Welcome to the 2005 edition of Dennis Kennedy’s annual Best of Legal Blogging Awards, celebrating a tradition that began nearly one full year ago. These awards, which have become affectionately known as the “Blawggies,” celebrate the best of law-related blogs as determined from my personal and highly-opinionated perspective.
When Neil Squillante first started the @ awards at TechnoLawyer.com, he had an online awards ceremony. As I recall, I was one of a small number of people who really enjoyed the awards ceremony pseudo-atmosphere he was able to create through an email list. I thought I’d pay a little tribute to Neil and bring back the tradition of an online awards ceremony. I’ve held the Blawggie awards ceremony at the beautiful DennisKennedy.Blog Conference and Convention Center. As it turned out, all of the winners were too busy doing their real work to attend, but fortunately I was there to accept on their behalf.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that, like most of these ceremonies, the Blawggies awards show ran a little long. I know that many people do not like long posts, so I’ll start this post with an “executive summary” that lists the award winners and then follow it with a transcript of the awards ceremony that will tell you more about each of the winners, the awards and a few of my observations about legal blogging as we enter 2006. I do encourage you to read the whole post.
I. List of 2005 Blawggie Award Categories and Winners.

1. Best Overall Law-Related Blog – Tom Mighell’s Inter Alia
2. Best Legal Blog Category – Law Librarian Blogs
3. Best Practice-Specific Legal Blog – Marty Schwimmer’s The Trademark Blog
4. Best Legal Blog Digest – Stark County Law Library Blog
5. Best Blog About Legal Blogging – Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs
6. Best Legal Podcast – Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground Podcast
7. The Sherry Fowler Best Writing on a Legal Blog Award – Ernest Svenson’s Ernie the Attorney Blog
8. Best Law Professor Blog – James Maule’s Mauled Again
9. Best New Legal Blog – (Tie) Between Lawyers; Rethink(IP)
10. Best Legal Technology Blog – DennisKennedy.Blog
11. Best Legal Blogging Trend – Bloggers Making Money from Blogging

I encourage you to read more about the winning blogs (and why they were winners) in the transcript of the awards ceremony below.
II. “Transcript” of 2005 Blawggie Awards Ceremony.”
“Hello and welcome to the 2005 Blawggie Awards – the second annual edition of Dennis Kennedy’s Best of Legal Blogging Awards. (Theme music, based loosely on the intro music to Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground Podcast, plays.)
Your host for the show is Dennis Kennedy of DennisKennedy.Blog. (Warm applause.)
Good evening, ladies and germs, er, gentlemen! (Polite laughter.) I just flew in from St. Louis, also known as “Blawg City USA” . . . and boy are my arms tired! (Scattered chuckles, rolled eyes.) Is this thing on? (Silence.)
Well, let’s jump right into the show. 2005 saw a tremendous growth in the number of legal blogs, also known as “blawgs,” thanks to the word-coining abilities of Denise Howell. What do they call it when you get thousands of lawyers, law professors, law librarians, law students, legal consultants and others writing blogs that focus on law-related content? A good start. (Applause.)
My attitude towards law-related blogs is “let a thousand flowers bloom.” I’m enjoying the wide variety of law-related blogs and the many different approaches legal bloggers are taking today. It’s been a great year. (Applause.)
Let me note two interesting trends I’ve noticed this past year. First, long-time legal bloggers seem to be expanding the scope of their blogs and writing about more general topics while newer bloggers are creating highly-focused blogs about a specific topic. In part, this trend illustrates the movement into a second generation of legal blogging and I’m fascinated by the evolution of legal blogging. I’ve learned much from new bloggers this year and expect to learn much more in the future.
The second interesting trend is how often I notice that some of the best writing on legal topics can be found on blogs that would not be categorized as legal blogs. It’s an indication of how blogs are often a conversation in which all can participate.
A few words about the first Blawggie awards and then we’ll get to the envelopes with the 2005 awards.
Some of the reaction to the 2004 Blawggies surprised me.
I said in the 2004 awards post:

The Blawggies are not based on any popular votes, surveys or scientific measures. They are highly-opinionated choices made by me, based on my experience, expertise and likes and dislikes.

In general, I like to see blogs (1) consistently useful content, (2) a generous and helpful approach, and (3) a combination of commitment and talent. In other words, I like blogs that compel me to read them on a regular basis. I read almost all blog posts in a newsreader these days, so the awards will reflect a bias toward blogs with full-text RSS feeds as well as all of my other biases and personal preferences.

My real purpose, as it is with the 2005 awards, was to encourage a whole bunch of legal bloggers to do their own “awards.” I thought that this would be a great way for legal bloggers to highlight the blawgs they really liked and an even better way for me to learn about some great blogs I might have been unfamiliar with.
I was surprised that people seemed to take the notion of “awards” a bit more seriously than I expected and that “a thousand blawg awards did not bloom.” I also noticed a few criticisms of my awards. I thought I’d address some of those criticisms as a way to explain what my intention is with these awards.
1. Dennis Gave Awards Only to the Blawgs of his Friends. There is a sort of chicken-and-egg element to this comment. I now have a number of blogger friends who became my friends because we read each other’s blogs and respected each other’s work. We wouldn’t have known each other any other way. I really like and respect their blogs. However, as I said, “They are highly-opinionated choices made by me, based on my experience, expertise and likes and dislikes.”
2. Dennis Focused on Old Blawgs. Well, Dennis is one of the older bloggers. I think I had a pretty good mix of old and new, but I do focus on the entire body of work of a blog and that probably does favor long-standing blogs.
3. Dennis Gave Himself an Award. Yes, I did. I’ve been writing and presenting lists of “best of the Web” lists and doing other lists of links for many years. I’ve learned that these lists get reused and repurposed in a number of ways and often people don’t notice (or don’t get the chance to notice) that I was the author of the list. As a result, I usually include my website or blog on any of these lists where they fit. Bob Ambrogi has been writing about legal websites and blogs since almost before the World Wide Web existed. Bob recently wrote an article calling 2005 the year of the podcast and listing his podcast on his list of best legal podcasts. Let’s face it, any list of legal podcasts that did not include Bob’s podcast would be ridiculous, whether or not Bob wrote the list. I usually try to find a way to list my site or blog in a non-controversial way and I’d recommend that other people do the same thing when creating a “best of” list, at least based on my experience. Generally, you can create a narrow enough award that you can fit onto the list. For example, “best blog focusing on legal technology and technology law with the author living in the 63119 zip code” would work well for me. Anyway, it’s not all an ego thing. I did give my blog an award again this year.
4. Who is Dennis Kennedy? A fair criticism. I expected this criticism and this was part of the fun of doing the Blawggies. I thought that people would say if this guy can give awards, why can’t I? At worst, they might check out my blog.
5. Dennis Didn’t Give the Same Awards I Would. I enjoyed the fact that the Law Dork blog (which I’ve read and enjoyed for a long time) won a recent vote as “best law blog.” I was surprised that some people seemed to get those noses out of joint because the Law Dork blog won the prize. Similarly, I was surprised by how the discussion of the TechnoLawyer BlawgWorld eBook focused more on what blogs other people would have included, rather than on the fact that the eBook is an excellent sampler to give people who have just recently heard about legal blogs to get started. I’m not very responsive to criticism that boils down to “he didn’t do it the way I would have.” What’s cool about blogging – you have your own printing press or your own channel to do the version you would have done. That’s a notion I’ve often referred to as “two turntables and a microphone.” In fact, my Blawggie awards are explicitly an invitation for you to announce your own awards. As an aside, I could not disagree more with recent commentary that blogs are a new form of a “vanity press.” Two turntables and a microphone.
Now, let’s move from the 2004 Blawggies to the 2005 Blawggies.
In the past few months, I’ve changed the way that I “read” blogs. As you may know, I rarely visit a blog. Instead, I subscribe to the RSS feeds in a newsreader and read the posts in my newsreader. Recently, I created a number of “saved searches” or “watches” and, rather than attempt to read all of the posts in all of the feeds, I monitor certain topics and read a limited number of blogs on a daily basis these days. The award-winning blogs represent some of the law-related blogs I read on a daily basis.
As another clarification, I really do not read more than a few political blogs. I get my political news through emails from Marty Schwimmer. (A few chuckles and some muttered complaints about bloggers and their @#%*& inside jokes.)
As a transactional lawyer, I do not read many litigation blogs, except to the extent they deal with electronic discovery. As a result, some may feel that blogs in these categories are under-represented in these awards. My awards also focus on blogs of practicing lawyers.
I’ll also note that the narrowly-focused blogs will work well for marketing and related purposes, but will diminish your chances to win general legal blogging awards. They’ve chosen the correct priority.
For the curious, I’m subscribed to around 180 law-related blogs in my newsreader these days. (Gasps from audience.) As I mentioned, that does not mean that I read all of them on a regular basis, except as they touch on topics that I’m interested in. Also, because of BlawgThink, I got the chance to visit hundreds of law-related blogs and meet or at least exchange emails with many legal bloggers. I say this both as background about me and to give some credibility to my claim that I’m very impressed by the quality of what’s going on in the blawgosphere. Narrowing my selections for these awards was very difficult this year.
Finally, I prefer blogs that have maybe five or fewer posts a day and, big surprise, I tend to prefer blogs with longer essay-like posts.
And, now, the suspense-building is over, and we open the envelopes for this year’s awards. (Loud, relieved applause.)
1. Best Overall Law-Related Blog – Tom Mighell’s Inter Alia

Last year’s winner was Sabrina Pacifici’s BeSpacific.com. I could have easily given this blog the award again this year. However, I wanted to select a different blog for this award in 2005. I’ve noticed in the last few months that Inter Alia is the first legal blog I read each day. There are three things I want to highlight about Inter Alia. (1) I learn highly useful, practical information on a regular basis. (2) Tom has a great, succinct style that I admire greatly. (3) Tom’s “Blawg of the Day” feature not only lets me know about new legal blogs, but is also an act of great generosity. Tom and I now write two columns together, have done presentations and webinars together and Tom is part of the Between Lawyers blog with me, so I get the chance to learn from Tom on a regular basis outside his blog. By the way, Tom has agreed to work with me to help me write shorter posts in 2006.

2. Best Legal Blog Category – Law Librarian Blogs

I stand in awe of the job that law librarian bloggers as a group are doing. Across the board, these blogs have developed into strong information resources, often with links to primary source information that I’m not sure how I would find otherwise. There are so many great blogs in this category. I’ll simply mention a few to get you started: BeSpacific.com, The Law Librarian Blog, Out of the Jungle, Law Dawg Blawg, WisBlawg, Vancouver Law Library Blog, Stark County Library Blog, Library Boy, LawLibTech, Connie Crosby, BarclayBlog, and Slaw.ca

3. Best Practice-Specific Legal Blog – Marty Schwimmer’s The Trademark Blog

The Trademark Blog won this award last year and, even though I wanted to move to a different winner, the fact is that The Trademark Blog remains the model of a practice-specific blawg. Marty covers trademark law with a great eye for compelling material, his trademark wit and lots of pictures. I said last year: “The Trademark Blog is a great example of a way lawyers can speak in a plain voice to both a legal and non-legal audience in an engaging way.” Two other practice-specific blogs I wanted to single out this year are Dennis Crouch’s widely-acclaimed Patently-O blog and Janell Grenier’s always interesting Benefitsblog. Both are great examples of ways to do practice-specific blogs.

4. Best Legal Blog Digest – Stark County Law Library Blog

This blog could also win my most under-appreciated blog award. A big trend in legal blogging in 2005 was the development of blogs that aggregate information from other legal blogs, digest posts from other legal blogs or highlight and point to posts on other legal blogs. These kinds of blogs can be quite useful as a way to monitor a number of blogs in one place. Nancy Stinson at the Stark County Law Library Blog has been highlighting and pointing to useful posts for a long time now. She does a great job of picking up interesting and useful posts from other blogs, usually a few each day. I like this approach because other approaches can overload me with the sheer number of posts they cover. My honorable mention in this category goes to Lisa Stone’s Legal Blog Watch. Lisa’s summaries of posts are so great that I rarely go to the underlying post. Even though I understand the purpose of the blog, I wish Lisa would cover blogs outside the Law.com blog network on a regular basis.

5. Best Blog About Legal Blogging – Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs

I like the way Kevin puts his opinions and his incisive comments and wise observations out there for discussion on a regular basis. He wants to get conversations started. He also has a long history of using the Internet, runs a blog design, hosting and consulting business, and has excellent insights and experience in the world of legal blogging. I always respect Kevin’s opinion on these matters, even on the occasional times we disagree. I always learn something. If you want to learn about developments in the world of blogging, the use of blogs for marketing and practical information about the use of legal blogs, you’ll find no better starting point than this blog.

6. Best Legal Podcast – Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground Podcast

I’m not prepared to go as far as Bob Ambrogi and say that 2005 was the year of the podcast, but podcasting was certainly an important development in 2005. My favorite podcast is Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground Podcast. Evan recently finished his 44th podcast. Evan’s set a high standard of professionalism for lawyer podcasts – he uses scripts, excellent recording techniques, music, sound effects and creates a professional, polished podcast. He also created podcasts that run about 10 to 15 minutes (or less), a time that many people believe is the “sweet spot” for podcasts. Better yet, the material is great, often humorous and always insightful.

7. The Sherry Fowler Best Writing on a Legal Blog Award – Ernest Svenson’s Ernie the Attorney Blog

As I wrote about here, I’m a big fan of the writing ability of some of the best legal bloggers. There are some legal blogs I read because I like the writing. I think that the best writer among legal bloggers is Sherry “Scheherezade” Fowler. However, Sherry has stopped practicing law and was wondering the other day whether she’s still a legal blogger. That’s for her to decide, but I decided to honor her writing abilities by putting her name on this award. Since the end of August, Ernie’s writing, especially about the aftermath of Katrina, has been stellar. He’s become such a great writer and captures something essential about New Orleans on a regular basis. If publishers are looking for someone to write a great book about Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans, I’d point them to Ernie.

8. Best Law Professor Blog – Jim Maule’s Mauled Again

As Professor Maule says, his blog features “more than occasional commentary on tax law, legal education, the First Amendment, religion, and law generally, with sporadic attempts to connect all of this to genealogy, theology, music, model trains, and chocolate chip cookies.” His blog also shows that you can write engaging and helpful commentary about the U.S. tax system. Mauled Again is a great read on any topic I really enjoy the writing. Two other law prof blogs earn an honorable mention from me because I enjoy reading them so much: Paul Caron’s TaxProf Blog and Tun Ying’s The Yin Blog (among other things, we like some of the same TV shows).

9. Best New Legal Blog – (Tie) Between Lawyers; Rethink(IP)

Oh, puh-leeze, like I’m not going to have Between Lawyers listed in this category? Both winners in this category represent the important new group blogging phenomenon and that’s part of the reason that I picked them in this category. I’ve enjoyed the evolution of the Between Lawyers experiment (although the jury is still out on the “Lawyer X” thing). Between Lawyers shows how highly individual and well-known bloggers can create a group blog with a different focus and voice that exists alongside their individual blogs. I know a number of people who will tell you that one of the coolest things about legal blogging and its potential was seeing the RethinkIP guys – Doug, Matt and Steve – hanging out together at the ABA TECHSHOW. We all thought that they were best friends from college. The fact was that they were meeting in person for the first time. I like the way they’ve used the Rethink(IP) blog as a way to create a group voice and a forum to discuss issues that do not fit into their practice-specific individual blogs. They also taught me how to do Skype instant messaging this year and helped me rethink my approach to blogging, collaboration and making gratuitous “rethink” references. As I mentioned before, there are a ton of great new law-related blogs this year – there are many worthy of winning this award.

10. Best Legal Technology Blog – DennisKennedy.Blog

Ha! I figured out a way to give my blog an award. My recent effort to republish many of my legal technology articles over the last few months probably locked up this award for my blog. There’s a lot of content there. My one criticism is that the posts tend to be a little long.

11. Best Legal Blogging Trend – Bloggers Making Money from Blogging

Need I say more, other than to say that we all hope that this is a much bigger trend in 2006.

And there you have it – the 2005 Blawggie Awards. (Applause.)
I’d like to take a moment to say a special “thank you” to my partner in LexThink!, Matt Homann, for hundreds of great ideas in Matt Homann’s Nonbillable Hour blog, for putting together the BlawgThink conference and for proving everyday that the most powerful technology in blogging is the telephone.
As I said, these awards reflect my perspective on the Blawgosphere today. I welcome your feedback, but really invite you to post your own awards as a way of saying “thank you” to the blogs and bloggers that matter most to you.(Applause and Blawggie theme music playing.)
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
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