I don’t do memes. In fact I am something of a Darwinian nightmare environment for memes, they land in this blog and, right there and then, reproduction ends. This might suggest why I’m not doing family law.
However, having been kindly been tagged by both Charon QC and Binary Law with the ‘your current 10 best law blogs’ meme recently started by the ever so anonymous Ed. of Blawg Review, I am going to abandon the rule of a lifetime and join in.
Why? Because this meme, plus a potential post I was mulling over, provisionally entitled ‘Damn, We’re good’, together with a post on ‘the social blog‘ by Binary Law and another on Binary Law on ‘Where are we now‘ have all come together in one great big symphony of synchronicity. It is time to celebrate Brit Blawgs.
My tentative hypothesis is that UK blawgs are hitting a tipping point or maybe entering quite a new space. Not because there are suddenly many more of them, although numbers are slowly increasing, but because a lot more people/lawyers are reading them, commenting on them and taking them seriously as forums. What follows is my anecdotal evidence for this conclusion, scattered with links to the obligatory ten personal recommendations.
Item: In the last six months, this ‘umble blog has had comments and moreover discussion from, in no particular order: Paralegals, QCs, specialist solicitors, members of Fathers 4 justice, junior barristers, assorted ‘non-legal’ individuals, JPs, trainee solicitors, BVC and LPC students, pupil barristers and a shadow Minister.
Significantly, most of the commentors are not themselves bloggers. Please believe this is not said to blow my own trumpet, but considering that this is a blog by a (now) trainee solicitor which only began in June 2006, I am astonished not only by who reads or encounters this blog, but by the frequency and quality of comment. For heavens’ sake, I focus on housing law, this is not generally considered sexy. When I started blogging, I had no idea who the readers would be, but I suspected they would be limited. I presume I was not alone in this. I have certainly been guilty of assuming that the majority of readers came from a fairly closed circle of UK blawgs and their readers, but the last few months have been an eye opener in that regard. To generalise from my experience, we may not get huge traffic, but we do get very ‘interested’ traffic and to that extent UK blawgs are increasingly punching above their apparent weight in terms of visitor numbers.
Item: Specialist knowledge and contacts produce results, to be sure, but Charon QC’s remarkable recent series of podcasts with the major players in English legal education and training, including those who actually refused interviews to the BBC, shows not just access, but that his is a forum with influence. Once one had taken part, the others wanted to have their say, and the result is impressive.
Item: Specialist blawgs are on the increase. Admittedly only in certain areas, but as well as the international law focussed ‘Conflict of Laws’ and the high quality IP blawgs like Impact and IPKat that have been with us for a while, there is a significant cluster of very good new family law blawgs, like Bloody Relations, Pink Tape and Clarendon Chambers, the latter being a newcomer from a specialist Chambers. John Bolch at Family Lore, who was producing a quality blog all alone in the field for some time, has generously kept a record of the incomers from solicitors, barristers and chambers. These are very different but all excellent blawgs. Employment law has a marvellous exemplar in PJH. The anonymous Free Movement runs an impressive Immigration blawg. Tessa Shepperson has always interesting commentary on landlord and tenant law at landlordlawblog.
True enough, specialist substantive law or practice blawgs are still limited in number and area, but they are spreading and this can only be a good thing.
Item: Blawgs may come and go, posts may be of varying frequency, but the range of current blawgers makes the UK scene both unique and in literally rude health. What other jurisdiction could boast a Criminal QC writing as a Victorian maiden, sharing a blog with a biker solicitor advocate (Ruthieslaw)? Where else would you find a (completely different) Criminal QC taking such care and thought over advising and assisting wannabe barristers (Pupillage and how to get it)? I feel confident in saying that no other country’s legal blogs contain such filth, fury, humour both black and gentle, and striking generosity. The generosity is marked both in the openness to comment and in the open provision of specialist knowledge, often done anonymously so that no personal or professional gain is involved.
Yes, we have a long and probably very gradual way to go in the UK, but I sense that a certain point has been passed. The idea of a law blog is still unusual, but no longer unthinkable. More people read us than we think and more seriously than perhaps we suspect. The idea is taking hold and well on its way to being unexceptional.
If I can have one more than 10 recommendations, then from (just) outside the UK is Cearta.ie. Truly excellent.
And to the many Brit Blawgs not mentioned above, I read and enjoy a shedload of blawgs, but I was trying to make a point, dammit. Don’t go all huffy on me. This disclaimer does not apply to the usual suspects already mentioned by others, whose egos have been thoroughly pandered to – just accept not having to be mentioned as tribute to your ubiquity.