Welcome to the 2012 edition of Dennis Kennedy’s annual Best of Law-related Blogging Awards, affectionately known as the “Blawggies.”

The Blawggies, which honor the best law-related blogs as determined from my personal and highly-opinionated perspective, were first unleashed on an unsuspecting blogosphere in December 2004 and are an annual tradition here at DennisKennedy.Blog.

This ninth edition of the awards makes them the longest running annual awards list for law-related blogs selected by a lawyer named Dennis Kennedy living in St. Louis, Missouri. What was originally just a crazy idea turned into a bit of an institution in the world of law-related blogging.

I’ve included some explanatory and historical information about the Blawggies at the end of this post. As I’ve said before and explain in more detail at the end of this post, the Blawggies are not based on any popular votes, surveys or, God forbid, objective criteria. I choose the winners from only the blogs I read regularly. They are highly-opinionated choices made by me alone as I write this post.

Executive Summary.

Spoiler Alert In this era of short attention spans, many people, especially lawyers, do not like three thousand word posts such as this one. Even fewer like long introductions to long blog posts, or reading through commentary to learn the award winners. What follows is the executive summary list of winners. If you’d like to keep up the level of suspense, you’ll want to scroll quickly past the summary list. If all you really want to know is whether I mention you or your blawg, hit control-F (or command- F for Mac users) and search for your name or your blawg’s name.

Here’s the list of the award winners. I will encourage you to read the whole post for details and the runner-up choices, and my thoughts about the blawgs. And I definitely encourage you to add the RSS feeds to all of these blogs to your Google Reader (or other RSS reader) or “regularly-visited blogs” list.

2012 Blawggie Award Categories and Winners.

1. Best Overall Law-Related Blog – Jordan Furlong’s Law21.ca

2. The “Marty Schwimmer” Best Practice-Specific Legal Blog – Marty Schwimmer’s The Trademark Blog

3. Best Law Practice Management Blog – Steven B. Levy’s Lexician Blog

4. Best Law-related Blog Category – Law Librarian Blogs

5. The “Kennedy-Mighell Report” Best Legal Podcast – Lu Ann Reeb’s Legal Talk Network

6. The “Sherry Fowler” Best Writing on a Blawg Award – Evan Schaeffer’s Beyond the Underground

7. Best Law Professor Blog – Paul Caron’s The TaxProf Blog

8. The “DennisKennedy.Blog” Best Legal Technology Blog – Jeff Richardson’s iPhone J.D.

9. Best New Blawg – MoFo Tech Blog

10. Best Blawg Aggregator – Pinhawk Law Technology Daily Digest


I encourage you to keep reading this post to learn about the winning blogs (and why I felt that they were winners) and about the runners-up.



1. Best Overall Law-Related Blog – Law21.ca

Jordan Furlong’s Law21 blog was the runner-up in the “best overall” category and it just made sense to move it up to the top spot this year. As I said last year, Jordan covers law practice and the legal professions with insight, creativity and a willingness to challenge business-as-usual approaches. The typical post is a thoughtful, well-written meditation on the changing landscape for the practice of law. He makes you think. This year, Jordan has offered great perspectives on legal education and many of the trends lawyers and law firms must come to terms with – soon. Always a pleasure to read, I can’t recommend this blog highly enough.

Runner-up – Ride the Lightning – I’ve really enjoyed Sharon Nelson’s Ride the Lightning blog this year. Sharon’s a longtime friend of mine and I like the way her writing captures her voice. She focuses on computer security and ediscovery, but has branched out in privacy and other areas. Her post on digital estate planning got a lot of deserved attention and got many people thinking about that important subject.

2. The Marty Schwimmer Best Practice-Specific Blog – The Trademark Blog

Perceptive readers will note that this category is named for Marty Schwimmer, whose The Trademark Blog, has long been my gold standard for what a practice-specific blog should be. As I thought about this category this year, I came to the conclusion that Marty’s blog really is the best practice-specific blog this year. Marty is one of the original lawyer bloggers (blogging for more than ten years) and The Trademark Blog continues to have great energy and wit, while providing great information about trademark and related issues and developments. It’s a great example of a blawg that can be enjoyed by those who don’t even practice in the trademark field. If you are writing a blawg, you’ll want to read Marty’s blawg to get ideas about how improve your blawg. If you have trademark questions or want to learn more about trademarks, you will quickly realize that Marty is the go-to-guy on trademark.

Runner-up – The Contracts Guy Blog – I wanted to recognize the good work of a fellow lawyer in St. Louis. Brian Rogers’ The Contracts Guy Blog is a great example of a niche practice blog that provides useful and practical information on a specific topic, in this case contracts law with a Missouri focus. Brian has a corporate law practice and, as an in-house counsel, I appreciate how his blog reflects the concerns of corporate counsel and business people. It’s another good example of how to create an effective practice-specific blawg.

3. Best Law Practice Management Blog – Steven B. Levy’s Lexician Blog

There are so many great law practice management blogs out there that it’s difficult for me to choose just one. However, Steven B. Levy’s Lexician Blog emerged as my winner. Steven focuses on the very important area od legal project management and incorporates his technology experiences and insights gained from working at Microsoft earlier in his career. This blog has the consistent posting of thoughtful and though-provoking material that I find so appealing. If you aren’t familiar with the legal project management trend, this blog is where you want to start.

Runners-up – Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Management Tips Blog; Allison Shields’ LegalEase Blog; 3 Geeks and a Law Blog; Adam Smith, Esq. – So many great blogs in this category and so many had great 2012s. I picked the four runners-up to highlight some of the best and give you a way to sample the great content and different approaches out there. I especially want to congratulate Allison, who was able to keep a steady flow of great posts going this year while writing two books with me.

4. Best Law-related Blog Category – Law Librarian Blogs

I use this category annually to highlight the blogs written by law librarians, a category that I don’t think gets enough attention. These blogs are places to find great information, help for finding information, links to great resources and just plain interesting insights into topics like knowledge management and our changing world of information. If you want to try just one, Sabrina Pacifici’s BeSpacific Blog provides a steady stream of links to great US government and other information. The Law Librarian Blog is a great starting place and there’s a great list of law library blogs here.

Runner-up – Non-US Law-related Blogs – I also use this category to remind people that blawgging is a global phenomenon. As longtime readers know, I’m a huge fan of Canadian bloggers. As I’ve said before, “If you only have US blogs on your reading list, you need to go global.” Diversity is a good thing. Why not start in Canada? The annual Clawbie awards will give you a starter list.

5. The Kennedy-Mighell Report Best Legal Podcast – Lu Ann Reeb’s Legal Talk Network

I was tempted to give The Kennedy-Mighell Report the actual award this year, but I knew that would embarrass Tom. However, I really thought our podcast had a great year, with many great topics. We’re on a short hiatus with the podcast, as I’ll explain shortly, but expect to announce the re-start of the podcast in the very near future.

This year’s award is an emotional one for me. As you probably know, Lu Ann Reed had to shutter the Legal Talk Network family of podcasts this fall (see Bob Ambrogi’s post about the last Lawyer 2 Lawyer podcast). I could not have enjoyed my relationship with the Legal Talk Network (and working with Lu Ann, Kate Kinney, Mike Hochmann, Scott Hess and others at LTN) any more and I’ll always remember the call I got from Lu Ann wanting to know if Tom and I would bring our podcast to LTN. LTN played a huge role in the history of legal podcasting and set a standard of professionalism that raised the bar for legal podcasts. Most important to me, Lu Ann was able to provide a platform to make legal issues accessible to lawyers and the public and developed a great list of podcasting talent. It was a sad day to learn about what was happening this fall, but what a body of work and a legacy. The archive is still available, so start downloading the episodes that interest you most. Lu Ann, you are the greatest.

6. The Sherry Fowler Best Writing on a Blawg Award – Evan Schaeffer’s Beyond the Underground

I’m a big fan of the pure writing ability of some of the best blawggers. I named this award after the legal blogger who had the biggest influence on my blog writing, Sherry “Scheherezade” Fowler (who hasn’t been a lawyer blogger for many years). This is my favorite of the Blawggies, my most-opinionated award, and the one I historically get most criticized for. The bottom line: I like the writing I like.

This fall, longtime blawgger Evan Schaeffer sent me a copy of his new book, How to Feed a Lawyer: And Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground (Disclosure: link is through my Amazon Affiliate account and may generate income to me), which is a collection of some of his blog posts over the years and includes many of his classic blog series about traits of lawyers. The book is excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was great to revisit those early posts and re-experience them.

It also made me think about how many of the early blawgger were/are excellent writers. Evan is a classic example. I often tell people that my blog was an “experiment in writing” where I could try new things. Evan always took an experimental and writerly approach and it’s fascinating to see the posts collected together and remember the buzz at the time when I would be reading these great posts on a regular basis from Evan. The Legal Underground blog (as it was formerly named) became quite popular, especially with law students. The humor in the posts is still very funny.

It’s also interesting to see how today the advice to bloggers is to stay on topic, think carefully about what you post, follow standard formats, keep posts short and the like. In the early days of blawgging, those rules definitely did not exist. Yet, blawgs became quite popular even though they broke all of today’s rules. Something to think about, no? You definitely have to check out Evan’s blog. And he’s another St. Louis blawgger.

Runner-up – Jane Genova’s Law and More – Topical, opinionated, wide-ranging, thoughtful and well-written, the Law and More blog is one that I just enjoy reading every day.

7. Best Law Professor Blog – Paul Caron’s The TaxProf Blog

The Blawggies have always had a spot for the best law professor blog. In part, it’s my little effort to bridge the great divide between practicing lawyers and law professors.

I have a repeat winner here and it’s a great blog to read as we approach the fiscal cliff. As I said last year, the test of a great blog is how it keeps me returning to it time after time because of its great posts when it’s outside my subject matter. The topic here is U.S. tax, but Paul ventures into the real word with regular, thoughtful posts. It’s a blog with an academic focus and a a real world impact. My greatest compliment: reading this blog makes me want to take a class from Paul. I hope he’s thinking about doing some online courses.

Runner-up – Legal Skills Prof Blog – Yes, I know, I’m involved in this one, but I don’t post very often, so I can pretend to be objective. This blog has great coverage of the current debate about what needs to be done with the current approach to legal education and what law schools are doing in the area of skills education.

8. The DennisKennedy.Blog Best Legal Technology Blog – Jeff Richardson’s iPhone J.D.

I own an iPhone, an iPad (that will probably go to my wife or daughter soon) and an iPad Mini. I enjoy reading Jeff Richardson’s iPhone J.D. every day. It’s another of example of how a blogger can cover a niche topic and become a “go to” resource. Jeff does a great job of covering the iOS waterfront from the perspective of the practicing lawyer. Jeff provides news, tips, apps and hardware recommendations and more.

Runners-up – Tie, V. Mary Abraham’s Above and Beyond KM; Ron Friedmann’s Strategic Legal Technology; The TechnoLawyer Blog – Again, a category with lots of great choices. Ron’s blog won this category last year. We have similar interests in and perspectives on legal technology and he’s great at posting about issues that intrigue me, like outsourcing, strategy and bigger issues. I have long been interested in knowledge management and Mary’s blog has done an excellent job this year of covering KM and related topics, with coverage of tech conference, too. It’s another great example of a blogger posting thoughtful and thought-provoking content on a regular basis. The TechnoLawyer Blog covers technology issues from a practitioner’s perspective with a focus on practical and helpful material. It’s also the external portal for you to enter all of the great resources at TechnoLawyer.

[Note: I used to give my own blog this award every year, in part because of the attribution issue I talk about in this post and in part because I thought some of my blogging friends got a laugh out of it. They did, but others didn’t, and, instead, I started the tradition of naming the award for my blog rather than having my blog win it. I still get some criticism for that, and my friends laugh even more at that. Or maybe they just like to laugh at me.]

9. Best New Blawg – MoFo Tech Blog

Last year, I was disappointed that I didn’t have a new blawg to highlight. This year, I have a winner and a runner-up, so there seems to be new life in the blawg world. I did notice an increase in law firm group blogs this year and Tom Mighell certainly did not run out new blogs for his Blawg of the Day feature.

This year’s winner is the MoFo Tech Blog from the Morrison & Foerster law firm. Again, this choice reflects my own subject matter interest, but it’s also a good example of a group blog from a prominent law firm on a specific niche, in this case technology law. I like the coverage of the technology industry, intellectual property issues and much more. However, I especially like the name of the blog. It seems that many lawyers and law firms have doubts about what names they can use, whether they can use pictures of judges, court houses or dogs on their websites and whether and how they can use social media. There’s a general concern about what kind of “professional” image lawyers and firms must project. Amidst all that, Morrison & Foerster brands to the “MoFo” name and strides boldly across this part of the legal ethics and discipline landscape like a, well, like a mofo brandishing the MoFo brand. I admire that. And I admire their tech blog, too.

Runner-up – Law Technology Today The Law Technology Today blog is a new blog that I’ll be a small part of (one post a month) from the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center. I’m also on the LTRC Board. Hmm, perhaps I’m a little biased on this choice. Josh Poje got the blog launched and we’ve assembled a stellar cast of legal tech experts to contribute regular posts. This blog should become a must read for anyone interested in the use of technology in the practice of law.

10. Best Blawg Aggregator – Pinhawk Law Technology Daily Digest

Here’s a daily email newsletter in which Jeff Brandt highlights three or four blawg posts on legal tech and summarizes and comments on them. Jeff’s comments are witty, perceptive and generally great, and I enjoy reading them everyday. His eye for selection is also great. In a world where no one likes to get more email, this free email newsletter is one that you will want to have.

And there you have it – the 2012 Blawggie Awards.

I wish I could give awards to all the blawgs (and blogs) I like, but this post is already long enough (another Blawggie tradition). Once again, I encourage you to create your own awards (although I’d prefer that you not call them Blawggies – that makes me feel that you don’t read my blog).

When it really comes down to it, the Blawggies are really my way of saying thank you to the blawgs I enjoy most. There are times when blogging can seem like a thankless pursuit, so remember that all bloggers welcome a thank you from readers from time to time.

Some Background on the Blawggies.

The Blawggies are not based on any popular votes, surveys or, God forbid, objective criteria. They are highly-opinionated choices made by me alone, based on my experience, expertise and likes and dislikes gained from nearly ten years of blogging and from reading blogs voraciously for a good number of years before that.

The reactions to the Blawggies have traditionally run the gamut from “who does this guy think he is?” to “if he’s so smart about blawgs, why didn’t he give my blawg an award?” to “who is Dennis Kennedy?”

I used to get some criticism for giving myself awards or naming awards after me on this list (in fact, I still do), but, as I’ve explained before, most of the reason for that stems from my longtime experience of seeing lists I made republished without attribution or linkbacks. Adding myself to the list is a way to make sure that someone finds his or her way back to my work if the list is “repurposed.”

I’ve always wanted to do three things with the Blawggie awards:

1. To highlight the law-related blogs I read and like and to say thank you to those who write them.

2. To direct my readers to the law-related blogs I enjoy.

3. To prompt others to give their own awards so I can learn about other blogs I should be reading.

From the beginning, I expected that many bloggers would pick up on the idea and write their own awards posts. After all, there is no barrier to entry for posting your own awards. I thought that I could then get great recommendations for blogs to add to my reading list from other awards posts in much the same way you can get great recommendations for new music to listen to from the “best of the year” posts by music bloggers that appear at this time of year.

As I’ve said before, “When you realize that there is no reason that you can’t simply post your own awards, you move you from merely blogging to becoming a Blogger with a capital ‘B.'”

The best response to my list is to post your own list, although I do invite your comments and discussion about my list.

The Blawggie-winning Criteria.

I like blogs with (1) consistently useful content, (2) a generous and helpful approach, and (3) a combination of commitment, personality and talent, with an emphasis on good writing. In other words, I like blogs that compel me to read them on a regular basis.

The awards necessarily reflect my many biases and personal preferences, which are far too numerous to list here.

It’s very important to remember that the awards also reflect the blawgs I actually read. While I read a lot of law-related blogs, the number of blawgs I read continues to decrease and the number of non-law-related blogs I read increases. Also, the blawgs I do read are concentrated in my areas of interest and day-to-day focus.

I’m a transactional lawyer, who focuses on information technology law, legal technology and law practice management issues. For better or worse, I’m simply not familiar with most litigation-oriented, criminal defense, regulatory or other specialized blogs. You get the idea.

A Word about the Name “Blawggies.”

Among the historic documents of law-related blogging are a series of emails in which Denise Howell (@dhowell), blogging pioneer and coiner of the term “blawg,” and I had on the question whether “Blawggies” (as well as “blawgger” and “blawgging”) should be spelled with one or two “gs”. As a result, I’m pretty confident of the correct spelling, although I’m seeing more of the single “g” approach lately.

I use the word “blawg” in the sense of “law-related blogs.” I find “lawyer blogs” or “legal blogs” to be limiting and inaccurate for what I want to cover.

All best wishes for 2013.


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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