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January 2003

Lawyers As Pundits, By Way of the Web

By Robert J. Ambrogi

When Trent Lott resigned as Senate Republican leader, several political observers attributed his downfall to the criticism leveled at him through a hitherto little-noticed medium: Web logs, or, as they are more commonly called, blogs.

These journal-like Web sites have become the virtual soapboxes of political pundits such as Andrew Sullivan, former New Republic editor, and Joshua Micah Marshall, who writes for the New York Times.

Prominent among the bloggers credited with forcing Lott to resign is a lawyer, Glenn Reynolds, law professor at the University of Tennessee, who comments on current events through his blog, appropriately named InstaPundit. Reynolds has written two books and contributed op-eds to national newspapers, but it is his blog, more than anything, that has put him in the limelight.

Last month's column looked at "practical" blogs, those that focus on law or law practice. This month, we look at the many lawyers who, like Reynolds, publish blogs that may touch on the law, but are by no means preoccupied with it. Some are political, some are polemical, some offer parody, and some gaze at their own navels, but all are interesting in their own ways.

  • Bag and Baggage. A handful of lawyers seem to show up on everybody's short list of must-read bloggers. Denise M. Howell is one. A Los Angeles appellate and IP lawyer, she offers clever and insightful commentary on the news, other blogs, her practice areas, and life in general.

  • BurtLaw's Law and Everything Else. After more than 25 years in the Minnesota Supreme Court clerk's office, Burton R. Hanson lost his campaign in 2000 to be elected the court's chief justice. Now he writes, often with humor and irony, about law and its connections to just about everything.

  • Cooped Up. Jeffrey O. Cooper, law professor at Indiana University, started his Web log "to try to work through some of my thoughts about where I am as a person and where we are as a society." The result is sometimes personal, sometimes political.

  • Cyberspaces:Words-Not-Deeds. Rod Dixon lectures about the intersection of law and technology at Rutgers University School of Law. In his blog, he comments on current developments in technology, new media and the law.

  • Dilan Esper's Blog. A business litigator with the Los Angeles firm Stein & Flugge, Dilan A. Esper writes intelligently about "politics, society, feminism, sex, law and anything else."

  • explodedlibrary.info. Morgan Wilson, a law librarian at Hamline University, considers the "explosion" of libraries onto the Internet and what this means for information consumers.

  • Howling Point. A former State Department counterintelligence officer, San Diego solo Charles E. Hartley is a beach-loving lawyer with the motto, "No shirt, no shoes, better service." His Web log includes the shirtless photos to prove it, along with commentary on politics, technology, law practice and life.

  • Ignatz. Sam Heldman lives in Washington, D.C., where he works for an Alabama law firm. He writes about law and politics from a left-leaning perspective, with particular attention to Supreme Court and appellate cases he finds worthy of note.

  • Jack Bog's Blog. Being director of the tax program at Lewis & Clark Law School, John A. Bogdanski sometimes comments on tax law and policy. But you are more likely to read about his hometown, his daughter, his musical tastes, and whatever else interests him.

  • Jason Rylander. This Washington, D.C., lawyer started his Web log to add a left-of-center voice to the many libertarians and conservatives with blogs. He covers politics, culture, religion and the environment.

  • Lawpsided. Sean Carter, a lawyer, stand-up comedian and humor writer, follows the lighter side of legal news, culling reports of outrageous crimes, offbeat lawsuits and other legal news and compiling them here.

  • Lex Communis. Peter Sean Bradley practices business litigation and plaintiffs' employment law in Fresno, Calif. His blog touches on history, philosophy, religion, science and law, all from a conservative Catholic perspective.

  • MadKane. Madeleine Begun Kane has been called "one of the funniest women in the blogosphere." One thing is for sure: she is one of the funniest lawyers. Besides her Web log, check out her political parody feature, "Dubya's Dayly Diary," and her collection of legal humor columns.

  • NathanNewman.org. Besides working for a union-side labor firm in New York City, Nathan Newman is national vice president of the National Lawyers Guild and a columnist for The Progressive Populist. He comments on law, politics, economics and technology.

  • Ninomania. Regent University Law Professor David Wagner publishes this blog "to extol the wit and wisdom of Justice Antonin Scalia." He also comments on court decisions, politics and other news.

  • Outside Counsel. William C. Altreuter, founding partner of Buffalo's Altreuter Habermehl, subtitles his blog, "Occasional Notes on a Glamor Profession." He uses it to collect links to interesting items he finds on the Web and to record his thoughts about everything from mini-trials to Dylan.

  • Rory Perry's Weblog. As clerk of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, Rory Perry is well situated to examine the interplay between law, technology and the courts. That is what he does here, covering electronic filing, case management, and more.

  • Sneaking Suspicions. Delaware lawyer Frederick H. Schranck provides insightful commentary on a range of topics, law primary among them.

  • The Buck Stops Here. Having been law clerk to Judge Stephen F. Williams of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge David A. Nelson of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and an editor of the Harvard Law Review, Stuart Buck now shares his thoughts on the courts and law.

  • The Dark Goddess of Replevin Speaks. Ruth L. Edlund, a family lawyer in Bellevue, Wash., offers irreverent commentary on lawyers and technology.

  • The J-Files. A lawyer who works for the United Nations talks mostly about international law and legal technology. Be sure to follow the link to his "(f)lawsuits" page, where he compiles reports of outrageous lawsuits.

  • The LitiGator. A Michigan trial lawyer writing under the pseudonym Franco Castalone remarks on law, litigation, technology and politics.

  • The Shout: Opinions on Everything. Jennifer S. Granick, director of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School and former criminal defense lawyer, comments on criminal law and cyberlaw, with an emphasis on free speech, privacy and computer security.

  • the talking dog. A left-leaning lawyer in New York City, Seth J. Farber opines on law, politics, current events and cultural trends.

  • tins. At the University of Richmond School of Law in the early 1990s, Rick Klau founded the first student-edited law journal to publish exclusively online. Now a software marketing executive, he blogs about technology, movies, politics and other topics that strike his fancy.

  • Two Tears in a Bucket. Irvine, Calif., lawyer Ann Salisbury writes about politics, law and, as she puts it, "random stuff," all with "a left of Orange County bent."

  • Unbillable hours. This blog, by a family lawyer from New Jersey identified only as "TPB, Esq.," reflects on law and society, with more-than occasional forays into classical music and cinema. He writes anonymously for several reasons, he says, among them the freedom to write honestly it allows him.

  • WeirdOfTheNews. John Hoar, staff attorney for a California court, presents this guide to random legal news that he finds interesting. Hoar blogs "semi-anonymously," in that he does not promote his identity. He is more a news aggregator, he says, who adds a small amount of commentary.

  • WOIFM?. The acronym stands for "What's On It For Me?," and Michael Alex Wasylik, a lawyer in McLean, Va., who has been at it since 1999, believes it may be the first lawyer blog.

  • Wyliemac's Blog. Alvin Borromeo, a lawyer in the Ohio Secretary of State's office, collects links and offers comments on intellectual property law, technology, knowledge management, and other topics he finds interesting.

Robert J. Ambrogi's own blog, LawSites, tracks new and intriguing Web sites for lawyers. He is author of The Essential Guide to the Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web, available through LawCatalog.com. E-mail him at rambrogi@legaline.com.

© 2005 Robert J. Ambrogi.