarity in the blawg world. My hat is off to 3 Geeks and a Law Blog for making themselves an easy choice for this award in 2013. Congratulations to Toby Brown, Greg Lambert, Lisa Salazar and their team of helpers.

Runner-up – Jordan Furlong’s Law21 blog won the 2012 Blawggie in the “best overall” category and continued in a very strong fashion this year, ending the year with a thought-provoking post called “You Say You Want a Revolution” that’s garnered a lot of attention. The post exemplifies Jordan’s coverage of law practice and the legal profession with insight, creativity and a willingness to challenge business-as-usual approaches.

2. The Marty Schwimmer Best Practice-Specific Blog – Sharon Nelson’s Ride the Lightning

This category is named for Marty Schwimmer, whose The Trademark Blog, has long been my gold standard for what a practice-specific blog should be. Cybersecurity, discovery and data privacy have become front-and-center issues for many lawyers in 2013 (and should become top of mind for many more lawyers). I’ve really enjoyed Sharon Nelson’s Ride the Lightning blog this year. She focuses on computer security and ediscovery, but has branched out in privacy and other areas. The posts are practical and thoughtful and often cover breaking developments with real-world insights. These topics cut across all traditions areas of law practice and I give this award in part in recognition that lawyers should no longer think of their niche practice areas as isolated islands that are somehow unaffected by the changes technology is bringing us.

Runner-up – The Inhouse Blog took the runner-up prize in this category for 2013. Since I work as an in-house counsel, this blog is a very useful resource with practical information, links, news and developments relevant to in-house counsel. Highly recommended for anyone who is an in-house counsel, wants to be an in-house counsel or wants to work better with in-house counsel.

3. Best Law Practice Management Blog – Adam Smith, Esq.

The Adam Smith, Esq. blog has long been the gold standard in analytical study of the practice of law, with an emphasis on legal economics. The blog usually focuses on so-called BigLaw issues, but there is much to be learned for firms of all sizes. The blog also does the occasional longer, multi-part thought pieces that are well worth your time and attention.

Runner-up – Allison Shields’ LegalEase Blog. I know that Allison had to spend time away from her blog this year to write two books with me, but her blog (and email newsletter) have lots of great practical tips. There’s a series of time management tips she’s been writing and I really like her recent experiments with infographics.

4. Best Law-related Blog Category – Law Librarian Blogs

I use this category annually to highlight the blogs written by law librarians, a category that I don’t think gets enough attention. 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. If you want to try just one, Sabrina Pacifici’s BeSpacific Blog provides a steady stream of links to great US government and other information. 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 – I also use this category to remind people that blawgging is a global phenomenon. 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. In the UK, I especially like the Legal Futures Blog.

5. The Kennedy-Mighell Report Best Legal Podcast – The Return of the Legal Talk Network

I name this category after the podcast Tom Mighell and I do, since I can’t really give it the best podcast award without causing much eye-rolling from Tom. Last year, we thought the Legal Talk Network was finished, but it was resurrected by the great people at Lawgical and I’m thrilled that LTN is again a vibrant resource for legal and law-related podcasts.Lots of choices. If you have not tried listening to podcasts, the Legal Talk Network gives you a great place to start. Try out a few of them.

6. The Sherry Fowler Best Writing on a Blawg Award – Sharon Nelson’s Ride the Lightning

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.

As I was thinking about this award, I started thinking about how much I enjoy reading Sharon Nelson’s Ride the Lightning blog on a regular basis. Sometimes when you have known someone for a long time and are friends with them, you tend to take for granted how good their work really is. Sharon’s an excellent wrier and her blog captures her voice so well. Blog pioneer, Dave Winer, has defined a blog as “the unedited voice of a person.” Sharon encapsulate that notion well. It’s time to recognize that.

Runner-up – Jane Genova’s Law and More – Topical, opinionated, wide-ranging, thoughtful and well-written, the Law and More blog is one that I just enjoy reading every day. I like the way Jane addresses issues like alcoholism, depression, burnout and other things that many lawyers like to avoid.

Special Mention – Pinhawk Law Technology Daily Digest – Although technically not a blog, Jeff Brandt’s daily email newsletter selects three or four worthy blog posts and summarizes them in a pithy, witty and engaging style. Jeff also illustrates Dave Winer’s idea that a blog is the “unedited voice of a person.” We all get too much email, but this is an email newsletter that you won’t mind at all in in your inbox.

7. Best Law Professor Blog – Legal Skills Prof Blog

Although, I’m nominally a contributing editor of the Legal Skills Prof Blog, I’m way more a reader than a contributor. As the debate about the future of legal education started to take hod in 2013 and gain momentum, the “practical skills” approach started to get a lot of attention. THis blog’s coverage of those issues was excellent and it’s a great place to keep up-to-date on discussions about the future of legal education, analysis of current trends, and generally help links and information.

Runner-up – Paul Caron’s The TaxProf Blog What more can I say than that this blog covers tax topics in such an interesting way that I want to read every post. My greatest compliment: reading this blog makes me want to take a class from Paul. I hope he’s thinking about doing some online courses.

8. The DennisKennedy.Blog Best Legal Technology Blog – V. Mary Abraham’s Above and Beyond KM

[Note: I used to give my own blog this award every year, in part because of the attribution issue I talk about in this post and in part because I thought some of my blogging friends got 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. Or maybe they just like to laugh at me.]

Legal technology takes many forms and covers a wide rage of areas. This category’s winner, V. Mary Abraham’s Above and Beyond KM, covers an area I’ve long been interested in gaining more expertise – knowledge management. Interest in legal KM has ebbed and flowed over the years, but it seems to be gathering attention, especially as we start to enter the realm of Big Data. I find that I look to Mary’s blog for thoughtful commentary and her always excellent notes on presentations she attends. It’s a niche topic, but also one that has broader insights and principles.

Runner-up – Law Technology Today OK, I’ll admit that this blog is one that I post to on a once-a-month basis, but I really like what Josh Poje and his team are doing with this blog. If Above and Beyond KM is an example of a niche legal tech blog, Law Technology Today is a great example of a practical, general audience legal tech blog. Lots of great practical advice, often from well-known legal tech writers.

9. Best New Blawg – Jerry Lawson’s NetLawTools

I’m kind of cheating in this category, but you’ll see the reason for my selection. Jerry Lawson is one of the true Internet pioneers among lawyers. I had the chance to write a regular column with Jerry on Internet marketing more than ten years ago. Jerry is the one who first noticed that I had written that blogs might be a great thing for lawyers about two years before I actually got around to starting my blog. In 2013, I noticed that Jerry had started posting to his blog again after a long absence. It’s so great to have his voice and insights back on a regular basis that I knew that I had to give him this award, even if I had to change the rules. Then I realized that I made up all the rules and can do whatever I want. It is very welcome news to see that Jerry is back to writing regularly and I highly recommend you check out his blog.

10. Best Blawg Aggregator – Tie: TechnoLawyer’s BlawgWorld; Pinhawk Law Technology Daily Digest

Two different approaches to keep up with legal tech and law practice management blogs and other posts related to the legal profession. If you read DennisKennedy.Blog, then you should be (and probably already are) a member of Neil Squillante’s excellent TechnoLawyer community, with its great set of resources on legal tech, marking and management. TechnoLawyer’s BlawgWorld is a weekly email newsletter that uses human editors to cull out usedul blog posts and other materials. They say, “Week after week, BlawgWorld provides you with everything you need from the legal Web but nothing you don’t.” The Pinhawk Law Technology Daily Digest is a daily email newsletter in which Jeff Brandt highlights three or four blawg posts on legal tech and summarizes and comments on them in his perceptive, concise and often witty way. His eye for selection is also great and I usually find myself checking out a few of the linked posts everyday.

And there you have it – the 2013 Blawggie Awards.

I wish I could give awards to all the blawgs (and blogs) I like, but this post is already long enough (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 don’t read my blog).

When it really comes down to it, 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.

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 ten 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?”

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.”

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, the number of blawgs I read continues to decrease and the number of non-law-related blogs I read increases. Also, the blawgs I do read are concentrated in my areas of interest and day-to-day focus.

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.

All best wishes for 2014.

Dennis

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

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LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers (Second Edition), the new book from Allison Shields and me, is now available (iBook version also available). Our previous book, Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers, is also available (iBook version here). Also still available, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

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