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Law Blog vanity contests : ABA adds to the silliness

November 28, 2007

Whiz Law blogMaybe it’s lawyers’ low self esteem that requires their egos to be stroked by being on someone’s list of the 100 best this or that. Maybe lawyers are so bored that they love gimmicks. Maybe it’s websites and organizations that are so starved for attention or relevance that they need to have contests to get their beauty pageant contestants to tell others of the website. I don’t know.

But to get sucked into believing a contest like the ABA Journal’s 100 best lawyer blogs means something is the height folly. Why not have a contest as to which blogging lawyer looks best in a swim suit? How would they do in a talent contest or when asked about world peace? And lest we forget the Miss Congeniality award.

There are thousands of lawyer blogs offering information and engaging in discussions as diverse as the lawyers publishing them. What’s best and what’s good is determined by the value the blog offers a niche audience.

A law blog offering information to parents of special education children and engaging in discussions with lawyers, educational professionals, and others in the world is a wonderful resource. It’s also a great way to advance the law surrounding special education and to provide those in need access to a professional in the know. But God forbid we give that lawyer an ‘I’m the Whiz’ crown.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the attention the ABA is bringing to law blogs. And I am certain the people in the contest have done some incredible things to advance the cause of lawyer blogging. Congratulations to those who have been recognized. But to self anoint the 100 best so as to get the vain among the 100 so jazzed that they’ll promote the ABA Journal website is a little childish, and is in fact damaging to the growth of law blogs.

Law blogs represent disintermediation of publishers and gatekeepers. No more are those in supposed power and control going to screen and serve up what they think is important. A lawyer in a town with a water tower, an old grain elevator and 3 four way stops is on equal footing with a lawyer who clerked for a Supreme Court Judge. The democratization of publishing and dialogue we get through law blogs is at the very heart of what we stand for in America.

To select 100 chosen Whiz’s of lawyer blogs confuses those who do not understand blogs. Last month I was doing a tele-seminar on law blogs hosted by the National Law Journal. Very worthwhile program. But the program host presumed that the ‘good law law blogs’ were limited to those 30 blogs in the Blog Network. When I mentioned that there were some wonderful blogs not included in the network, I was asked to ‘name one.’

The ABA Journal is going to publicize this ‘100 Best’ to a lot of lawyers and other folks who have no understanding of law blogs nor the depth of intellectual capital presented by the blogs. These unknowing have been told blogs are like lawyer diaries and journals filled with irrelevant and unreliable information. They’ll be seeing this ‘100 Best’ and appreciating the efforts of the ABA Journal editors to screen the good stuff from the bad.

The ABA Journal should be lauded for its efforts in showcasing blogging lawyers in its law blog directory. But sending out an email to ‘100 anointed lawyers’ with well trafficked blogs encouraging them to add a link to the ‘Blawg 100’ on their homepage is shallow, at best.

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