Law Office Management
LOMA : Articles
Beware the Blogosphere

By Patricia Yevics
Director, Law Office Management
Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.

 

            In June, 2005 I did an article (http://www.msba.org/departments/loma/articles/techstuff/blawgs.htm) on legal blogs or blawgs.  In the article, I discussed how it easy it was to set up a blawg and how they could be used by practitioners.  I did not necessarily recommend that practitioners create blawgs then and I am not recommending it now.  I have mixed feelings about whether they are worth the time and effort.  However, I do believe that they are another tool in the legal tech tool box.  In this article, I am going to give information about some of the blawgs worth noting and how you can use them in your quest for information.


            In August, 2005, Technorati,(www.technorati.com) the "official" blog tracker, determined that there were 14.2 million blogs.  According to a report from the BBC, it stated that one blog was being created every second and "on average, the number of blogs is doubling every five months."  (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4737671.stm).  In the State of the Blogosphere in February, there were 27.2 million blogs and today (March 19, 2006), Technorati site says that it is tracking 31 million blogs. 


            My point - the numbers are staggering.  In the time that it will take me to write this article, there will be 200 new blogs.  Many of these are just the musings of young adults and fringe elements but many are being done by professionals with valuable information to share.


            Before listing some valuable blogs and then websites, let's discuss the difference between a blog and website.  They are similar but not the same.  Both provide information - lots of information -on the internet.  The main (but not only) difference is that websites require some technical skill to create and are usually designed to provide facts/information about a company, organization/institution.  Blogs require no technical ability and are designed to allow a person or organization to share information about particular topics.  It allows people to give opinions as well as facts.  Unlike many websites, they are updated daily and can discuss many topics or focus on just one topic. 


            The value of blogs to practitioners is that many professionals are putting out valuable information on many areas of law, technology and management and sharing it with the rest of us.


            As it was with the internet and websites, finding the valuable blogs and once you find them, remembering to go to them.  Unlike websites, which do not change constantly, blogs add information on a daily or weekly basis.  The best way to get that information is to subscribe to the blog(s) of your choice using RSS or Really Simple Syndication. 


            In order to receive RSS feeds, you need an RSS reader. You then subscribe to the Web site or blog from which you want to receive content, and the information will be delivered automatically to your RSS reader. To subscribe you need to use a piece of software referred to as a news or RSS Aggregator.  They range from free to about $30.00 and the search engine Firefox has a RSS reader built in. 


            "There are two main types of aggregators: web-based aggregators and desktop/software aggregators. Web-based aggregators (e.g. Bloglines - www.bloglines.com) allow individuals to sign up for the service and read their feeds online in just one site. There's no need to download and install any programs Desktop/software aggregators require individuals to download and install a program to the computer. This type of aggregator usually has a lot more functions available to the user."  (From About.com)


            Since this article is really about how some blogs (blawgs in the legal community) can be valuable for practitioners, I am going to list some that you might find helpful.  As with early websites, you need to be careful with the information that is in the blog but they can be extremely useful in many areas. 


            I will be putting links to all these blogs at the MSBA Blog (http://loma.typepad.com/) and at the Solo and Small Firm Section Home Page (http://www.msba.org/sec_comm/sections/solo/) and will add to them as I find them.

If there are some that you find helpful, please forward them to me at pyevics@msba.org.

 

Places to Go

Two good websites for reviews and comparisons of News Aggregators are
PC World
(http://tinyurl.com/g7fdh)
About.com
(http://email.about.com/od/rssreaderswin/index.htm?terms=RSS+Readers)  

Blawg.com (www.blawg.com) is the best place to start if you want to get an idea of the legal blogs.  This site is serious about presenting quality blogs. 

Blawg Aggregators - The Daily Whirl (www.dailywhirl.com) and  Detod Blawg Watch (www.blawgs.detod.com)

Individual Blogs worth reviewing: 

Ernest Svenson, a Louisiana attorney www.ernietheattorney.net
Dennis Kennedy - an early legal blogger and technology consultant www.denniskennedy.com


Legal Research Sites 

Inter Alia from a Texas attorney (and tech guru) Tom Mighell www.inter-alia.net  

US Supreme Court Coverage - from the law firm of Goldstein & Howe - www.SCOTUSblog.com  

How Appealing - Billed as the first blog devoted to appellate litigation from Pennsylvania attorney, Howard Bashman - http://legalaffairs.org/howappealing/  

New and Intriguing Websites for Legal Profession by Robert Ambrogi, a Massachusetts lawyer.  http://www.legaline.com/lawsites.html  

            In preparing this article, I have spent two days in blogosphere and there is a lot of stuff out there, some worthwhile and some not.  I am not sure that all of these blogs will be able to maintain the daily updating and we could end up with cyberspace litter.  Until then, viewing and subscribing to blogs can be helpful to practitioners.

Great information from blogs and blogs worth monitoring

 

LOMA :