In May we posted an introductory guide on “Blogging the Media“. An interesting and comprehensive article last week by Alex Aldridge on Legalweek.com about the rise and rise of UK legal blogging has inspired us to look at the topic of legal blogs or “blawgs” in the UK. The US legal site “Justia” has a blog directory containing 2,426 blawgs in 74 sub-categories. Of these, 78 are from the UK but the list is not comprehensive. A number of UK legal blogs are gathered in the “Guardian Legal Network“
Legal blogs cover a wide range – from the intensely serious to the purely personal, from gossip to in depth academic analysis. Alex Aldridge deals with some the history – reminding us the term “blog” – short for “web log” was coined in 1997 and that “blawgs” began to appear in the US in 1999
“Overlawyered – which was launched by Walter Olson, a senior fellow at The Cato Institute, on 1 July 1999 to chronicle the high cost of the legal system – is credited by many as the first-ever legal blog. Other US legal blogs soon followed, with sites such as The Volokh Conspiracy, Ernie the Attorney and Bag and Baggage the frontrunners as the medium quickly gained momentum among American lawyers. On these shores, however, legal blogging took longer to catch on, despite a couple of early notable successes: RollOnFriday, the popular City law gossip website, and OUT-LAW, the technology and law blog run by Pinsent Masons. Both were launched in 2000, although they took a few years to gain momentum. Indeed, arguably it was not until 2006 that a UK legal blogging community emerged“
He points to the growth “individual blogs” individual blogs like BabyBarista, Charon QC, Head of Legal and Geeklawyer and those written in association with law firms – such as IMPACT (by Nottingham law firm Freeth Cartwright). He also mentions The IPKat written by a team led by Olswang intellectual property consultant Jeremy Phillips – which has been going since 2003.
The latter deserves a special mention, as Jeremy Phillips is our most active and prolific UK legal blogger. As well as his beloved IPKat he has also founded or been a team member for another eleven legal blogs: Afro-IP (African IP law, practice and policies), the 1709 Blog (a blog devoted to all things relating to copyright), Class 46 (European Trade Mark law and practice), IP Finance (as you might expect), Class 99 (Design law and practice), The SPC Blog (IP “supplementary protection rights), IP Tango (IP law in Latin America), Pat Lit (Patent Litigation), JIPLP (the blog of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law), SOLO – Independent IP Practitioners, Datonomy (date protection law) and Fashionista-at-Law (law and fashion). He is still an active contributor to most of these blogs. And you can also follow him on Twitter @IpKat!
Alex Aldridge mentions Inforrm as part of what he refers to a “new wave” of legal blogs which have appeared over the past couple of years:
“Characterised by an interest in media law, this group includes Jack of Kent, CRITique (by law firm Charles Russell), Inforrm (from the International Forum for Responsible Media), the UK Supreme Court Blog (run jointly by Olswang and Matrix Chambers), the UK Human Rights Blog (by 1 Crown Office Row) and Bootlaw (by Winston & Strawn technology lawyers Barry Vitou and Danvers Baillieu)“.
At the end of the article he has a “Blawger roll of honour” which we commend to our readers. There are some interesting comments on the website – a number of which correctly highlight the great importance of the invaluable Bailii website to all UK legal bloggers. Without the Bailii resource all UK blawgs would be greatly impoverished.
These are some of our personal suggestions for of UK blawgs – focussed on those at the “serious” end of the scale, providing useful (and regularly updated) information for practitioners or with some relevance to those with an interest in media related legal issues:
Conflict of Laws – A blog run from Birmingham University in conjunction with the Journal of Private International Law and devoted to issues of private international law.
Corporate Law and Governance – A blog by Robert Goddard, senior lecturer in law at Aston Business School, which he describes as “an online notepad where I record important developments, news and other items that interest me”.
Devolution Matters – A blog by academic Alan Trench about all respects of devolution in the UK – how it works and how it is developing.
Jack of Kent – Which Alex Aldridge describes in these terms: “Rationalist exploration of high-profile cases by Preiskel & Co media lawyer David Allen Green. Widely regarded as the blog that has done the most to show what the format can do in the legal space by marrying technical grasp of the law with genuine accessibility and a feel for the dynamics of public policy“.
LAG News Blog – Comment and analysis on legal aid and access to justice issues from the Legal Action Group.
Law and Lawyers – also known as “Obiter J”, wide-ranging blog covering news and comment on legal issues and policy.
Nearly Legal – A comprehensive, bang up to date and very well-informed blog which covers all aspects of housing law news and policy.
Panopticon – a blog about information law run by barristers at 11 KBW, focused on freedom of information and data protection law and practice.
The Sports Law Canary – Which describes itself as “mining the web for nuggets of sports law, news and opinion”, run by academics Kris Lines and Jon Heshka.
UK Human Rights Blog – A wide ranging and active blog focusing on all aspects of human rights law – produced by barristers’ Chambers, 1 Crown Office Row.
UK Freedom of Information Blog – This has been operating since 2003 and covers news and developments in UK freedom of information law
UK Supreme Court Blog (UKSC Blog) – Analysis of judgments and related news concerning the UK Supreme Court (and Supreme Courts round the world).
There are a lot of others which we could have mentioned and we invite readers to recommend their own favourites by way of comments.