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December 2002

Many 'Blawgs' Provide Practical Information

By Robert J. Ambrogi

At the close of a seminar I chaired recently that covered, among other topics, legal Web logs, a lawyer from the audience approached me and said, "I can see the amusement value in these things, but I can't see how they are of any use in a law practice."

His comment led me to wonder. Do Web logs ever provide practical information that lawyers can use in their day-to-day work lives?

The number of Web logs - called "blogs" or, in the legal field, "blawgs" - has grown dramatically in recent months. Personal Web pages, formatted to resemble online journals, they range in content from introspectively personal to pungently political.

But many bloggers see themselves as a kind of new journalist, reporting and commenting on current events in a single stroke. This is true of many of the lawyers with blogs, some of whom have built up loyal followings of readers who look to them to report current developments in a field and, at the same time, to provide perspective.

This column looks at some of the Web logs that may be of value to practicing lawyers. The focus is on blogs that deliver news and commentary on topics related to particular practice areas or to the practice of law in general.

First, a disclaimer of sorts: I recently launched my own blog, LawSites, devoted to tracking new and intriguing Web sites for legal professionals. By having done this, I have, in a sense, expressed my bias in favor of blogs as a medium for delivery of law-related news and information.

Practical Blawgs

What follows is a round-up of blogs that offer practical information for lawyers.

Blueblanketblog. An appellate attorney in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice reports and discusses selected Supreme Court and environmental cases. Most interesting are her dispatches from the Supreme Court oral arguments she occasionally attends.

Consensus at Lawyerpoint. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization devoted to protecting civil liberties in Cyberspace, sponsors this Web log. It follows the work of the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group and efforts to develop a consensus on regulation of digital broadcasting.

CopyFight: The Politics of IP. Donna Wentworth, an editor at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet Law and Society, tracks legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development and technological innovation as they relate to intellectual property and the Internet.

DeLawOffice.com. Larry D. Sullivan, a general practice lawyer in Delaware, and William Slawski, his coworker, write about Delaware law as well as about the Web, the day's headlines, and law practice in general.

Ernie the Attorney. Maybe it is the clever name, but more likely it is the compelling content that has made Ernest E. Svenson, a partner with Gordon Arata McCollam Duplantis & Eagan, New Orleans, one of the most popular law-related bloggers. He writes generally about law, law practice, legal technology, and the Web.

Excited Utterances. Devoted to "a sociological and psychological perspective of law firm knowledge management," this blog by Joy London, manager of the practice data group at a large law firm, provides commentary along with a number of links to useful articles and Web sites.

Gideon's Promise. The infrequent musings of New Orleans criminal defense lawyer Richard W. Westling.

GrepLaw. Another blog from Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet Law and Technology, it follows Internet law developments from throughout the world.

HIPAA blog. Jeffery P. Drummond, a partner with Jackson Walker, Dallas, comments on the policy and politics of medical privacy and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

How Appealing. Thanks to Howard J. Bashman, chair of the Appellate Group at Philadelphia's Buchanan Ingersoll, this is one of the best resources on the Web for tracking appellate litigation throughout the U.S.

icann.Blog. A nationally known writer and commentator on Internet law, San Francisco lawyer Bret A. Fausett maintains this excellent blog about ICANN, the Internet naming authority.

ICANNWatch. A pioneering group of Internet law scholars collaborate to maintain this blog. They include Temple University Law Professor David Post, Wayne State Law Professor Jonathan Weinberg, University of Miami Law Professor A. Michael Froomkin, and Milton Mueller, associate professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies.

Inter Alia. Tom Mighell publishes the informative electronic newsletter, Internet Legal Research Weekly, and maintains this companion blog to provide timely updates of new Web sites and legal research tools.

Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer. A management-side employment lawyer with the Texas firm Haynes and Boone, Michael W. Fox highlights important employment law developments and adds the perspective of a practitioner.

Jurist. To call this excellent site a blog is misleading - it is more like a daily newspaper for the legal profession, providing news, commentary, event listings, court dockets, and much more. It is operated by Bernard Hibbitts, professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

KidLaw. One hopes that Timothy Travis, an Oregon juvenile-law attorney, finds time to update more frequently this blog on child abuse and neglect law. Although postings are sporadic, it shows promise for becoming a useful resource.

KinsellaLaw. N. Stephan Kinsella, a patent attorney in Houston, Texas, reports on developments in patent law and comments on resources and findings of interest to patent lawyers.

LawMeme. Yale Law School's Information Society Project operates this blog, subtitled "Legal Bricolage for a Technological Age," delivering law and technology news and commentary.

Leah's Law Library Weblog. Leah Sandwell-Weiss, a librarian at the University of Arizona College of Law and a former judge advocate, covers law, libraries and legal research, with a smattering of military law.

LegalMind.org. An anonymous San Francisco lawyer uses his blog as a scrapbook, collecting links to articles and cases he finds interesting, with an emphasis on Internet and securities law. Other lawyers may find some of what he collects interesting as well.

Legal Weblog. Attorney Brian M. Peterson reports legal news of interest to lawyers in West Virginia.

LessigBlog. Stanford Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig discusses cyberlaw, intellectual property, the Internet, and whatever else he chooses.

OpenLaw. From Harvard Law School's Berkman Center, Openlaw is an experiment in crafting legal argument in an open forum. Lawyers and non-lawyers alike can add comments to drafts of legal arguments, pleadings and briefs from actual cases.

RealCorporateLawyer.com Blog. Broc Romanek, editor of RR Donnelley Financial's RealCorporateLawyer.com, tracks current developments in corporate and securities law.

SCOTUSblog. Published by the Washington, D.C., firm Goldstein & Howe, this is the only blog devoted to tracking litigation before the Supreme Court.

Statutory Construction Zone. This innovative blog from Washington, D.C., lawyer Gary O'Connor analyzes current federal cases that involve matters of statutory construction. For each case, he sets out the statute construed, the court's conclusion, and the statutory construction tools used by the court.

TalkLeft. An unabashedly left-leaning look at the law and politics of crime from Denver lawyer Jeralyn Merritt.

Tech Law Advisor. A blog devoted to copyright, trademark, parody, fair use and technology legal issues, from Kevin J. Heller, a lawyer with Manhattan's Gursky & Ederer.

Tillers on Evidence. Postings are infrequent on this blog by Cardozo Law School Professor Peter Tillers, but he promises to begin adding portions of an evidence book he is writing.

Trademark Blog. New York City lawyer Martin Schwimmer updates this blog several times a day with news about trademarks and domain names.

VoteLaw. This informative blog is part of what may be the only Web site devoted to the topic of voting law, from Birmingham, Ala., lawyer Edward Still. He covers elections, voting rights, campaign finance and other topics.

Weatherall's Law. Kim Weatherall, lecturer in law at the University of Sydney, Australia, provides commentary on current developments in intellectual property and technology law.

Robert J. Ambrogi, rambrogi@legaline.com, is a lawyer in Rockport, Mass. Past installments of this column, along with his blog, can be found at www.legaline.com.

© 2005 Robert J. Ambrogi.