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Blawgs should be banned

Trevor Hill, a law student with a strong and diverse background, beat me to it in saying the word – blawgs – should be banned.

Using the term blawg is plain stupid. Is there any other profession or industry that thinks they are so special they need a word other than blog to call their blogs? Programers do not have 'Progs.' Sports blogs are not called 'Splogs.'

Lawyers ought to use a little common sense. They should not only stop using the terms blawg and blawgs but also suggest that other lawyers stop using the terms. Continuing to use the terms blawg and blawgs is just plain dumb, not that we lawyers aren't capable of doing dumb things.

Trevor correctly explains blawg is the same thing as blog, making it totally “useless in actual English speech.” Heck, anyone with common sense would say it's legal blogs, lawyer blogs, law blogs or any combination of words that use the term blog.

Denise Howell is an appellate and intellectual property lawyer at Reed Smith and blog pioneer who I have the utmost respect for. She's highly regarded not only in the legal arena but also in the technology and intellectual property community. Not many lawyers on the stage at Gnomedex – Denise was. Her blog, Bag and Baggage, is one of most read legal blogs.

Denise coined the term blawg a number of years ago. I have to guess she did so as a play on words and to have some fun. The end result is a term that confuses the public. I know I can be dumber than a box of rocks at times but I first shied away from blogs when I was confused by, among other things, what a blawg was versus a blog.

God knows I also have the utmost respect for lawyers who happen to be using the term blawg. This is not an attack on you personally. You are producing some fabulous content. I laud you for it. But tell me why lawyers should use the term blawg.

Lawyers have a horse shit reputation. It's down there with used car sales people and the media. We have an incredible opportunity through the use of blogs to share helpful information with others. There is no way doing so will not help improve the image of the legal profession. Let's not blow it.

Using 'blawg' confuses the public, sends the signal lawyers think they are special and that lawyers always want to use 'legalese' to keep legal information away from the masses. Let's make blawg a thing of the past.

It's not too late to stop using the term blawgs. Some day the vast majority of lawyers will use a personal publishing platform – a blog – to share their intellectual capital and collaborate with others. As many good legal blogs as there are, we're still just scratching the surface.

  • http://www.inter-alia.net Tom Mighell

    Kevin, when I see “Using the term blawg is plain stupid” and “I also have the utmost respect for lawyers who happen to be using the term blawg” within the same post I have trouble taking it seriously.
    I use “blawg” not because I think it's special, but because it's unique. I don't think uniqueness is a quality to be ashamed of. I haven't had any trouble explaining that there really is no distinction, any more than I have had explaining the terms “podcasting” or “RSS.” And if someone thinks the term blawg is “legalese,” then that person probably wasn't going to get it anyway.
    I disagree with Trevor that we should call them “legal blogs” — that makes me think that there are other “illegal” blogs, or blogs that are somehow not legitimate. I prefer “law-related weblogs,” but as Trevor points out, it's a mouthful. So I'll probably continue to use “blawg,” hoping that the public will see the distinction more as a clever turn of phrase than as the typical lawyer ego. At least, I'd like to give them that much credit.

  • http://kevin.lexblog.com Kevin O'Keefe

    I understand what you're saying Tom when I say 'blawg' is dumb and that I respect those people who happen to use the term. Guess that was a rather clumsy way of saying I think the term is foolish but that those who have used it are writing some pretty good stuff & have led the way in getting lawyers to use blogs as a way of sharing information. For the latter I respect you and others.
    You're right that blawg is a clever play on words. But I think there are folks as stupid as me who are confused by the term. Sure it's easily explained but someone may not always be around to explain it.
    I'm just one that would like to see lawyers act more like the man or woman on the street, the person you'd pull up a bar stool next to or shoot a game of pool with at the local tavern. Those folks aren't looking for more clever lawyers – they by and large distrust the hell out of us.
    On this one, why not use the same term the rest of the world is using – blog. It doesn't even need an adjective – it's a blog published by xyz etc. But if it does why not law blog or lawyer blog?

  • http://www.pharmablawg.com richard

    I wonder if I've committed a double sin then, using “Blawg” in my blog title (PharmaBlawg) and “legal weblog” to describe it! (I wanted to use “PharmaBlog” but that blog name was already in use.) Personally – and for what my comments are worth – I wouldn't criticise lawyers and the public perception of them to the extent you do. A subgroup of ambulance chasing plaintiff lawyers might understandably attract criticism but you can't really tar the whole profession with their brush. As for “blawg”, I suspect it's just as confusing for most people as the word “blog” is. Ultimately, a blog, a blawg, is just a website.

  • http://kevin.lexblog.com Kevin O'Keefe

    Thanks for the comment Richard. For those who have not seen it, he's got a heck of a blog going at pharmablawg.
    Blog is quite a bit less confusing than blog, blawg did not make the cover of BusinessWeek nor is the term regularly reported on by newspapers and other publications.
    As far as the poor reputation of lawyers, I'm not being harsh, it's a fact. Americans believe we are greedy, manipulative and corrupt with less than one in five people having any faith in lawyers. This all from a recent ABA study.
    The study also finds people do not care what type of lawyer it is – personal injury as you single out or corporate.
    I know a blawg is a Web site but when I tell non lawyers who do not know what it is, they ask why lawyers would want to confuse people by calling their blogs a blawg.

  • http://www.pharmablawg.com Richard

    Fair enough. I guess I can't really argue against those ABA findings.
    Now you've got me wondering again about the prudence of “blawg” in my blog title. I too didn't like the word blawg when I first heard it, but decided to run with it. Perhaps not the best decision, though hopefully not plain stupid.
    If you're ever in Europe, let me know. All the best with LexBlog.