With the war in Iraq, many heard for the first time of
the phenomenon of blogs. The mainstream media noted several
online "war blogs" that provided commentary
and information. The American Bar Association's ABA Journal
even recently published an article concerning lawyer blogs.
Still many lawyers may not be familiar with blogs (or
blawgs.) This article is intended to serve as a primer
on blogs. Blogs are already extremely useful for the Internet-savvy
lawyer and may evolve into a force having major significance
for lawyers. The recent rapid increase in the number of
blogs online indicates that they may shape the future
of Internet information management and Internet research.
It is well worth a small investment of time to understand
how these new information sources are useful.
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 message.
In essence, a blogger is a writer who spends 10 minutes
or more publishing his or her thoughts each day for
the entire online world to read. Blogs are the perfect
forum for political pundit wannabes 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
If that were all there were to blogs, you would not
be reading about them here today. But can you think
of any other group whose members have a lot of opinions
and are generally not shy about sharing them? That would
certainly include lawyers and law professors.
For a person whose career involves analysis of various
legal decisions and statutory enactment's, 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 when, with a blog you can publish one's
incisive analysis right now for the entire online 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. I'll stick with the term "law
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. No doubt
many 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 school 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.
One cannot truly understand blogs without visiting
several. Here are thumbnail descriptions highlighting
several types of law blogs to provide an overview of
that is available. This is not intended to be an exhaustive
list or a designation of the best law blogs, but these
are some excellent blogs.
Ernie the Attorney - http://radio.weblogs.com/0104634/
It is difficult to discuss law blogs without mentioning
Ernie the Attorney. Certainly his catchy blog 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 law blogs.
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 immediately.
Inter Alia - http://www.inter-alia.net/
Some of you will get a chance to meet Dallas attorney
Tom Mighell has a blog focusing on Internet research
and he also publishes a free e-mail newsletter titled
Internet Legal Research Weekly. You can sign up for
the newsletter at his blog. He obviously devotes a lot
of time to his blog and it has numerous updates each
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 U. S. Supreme Court litigation. A discussion
area for users has recently been added. This has become
a very influential blog with several lawyers posting
their observations. It is a great place to visit for
"reviews" of oral arguments before the court.
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
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." She provides a more objective
approach to blogging with links to much news and commentary,
but less posting of her personal views. You can sign
up for daily weekend e-mail deliveries of the content
at the site as well.
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.corante.com/copyfight
Donna Wentworth is quite the dedicated blogger. She
covers intellectual property issues.
Net.law.blog - 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 bar's
services for the solo and small firm lawyer community.
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 pages.
Excited Utterances - http://excitedutterances.blogspot.com
Excited Utterances isn't about the hearsay rule at all,
but about law firm knowledge management.
DennisKennedy.blog - http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog
Dennis Kennedy is a St. Louis lawyer. His blog focuses
on legal technology and technology law. He does not
attempt to update the blog daily, but includes some
great jewels when he does post.
There's another thing about blogs that make them so
powerful. Not only are all blogs online for everyone
with Internet access to read, but 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 or even hundreds
of thousands of people. Bloggers call this effect the
Many blogs allow visitors 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. You should
expect to see blogs relating to your state's laws sometime
soon. 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 soon see many more community-based blogs - a
"current events" blog for a small town for
example. I see many lawyers incorporating blogs as part
of a firm Internet presence for client development.
The majority of lawyers may have no interest in starting
or maintaining a blog, but it is still important to
understand what they are and how visiting blogs can
improve your practice.
There may be a time soon when the client calls with
a question on a recent legal development and you recognize
that the quickest way to get the answer may be to visit
To gain further insight I have interviewed a pair of
bloggers. The resulting story "Interview
with the Bloggers" accompanies this feature.
This article was originally published in the Oklahoma
Bar Association Journal in a slightly different format
and appears here with permission of the OBA. Copyright
2003 Oklahoma Bar Association
Jim Calloway is an attorney
from Oklahoma. He serves as the Director of the Oklahoma
Bar Association Management Assistance Program. He received
his Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma,
where he was named to the Oklahoma Law Review.