November 27th, 2012

Blawg 100 Again (And the Hall of Fame)

The ABA Journal has named this little corner of cyberspace, for the fifth time, to its annual collection of the 100 “best” law blogs in the country. Yes, of course “best” is in quotes, given that the apples to oranges comparisons are so highly subjective.

And then the ABA went one step further and inducted me into its brand new Hall of Fame, along with nine others. While I’m flattered to be thought of, I’m also a bit embarrassed.

You see this blog hasn’t really seen a lot of posting this year, which the ABA acknowledged when it named me:

Eric Turkewitz’s blog remains a great source for news and commentary from a plaintiffs-side tort lawyer. He may not be blogging as often as in years past, but when he does, it’s worth reading. Despite the name, it’s not all personal injury law; he talks about topics as diverse as politics, long-distance running, legal outsourcing and online extortion.

Frankly, I thought the chances of this happening were somewhere around zero and sub-zero. Back in March, I knew I would slow down as I had a busy year ahead, and I assumed the ABA would be looking for some fresh blood. I even tried to help, giving yet another set of tips to aspiring bloggers at a conference and announced a bounty on my own head:

If I persuade just one person to write a blog that addresses important legal issues, such that judges and legislators take note of it, I will be ecstatic.

And if one person in that group writes a blog that displaces me from the ABAJournal Blawg 100, I will be deliriously ecstatic. And donate $500 to a suitable civil justice charity of his or her choice.

Thanks to the ABA, that bounty goes unclaimed.

In October, I gave some of the reasons for slowing down, and noted other things in life that take precedence. I can only write when I feel the emotion to write. I can’t, and won’t, be forced to do it, and I won’t do it when other things in life press in on me. Crap is produced when people feel like they have to write something just for the sake of it.

At the moment I’ve only skimmed this year’s subjective list, as work presses on. But the inevitable problem exists of trying to compare one blog to another to create such lists, because you can’t, for example, compare Howard Bashman‘s How Appealing aggregation of appellate decisions with the constitutional analysis of SCOTUSblog. That is just silly. Both are meritorious, but they really can’t be compared in beauty pageant type voting (which the ABA encourages).

But the Blawg100 list does have value in that it can point readers to new blogs that they might not have noticed before, such as the Philly Law Blog — by two young lawyers with a fearless candor, acknowledging that they are young pups that are just learning. These are the kinds of guys that mentors love, the type who ask questions, work hard and don’t try to bluff with bad answers. And from Kansas there is Eric Mayer‘s Unwashed Advocate, focusing on military law. How can you not like a law blog that says this on its home page:

Do you have legal problems? Reading this blog will not help. In fact, it will probably make them worse, and it will definitely make you feel worse. You don’t want that. If you think you may need legal representation, find yourself a good lawyer–preferably one who is recommended by other lawyers.

If you want to vote in the beauty pageant — I’m in the Torts category — you can do so at this link. I’ve never “won” before and I don’t expect to this time. In the past I’ve trotted out Paris Hilton to campaign for me, and it didn’t seem to help. After three tries, I’m done with Paris. As you can tell, I take this very seriously, and you can read the reason why if you want.

Now on to the Hall of Fame, leading with  bit of history. In the first year of the ABA Blawg 100 listing, there wasn’t a single personal injury lawyer on the list. I wasn’t mad that I didn’t make it; I was ticked off that no one did. And I said so while listing many worthwhile candidates.

The Hall of Fame lists 10 blogs, and I assume more will follow in the ensuing years. The list is, of course, very subjective. The giants of the legal blogosphere are there in the form of Above the Law, Volokh Conspiracy, and SCOTUSblog. Also there are: Simple Justice, How AppealingRobert Ambrogi’s LawSites, Patently-O, My Shingle, Legal Profession Blog, For reasons I still haven’t figured out, they tucked me in there also. Maybe seeing my face on the side of a bus did it.

Frankly, with a list like that, I’m particularly glad that there’s no voting. Even in a beauty contest, I would hate to come in last.


December 2nd, 2011

I’m in the ABA Blawg 100 Again (But the LexisNexis Listing Makes Me Shudder) -Updated!

Perhaps I should title this post, A Tale of Two Blog Contests. They were the best of blogs; they were the worst of blogs…

Today we see a face-off: It’s the American Bar Association v. LexisNexis.

First up, the annual ABA Blawg 100: Go figure. They still like me. For the fourth year in a row, the ABA Journal has picked me as part of its top 100 law blogs in the country, out of about 3,500. Thank you. Yes, I have an ego. Yes, I appreciate it.

I haven’t always been completely charitable. When they first started doing this thing, they completely missed the personal injury field. They learned from their mistakes. They added two the next year and had six the year after that. This year I’m joined with some superlative blogs in the tort category: Overlawyered, Marler Blog,  Drug and Device Law, Abnormal Use, and Jackson on Consumer Class Actions.

Do they have all the best blogs? No. They can’t. Because there are more good ones than the category can hold. This is completely subjective, of course, but there isn’t a dog in the bunch.

My only real pet peeve is that, once again, they are going to have a beauty pageant vote for the best. Since there really is no such thing as “best,” I think everyone understands and appreciates that it’s all in good fun. But still. If they want to give out “best of” prizes I think they ought to let the law bloggers do the voting, since we are the ones most familiar with the rest of the blogs. While it might be nice to have bloggers drive their readers to the site to vote, that just gives a sense of politicking for votes.

And politicking has been a problem and zapped some of the fun from it.  There was one blogger two years ago, Neil Squillante from TechnoLawyer, who ran a sweepstakes to award $500 to two people and $100 to five others who cast their votes for him. He actually retained a lawyer for it. TechnoLawyer will never live down that taint.

Now on to the challenger in the law blog contest business: LexisNexis. They named me one of the top 25 tort blogs. I provide the link (coded “NoFollow“), despite what I am about to write, because there are some good blogs in there. But there are also some real barkers, like  two faux-blogs from the Illinois firm of Levin & Perconti that are little more than thinly disguised ads for the firm. LexisNexis apparently wasn’t too concerned about quality, as those aren’t the only ads posing as blogs.

The email alert that I received from their “Content Editor” promoted this as:

The Top 25 group includes some of the best talent in the blogosphere and creates an invaluable content aggregate for all segments of the Torts Law practice. Most good blogs provide frequent posts on timely topics, but the authors in this year’s collective take their blogs to a different level by providing insightful commentary that demonstrates how blogs can—and do—impact and influence the world of business and corporate law.

High praise considering that some of the blogs aren’t really blogs. There seems to be some disconnect between the promotional words and the actual content they listed.

But there’s something even worse than just being bad. And that is the way they have opted to promote themselves: This was also part of the pathetic LexisNexis email I received from their “Content Editor” after posting my blog there:

We would appreciate having the LexisNexis Litigation Resource Community linked to your site as well. Our visitors appreciate the links to valuable sites, and of course reciprocal links to high quality sites increases the search engine optimization for both of our sites.

Makes me shudder. LexisNexis is using the same spammy language as all the other hucksters on the web. It reminds me of Martindale-Hubell spamming me a couple years ago. Wait! Did I say Martindale-Hubbell? Are these two companies joined at the hip? While the ABA Journal obviously wants traffic — and why wouldn’t they since they are a legit magazine? — they’ve never, ever asked anything of me, in crass terms or otherwise.

Let me be clear about this. It’s not an honor to be lumped in with crap. Because it shows that the LexisNexis editors —  to the extent there is anyone actually reading the content of the sites as opposed to just finding 25 to list — don’t really give a damn.

This LexisNexis nonsense, it seems pretty clear to me, has just one purpose, to juice their Google pagerank so that they can appear higher in the rankings for any of the products that they sell. It’s little more than link bait.

Now back to the opening of a Tale of Two Cities, which seems so appropriate, 152 years after these words were penned:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

So in the match between ABA and LexisNexis, it is ABA by knockout. In the first round. In the first minute. The battle wasn’t even close.

Anyway, all that stuff aside, it’s time to deal with the ABA voting.

And to handle that auspicious detail, I will now trot out the same campaign manager I’ve used the past three years.

Paris has so far managed to lose every election for me, and I have every confidence that she can pull it off  again. If you want to vote, here is the link. But remember, the best part of the link is that it gives a nice roll of good blogs that are out there, some of which you may not have heard of. So leave here, go there, and rummage around to see what you find.

But stand very clear of LexisNexis.

Update 12/15/11 – Fresh in from the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” Department, one of the Levin & Perconti shitblogs noted above has “won” the most votes. (A shitblog is a faux-blog whose primary purpose is advertising. See:  Are FindLaw’s “Blogs” Tainting Its Clients, Commentators and the Profession of Law?)

For added amusement, read the stuffed “comments” from the various employee/friends/relatives that they posted so that they could obtain this “honor.”

Note to LexisNexis — it will take you awhile to get the mud off your face for this one.


November 30th, 2010

ABA Journal Lists Annual Blawg 100 (And Includes Me Again)

I’m flattered. I don’t know how else to say it.  The ABA Journal, the official magazine of the American Bar Association has picked my humble little blog as part of its 100 best law blogs in the country. That’s three years in a row now.

If you’re a new reader looking to see what this blog is about, you can read my 1,000th post where I discussed highlights of the past four years and gave links to those I thought interesting.

Turning to the ABA list, it will of course be criticized. Because really, picking a “best of” when it comes to a blog is not just a case of comparing apples to oranges, but of comparing apples to carburetors. Or chairs.

They will also get criticized, if the past is any indication, for having people vote for their favorites. Each blog is put into a category (mine this year is Torts) and folks have until the end of the year to vote. This voting thing has led in the past to ballot-stuffing, as happens in these types of online polls where some get a little too enthusiastic. (It’s also why I’ve picked Paris Hilton as my campaign manager, as discussed below.)

When the ABA Journal first created the Blawg 100 in 2007, I was pretty harsh because they had ignored the entire personal injury field; both plaintiffs and defendants, both small cases and mass torts. It wasn’t the ABA Journal‘s finest hour, but they did learn from it.

The second year they added two personal injury blogs — mine and the defense-oriented Drug and Device Law blog —  and included me in a “Regional” category with law blogs regarding China, South Florida, Los Angles and Texas, all writing about different stuff. Like I said, it’s comparing apples to carburetors.

Last  year six out of the Blawg 100 dealt with personal injury law. That was a big change, and a nice development, given that the ABA is the largest bar association in the nation and doesn’t always spend enough time with the consumer end of the law (personal injury, criminal, immigration, matrimonial) as it does with the big business interests. The category that time was called “Geo” and was once again based upon what part of the country (or world) the blog focused on. I was grouped again with some blogs that had nothing to do with this particular field.

Now this year the ABA Journal has a torts category, and I think they finally hit the nail on the head from an organizational perspective. Using the practice area as opposed to the regional area is a more logical approach. And they’ve picked some great blogs:

  • Abnormal Use: Lawyers at the tort defense firm Gallivan, White & Boyd write on products liability and conduct occasional “Abnormal Interviews” featuring Q&As with law professors;
  • Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Blog: Ignore the stock personal injury template that Alan Crede uses and concentrate on the writing. He’s a newcomer to the blogosphere and well worth the read;
  • Drug & Device Law: BigLaw firm Dechert has a group blog that focuses on the defense of, well, drug and device cases;
  • FDA Law Blog: Another newcomer to the blogosphere, the firm of Hyman, Phelps & McNamara focuses on government regulation of the food and drug biz;
  • Jackson on Consumer Class Action and Mass Torts: Another BigLaw entry, this by Russell Jackson at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, focusing on the defense of mass torts;
  • Marler Blog: Plaintiff’s attorney Bill Marler is the nation’s Grand Poobah of tainted food cases;
  • The PopTort: One of my favorite, blogs, put out by the plaintiffs-side Center for Justice and Democracy; they don’t sit still when the tort “reform” types try to protect big business from their own negligence.

Paris says to vote for this blog. Because it means little. And she knows a lot about that.

Now before I get to the obligatory “Vote for me” stuff, I note that by including me they have used up a valuable spot that could be taken by others. Two blogs, off the top of my head, that deserve to be included in the 100 are Overlawyered, which was also overlooked last year, and the irreverent Popehat. I don’t always agree with what their authors say, but there is little doubt that they are both exemplary law blogs that ought to be on any one’s “best of” list.

Even if you don’t want to vote, it’s worth perusing the names in the Blawg 100, as you are bound to find some new and interesting law blogs that you hadn’t heard of in the past.

I’ll also note that the BigLaw entries have a ready source of voters…all of the employees at those big firms, each with their own email address to use when registering. So expect one of them to “win” the vote.

Now we get to the Vote For Me nonsense. Bear in mind that this is all a meaningless. But, since beauty pageant’s are supposed to be fun, I’ve once again trotted out Paris to be my campaign manager to help hustle a vote here and there. I figured she was the right one to pick for a beauty pageant.

(Paris Hilton photoshopping by Dan Turkewitz)


December 4th, 2009

ABA Blawg 100…And the rise of the personal injury law blogs

I’ve been chosen by the ABA Journal for the second year in a row as part of its Blawg 100, the 100 best law blogs as decided by their editorial staff. That’s nice. I’m deeply flattered to be in such company. They’ve placed me in the “Geo” category if you are inclined to vote in these types of things. And it would be nice if you were so inclined.

But two other things about the list are worth noting: Its metamorphosis over the course of its three-year run with respect to personal injury blogs, and the fact that inclusion (or exclusion) isn’t something to brag about too much.

First, let’s look at the changes from Year 1. In the 2007 inaugural issue there were no personal injury blogs — none, nada, zippo — a subject that I wrote about and caught the attention of others (ABA Blawg 100 Gets The Conversation Going). Many niches were excluded. At that time I noted several worthy personal injury blogs:

It’s not a question of one blog being picked over another since this is, after all, just another vanity contest that small niche blogs don’t have a shot of winning. No, the significant thing is that the vaunted American Bar Association simply doesn’t think that this field of law is relevant. The decision to ignore a vast segment of the law speaks volumes about the organization.

In Year 2, 50 of the initial selections were replaced, and there were now two personal injury related blogs, this one and Drug and Device Law.  Nice to be included and nice to see that this substantial area of law was no longer being ignored by the ABA.

And now this year there are six, count ’em six, different law blogs that are related to the personal injury field. In addition to mine, the ABA has selected:

Addendum: And if you include the Namby Pamby Attorney’s comic rants, there are seven.

(If you go back and look at my 2007 post on the subject, by the way, you will see that D&D, Marler, and Schaeffer are all on my list of who should be included. The PopTort and Hochfelder blogs didn’t yet exist.)

So six out of 100 is pretty fair representation. Well done, ABA Journal.

But…there were many notable blogs that aren’t on the list. Just perusing my blog roll, for instance, Overlawyered and Lowering the Bar really jump out at me. What happened?

I have to assume that cutting the list to 100 is a pretty tough job — they want both big and small, profs and practitioners, regional and national, quirky and serious — and that part of the problem is trying to put blogs into categories. I’m in the “Geo” category, for instance, and that befits the name of this tiny corner of the web, despite the fact I go elsewhere often. I stretch that definition often to include attorney marketing, judiciary issues, ethics, and related subjects.

So here is what I think the ABA did to solve the problem. They narrowed the list of 2,000 – 3,000 law blogs down to about 150-200. Then they printed out the names of each one on a piece of paper, removed Above the Law and Volokh to make sure they made the cut, and chucked the rest at a staircase. Those that landed on the top stairs were stuffed into the ABA categories.

Now one last item, if I still have your attention. Voting. Its worth noting that when you go to vote in this beauty pageant, you can vote for all the PI blogs, even if we are in the same category. You get 10 votes, and you can spread them out any way you wish. So I say vote for all the PI blogs.

Last year I came in second in the regional category to the China Law Blog, which really isn’t fair given the relative populations of New York and China. Also, Dan Harris over at China Law Blog was begging for votes like there was no tomorrow, and is doing the same thing today at his blog and repeatedly on Twitter.  I won’t beg, the way he does. I’ll just give you a picture of my chief supporter, Paris Hilton. Now really, is it any contest as to who you would vote for?

Links to this post:

December 7 roundup
Woman jailed for “camcordering” after recording four minutes of sister’s birthday party in movie theater [BoingBoing]; Senate hearing airs trial lawyer gripes against Iqbal [Jackson and earlier, PoL, Wajert, Beck & Herrmann (scroll)]
posted by Walter Olson @ December 07, 2009 9:56 AM


December 1st, 2008

Personal Injury Blogs Make ABA List of Top 100 Blogs

Last year when the ABA put together their list of the top 100 law blogs, personal injury lawyers were noticeably absent. I was sharply critical of the ABA for ignoring this entire field of law. Part of my rant looked like this:

It’s not a question of one blog being picked over another since this is, after all, just another vanity contest that small niche blogs don’t have a shot of winning. No, the significant thing is that the vaunted American Bar Association simply doesn’t think that this field of law is relevant. The decision to ignore a vast segment of the law speaks volumes about the organization.

This year, however, there are two included, mine and Drug and Device Law. Half of the “honorees” in last year’s 100 are gone, replaced by 50 new ones.

Drug and Device, which discusses the field from the defense side and focuses on personal injury cases that tend toward having hundreds or thousands of claimants, is in the niche category that didn’t exist last year. The ABA description is:

From the pharmaceutical and medical-device product liability litigation corner of the blogosphere, there’s no beating this defense-oriented blog. Seasoned defense lawyers Jim Beck of Philadelphia and Mark Herrmann of Chicago, along with authoritative guest contributors, pick apart rulings and explore issues common to this niche practice.

Those guys have stiff competition when you see the niche category with 15 entrants — tough competition because they want people to vote. No matter what happens, they come out smelling like a rose.

I, on the other hand, have thin competition with only five entrants in the regional category. My description looks like this:

Aside from thoughtful posts on New York tort law and insights into tort litigation in general, Eric Turkewitz also gets props for punking the blogosphere. On April 1 he posted a story contending that the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert in a fantasy baseball case — and that fantasy-baseball-player Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr. had recused themselves while Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also players in this fantasy story, declined to do so.

Alas, in the early voting I am fighting for last, not first. That means that the small category is a curse and not a blessing if you’re heading for the basement, as it sets me up for big-time abuse from others. Like my family. So please do me a favor in this utterly meaningless vanity contest, and throw me a vote so I don’t come in last.

You can find the whole list here. And remember, it’s all very subjective, both as to quality and category. Voting ends January 2nd.