D.C. Bar Exam The bar exam will be administered remotely on October 5 and 6. The bar exam is managed exclusively by the D.C. Court of Appeals Committee on Admissions. For questions or concerns, please visit or email [email protected].

 

Washington Lawyer

Do You Blog?

From Washington Lawyer, April 2005

By Sarah Kellogg

Illustration by Dan Page/theispot.com

Do you blog?

If you’re like most people, you don’t post web logs (blogs, for short) to the Internet. Though you might have heard of them, you’d be hard pressed to define the word unless, perhaps, you’ve seen or read one.

Like many of the advances associated with the World Wide Web, blogs are at once new and old, strange and familiar. They’re everywhere in virtual reality. Blogs are just hard to differentiate from their well known but more static web site cousins.

Check out movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and you’re reading a blog. Peek at the Drudge Report, and you’re reading a blog. Noodle around on Andrew Sullivan, and you’re reading a blog.

With an estimated 10 million blogs and counting, it’s almost impossible to run a Google search without tripping over one. And though they have a reputation for being controversial, even subversive, they’re fast becoming the format of choice for delivering the very latest opinion and news, an Internet equivalent of the town crier.

More importantly, some suggest, these web journals or diaries are turning into a respected marketing tool for businesses and individuals looking to make a name for themselves on and off the Internet.

Enter the lawyers.

The legal technorati weren’t there at the dawn of the blogosphere, but by 2000 a handful of U.S. law professionals had joined diehard cybergeeks in discovering the sheer simplicity and power of web logs.

Denise Howell, who coined the term blawg and is considered one of the Internet’s blog pioneers, says the nascent days of legal web logs were marked by a frontier spirit that was equal parts anticipation and exhilaration.

“You could tell early on that web logs would be very appealing to lawyers because we’re uniquely suited to doing this,” says Howell, a lawyer with Reed Smith’s appellate and intellectual property practices in Los Angeles and the publisher of the popular Bag and Baggage. “Lawyers are trained to write . . . and research. The writing they generate tends to have some credibility behind it. That is the crux of web logging right there.”

Thousands of attorneys, judges, law professors, law librarians, and law students have discovered the promise of blogs, filling cyberspace with such aptly named web logs as CrimLaw, Fourth Amendment, and May It Please the Court.

Experts say that attorneys will find more than companionship in the blogosphere, noting that blogs can boost legal practices, assist in legal research, and turn every attorney into an instant cyberexpert in his or her practice area.

“Blogs allow for easy access to information and make it easier for lawyers with similar practice interests to get in contact with each other,” says Stephanie Tai, an appellate environmental litigator for the federal government and cocreator of the Blawg Review, which tracks articles and commentaries in law review journals. “I think it helps overcome a lot of the hierarchy present in the profession as well. Because of my blog, I’ve been able to correspond with various law professors who I don’t think I would’ve come into contact with otherwise.”

Yet cyberspace and blogging hold their own pitfalls for legal professionals. That’s because, though posting one’s opinions to the World Wide Web can be heady stuff, mistakes made as the world watches can be far-reaching and difficult to erase. And the ethics rules governing lawyers are far more stringent than those (practically none) governing bloggers who write about politics, the environment, or chess.

Still, legal professionals of every kind, not just technolawyers, say the risks are worth the rewards. Blogs provide an opportunity to break free of the traditions and limits of the legal profession, enhancing the practice of law in the digital age.

 

A Blog by Any Other Name
Though starting a blog does require some technology, time, and thought, if you’ve got an opinion, then you’ve got the heart of it. And having multiple opinions makes for a more interesting blog.

In the most basic technical sense, a blog is a simple web page that anyone—even one without programming skills—can publish using a number of inexpensive software programs.

Born in the mid-1990s as digital journals or diaries, blogs were the original soapbox on the web, a place to air criticisms and complaints or find like-minded individuals. That they were started by a ragtag bunch of techno-nonconformists is not surprising. After all, the web was in its fledgling years, and the idea of posting what amounted to a stream-of-consciousness rant or rave was pretty revolutionary.

As the technology took hold, popular blogs soon earned a reputation as provocative or funny journals about pop culture, politics, and technology. It was clear to early constituents that the medium had the power to create cyberspace communities as distinct as towns, cities, and states.

Compared to a web site, a blog remains a cheaper and more fluid vehicle for communicating on the web. By forgoing the bells and whistles its web site kin features—databases that allow for extensive searching, for instance—the blog can be a quicker and easier content management tool. A blog can be updated a dozen times a day, if necessary. Even the hippest web sites are considered stodgy by bloggers; they say web sites lack the freewheeling enterprise of blogs, which can spark a worldwide debate in a flash.

Don’t confuse blogs with e-mail, though. Unlike e-mail missives, blogs archive disparate thoughts and ideas of their authors and fans. Every posting can be chronicled for posterity, allowing for a depth of discussion difficult to maintain with the more ephemeral e-mail.

Experts say it was the confluence of current events and technology that guaranteed the blog’s superstar status in cyberspace. Blogs became a way for regular citizens to find unfiltered news or express their views after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

And thanks to a technology called web feeds, blogging has become even more attractive, as home computers are transformed into information hubs with dispatches alerting computer users that favorite blogs have been updated.

These web feeds are known as RSS—Really Simple Syndication—and are interpreted by news readers, software programs that track updates to blogs, web sites, and news channels. First introduced by Netscape as a way to personalize home pages with favorite sites, the news reader has become an essential element of blogging.

With technology simplifying the process, there is no end in sight to the number of blogs that could populate the Internet, observers say. A survey released in January by the Pew Internet & American Life Project estimated that about 32 million people have seen a blog—up 58 percent from 10 months earlier. Fifty-seven percent of blogs have been created by men, the Pew survey found. Forty-eight percent of blog creators are younger than 30, and 82 percent have used the Internet for six years or more.

Perseus Development Corporation, a Massachusetts company tracking blogosphere trends, estimated that there were 10 million blogs on the Internet by the end of 2004.

If the past is any guide, part of that growth in 2005 will come from the legal profession. In the last year alone, observers believe the number of lawyer blogs has doubled, if not tripled, and the future holds even more promise.

Blogs and Law
Washington attorney Carolyn Elefant hadn’t planned on breaking new ground on the Internet, but she has, becoming one of the nation’s foremost legal bloggers. Elefant describes the blogosphere as “collegial,” a place where lawyer bloggers can share their thinking about a wide variety of topics in a relaxed atmosphere. One might think of it as a cyber–coffee shop across the street from the county courthouse.

“When you’re in the blog world, it’s very insular,” says Elefant, who began publishing My Shingle, a blog for solo and small practitioners seeking advice or looking to share it, in December 2002. “Being inside [the blogosphere], you think it’s the greatest thing that ever happened, and it’s going to change the face of law. People don’t feel quite the same way on the outside, but once you’re in, you do.”

Elefant says My Shingle was designed to provide the kind of assistance that the Internet is great at delivering—concise and timely. Attorneys can find discussions on My Shingle about the merits of going solo in Hawaii or a listing on how state bars assist solo and small-firm practitioners.

“When I started my blog, there had been maybe 30 or 40 lawyer blogs in existence, so mine was definitely in the first wave,” recalls Elefant, who has an energy regulatory practice. “When I had the idea for the site, I really thought there was a need for a resource for solo and small practitioners. I didn’t think the solo and small firms were receiving adequate coverage in the trade press. Since I’ve started my web log, there’s been a proliferation of resources, but I don’t plan on stopping.”

Elefant considers her work with My Shingle to be an avenue to improve the practice of law, a way for her to give back to the legal community.

“By having that type of resource out there, it helps make solo and small-firm attorneys more ethical and efficient practitioners,” says Elefant. “It also provides a resource to attorneys at large firms who are unhappy and thinking about leaving. It gives them a place to turn. I do see it as a public service.”

Beyond whatever altruistic reasons that drive lawyers to blog, experts say the blogosphere holds real promise for lawyers in four key areas: legal research, attracting new clients, supporting current clients, and marketing attorney expertise.

“It’s really over the last two years that we’ve started to see the big increase in the number of blogs,” says Dennis Kennedy, whose Dennis Kennedy blog is considered a prime web resource for lawyers. “The early legal blogs had a lot more personality and were very individual. Now it’s become very clear that if you want to do a legal blog that markets your practice, the way to do it is to create a niche that is very narrow. You might pick just one aspect of your practice and try to cover that really well.”

Kennedy says that lawyers have changed the blogging world as they’ve embraced this new medium, adding a certain seriousness of purpose as they explore topics as diverse and dense as intellectual property, white-collar crime, and tax law.

Blogs are a reflection of their authors, first and foremost, says Kennedy. Attorneys looking to expand their expertise in a particular practice give life to blogs that are more formal, sometimes with a creative twist, and with some novel functions.

Since blogs are what their authors make them, Kennedy believes that there is no limit to the number or topic. The only limit is one’s imagination.

Blogs and Expertise
The greatest contribution blogs may make to the legal profession is their ability to reveal talent and expertise often hidden in courtrooms and boardrooms. Blogs excel at getting the word out, and observers say lawyers who embrace them are bound to be rewarded with fans and fame.

Instead of waiting for months or years to be published in a legal journal or magazine, attorneys can pen a short article or commentary expressing their views on any range of subjects, dramatically cutting the time it takes to reach colleagues and the public.

The blogosphere is teeming with topic-specific blogs that have won kudos from legal experts for their ability to supply timely information that is unique and hard to find.

Pennsylvania attorney Howard Bashman’s How Appealing is considered a go-to source for appellate litigation, and New Yorker Martin Schwimmer’s Trademark Blog has a reputation for providing the most up-to-date analysis of trademark law.

Closer to home, Goldstein & Howe’s SCOTUSblog has won praise and fame for its soup-to-nuts approach to U.S. Supreme Court coverage. SCOTUSblog publishes summaries of cases scheduled for oral arguments, including links to more detailed information such as amicus briefs. When opinions are issued by the justices, the blog publishes its own summary with particularly relevant or newsworthy elements of a ruling. When appropriate, it has even relayed the occasionally terse and pointed questioning between the justices.

“We market ourselves as a firm devoted exclusively to the Supreme Court,” says partner Amy Howe. “Once we became aware of the blogging world . . . we thought it would be both fun and a good business development tool to have SCOTUSblog, a blog that covered the Supreme Court exclusively as well.”

Howe says the firm uses a team of colleagues and friends to compile, write, and publish SCOTUSblog, adding that the firm’s most difficult production period doesn’t come when the Court is seated, but rather when it isn’t.

“After they recess in July, we find it harder and harder to put together information,” says Howe. “We have people who check our blog every day, and we want to make sure that they find something of interest when they come. But when we get into August, it’s pretty hard to dig something up. The Court is working, but there’s not a lot out there to report.”

Legal blogging experts say it’s the solo and small-firm practitioners who are best situated to take advantage of reputation-builder blogs.

“People have figured out that this is a really good way, and an easy way, of marketing yourself and demonstrating you have expertise,” says Ernest Svenson, a Louisiana attorney whose Ernie the Attorney blog is considered a must-read. “The solo guys are starting to figure it out now. Some of the medium and larger firms are, too. It’s still too early to know whether it’s beneficial or not for everyone, but it doesn’t hurt to try.”

Blogging also can provide frustrated attorneys who feel mismatched in their practice a way to strike out and explore a legal interest that may have been little more than a hobby to this point.

“Sometimes in your practice you’re doing a lot of stuff that’s not your first choice of things to do,” says Kennedy. “If you have a plan for the future, and you’d like to do more work of a certain type, start a blog on that subject and grow it over time. You can become known as somebody who has some authority in it, and gradually you can transition over time to that new area.”

Blogs and Legal Research
Some observers believe blogs may hold even more promise in the field of legal research, where they can be used to monitor evolving legal issues, uncover answers to arcane legal questions, or find far-flung experts across the continent.

Stephanie Tai says her blog provides the kind of shortcut that helps law students, law reviews, and attorneys know what is going on in the journals and how they can take advantage of it, whether they’re looking to publish an article or find one.

“I’ve been teaching a class for law review editors at the Georgetown University Law Center, and I thought this would be a useful resource, both for journals to know what kind of things that other journals are publishing and also for authors to know which journals are running late on their publication schedule,” says Tai.

And look no further than Gary O’Connor’s Statutory Construction Zone for the kind of expert blog that can jump-start a legal research project. Statutory Construction Zone provides a succinct analysis of federal statutory construction case law, including how statutes and regulations are being construed and which rules or arguments judges are accepting.

“My hope is that someone who wants to keep up with current federal statutory construction case law would be able to do so by checking this web site for five to 10 minutes every week or two,” says O’Connor, an attorney with a federal agency.

Law students have found blogs to be especially relevant when it comes to fleshing out their homework, as well.

“It’s great when any decision comes out or a new issue comes up to hear what practitioners really think about it,” says Todd Chatman, a second-year law student at the George Washington University Law School. “Law school might not get to that topic ever. You’re reading in criminal procedure about the Fourth Amendment. These cases were all decided years ago. Then a new Fourth Amendment case comes out and your professor doesn’t even mention it. Blogs allow you to make the connection between real life and your work.”

But it’s caveat emptor when it comes to blogs, too. What makes them dynamic, their immediacy and flavor, is also the quality that could cast doubt on their accuracy. They aren’t peer-reviewed publications in which ideas must be qualified. It can be hard to tell a credible source in cyberspace.

“Everything today raises the issue of how do people think critically and how do you decide what information is valuable and what information you can rely on,” says Kennedy. “I think that blogs accentuate the process. You really have to do your homework.”

Kennedy notes that blogs can be tripped up by lazy research or individuals with axes to grind, both of which have prompted questions about the work of respected news media outlets such as the New York Times and CBS News.

“In the past year you’ve had big media companies questioned about their credibility and had their credibility damaged,” says Kennedy. “It opens up a question that is going to become increasingly important as years go by: How do we teach people to evaluate resources critically?”

And when blogs go wrong, as some do, the response from the legal blogosphere can be swift and unforgiving. Ask any blogger, who will point out that blogs are parsed in a thousand different ways by their readers; and corrections for even the slightest mistake are given marquee treatment.

Blogs and the Client
Forget about the telephone, the postal service, and couriers—the best way to communicate with clients today and in the future may be the blog, observers say. It is a cheap, effective, and efficient way to disseminate information.

Denise Howell says lawyers and law firms should consider the information shared with the client in a blog to be part of an ongoing conversation that informs the relationship and improves communication. Although the blog isn’t suited to every client—the idea may repel some technophobes—it does offer a distinctive way to keep clients up-to-date on their cases or educate them about a firm’s skills and experience.

“Clients have a closer appreciation of who their lawyers are and how their brains work,” says Howell. “If anyone’s worried about my keeping current in IP law issues, hopefully those concerns can be laid to rest.”

The best examples of this unconventional conversation are the blogs found at some of the nation’s larger law firms, where they have mastered the use of technology in keeping the lines of communication open with their clients.

Environmental Law Net, which is sponsored by the Massachusetts firm Murtha Cullina LLP, is a prime example of how web site and blog technology can be used to keep clients abreast of changes in a case or allow them access to the site to research particular issues.

Blogs also can be used by a firm to keep partners and associates informed about recent developments in a particular case or field. E-mail has its limits in communicating quantities of information, and many experts foresee a time where intra-office blogs will become the mode of communication for managing discussion forums in all but the smallest offices.

Blogs and Client Recruitment
Almost everyone agrees that if blogging is a potential gold mine when it comes to recruiting clients, then the vein of gold has yet to be tapped. Though many bloggers hold out hope that the Internet will generate new clients who feel comfortable attorney shopping on the web, most of them have not seen it reflected in their lists of new clients.

“It’s a lot of fun, but it hasn’t turned out to be the business development tool we thought it would be by any stretch of the imagination,” says Howe. “We know that we have gotten referrals in cases before from our firm’s web site. To our knowledge, we have not gotten any referrals because of the blog.”

But Howe and the others aren’t giving up hope yet. They recognize that at this early stage it’s hard to tell how any new technology is going to play out. In fact, many people at first thought web sites were more show than substance. Today that impression has changed.

Some blogging experts say the potential for recruiting new clients can be found in one of the true advantages blogs have on the Internet—rankings in the major Internet search engines. Ernest Svenson says Google tends to rank well-connected blogs with many links to other sites higher than conventional web sites.

“My blog ranks higher than a lot of expensive web sites,” says Svenson. “I think you’re more likely to find your blog up near the top of a Google search, and that is what is going to draw new clients who are looking for assistance.”

Svenson, who has generated clients through his blog, says the key to harvesting clients in the blogosphere is maintaining a well-regarded and often-read blog.

By delivering content that is focused on a law firm’s expertise and its business objectives, blogs allow lawyers to showcase their past work and their potential. Observers say bloggers who let their personalities shine through with sassy, wise, or authoritative writing are bound to attract clients before their more soporific counterparts.

In one area, client referrals, bloggers may already be getting a little help from their Internet friends. Bloggers are a small enough community, and a blog with a good reputation and a friendly host is bound to draw the respect of one’s blogging colleagues.

“You reach a point where you have a really good client or a family member, and you want to recommend the best lawyer to handle the problem, and sometimes that person isn’t in your firm,” says Kennedy. “Maybe the best person is somebody you’ve met through blogging. It’s not a very big step, and it makes a lot of sense to recommend that person.”

Blogs and Culture
Not every law blog explores esoteric legal questions or pontificates about what Congress will do next about the USA PATRIOT Act. Some blogs have adopted the fun and frivolity of their nonlegal counterparts, and they are breaking new ground by mixing an interesting recipe of law and pop culture.

An often-cited example of the alternative law blog is Underneath Their Robes, a trove of juicy gossip about the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court. Written by Article III Groupie, the blog is both dishy and surprisingly insightful about the federal bench. By keeping her name a secret (she admits to being female), speculation about Article III Groupie’s identity is akin to the conjecture preceding journalist Joe Klein’s announcement that he had penned the faux Clinton campaign tell-all, Primary Colors.

“I have been fascinated with federal judges ever since I was in law school, and this page reflects my obsession with federal judicial celebrities,” says Article III Groupie, who was willing to be interviewed by Washington Lawyer only via e-mail. “In some ways, and perhaps unlike many lawyers, I’m more interested in people and personalities than in ideas or abstract concepts. . . . This blog is for people like me—people who can shuttle between an article about statutory interpretation in the Harvard Law Review and an article about Brad and Jennifer’s split in Us Weekly!”

Despite her playfulness, the author is hoping to make a serious contribution to legal discussions of the day as well, especially when it comes to examining the role and impact of the federal judiciary.

“We often think of federal judges as these disembodied legal minds, impersonal machines spitting out decisions and dispensing justice,” she says. “I’m trying to remind the legal profession that federal judges are people, too!”

That doesn’t mean Article III Groupie isn’t realistic about her blog and the implications for her own career. She knows that revealing her identity could compromise her job as an associate, so she stays anonymous and employed. Although she admits it can be lonely, she says it’s worth it when her fans write her or members of the judiciary post comments on her blog.

Alternative blogs aren’t always focused on the highbrow. Sometimes they’re focused on the legal profession’s minor leagues, students toiling at the nation’s law schools.

For Todd Chatman, his two blogs—Ambivalent Imbroglio and Blog Wisdom—are an outlet for his passion for the law and learning, and they have become a way to make connections to other people like himself inhabiting the blogosphere.

“As an older law student, I feel a little out of place already,” says Chatman, who is 32. “If I can bond with people in another way, I think it makes it easier. I’m as old as some of my professors. I think law school is aimed at 22-year-olds to 25-year-olds. Mostly it’s ageless on the Internet.”

Chatman started his first blog, Ambivalent Imbroglio, while he was at graduate school in English in Illinois. An experiment, it soon turned into a habit. He says Blog Wisdom has given him a chance to keep a daily record of his life during his law school years. It also has been a chance to do some good.

“Some portion of what I’ve done is aimed at reducing the pain for other people, or if not the pain, then the mystery of law school,” says Chatman. “There’s an aura about law school that it’s so hard, and it’s such a challenge. That’s just not it. It’s just school, and I want to help other law students and soon-to-be law students understand that.”

Chatman tackles some much-discussed topics for law students, such as working with difficult professors, understanding how to prepare for exams, and the basics on how to study. “If you’re in school and you have an issue, you can go to my blog and find someone else who had that issue. You’re not alone.”

And though it’s hard to know how much effect he has on other law students, Chatman says that he knows he’s reaching at least one person.

“My mom reads it every day,” says Chatman. “She doesn’t say much. She’s more into the photos than anything else. She says she enjoys it. She knows I haven’t [overdosed] on drugs. As long as I post every day, she knows I’m alive.”

Blogs and Ethics
Like many cyberspace activities, blogging is rife with potential ethical conflicts. And though most state and local bars have yet to clarify how their rules apply to the blogosphere, attorneys say ethics issues tend to arise in four main areas: advertising, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, and multijurisdictional practice.

Advertising remains a thorny proposition for bloggers who post advertisements themselves or whose blogs are affiliates for sites such as Law.com, which includes advertising as part of its services.

Providing information about legal services on the Internet can take the guise of both advertising (allowed) and solicitation (which is not), according to the American Bar Association’s Elawyering.org web site, which discusses legal ethics on the Internet. It also can be difficult to distinguish between advertising, delivering legal information, which is protected by free speech and therefore not subject to regulation, and providing legal advice, which is subject to regulation.

In addition, maintaining confidentiality is a challenge in the blogosphere. Lawyer bloggers say it’s important to keep a tight rein on the details of a particular case no matter how tempting it might be to share a victory with the masses. And sometimes they admit it helps to change the names to protect the innocent, or one’s law license.

“If you’re posting anonymously, you obviously have more protection,” says Carolyn Elefant. “You can post about a case and change the facts, and it’s not likely anybody would figure out who it is. I don’t think there would be any technical concerns if you’re careful.”

Given that no computer has yet been created that can guarantee safe transmission of every document, lawyer bloggers say security issues arise with group messages and discussions, along with e-mail sent inadvertently and forwarded e-mail.

And conflicts of interest can crop up in lawyer–client relations. Current rules don’t address what obligation lawyers have to check for potential conflicts between themselves and their readers.

Internet sites also pose particular problems when it comes to multijurisdictional practice. By placing information on a web site or in a blog, a lawyer may risk incurring disciplinary sanctions for giving advice in a jurisdiction where he or she isn’t licensed.

To counter these many and varied ethical issues, almost every lawyer blog has a disclaimer, the sort of blanket statement absolving the host of any number of sins and rule violations. Though attorney bloggers say these disclaimers have yet to be challenged, they recognize that legal ethics in the blogosphere remains uncharted territory.

“Blogs are way out ahead of where the ethics rules are,” says Kennedy. “The people involved with the ethics rules will start to catch up soon. I’m not sure what their take will be. Blogs are not that different from web pages. Those are the same types of issues about jurisdictions, licenses, and disclaimers.”

Reid Trautz, director of the D.C. Bar Lawyer Practice Assistance Program and publisher of Reid My Blog! offers the same kind of cautions to attorneys entering the blogosphere as he does to those using electronic communications in general.

“In any kind of communication, especially when it’s related to the law, you have to be careful whether that’s a chat room or a web site or even an e-mail to a stranger,” says Trautz. “If you’re out there with an asbestos law blog, you’ve got to be concerned about making sure you’re not violating anybody else’s rules. That’s why it’s important to have disclaimers in place.”

Trautz says there are fewer ethical concerns for the average blogger who might be musing about a family reunion or explaining his or her take on the latest legal novel. That’s why he believes many lawyers have decided to use their blogs as a way to direct traffic to other sources or publications.

“Passing along information from another source, say, linking to an article from the National Law Journal, seems to be a safer way to play it,” adds Trautz.

Blogging to Infinity
If you feel that blogs might be perfect for you, don’t be worried by the thought that the revolution has passed you by. There may be 10 million blogs out there, but only a small percentage of them represent the work of talented lawyers, law professors, law students, and law librarians.

Observers say the horizon for law blogs isn’t even in sight yet, leaving an enormous amount of space for new lawyer bloggers to cover, from marketing to networking, from knowledge management to research.

And the personal law blog, one that gives attorneys a chance to ruminate about private concerns, whether it’s poetry, country music, or baseball, remains a popular form of expression. It’s one that experts don’t expect to see vanish in the ether as more business-oriented blogs are developed to recruit clients.

That veteran bloggers are inviting potential competitors to the blogosphere comes as no surprise to observers who believe that the Internet remains a place where ideas, initiative, and independence flourish.

“When I got into blogging, I took a seat in the front row and then somebody filled in chairs behind me after that,” says Ernest Svenson. “I didn’t mean to take a front-row seat. There just weren’t any other seats available at the time. Well, the auditorium still isn’t that crowded, and there are plenty of seats left for anybody who’s got the interest to join us.”

Svenson acknowledges that blogging isn’t for everybody, but he can imagine a world where most lawyers and law firms do publish blogs, if only to better communicate with their clients and colleagues and, ultimately, to enlarge the reach of their practices. So, why aren’t you blogging?

Sarah Kellogg, a regional reporter for the Newhouse News Service, wrote about online legal research in the February issue.


Legal Blogs
There’s no better time to venture into the blogosphere than today, thanks to the ease of the technology and the promise it holds for attorneys looking to make their mark with this web publishing phenomenon.

And though legal blogs aren’t the curiosity they might have been just 12 short months ago, there’s plenty of room left for the enterprising attorney, law librarian, or law professor to roll out blogs devoted to all sorts of arcane legal trivia or practice areas often ignored by traditional publishers.

“I’ve been reluctantly pulled into the fray myself, but I was just so curious,” says Reid Trautz, director of the D.C. Bar Lawyer Practice Assistance Program and publisher of Reid My Blog! which focuses on law practice entrepreneurship. “I have known about these for a while, and felt the time commitment to write one would be too great. As I talked to other lawyers, I realized that everybody writes their own rules. You can post 10 times a day or once in 10 days. It’s a forum for your ideas, whenever those ideas come.”

If you’re looking for the best the Internet has to offer when it comes to legal blogs, you can’t go wrong checking out these favorites:

Adam Smith, Esq. (www.adamsmithesq.com/blog): Law firm management comes under the microscope at this blog, which takes a serious and studied look at continuing changes in the management structure of today’s firms.

Bag and Baggage (www.bgbg.blogspot.com): Denise Howell’s blog houses one of the most comprehensive lists of legal blogs on the web.

The Common Scold (www.commonscold.typepad.com): Monica Bay’s blog is much like exploring your grandparents’ attic. You’re likely to find the rare (recipe conversions), revealing (Yankees raves), and useful (legal marketing tips).

Dennis Kennedy (www.denniskennedy.com/blog): Considered one of a handful of legal tech whizzes, Dennis Kennedy brings a wealth of knowledge on how to incorporate technology into law firms.

Ernie the Attorney (www.ernietheattorney.net). The granddaddy of legal blogs, Ernest Svenson’s blog is akin to jazz, as the New Orleans lawyer riffs on topics as diverse as his favorite music and easing tech fears for attorneys.

Inter Alia (www.inter-alia.net): Though not a law librarian, Texas attorney Tom Mighell offers top-notch insights into the field of online legal research.

Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog (www.jimcalloway.typepad.com). Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program, focuses on how the Internet and technology can improve law practice management.

My Shingle (www.myshingle.com). Launched in 2002, Carolyn Elefant’s blog is geared to solo practitioners and small firms looking to make a name for themselves in specialized or boutique practice areas.

The [non]billable hour (www.thenonbillablehour.typepad.com). Matthew Homann’s blog uses clever writing and a breadth of knowledge to bring innovative legal billing and marketing strategies to light.

Reid My Blog! (www.reidtrautz.typepad.com/reidmyblog): Reid Trautz jumps into the blogo-sphere with his newly launched blog on law practice entrepreneurship, counseling attorneys on the best business practices for today’s firms.

SCOTUSblog (www.scotusblog.com). Goldstein & Howe’s blog is all things Supreme, bringing convenient access to the high court’s key documents along with timely and pithy reviews of new opinions.

The Trademark Blog (http://trademark.blog.us): International and domestic trademark expertise is the focus of Martin Schwimmer’s Trademark Blog, considered a must-see for those interested in blogging about their own area-specific expertise.

Underneath Their Robes (www.underneaththeirrobes.blogs.com). With tongue firmly planted in cheek, the anonymous Article III Groupie shines a revealing light on the federal judiciary.

The Volokh Conspiracy (www.volokh.com): Home to some of the top legal minds in academia, the Volokh Conspiracy hosts debates on everything from free-speech rulings to firearms regulations.

   —S.K.