Welcome to the 2011 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 eighth 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 – just a crazy idea that has turned into a bit of an institution in the world of law-related blogging.
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. They are highly-opinionated choices made by me alone as I write this post.
Longtime readers will note that I’ve dropped a few categories from last year, in large part because of the continuing movement of bloggers away from blogging to social media and the impact that’s had on blawgs. And, in no small part, it’s because, as I describe below, because I base these awards on blawgs I actually read.
Spoiler Alert Many people do not like long blog posts such as this one. Even fewer like long introductions to 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 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 – Adam Smith, Esq.
3. Best Law Practice Management Blog – Law21.ca
4. Best Legal Blog Category – Law Librarian Blogs
5. The “Kennedy-Mighell Report” Best Legal Podcast – The Unbillable Hour Podcast
8. The “DennisKennedy.Blog” Best Legal Technology Blog – Ron Friedmann’s Strategic Legal Technology
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.
THE 2011 BLAWGGIE AWARDS
1. Best Overall Law-Related Blog – Adam Smith, Esq.
Bruce MacEwen’s recent post pointing out that he didn’t consider Adam Smith, Esq. a “blawg,” rather an “online publication,” only cemented my decision to give Bruce (and his Adam Smith, Esq. partner, Janet Stanton) this award for 2011. While Adam Smith, Esq.’s coverage of the legal profession from an economic perspective has a depth most do not associate with blogs, I won’t debate the semantics of the term “blawg,” but I will say that I’m happy any day a post from Adam Smith, Esq. shows up in my Google Reader. I appreciate the detailed, boundary-pushing analysis of the economics of legal practice and other issues, and the sometimes surprising, but always thoughtful, insights. Always a rewarding read.
Runner-up – Jordan Furlong’s Law21.ca – Jordan Furlong covers law practice and the legal professions with insight, creativity and a willingness to challenge business-as-usual approaches. As I’ve said before, 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.
2. The Marty Schwimmer Best Practice-Specific Blog – Ken Adams’s The Koncise Drafter
A repeat winner, legal drafting expert Ken Adams covers every aspect of improving contract drafting. 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. A recent post delved into the use of “sole and absolute discretion.” His blog is the premier 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. More importantly, Ken is leading the charge for clear and concise 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 – In House Blog – In House Blog is one of the rare group blogs that works for me. It’s a nice selection of posts of information of general interest to in house counsel, with enough helpful information to make it useful without feeling overwhelming.
3. Best Law Practice Management Blog – Jordan Furlong’s Law21.ca
I couldn’t bear the thought of giving Jordan two runner-up awards. Jordan makes you think. He questions standard law practice management approaches and challenges business as usual think. He also makes helpful recommendations. If you want to get a head-start on how law practices will be managed in the future, you’ll want to consider what Jordan is writing today.
Runner-up – Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Management Tips Blog – Jim Calloway has a voice that is perfectly tuned to solo and small firm lawyers. His common sense and practical tips and commentary also speak to a wider audience. I learn something from Jim’s posts on a regular basis. 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. Think of him as the genuinely helpful teacher you wish you could have had – now you can. I’m happy to call him a friend, too.
4. Best Legal Blog Category – Law Librarian Blogs
I use this category 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 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. 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.
5. The Kennedy-Mighell Report Best Legal Podcast – Rodney Dowell’s Unbillable Hour Podcast
[Disclosure: Our podcast, The Kennedy-Mighell Report, is 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.”]
There are many great legal podcasts and it’s difficult to choose just one, but I’ve chosen Rodney Dowell’s Unbillable Hour podcast this year. Rodney Dowell has interviewed a series of great guests in 2011 (including me talking about listening to podcasts). I really like his interviewing style and, even when I’m not sure I’m interested in the topics, his guests are excellent and Rodney brings out some great comments from them. His enthusiasm is very apparent.
Runner-up – The Legal Talk Network Family of Podcasts – I went with my heart and chose the whole family of blogs on the Legal Talk Network, the best one-stop shop for law-related podcasts. This family of podcasts includes the “granddaddy” of legal podcasts, Lawyer to Lawyer with Bob Ambrogi and Craig Williams (congratulations on hitting Episode 300 this year!), and excellent podcasts from Rodney Dowell, Monica Bay, Sharon Nelson and John Simek, and 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, Kate Kenney and the whole LTN team for all the great work they do.
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.
This year, I decided to single out two of my writing collaborators. Tom Mighell revamped his main blog, revitalized our podcast show notes blog and started a new blog for his iPad in One Hour for Lawyers book. Tom has such a great, seemingly-effortless style that’s very hard to duplicate. For example, he writes a daily post describing his “Blawg of the Day.” It seems so simple, but it is so hard to write these little summaries and do them on a regular basis. Just try it.
Allison Shields is co-authoring a new book with me to be called “LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers,” that will be published in the spring. I’ve always enjoyed Allison’s practical approach and conversational style. I told Allison recently that I liked the way she could take a topic and make it accessible to a novice, yet, at the same time, provide something for advanced readers and give people a thing or two to think about, all in a concise package. It’s been a pleasure to write the book with Allison and I strongly recommend her blog and email newsletter to you.
The Blawggies have always had a spot for the best law professor blawg and now that I’m a contributing editor to the Legal Skills Prof Blog on the great Law Professor Blog Network, I feel I’m much closer to this category than ever before. In part, it’s my little effort to bridge the great divide between practicing lawyers and law professors.
I have repeat winners here. To me, the test of a great blog is how it keeps me returning to it time after time because of its great posts when it’s outside my subject matter. Jim and Paul both do a great both of covering the tax beat, with welcome excursions into legal education, the economic crisis and other areas. Both show how to write a blog with an academic focus and a a real world impact.
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.
8. The DennisKennedy.Blog Best Legal Technology Blog – Ron Friedmann’s Strategic Legal Technology
As I mentioned, 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.
When it comes to my own interests in legal technology, Ron Friedmann’s blog is my go-to blog. 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. Although the solo and small firm market is not Ron’s target audience, his blog is a good place to get a sense of trends and big-picture issues.
Runner-up – Tie, Jeff Richardson’s iPhone J.D. and Vivian Manning’s Small City Law Firm Tech – I own an iPhone and an iPad. Jeff Richardson does a great job of covering the iOS waterfront from the perspective of the practicing lawyer. Jeff gives you developments, tips, news, apps recommendations and more. Vivian provides a great stream of article annotations, links, practical tips and observations on tech. I often find good information here.
9. Biggest Blawg Disappointment of the Year
I see this as my failing, not that of the blawgosphere. I simply do not have a winner of the best new blawg category. This probably reflects the great movement away from blogging to social media by distinct individual voices, as well as the continuing emphasis on niche, practice-oriented group blogs by law firms. If you aren’t in the audience for the topic area, you likely won’t follow the blog. I’m sad that I don’t have a winner, but invite you to mention your favorite blawg started in 2011 in the comments. And I’ll make a special effort to track down some new blawgs in 2012.
And there you have it – the 2011 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 haven’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 nine 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, 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 2012.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
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