Blawg Review

It's not just a blog carnival; it's the law! ~ a fool in the forest

Previewing Blawg Review #17

The Greatest American Lawyer is hosting next. With that blog title, it's impossible to overstate the potential importance of this issue of Blawg Review. But you might be asking yourself, "Who is the greatest American lawyer?" So let's see what this guy's all about:
Graduated first in class. Federal clerkship. First real job at the largest specialty law firm of its kind in the world. Unispired working for huge corporations. Quit.

Worked for mass tort asbestos. Retired at age 32. Divorced. Felt catholic guilt. Gave wife everything and took all debt. Moved into fancy car. Drifted around the country in fancy car. Slept in the woods at rest stops and under bushes in fancy neighborhoods in big cities. Got married to wonderful blonde girl who used to date rich guy, but got distracted by nice car. Lived off wife's job as school teacher. Made lunches and hand delivered them to wife's school.

Tried case in Boston out of car trunk of nice car to 2$ million dollar verdict. Defendant goes bankrupt after verdict. Back living in nice car. Help friends start internet company, building TCPIP-based collaboration tools for hospital systems. Company folds when investors turn into idiots.

Have first son. Live in 18 places in the next year. Drift with wife and son. Eat every breakfast, lunch and dinner with family. Best years of my life. Have number two son. Friend of wife says"'he [that be me] can get a job in the city." End up getting job in city as a lawyer wearing shoes. Shave goatee.

Move to medium sized city from small tourist town on beach. Make partner in two years. Get tired of hourly billing model. Impossible to change the practice of law from within. Change strategies. Launch this blog site.
His weblog is described as "one anonymous lawyer's effort to change the way law is practiced one blog post at a time." Although he's anonymous for the purposes of his blawg—allowing him greater freedom of expression on the internet—he's personally engaged with other leading lawyers in a serious effort to change the way law is practiced in the real world. When he's not throwing a boomerang for the fun of it, he's tossing ideas around with other creative legal minds at LexThink! And putting the best of those ideas into practice in his own law firm.

If you're not already reading The Greatest American Lawyer at least weekly, this is an opportunity to take a good look and you'll probably agree that it's definitely a blawg to add to your blogroll.

Update 08/04/2005: Reflections of a Blog Review Host

Liberal or Conservative?

Bora Zivkovic, who wrote a piece we titled "What is a blog carnival?" and republished as a guest post here on Blawg Review, recently penned a follow-up article about the current state of blog carnivals—a pithy meta-carnival in which he calls it like he sees it.

Blawg Review is included in his overview among a select few "carnivals that are doing everything right and more" to quote Zivkovic. High praise indeed, which we appreciate, but we're not sure we agree with his impression that posts submitted to Blawg Review "come mostly from conservative bloggers." Others might have thought just the opposite. As a matter of fact, we think that the submissions to Blawg Review are as diverse as the persuasions of lawyers in the general population (not in the prison sense).

Previewing Blawg Review #16

Objective Justice is the creation of a freshly-minted economist on the way to his first year of law school. Sean Sirrine's belief that there is some objective measure of justice to be found in the law has led him to open up his blawg to posts from all law students, law professors and lawyers.

The self-described goal of Objective Justice is to aggregate thinking from as many points of view as humanly possible into one forum.
My intention is to create a resource for law students and the public to analyze issues that are socially divisive. Over time, this blawg will become a learning tool for discussion of law school issues with the help of our readers. This forum is friendly to those of any ideology, and I appreciate any comments, arguments or pointers that come my way.
Asked why he would do something that is so contrary to the general format of other blawgs he replies, "This is going to be the next generation of blawgs, a blawg that teaches law students to think outside the preference of their respective schools".

Sean's background in economics has led him to believe that "the marketplace of ideas" is a real and tangible thing that can be put to use in the legal education of his peers. "Sometimes you read a post from a professor and think damn, that guy has to be the smartest person in law, then the next day he says something so ridiculous that it makes you want to cry," he says.

That is his whole rationale for allowing any and all comers on his blawg. "Hopefully as law students, we can get at the 'right answer' if we're not forced to regurgitate the biases of those professors or lawyers that we have daily contact with." The blawg is taking shape slowly, but as Sean is quick to remind me, he has three full years of law school to "perfect" this new legal forum.

Sirrine naively plans to post every brief, outline and analysis that he writes when school starts up in September. "I view this forum as a chance to show off my growth as I progress from a snot-nosed layman into a full-blown lawyer," says Sean. From his perspective, it is better to get "beat-up" in a public forum and learn from his mistakes, rather than walk into a courtroom and look like a fool. "There's nothing better than learning from your own mistakes", he contends, "someday I may look back and wonder what I was thinking when I wrote some of my posts, but I'll never have to wonder if I gave my legal education the respect that it deserves."

Objective Justice is read by deep thinkers at The Volokh Conspiracy, and Sean Sirrine's often cited on other blawgs, so Blawg Review #16 will undoubtedly be a great roundup for a wider audience.

Carnival of the Supremes

Carnival of the Vanities, the progenitor and most famous of all the blog carnivals, is presented today by the members of the Supreme Court of the United States, en banc.
Each of the nine Justices presents some of the submissions for this week's Carnival. No John G. Roberts -- maybe next year! Which Justice presents which post almost entirely depends on free association, no deeper, sinister meaning, so don't blame the Justice (or host) if your post is associated with someone whose judicial philosophy is not to your liking.
Each member of the Court issued a separate opinion: Justice Kennedy, Justice Souter, Justice Breyer, Justice Stevens, Chief Justice Rehnquist, Justice Thomas, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Scalia, and Justice O'Connor.

Justice Souter takes judicial notice of our little corner of the blogosphere in comments obiter dicta.
What would a Carnival MC'ed by the Supreme Court be without Blawg Review #15 hosted by George's Employment Blawg? I ask you!
This edition of Carnival of the Vanities, hosted at New World Man, is especially interesting to lawyers and everyone who is paying attention these days to the membership of the highest court in the land. How long before we see a Carnival of the Supremes?

Previewing Blawg Review #15

In two years of blogging about employment law, which seems like fifteen in blog years, George's Employment Blawg has earned the respect and admiration of leading law bloggers.

Recognized as runner-up for the "Best Practice-Specific Legal Blog" in Dennis Kennedy's 2004 Legal Blogging Awards:
George Lenard has developed a great plain-spoken style and filled the George's Employment Blawg with lots of useful information designed to help readers deal with real-world issues. It's another model that bloggers in other practice areas should study carefully.
"George's Employment Blawg is always reliable, frequently updated, creative (e.g., podcasting, occasional photos), and usually stays on the subject of employment law. I read it every day," says Ross Runkel of Law Memo, wishing George's Employment Blawg a happy second anniversary.

For more observations about our host for Blawg Review #15, continue reading the PowerBlog Review, republished in the previous post about George's Employment Blawg.

George's Employment Blawg

a powerblog review by Anita Campbell

George's Employment Blawg covers employment law and human resources. The blog is written by George Lenard, an attorney from St. Louis, Missouri, and Michael Harris, a Human Resources professor and consultant, also from St. Louis.

Michael has written an account of how the two met over coffee, got to know one another and then started to blog together. It's also a good article about the benefits of blogging.

This blog manages to stay focused on a niche, yet covers a wide range of employment-related issues that appeal to both lawyers and non-lawyers alike. George is experienced in writing for non-lawyers, as he also writes a column for the Hiring Center on

I love the way this blog lets the personalities of the writers shine through. The tone is conversational. It often has humor interspersed.

The blog is not above the occasional civilized rant, either, as in this post where George takes on a very legal institution -- class action lawsuits -- and undresses them down to their skivvies:
"OK, this blawg is my place to speak my piece (and Michael his), so once in a while I can rant a bit about things I hate.

I'm not opposed to the very idea of class actions, and will even concede they theoretically can serve a socially useful function.

But how they work in practice stinks for a number of reasons. One of which we'll cover today."
(You'll need to read the blog to understand what George hates about class action lawsuits.)

George says that he uses blogs for professional networking, for marketing, and for personal satisfaction. You get the sense that this blog is very much a creative outlet. Attorneys frequently are described as not being creative. I'm always puzzled when I hear that because some of the most creative people I know are attorneys.

Not only that, but I believe that the law blogs or "blawgs" are some of the most interesting blogs out there. They tend to be stimulating, broad-ranging and entertaining. So I asked George to explain this great mystery of life: why do so many lawyers blog, as compared with, say, accountants or doctors? Here is what George had to say:
"Come on Anita, isn't it obvious? We are just so much smarter and more interesting. Seriously, many of us like to write and enjoy the freedom of writing whatever we want instead of what has to be written for our clients. Also, I wonder if many of us aren't more concerned with the need to develop independent professional identities. I suspect most of the blogging lawyers do not work for large firms, but are in situations where they are very conscious of the need to market themselves."
In this comment George points out a nugget that I believe to be true: the biggest benefit from publishing a blog comes to small businesses and firms. Smaller firms have the most to gain from the marketing boost that blogs can bring. And they are usually unencumbered by bureaucracy and restrictions. They are freer to pursue their vision of what the blog can become.

When he is not blogging from his office, George blogs from a laptop on his kitchen table or a wireless-enabled coffeeshop.

The Power of George's Employment Blawg is its superb treatment of a niche subject -- employment law and HR -- and its creativity.

Previewing Blawg Review #14

Thomas Jefferson could be a tough act to follow, but "Gene Gene the Blogging Machine" is more than up for the challenge. Not just barely legal commentary, but "out-of-control grand juries, stupid congressional proposals, property rights on the Moon, and a one-woman crusade to establish International Kissing Day" are some of the many engaging topics covered this week. So, go check it out at the incredible, the one, the only, Blawg Review #14.

Jeremy's Weblog

a blawg reviewed by Chris Geidner on 05/01/05 at Law Dork

Although things are slightly different at OSU's Moritz College of Law than at Harvard Law School, Jeremy has always found a way to share the similarities and differences in a very genuine way that does not shield the truth or overstate those distinctions for the benefit of his ego. Jeremy has made me enjoy his time at HLS and given me insights into my own time here at Moritz.

There has been more, though. Jeremy's blog has been a journal of a person discovering himself, embracing his passions, and sharing them with the world. The law-student blogosphere took pride at Jeremy's "discovery" in the pages of the NYT. This was one of our blogging friends "making it" by doing what he loves.

Jeremy, however, is only one of "us" if "us" is defined as "those who have gone through the law-school experience." As Jeremy wrote in November: "I've turned down the opportunity to make having gone to law school make sense. No law firm. Didn't accept my offer."

Jeremy's Anonymous Lawyer -- and its exposure as the creation of a 3L -- poked a gigantic hole (or, more accurately, shone a light on a pre-existing hole) in the "sense" that many of us have made out of law school. Jeremy's "sense," however, led him to pursue his passions, while exploring his options.

The experience of Anonymous Lawyer's "outing" and the discussion that followed served for many of us as a check, a reminder that we had better think about what we're doing -- and if we care. For me, it reinforced how much I value passion as a necessary ingredient in any measure of success.

In his "goodbye column" to the school newspaper, Jeremy challenges us yet again by noting how little we've actually "learned" of the law and yet how well these past three years have treated us.

Read it. Because of the choices Jeremy has made, he is in the unique position of having an outsider's insights with an insider's perspective. Law students should take advantage -- before we have to start paying to read Jeremy's words.

Previewing Blawg Review #13

Thomas Jefferson, lawyer, statesman, author of the Declaration of Independence, and third President of the United States, was the nation's greatest champion of representative democracy and the rights of man and, today, he's regarded as the foremost authority on the founding principles of American self-government.

As Jefferson himself wrote, "I know my own principles to be pure and therefore am not ashamed of them. On the contrary, I wish them known and therefore willingly express them to everyone. They are the same I have acted on from the year 1775 to this day, and are the same, I am sure, with those of the great body of the American people." (letter to Samuel Smith, 1798) [via: Thomas Jefferson Digital Archive]

Your humble Editor therefor thought, "What better way to celebrate Independence Day than with a special issue of Blawg Review hosted by Thomas Jefferson, himself."
What if Thomas Jefferson were alive today? What if the founding fathers were still around? What would they say about the way we live? Some of these questions are explored when writer of the Declaration of Independence and philosopher behind the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson, is transported to the year 2003 through a freak time travelling accident, and starts up an internet weblog to record his thoughts and adventures in today's time with Daniel, his all-too-American roommate.
Channelling the father of the Declaration of Independence for us on this occasion is one Phoebus Apollo, at Thomas Jefferson's LiveJournal, an imaginative project that can be read chronologically or as a blog.

So, without further ado, we're pleased to present Blawg Review #13, a special issue for Independence Day.

Update: Professor Bainbridge said, "So, if anyone is prepared to celebrate Thomas Jefferson on the Fourth, it ought to be me. But I can't bring myself to do it." George Lenard said, "In any event, Blawg Review came out today with a special Fourth of July edition that is very imaginatively done, from the perspective of Thomas Jefferson, no less." Kevin Heller called it an excellent job, and Denise Howell added, with unrestrained enthusiasm, "I can think of no better way to celebrate Independence Day than to enjoy the musings of Thomas Jefferson and his roommate they tour the legal blogosphere in Blawg Review #13." Ernest Miller called it "a most excellent (even classic) Blawg Review #13." And one of the co-founders of Carnival of the Capitalists, Jay Solo, said, "The whole thing is quite brilliantly done, now that I have perused it more closely."

Anonymous Lawyer

Our friend, the Anonymous Lawyer, has been named one of the fifty coolest websites of 2005 by Time magazine's online edition, and is recognized for Humor in the blog category.
Deadpan and ironic, this delicious insider account of life at a big law firm is pure fiction—and should be required reading for attorneys who haven't yet learned how to laugh at themselves. Being a lawyer, according to the author, boils down to "fooling clients into believing [we] have some real expertise and using fear and manipulation to extort excessive hourly fees." He rails against idiot clients, partners and associates, admitting "you can't work at a place like this and have integrity." But he's not offering apologies, only rationalizations. What separates him from the "truly evil," he writes, is this: "I know when I'm over the line. I do it anyway, but I know."
You know you're funny when the competition is the "hilarious personal blog by one Heather B. Armstrong of Salt Lake City, Utah, a whip-smart, sassy (and sometimes vulgar) stay-at-home mom." Dooce was noted by Time for Motherhood, and Heather can proudly add that recognition to all the Bloggies she won at this year's fifth annual Weblog Awards, where dooce took top honors for most humorous weblog.
Anonymous Lawyer's main cheerleader and deconstructor has been Evan Schaeffer of Notes from the (Legal) Underground, and he sends congratulations out to Jeremy this morning, aptly noting: "Anonymous Lawyer is to big-firm life what Desperate Housewives is to the suburbs."
Read more.