April 03, 2004
Best Law Student Blogs
Posted by Gordon Smith

I am interested in the role of blogging in legal education, though my efforts to date have been rather tentative. I started blogging not long after encountering the Berkman Center's "Weblogs at Harvard Law" project. At that moment of discovery, my attitude toward blogging was less than enthusiastic. I wrote an email to our faculty that said, in part: "If you don't have the faintest idea what all of this is about, join the club. Why would anyone read these blogs? Why is HLS trying to encourage them? People talk as if this is a 'revolution' in information dissemination, but I am on information overload already without having to check multiple blog sites." I hereby retract that.

With the recent addition of UW Law Blogs to my blogroll, I have now taken to reading law student blogs. This is still a relatively unorganized corner of the blogosphere, and it is likely to remain that way as student blogs are inherently transitory. Some students make the successful transition to real-world law blogging (see Nate Oman & Kaimi Wenger, for example), but many law student blogs die a fairly quick death. jd2b.com has compiled a nice starter list of law student weblogs, but a more complete list can be found at Sua Sponte.

If you look in my sidebar now -- under "Links! Links! Links!" -- you will find the Honor Roll of five law student blogs. To make the Honor Roll, a blog must be by a law student or law strudents and must relate primarily to law or the law school experience. The blog must have content! No once-a-week postings here. I am looking for a steady stream of insights. Good writing of any sort is the lodestar. Of course, I am not attempting to set myself up as the ultimate arbiter of law student blogs; these are just some that I liked very much. In addition, one technical requirement: since I am using Bloglines, the blog must have an rss feed. So, without further delay, here is my inaugural Honor Roll:

* De Novo is a group blog involving three law students from different law schools and one prospective law student. These guys are funny and smart and law geeks to the core, their own protestations notwithstanding. One of them, Jeremy Blachman, also has a great solo blog.

* For some time, Letters of Marque was the only law student blog on my (old) blogroll. Heidi is a consistently good writer. Clever posts like this keep me coming back:

I tried looking up 1 US 1 today. 1754. Hrm. That got me thinking. So then I used date restrictions to try and find the oldest case in State/Federal combined. 1 H. & McH. 1; 1658 Md. LEXIS 1 is what I find. Lexis 1? Wow. This case is basically one long-ass sentence:

UPON the difference between Capt. William Stone and William Boreman, touching the said Boreman's land at Nanjemoy, it appearing to this Court that the said Boreman did not legally pursue his warrant for four hundred acres of land within the time of the said warrant prescribed--It is ordered by this Court that a patent immediately be passed to Capt. William Stone of the land by him demanded, and in regard that the said Boreman's right to so much land doth yet remain unto him; and the surveyor did, in his own wrong, survey and receive pay for survey of that land at Nanjemoy.

In the intervening 350-odd years courts have figured out how to use periods.

Oddly enough, 1658 WL 1 (the same case) has lots more detail.

* Notes from the (1L) Underground is another group blog, this from some Penn Law Students. This recent contribution came from Porkroll:

I've heard that many professors don't appreciate the incessant web surfing that goes on during class, and the scuttlebutt is that some want wireless disabled during class time. This would be a mistake. Wireless access in the classroom is important inasmuch as it prevents me (and I can't imagine I'm unique in this regard) from lashing out at my fellow classmates and the "contributions" they insist on sharing each and every class.

* Sua Sponte started blogging in 2002, and that was light years before most law students. In her most recent post, she has a nice take on "the ratings kerfuffle":

The real issue isn't who feels the most insulted by the fact that [school] has dropped out of the top ten, or whose faculty publishes the most prolifically, or that students will be drawn to high-ranked schools by their fancy numbers and fall prey to firms doing the Dance of the Six Figures. The real issue is that, thanks to a silly system of categorizing disparate experiences, talented people will reap less than what should -- and elsewhere would -- be the full fruits of their labor. And it bothers me, even with all the hemming and hawing about how rankings are crap (which they are), that people still construe them at a macro level as a proxy for merit.

* Three Years of Hell offers bits of wisdom from Columbia Law School. This post makes him sound more like an entrepreneur than a worker bee associate/partner:

The trouble with wanting to be a lawyer is that you have to go to law school. The trouble with law school, at least for me, is that I've never really 'fit in' with the academic paradigm. When I was younger, I used to question why I was being put through academic hoops that made little sense to me. Years of experience taught me that while you learn a lot of things at any level of school, the primary function of education is a kind of sorting hat, where the skills your tested on bear some peripheral relationship to what you'll eventually do upon graduation. In other words, an employer can count on the fact that by hiring 'the best' graduates, he can't guarantee an employee will be good for his firm, but he's less likely to have to fire them later."

The quality of law student blogs was surprisingly high, and my self-imposed limitation of five blogs made this really tough. Many of the blogs that didn't quite make the Honor Roll are nevertheless worth a visit. Here are a few of the other nuggets:

* Mixtape Marathon would have been on the Honor Roll, but I couldn't get an rss feed for the blog. This blog seems to be more about life at the Michigan Law School than the law itself, but Bekah is engaging and witty. This recent post had me laughing for several minutes after I read it:

Population of the reading room, as of 4:08 p.m. on Friday, March 26, 2004:

1. Blonde girl in far corner, twirling her hair and playing with her glasses. Types a few words and then stares off into space for hours at a time.

2. Girl with huge laptop, drinking a Diet Coke and smiling at the screen. Probably internally chuckling over a politically-themed email forward. No books in sight.

3. Guy in polo shirt drinking out of a bike water bottle. Reading for what looks like a seminar and playing brick attack on his cell phone. Thinking about calling it a day.

4. Really diligent girl to my left who is actually doing work. Reading intently, outlining intently, not noticing the blueness of the sky or the futility of her existence. Simultaneously admirable and pathetic.

5. Dude next to me. Lots of books and highlighters, none of which have moved in three hours. Probably reading ESPN. Intimidates me anyway because the books are for one of my classes, and he looks like he's really up on things. Makes me hate myself for falling behind.

6. Girl behind me. Also really doing work and constructing beautiful, handwritten case briefs on pristine yellow legal pads. I hate her with an indescribable passion, but also want to be her friend.

7. Me. Sitting under a pile of Westlaw printouts, trying to avoid looking out the window, filling with more and more resentment as the day goes on, feeling my back and neck start to tense up to the point of paralysis, wishing I could be at a crawfish boil, even though I don't eat crawfish, and their little black googly eyes scare me a lot, and so does their poop, but I would eat them anyway if I could just leave this godforsaken place.

By the way, what is happening at Michigan that they have so many good blogs? Glorfindel of Gondolin is another good blog over there.

* Mr. Uninhibited of the Cloudlands has very funny post about name confusion, something almost every Smith can relate to.

* Lonestar Expat has a soap opera going in connection with the writing competition at his school, which I assume is Wash U, though I couldn't quite pin it down. Anyway, it should make every law student who isn't there grateful to be somewhere else.

OK, so here's the deal. I have chosen five blogs for the Honor Roll. I have five open spots left, to correct for oversights. And oversights abound. I looked at about 50 law student blogs, but I know that I missed many good ones. Once I fill those spots, I will have to figure out a way to allow for new great blogs to enter. Of course, some of these bloggers will graduate and be removed from eligibility. Anyway, in the meantime, if you want to see a blog other than your own on the Honor Roll, nominate it in the comments, and I will take a(nother) look.

UPDATE: Some may have noticed the absence of any University of Wisconsin Law School blogs on the Honor Roll. That is partly because those blogs are honored elsewhere on this page and partly because I didn't want to be a complete homer (after all, this is not Leiter Reports). That said, one of the UW blogs keeps catching my eye: The Fort. Part of the appeal is that he writes a lot over there. And I appreciate the fact that he occasionally links over here. Last week, he wrote this, which probably should have been posted on April 1: "Prediction: Professor Smith will easily get tenure and thereafter serve as Dean, where he will raise more money than any of his predecessors. None of the money, however, coming from me." Well, he is right about the tenure part, since I had that when I arrived. As for the Dean part, I will quote Princess Bride: "inconceivable!" (And, yes, that word means what I think it means.)

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» Geekness Pays Off from De Novo ...
"De Novo now counts itself among some very good company on the Honor Roll of Law Student Blogs. And t ..." [more] (Tracked on April 4, 2004 @ 1:15)
» My Favorite Smart-Ass Law Students Are Honored by a . . . Law Professor? from Notes from the (Legal) Underground ...
"First, they were busted. Then they were placed on the defense team, but only so someone could get th ..." [more] (Tracked on April 5, 2004 @ 7:39)
» Law Student Blogs of Honor from BoleyBlogs! ...
"Venturpreneur: Best Law Student Blogs Our old friend Professor Gordon Smith of UW School of Law has ..." [more] (Tracked on April 5, 2004 @ 10:20)
» Law Student Blogs of Honor from BoleyBlogs! ...
"Venturpreneur: Best Law Student Blogs Our old friend Professor Gordon Smith of UW School of Law has ..." [more] (Tracked on April 5, 2004 @ 10:33)
» Law Student Blogs of Honor from BoleyBlogs! ...
"Venturpreneur: Best Law Student Blogs Our old friend Professor Gordon Smith of UW School of Law has ..." [more] (Tracked on April 5, 2004 @ 10:34)
» At any rate from Letters of Marque ...
"I'm honored to be on Venturpreneur's law student blogger honor roll, as both me and a vague hand-wav ..." [more] (Tracked on April 7, 2004 @ 1:38)
» AmbImb for Honor Roll from Ditzy Genius ...
"I'm officially endorsing Ambimb for the Law Student Blog Honor Roll. Go on over there and vote for h ..." [more] (Tracked on April 8, 2004 @ 3:24)
» Welcome Scoplaw! from ambivalent imbroglio ...
"There seems to be a mini-boom of interest in law student blogs and pre-law blogs recently, largely s ..." [more] (Tracked on April 13, 2004 @ 4:42)
» Welcome Scoplaw! from ambivalent imbroglio ...
"Venturpreneur's first poll* for his "Law Student Blog Honor Roll" seems to have spurred (or been a p ..." [more] (Tracked on April 13, 2004 @ 5:03)
» Geekness Pays Off from De Novo ...
"De Novo now counts itself among some very good company on the Honor Roll of Law Student Blogs. And t ..." [more] (Tracked on August 19, 2004 @ 6:19)
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