LOMA : Articles
Of Blogs, Bloggers, and Blawgs
By Jim Calloway
NOTE: This month’s article is by Jim Calloway, my
counterpart at the Oklahoma Bar Association. Jim was a speaker at the
Solo Conference last year and is an avowed techno-geek. His article on blogs is directed to non-technical solo practitioners and is presented
here with permission. Please note that there will be a great session
at the Solo and Small Firm Conference on blogs. Carolyn Elefant, whose
blog is listed at the end of the article, will be speaking at the Solo
For many of you, even reading this article is a leap of
faith. Many if not most readers of this column may never have heard of
blogs (or blawgs). I would imagine the overwhelming majority of
lawyers have never heard of them. Bear with me just a bit. Since blogs
are already useful for the Internet-using lawyer and may evolve into a
force having major significance for lawyers, spend a few minutes with
us digesting some of this “cutting-edge” information. The recent rapid
increase in the number of blogs online indicates that they may shape
the future of Internet information management and Internet research.
The word “blog” itself is of recent vintage. I doubt
that you will find it in any print dictionaries - yet. Blog is a term
derived from the phrase “Web log.” Web logs are, at their essence,
online diaries. Blog software allows one with little or no technical
skill to publish Web pages that are updated frequently with little
more effort than drafting an e-mail. In essence, you spend 10 minutes
or more publishing your thoughts each day for all of the online world
to read. Blogs are the perfect forum for political pundit wannabees
and other frustrated writers in search of a forum. Many blogs share
teenage angst, amateur music reviews, suggestions for world peace and
as many other ideas and attitudes as there are bloggers.
If that were all there were to blogs, you would not be
reading about them here today. But what group besides lawyers and law
professors has so many opinions and is not shy about sharing them?
For a person whose career involves analysis of various
legal decisions and statutory enactments, the blog is the perfect
outlet. Why wait for the printing schedule of a law review or the
tedium of peer review and defense of one’s writing and views when with
a blog you can publish your incisive analysis right now for all of the
world to read? So for the last few months, we have seen new
law-related blogs appear almost daily. There are so many of these now
that the law-related bloggers refer to them as “blawgs.” (Today, I’ll
stick with the term “law blogs.”)
Law blogs range from the ordinary to the sublime, from
the distantly professional to the intensely personal. Many bloggers
freely mix in their political philosophy with their legal analysis.
But by and large, blogs are more personal than other writing venues. A
law review would almost never note a writer’s personal experiences.
But it would be unsurprising to find a blog entry starting out,
“Sorry, today’s blog is being posted late. I had a flat on the way to
work, and I haven’t changed a flat tire in years.”
This is not to suggest that blogs are trivial, though
many no doubt are. But there are some brilliant people writing blogs
and law blogs. Lawyers who charge their clients hundreds of dollars an
hour are freely dispensing their wisdom and analysis online for anyone
to read. Law professors at some of our nation’s top law schools now
regularly opine on court decisions released just a day (or a few
hours) earlier. And if one of those decisions impacts a case you are
handling, that analysis could be very useful to the practicing lawyer.
We’ll highlight several law blogs to give everyone an idea
** Ernie the Attorney (http://radio.weblogs.com/0104634/)
– You cannot really discuss law blogs without mentioning Ernie the
Attorney. Sure, his catchy name helped popularize his blog, but he
updates his blog with several interesting items just about every day!
I have no research to back up this statement, but Ernie probably has
the most-accessed law blog. He is a partner in a New Orleans firm and
discusses just about everything, with a focus on practicing law, legal
technology and the Internet. He also keeps a great list of the other
** How Appealing (http://appellateblog.blogspot.com)
– Howard Bashman’s “How Appealing” blog shows how powerful blogs can
be. He is the chair of the Appellate Group at Philadelphia’s Buchanan
Ingersoll, and his commentary on appellate law is simply unparalleled.
Links to the decisions allow you to read and decide your opinion for
yourself. In a recent ABA Journal article he estimates that his law
blog gets 3,000-5,000 hits per day. Many have read or heard the story
of last October when he pointed out an error in a footnote in an
opinion by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the court amended
the opinion the next day.
** Inter Alia (http://www.inter-alia.net/)
- This blog focuses on Internet research; the blogger also publishes a
free e-mail newsletter entitled “Internet Legal Research Weekly.” You
can sign up for the newsletter on this blog.
** HIPAA blog (http://hipaablog.blogspot.com)
– Attorney Jeff Drummond says this blog is “a discussion of medical
privacy issues buried in political arcana.” But if your practice deals
with HIPAA regulations and other similar issues, it is a “must-visit”
** SCOTUSblog (http://www.goldsteinhowe.com/blog)
– This blog tracks Supreme Court litigation. A discussion area for
users has recently been added.
** Statutory Construction Zone (http://www.statconblog.blogspot.com)
– Some of the most useful blogs are those devoted to an extremely
narrow topic. This one is limited to federal statutory construction.
** FourthAmendment.com (http://www.wallywaller.com/4th)
– Will blogs do away with pocket parts? John Wesley Hall Jr. is a
criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor who practices in Little
Rock, Ark. and this is his online supplement to his book on search and
seizure published by Lexis Law Publishing.
** COPYFIGHT: The Politics of IP (http://www.copyfight.org)
– Donna Wentworth is quite the dedicated blogger. She covers
intellectual property issues.
** Web Logs at Harvard (http://blogs.law.harvard.edu)
– Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School hosts a
blog. You know blogs have to be important now, right?
** BeSpacific.com (http://www.bespacific.com)
– Sabrina I. Pacifici was one of the two editors of LLRX.com, a great
web page for law librarians and researchers that recently announced it
was going “on hiatus.” Her new blog promises “Accurate, Focused Law
and Technology News.” You can sign up for daily or weekend e-mail
deliveries of the content at the site as well.
** Netlawblog (http://www.netlawblog.com)
– Jerry Lawson wrote the book The Complete Internet Handbook for
Lawyers, so it is not surprising that his blog focuses on Internet
tools for lawyers.
** My Shingle (http://www.myshingle.com)
– Carolyn Elefant’s blog focuses on solo and small firm issues. She
includes links to great online resources and features like a review
and ranking of state bars’ services for the solo and small firm lawyer
** Rory Perry’s Web Log (http://radio.weblogs.com/0103705)
– Rory Perry is the Clerk of Court for the West Virginia Supreme
Court. His blog is subtitled “Law, Technology and the Courts.” He
discusses his incorporation of blog technology into the court’s Web
** Excited Utterances (http://excitedutterances.blogspot.com)
– Excited Utterances isn’t about the hearsay rule at all but rather
law firm knowledge management.
** DennisKennedy.blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog)
– Dennis Kennedy is a St. Louis lawyer. His new blog will focus on
legal technology and technology law.
There’s one more thing about blogs that make them so
powerful; bloggers read each other’s blogs and link to things they
like without hesitation. Therefore, a well-thought-out commentary
posted on one blog may soon be spread from one blog to another. It may
literally be read by tens of thousands of people. Soon that could be
hundreds of thousands. Bloggers call this the blogosphere.
Many blogs allow others to post comments and reactions
to things that they read.
New law blogs spring up constantly (a blog on
Pennsylvania worker’s compensation law was just announced). Law firms
should consider using blog technology for internal firm announcement
newsletters and external client newsletters. A small firm lawyer can
become a nationally recognized voice with a blog. I expect that we
will see many community-based blogs – a current events blog for a
small town, for example. But for the majority of lawyers who have no
interest in starting or maintaining a blog, it is important to
understand what they are and how visiting blogs can improve your