A blog posting about blogs? Go figure!
Since 2007, the American Bar Association has listed its favorite 100 “Blawgs.” (The term “blawg” originated with Denise Howell, an attorney at the Reed Smith firm.) Readers are invited to go to the ABA Journal website and vote for their favorite blogs in each category before the close of business on December 30th. There are 12 categories to choose from and by registering, one is able to obtain 12 votes for 12 different blogs. If you’re not sure of what blogs are available to choose from, you can access the BLAWG Directory and view by topic, author type, region, or law school.
Very few of you need to be brought up to date, but here goes. Blog is short for web log. At one time, blogs were equated with online journals. They’ve become popular because anyone can start a blog. You don’t have to be a website developer or invest a lot of time or money. Over the years, blogs have become more specialized and are often linked to online resources. Another site, in addition to the ABA BLAWG Directory, for locating law-related blogs is www.blawg.com. The directory is arranged topically and there is a category for “Law Libraries and Research.”
Not all blogs/blawgs are created equally. What is the role of a blog in our profession? Not all blogs qualify as scholarship, yet almost everyone is beginning to see that blogs have an important role to play in conveying information. J. Robert Brown in his December 21, 2009 “The Influence of Law Blogs on the Judicial Process,” noted that judicial law clerks are using blogs to prepare their judges for oral argument or to draft opinions. He theorized that blogging “can be a form of post-oral argument analysis.”
I understand that Supreme Court clerks …often check the blogs that cover their cases. Appellate lawyers are aware of this practice, and, as a result, blogging is sometimes used as a kind of back-door, post-argument supplement briefing. In most appellate courts, particularly the Supreme Court, the court will only very rarely allow the filing of a post-argument brief to address an issue that arose during oral argument. However, since bloggers discuss and comment on the oral argument in prominent cases, and since the clerks (and possibly the Justices themselves) read these posts, the blogosphere can serve as a vehicle to, in effect, continue the oral argument or supplement the briefing.
Let’s return to the topic of choosing favorite blogs as part of the annual ABA Journal survey. There are too many to choose from. The three I recommend are:
- SCOTUSblog, which is useful when searching for news and analysis regarding the U.S. Supreme Court;
- 3 Geeks and a Law Blog , which is coordinated by law librarian, Greg Lamber, discusses developments in research, law libraries and knowledge management. This is often the site to monitor when information vendors release new products, such as WestlawNext;
- Above the Law, which covers lawyers and the business of law. During 2009, this blog was often the go-to site to learn which firms were quietly laying off employees in massive numbers.
There are too many good (and not as good) blogs out there to monitor. It can’t be denied that blogging is affecting how information is disseminated, even in the legal profession.