Deep and Crisp and Even More: A Review of UK Legal Blogging 2011.

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The snow was certainly deep and crisp over Christmas.Old Sodbury, Cotswold Way. Boxing Day 2010

And, with every fresh look at UK Legal Blogs (Blawgs, as Terry Thomas would have agreed, is such a ghastly word) , there are even more deep, crisp,legal blogs to review.

 

Jack Bauer: 24It is fair to say I have been enthralled by Santa’s gift (inter alia) of the Final Season, Box Set of 24 with Jack Bauer.

And as Jack himself says at the beginning of the Legal Blogging episode:

"Previously on 24…………. 
In January 2010, Head of CTU,
Michael Scutt in Canary Wharf ordered a comprehensive overview of all Blogging protocols.
His first and second “real time uplinks” with full “schematics” were patched to us in January and June, updated by Wirral Special Agent
Mr iPad Lawyer at Easter and then rebooted with a full scale sweep at Halloween by our In House Special Agent Melanie Hatton.

The following 5th UK Blog Review takes place between 9.00am and 10am

All events occur in real time"

There was Excitement, Action, Tension and Numerous Twists in the Final Season. One of my favourite extracts from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar even had a run out;

There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune, omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and miseries”(Julius Caesar)

Now I
mention Julius Caesar as a counter balance and blogging inspiration to
CharonQC’s superlative Blawg Review #292 posted this very week.

Some of you may have come across the day to day goings on at his fictitious law firm Muttley Dastardly LLP.muttley dastardly llp 

CharonQC (the god father of Legal Blogging if you ask me) started it all with “quotes” from Caesar’s contemporary “Cicero”.

“If you have a garden and an iPad, you have everything you need”

CharonQC reckons Cicero would have approved of Virgil’s non haec in foedera veni”.the dicta of Lord Radcliffe in Davis Contractors Ltd v Fareham Urban District Council 1956 AC 696 at 729

The case which dealt with frustration and, we are lead to believe, used as frustrating tactic whenever CharonQC was called on for a bout of shopping (roughly translated; it is not this that I agreed to do)

Julius Caesar was also mentioned in “The Hangover” one of the DVDs my daughters gave me for Christmas.

I will admit to a smidgeon of a chuckle by the “weird” protagonist’s small talk with the receptionist at
Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas

“You probably get asked this all the time; but did Julius Caesar really live here once”

If ever there were a lawyer to rescue Jack Bauer from the slings and arrows of outrageous slander and libel it would be our own Jack:
Jack of Kent.

Jack of Kent otherwise known as David Allen Green (when he “Stigged” himself by revealing his true identity) is a libel lawyer amongst other specialities. One of his most recent posts dealt with
Libel Reform and the Purpose of Defamation Law

David is also picked up on the radar of the Lawyer Hot 100 2011.

The Spirit of Blogging Past and Blogging Future.

Legal blogging in the UK was described in blawg review# 141 thus:

“…there are blawgs living in the canopy: discursive, analytical, erudite and contributing to legal practice and scholarship”

Are these adjectives
we would recognise in social media today?

Some three short years later, I would hazard that legal blogging is slowly coming of age in a much wider business sense.

And the main reason: the internet is increasingly the tool of choice for people preselecting solicitors and law firms.

The internet is changing the way consumers (who might turn into clients, you never know) choose their lawyers.

The internet allows personal branding of lawyers and firms to flourish.

It softens the barriers between client and solicitor from the outset.

Neil Denny, a Consultant to Mogers, Solicitors in Bath and the man who put the “co” into collaborative lawyers points out in his blog, lawyer1point9;

“Social media enables us as lawyers to make it easier for clients to understand us and work with us. Clients to a modest degree already have some idea of who they are dealing with”

This is
not confined to lawyers in private practice.

Melanie Hatton aka the In House Lawyer wrote in her blog about Twitter (or as the BBC used to call it, the well known micro blogging site);

“Twitter offers a simple gateway to improving your online presence and your personal brand, which is just as key to an in house lawyer as to any profession”

The more potential clients know about you and what you are about, the better the chance you will be hired, and for the relationship to be a better one from the outset.

The more traffic that is generated the more chance your work will be found: the more relevant the content you provide, the more able the search engines will trust your work and release it as targeted content to potential clients.

Is there proof in the (leftover Christmas) Pudding

What follows is a personal roundup or rather “journey” upon which all reality TV contestants insist they have experienced.

Some of my favourite bloggers are mentioned and I have gathered together issues, some burning, some not so florescent in 2010

In “Tess Daly Strictly Ballroom Speak” I am the sole “juhddge” (and what’s more there are no “cuppulls” blogging)

Confucius said "a journey of a 100 blogs starts with the first step at Delia Venables’s Legal Resources in the UK ".

Delia lists over a100 legal blogs including marketing and educational. This is likely to be an undershoot of the actual amount of legal blogs now in the UK.

One of the olde
st bloggers (and I mean that in a nice way) is Nick Holmes at Binary Law, who also produces the indispensible "Internet Newsletter for Lawyers.

Grumpy Ol’ Blogger as he pens himself in “Social Meeja Blues” opines for the good old days of blogging for which you will need to go as far back as 2005. 

The power of legal blogging and Twitter, at best in conjunction was demonstrated in a few of the big legal issues of the last year; Pre Nuptial Agreements; Volcanoes and Snow Storms from an employment perspective and the case of Wikileaks and Julian Assange’s arrest in London.


• The RADMACHER case, which involved the validity of a pre nuptial agreement exercised the minds of many Family Law Bloggers

I was impressed by the team of family lawyers at Mogers.

Neil Denny was tweeting extracts of the judgment during the morning like updating the football scores on a Saturday afternoon.

By noon Mogers announced they were holding a free webinar at four that afternoon on the implications of the case.

The webinar was then available as a download from their website later in the evening.

Other law firm blogs on the Radmacher case include Kent law firm Farley Page; boltburden solicitors and the family law blog from Pannone;

Legal blogging legend Jon Bolch of Family Lore (and fellow blogger for Yell.com) covered the case in Radmacher v Grantino- No Change and a couple of days later in entitled “Radmacher Knackered”.

Andrew Woolley through his Family Law Firm blog deserves special mention. He gave the case a royal twist with the question PreNup By Royal Decree.

Andrew has taken his JFDI (Nike inspired aphorism) approach to blogging and created varied and interesting content.
Andrew’s seasonally inspired post was “Don’t Let Family Arguments Ruin Christmas.”

That may explain why divorce lawyers are so busy just after Christmas.

As Shakespeare so eloquently put it:

“He who doth control the Television remote doth not embark firstly on the argument”-(Sherry Wives of Windsor: Act 1Line1)

joy division attorneys love will tear you apartTurning back to Jon Bolch for the moment; Jon who sets the bench mark for serious blogging-try daily-has a keen eye for the surreal. Witness the firm of American Divorce lawyers in the photograph from boing boing on the left.

Pink Tape from the family bar has had the honour of posting twice for the blawg review. In her introduction to blawg review #290 she gave a warm welcome to the legal audience across the pond with a valedictory to the UK;

“..which offers a warm welcome to the libel tourist and would-be wealthy divorcees alike”


Volcanic Ash Clouds and Snow Storm disruption gave opportunities for Employment Law bloggers to show their colours.

Michael Scutt, partner at Dale Langley and Co and founder of UKBLAWG Review blogged in his erudite and entertaining way Has the Dust Settled on the Ash Cloud

Michael reported that 43% of employees caught up in the chaos had their pay docked or their annual leave entitlement reduced. Approximately one-quarter of employers were prepared to allow staff to work remotely, whilst 32% allowed staff to take the days off as additional leave

Michael followed up this theme with a snow disruption angle in It’s Snow joke my boss won’t pay me”

London solicitors Silverman Sherlicker posted on their blog also; Volcano Problems and Employment Law.


• WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

A fair amount
of blogging capital has been spent covering Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

The UK Human Rights blog of 1 Crown Office Row Chambers is as stimulating and comprehensive as one would expect

Jack of Kent and CharonQC interviewed Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens in a blog and a lawcast.

Carl Gardner in his Head of Legal Blog posted that it was the CPS who initiated the appeal against Assange’s initial bail rather than the Swedish government in “Who Decided to Appeal Julian Assange’s Bail”

Carl also appeared in a lawcast with CharonQC.

Shireen Smith of Azrights came from a different perspective in her post: WikiLeaks: Technical Sanctions by Service Providers 

In her post Shireen observes;

What is interesting, and concerning, about the withdrawal of service by these companies is that it illustrates how reliant organisations which operate via a website are on providers who appear to be taking a more active interest in the regulation of online content. These providers rely on terms of business that allow for the suspension of service under a variety of circumstances.

As Shireen concludes: The debate is ongoing, and is likely to continue to challenge strongly held beliefs worldwide concerning freedom of the press, regulation of the Internet, and transparent government

My contribution
was a tweet about a nearby social club: 

 

 • Scots Law Blogging is alive and kicking north of the border notwithstanding or possibly withstanding the freezing cold weather.

I had the pleasure of meeting up in person with Brian Inkster the managing partner Inksters, at the 360 Legal Group Annual Conference in London in October.

In true social media style, and remember we had not met before, he enquired how I enjoyed my recent holiday in Croatia

Inksters was the first legal firm in Scotland to join Twitter.

Brian is primus inter pares of Scottish Lawyers and is known for innovation and social media and technology. He Tweets avidly and encourages his staff to do like wise. 

He has a charity website Inkstersgive. Brian was without water over the Christmas period, but was nothing compared to the villages in Argentina where he carried out his charity work

Elsewhere in Scotland, there is the self styled “library monkey” (librarians, what are they like?)from an Edinburgh Law firm. The eponymous Jennie’s Law blog manages to include  “buboes” in a post together with genuine disquiet at the state of some of her firm's Tolley’s Tax Encyclopaedias. Jennie wonders "Tolleys Tax Deformity- A New Disease"


Gavin Ward on his wardblawg comments on the “Twitter Joke Trial” case of Paul Chambers

Jonathan Mitchell QC has pitched headlong into the question on every one’s lips “What is Wrong with South Lanarkshire”. Indeed!

There does seem to be a dearth of legal blogs from Wales and Northern Ireland. Apologies, and I hope I am wrong. 

• Blogging in other Practice Areas-A sprinkling of other legal blogs

Magic Circle Minx gives a fictional account of a trainee solicitor at a magic circle firm. Watch her amusing Xtranormal cartoon “Tis the season to train as a lawyer” 

Xtranormal software is a fun way to get a point across in th eform of a cartoon, all you need is a script and the characters from a selection do the rest. I used it on the Clutton Cox site to highlight the need for a Will. View the Clutton Cox Will Cartoon here.

There are still too few Conveyancing and Property Blogs, but at least one is a gem.

Tessa Shepperson and her Landlordlaw blog is a paradigm of blogging perfection. Rich and frequent posts using the latest software make her blog an exemplar

Each year, Tessa sets out to innovate and improve and succeeds all the time. Tessa remains is still able to advise and collaborate with other legal bloggers.

Here are a few examples of posts:

Tenants Legal Help-what to do if your Local Authority don’t help;

Tenancy Deposit Court of Appeal Decision-the judges’ dilemma and a universal plea from all lawyers; Why Can’t We Have Plain English for Laws.

Christian Metcalfe runs the property law blog for the Estates Gazette. Christian’s post on the recent marriage value case in Leasehold Enfranchisement was entitled “‘Til Death Do We Part-new marriage value ruling

I am doing my best to engender enthusiasm in my Clutton Cox Conveyancing Blog

Nearly Legal have been posting on housing related matters for a long time. They now have 6 blog contributors. Here is it's post on Marriage Values in Leasehold Enfranchisement.

Who needs Mr. Loophole when you can have Mr. iPad lawyer. Jon Bloor who has bagsied the "it does exactly what it says on the tin" url before anyone could bllink, is a great source for technological issues confronting lawyers"

Jon also blogs under his peninsulawyer blog where on a clear day on the Wirral he can no doubt see Rafa Benitez waiting by the phone for a call from Mr Henry.

Jon's latest blog discusses the perils of losing data. his plea is for lawyers to encrypt their data: Class of 2011 Encrypt your Data
:  
Steve William’s Motoring Law blog  details the folly in not having proper representation in the magistrate’s court

I had a cup of coffee with Steve after he had finished a case at Yate Magistrates Court down the road from me here in Chippng Sodbury. I knew Steve had finished because he tweeted that he had.

I informed Steve that my wife Catherine regularly appears in Yate Magistrates Court,but thankfully in a magisterial capacity.

Jennie Kreser of Silverman Sherlicker does a remarkable job with Pensions blog 

• Hall of Fame

There are a few notable bloggers for whom entry into a Hall of Fame would beckon, if such actually existed.

Here are some possible contenders;

Baby Barista; The Magistrate’s Blog; No Option for Law Firm; Travis the Trout; Geek Lawyer; Charles Christian’s The Orange Rag; Marilyn Stowe’s Blog “Where Family Law meets Family Life and Law Actually

• Legal Marketers and Technology Experts

There are many outside commentators who blog for the benefit of the Legal Profession, and whose blogs gain much interest.

Here are my favourites:

Boyd Butler’sGreat Legal Marketing. Sign up for his newsletter/blog now and prepared to be wowed

Julian Summerhayes blogs for the Solicitors Journal on Social Media

Legal Futures has great insight into what you need in the realms of conduct, compliance and competence

Nick Jervis at Samson Consulting a non practicing solicitor has a straight forward and pragmatic approach to marketing which is fresh and easily absorbed. Again if you don’t sign up it’s your loss.

360 Legal Group led by Viv Williams is at the cutting edge of best practice in the legal sphere. Get on board now 

Connectegrity is working to bring together software that converts contacts into clients and conversations into new business. Connectegrity reviewed the top 100 large law firm websites last year. It would be a great exercise to do it for small firms as well

Jon Busby is the Business Development Director of Epoq legal , the company who have developed the DirectLaw platform. Jon's blog is at Legal 2.0


• New Kids on the Blog

Here are a few new legal blogs. Some from new bloggers, whom we wish every success. Some blogs are new but their authors are seasoned bloggers who are just trying something different

Jon Dickins is a new blogger, and his specialist area is Commercial Law.

Tim Bishop of Bonallack and Bishop is a prolific writer of legal articles and blogs. He has just set upBishopsLaw Business Blog

Net Media Law has inaugurating a hub for legal blogs around the world not just in the UK and the website: Solicitorsblog.com

Ann L Humphrey, Solicitor and Tax Specialist has started blogging on Tax with the defined aim of simplifying the legal world of tax.

And Brian Inkster has started the TimeBlawg. Check Brian’s predictions for IT in legal firms in 2011 

Epilogue

Well, it would be hard
to argue that this was an exhausting if not exhaustive trip around the legal blogging scene in the UK.

Apologies for any sins of omission. Please contact me and I will happily construct an addendum to what is now in effect my own blog roll.

Who knows I may actually be added to some more blogs rolls out there myself.

Ever since the decriminalisation of the split infinitive, I have been anxious to roundly congratulate myself with an award

But not just me an award for you all, courtesy of CharonQC

Blog on Garth: Blog on Wayne

That is all.