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Blogs & RSS Feeds

Updated March 19, 2015
Prepared by Mary Whisner.

Introduction

Law-related blogs (a/k/a "blawgs") can be good sources for news and quick analysis. A post could give you an idea for a paper topic or help you think about a topic you already have. Blog posts often cite or link to other useful material (e.g., law review articles, reports). Writing blog posts or commenting on others' posts can involve you in a community discussion.

The feeds you watch can be as diverse as you are. There are thousands of law-related blogs – and when you add in political blogs, news services, sports, and the rest of the world, the possibilities are tremendous.

Here is a short video from Josh King, General Counsel of Avvo.com: How to Get Started Finding and Following Blogs (Nov. 1, 2012). (There's also a transcript if you'd rather read than watch the video.) And here is a PowerPoint presentation from a presentation to UW Law faculty, The Buzz About Blogs (March 2008).


Directories of Legal Blogs

ABA Journal's Blawg Directory.

Blawg is an extensive directory of legal blogs. It is searchable and can also be browsed by category. Blogs are ranked by popularity. A search feature ("Search the blawgosphere") enables you to search blog posts. Every blog listing has an RSS feed, which makes subscribing convenient.

BlawgSearch is another directory of legal blogs. As the name suggests, it makes searching blog posts easy.

Avvo.com's Top Legal Blogs ranks blogs based on traffic (using Alexa ranking).

MyHQ Blawgs lists several hundred blogs, generally arranged by author (lawyers, law professors, law students, law librarians).


Washington Blogs

See the Gallagher guide on Law-Related Blogs in Washington State.


Search Engines for Legal Blogs

BlawgSearch enables you to search posts from all the blogs in its directory.

Cornell University Law Library's Legal Research Engine enables you to search academic blawgs.


Reviews & Digests of Legal Blogs

The ABA Journal released its first ABA Journal Blawg 100 in its December 2007 issue. The latest list is here.

Inter Alia's blog features a Blawg of the Day. The author, Tom Mighell, also has an e-newsletter, the Internet Legal Research Weekly, which includes the Blawgs of the Day and more.

Blawg Review. Each week in this "blog carnival" a different editor highlighted blawgs and posts, generally on a theme. For example, in August 2006, Ernest Svenson, who blogs as Ernie the Attorney, offered his picks for "writing, learning & teaching law," among other things in Blawg Review #72; George Lenard of George's Employment Blog, wrote Blawg Review #124; Labor Day Special Historical Edition. The latest post is from July 2012, but there are still over 300 reviews to browse.

Dennis Kennedy gives Blawggies to the blawgs he deems best in different categories.

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Feed Readers

A feed reader (a/k/a news aggregator, RSS reader) can help you follow blogs and other sources that a regularly updated.

A great video explaining the concept is RSS in Plain English, The Common Craft Show, April 23, 2007.

There are a bunch of readers, including Feedly, Bloglines, Feedreader and MyYahoo.Google Reader was popular with many users but it will not be available after July 1, 2013. See Christina Warren, Check out These Google Reader Alternatives, Mashable, March 13, 2013; David Pogue, Google’s Aggregator Gives Way to an Heir, N.Y. Times, May 8, 2013 (reviewing Feedly).

Live Bookmarks is a feed reader that is part of the Firefox browser. If you use Firefox as your browser, subscribing to a feed can be as easy as checking a box.

 

Live Bookmarks clip

 

Microsoft Outlook, which you might already use for your email and calendar, has an RSS reader built in. See Subscribe to an RSS Feed. RSS list in Outlook
The lists of blog posts look like email messages in folders. Lists of posts in Outlook

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News Feeds

Feeds with Legal News

Jurist Paper Chase – news stories reported from wire services and other sources by University of Pittsburgh law students.

Law.com feeds – news stories from Legal Times, the Recorder, the New York Law Journal, and more.

Feeds with News

Check almost any newspaper’s website. You can often subscribe to stories from a given section (e.g., front page, sports) or columnist.

For example, at the bottom of the Washington Post's main page, you'll find this:
If you follow that link, you'll get a menu of different feeds you can subscribe to:

 

 

At the bottom of the Seattle Times's main page, you'll find this:
And that leads to this menu:

 

When you choose the feed you want, you can paste its URL into your feed reader.

Note: These screen shots were made a couple of years ago. The newspapers may have reorganized their sites, but the idea remains the same: look for RSS feeds and subscribe.

Also, many government agencies have RSS feeds for press releases and other information. For instance, the Washington Attorney General’s Office has feeds for press releases, Attorney General Opinions, and more.

FirstGov has a page listing federal government feeds.

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Twitter

 

Many bloggers also use Twitter; following their Twitter feeds can lead you to interesting blog posts.

For example, in the upper right corner of the Legal Scholarship Blog, you'll find a link to follow the blog on Twitter (as well as a link to follow it using RSS):

Twitter link from LSB

In Twitter you'll see a brief excerpt from a post. If you're interested, click through. If not, keep skimming your Twitter feed. Twitter snip from LSB

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Do You Want to Blog?

To get started, you need some software (most is reasonably easy to learn if you're used to word processing) and a host. Free hosts include Blogger (blogs with URLs ending in blogspot.com) and WordPress. Another provider (not free, but affordable) is TypePad.

You can also use a consultant who will design the blog for you -- for instance, LexBlog (based in Seattle) specializes in designing blogs for lawyers. Whether or not you use LexBlog, the company's own blog (Real Lawyers Have Blogs) is packed with tips about blogging for lawyers.

How to Be a Great Legal Blogger, Oct. 25, 2012, is a free webinar (52 minutes) from Josh King (General Counsel of Avvo.com). See also his webinar, Blogging for Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Considerations, April 18, 2013. Thoughtful comments about blogging: Ryan McClead, The Secret to Writing a Great Blog Post That Gets Lots of Comments, 3 Geeks and Law Blog, Nov. 7, 2013.

What should you think about before you get started? Here are some good tips from a veteran (the author of Legal Andrew): Starting a New Blog? WAIT!

You might want to think about how you track users and what you disclose. See Derek T. Muller, Ranking Law Prof Blogs by Digital Privacy, Excess of Democracy (Jan. 7, 2014).

I wrote about my experience starting Trial Ad Notes in A Blog's Life (2006). Here are blogs I contribute to:

  • Gallagher Blogs - research tips and information from the Gallagher Law Library
  • Legal Scholarship Blog - information about law-related conferences, lectures, colloquia, and calls for papers.

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Blogs & the Academy

Many faculty and students find that blogging is a good way to communicate about their interests. They also find focusing their attention on a new case or news item and writing a blog post helps them remember what they read.

Remember that you can set up a blog to be available to the world, to a limited list of readers, or just yourself.

For an excellent overview of academic blogging, see Patrick Dunleavy, Shorter, Better, Faster, Free, Writing for Research, Sept. 11, 2014.

Student blogs

  • The good news is that a well-written, intelligent blog (or thoughtful posts on others' blogs) can get you positive attention and maybe even help in your job search.
  • The bad news is that you can create a bad impression too. If you plan to use your blog to rag on your classmates, professors, judges, etc., consider blogging anonymously or restricting access to your blog to only an invited few. Remember that the Web is very public and what you write can be read (and forwarded) by all manner of people.

Law professor blogs

Below are papers from Symposium at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society - Bloggership: How Blogs are Transforming Legal Scholarship (Note: HeinOnline links are UW-restricted. SSRN offers free downloads; many of the papers on SSRN are working papers, pre-publication.)

I. Law Blogs As Legal Scholarship

  • Paul L. Caron, Are Scholars Better Bloggers?, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1025 (2006), available at SSRN and HeinOnline
  • Douglas A. Berman, Scholarship in Action: The Power, Possibilities, and Pitfalls for Law Professor Blogs, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1043 (2006), available at SSRN and HeinOnline
  • Kate Litvak, Blog as a Bugged Water Cooler, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1061 (2006), available at SSRN and HeinOnline
  • Lawrence B. Solum, Blogging and the Transformation of Legal Scholarship, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1071 (2006), available at SSRN and HeinOnline
  • Eugene Volokh, Scholarship, Blogging, and Tradeoffs: On Discovering, Disseminating, and Doing, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1089 (2006), available at SSRN and HeinOnline
  • Paul Butler, Blogging at Blackprof, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1101 (2006), available at HeinOnline
  • James Lindgren, Is Blogging Scholarship? Why Do You Want to Know?, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1105 (2006), available at HeinOnline
  • Ellen S. Podgor, Blogs and the Promotion and Tenure Letter, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1109 (2006), available at HeinOnline

II. The Role of the Law Professor Blogger

  • Gail Heriot, Are Modern Bloggers following in the Footsteps of Publius (and Other Musings on Blogging by Legal Scholars...), 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1113 (2006), available at SSRN and HeinOnline
  • Orin S. Kerr, Blogs and the Legal Academy, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1127 (2006), available at SSRN and HeinOnline
  • D. Gordon Smith, A Case Study in Bloggership, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1135 (2006), available at SSRN and HeinOnline
  • Randy E. Barnett, Caveat Blogger: Blogging and the Flight from Scholarship, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1145 (2006), available at HeinOnline
  • A. Michael Froomkin, The Plural of Anecdote Is Blog, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1149 (2006), available at HeinOnline

III. Law Blogs and the First Amendment

IV. The Many Faces of Law Professor Blogs

  • Larry E. Ribstein, The Public Face of Scholarship, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1201 (2006), available at SSRN and HeinOnline
  • Ann Althouse, Why a Narrowly Defined Legal Scholarship Blog Is Not What I Want: An Argument in Pseudo-Blog Form, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1221 (2006), available at SSRN and HeinOnline
  • Christine Hurt & Tung Yin, Blogging While Untenured and Other Extreme Sports, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1235 (2006), available at SSRN and HeinOnline
  • Howard J. Bashman, The Battle over the Soul of Law Professor Blogs, 84 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1257 (2006), available at HeinOnline

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Legal Issues of Blogging

Electronic Frontier Foundation, Legal Guide for Bloggers

Berkman Center for Internet Law & Society, Citizen Media Law Project's Legal Guide

Knight Citizen News Network, Top 10 Rules for Limiting Legal Risk (includes video segments)

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Related Guides

Law-Related Blogs in Washington State

Resources for Staying Current

Resources for Staying Current: Cases

Resources for Staying Current: Legislation & Government Agencies

Resources for Staying Current: News

Resources for Staying Current: Scholarship
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