Among the Am Law 200 law firms, 163, or 82 percent, now have blogs. And it is not just one blog. All but 27 of them have multiple blogs and one firm, Fox Rothschild, has 39.

LexBlogBenchmarkReportThese are among the findings of the 2015 Am Law 200 Blog Benchmark Report, a report on large law firm blogs prepared periodically by the blog company LexBlog.

Since LexBlog first began compiling the report in 2007, the number of Am Law 200 firms with blogs has risen 315 percent, from 39 firms to today’s 163. The number of blogs at these firms has done from 74 in 2007 to 962 today.

At the same time, the number of firms with blogs has not grown significantly since the report was last compiled early in 2013. The increase is either four firms or seven firms, an increase of either 3 percent or 4.5 percent.

(The discrepancy comes from the fact that this year’s report says that four additional firms are blogging since 2013. But the 2013 report said that 156 firms had blogs, which would mean the increase is seven.)

While the number of firms has not increased dramatically since 2013, the number of blogs has. The current total of 962 blogs is a 46 percent increase over the 2013 total of 660. Part of the reason for that is that firms are publishing multiple blogs:

Number of blogs per firm.
Number of blogs per firm.
  • Four firms have more than 20 blogs.
  • Four firms have 16-20 blogs.
  • 19 firms have 11-15 blogs.
  • 33 firms have 6-10 blogs.
  • 75 firms have 2-5 blogs
  • 27 firms have just one blog.

The firms with the most blogs are:

  • Fox Rothschild, 39 blogs.
  • Sheppard Mullin, 29 blogs.
  • Womble Carlyle, 22 blogs.
  • DLA Piper, 21 blogs.
  • Duane Morris, 20 blogs.

The report also ranks the most popular topics of large-firm blogs. Employment and labor leads the way with 132 blogs, followed by corporate and commercial (104), financial (100) and intellectual property (73).

Of the 302 new blogs launched since the 2013 report, the most popular topics are IP (62 percent), insurance (58 percent), technology (58 percent) and food, drug and agriculture (56 percent).

A final section of the report lists the top 30 Am Law 200 blogs by traffic and also top trafficked blogs by blog topic. The report does not give actual traffic numbers, which would have been enlightening, but lists the top 10 as:

  1. Lowering the Bar.
  2. iPhone J.D.
  3. Startup Law Blog.
  4. Privacy and Information Security Law Blog.
  5. InsidePrivacy.
  6. 3 Geeks and A Law Blog.
  7. The Venture Alley.
  8. CFPB Monitor.
  9. CommLawCenter.
  10. Employment Matters Blog.

Lest we forget, LexBlog concludes the report by reminding us that it is in the business of building blogs for law firms. It created and maintained more than half the blogs covered in this report and was behind 65 percent of the top 30, it says.

You can download the full report for free (after filling out a registration form) at the LexBlog website.

IPEthics

Hyperbole gets my hackles up, and none more so than websites or products that claim to be the first of their kind when in fact they are not. Regular readers will know that, in the past, I’ve called sites out for erroneously proclaiming themselves to be first at something.

So when I saw a press release with the headline, A New Ethics Blog is Heralded as the First of Its Kind, I was duly skeptical. Frankly, given the broad universe of legal blogs now published, it is pretty hard to come up with a truly unique concept.

Kudos, then, to Baltimore, Md., lawyer Michael E. McCabe Jr., because it appears he actually has come up with a first-of-its-kind focus for his newly launched blog. Called IPethics & INsights, the blog covers legal ethics, professional discipline and professional liability in the specific context of patent and trademark law.

McCabe, a partner with the Maryland firm Funk & Bolton, is a patent attorney who, in addition to handling patent matters, represents lawyers in professional misconduct, attorney discipline and ethics matters. His blog will report on disciplinary decisions from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, state bar regulators and federal and state court decisions involving disqualification and malpractice.

I have not found any other legal blog that fits specifically within this niche. Other IP blogs and ethics blogs periodically touch on topics relating to ethics and malpractice in the IP context, but none focus on it exclusively.

There is a lesson here for other lawyers who are just thinking about starting blogs. It may seem like there are no topics yet to be covered. But perhaps by focusing on a more narrow aspect of a broader topic, there is a unique niche to be found.

Supreme Court watchers usually set their sights on the first Monday in October. This year, however, they might want to pay attention to the last Monday in September. On Monday, the preeminent Supreme Court blog, SCOTUSblog, will unveil a new look and some new features.

Tom Goldstein

SCOTUSblog has long stood out to me as among the best of the legal blogs. Here is a blog that has established itself as the definitive and authoritative resource for all things Supreme Court. It tracks the court from all angles, providing news reports, in-depth analysis, case files, court calendars and statistics. All this is done with a roster of contributors that includes practitioners, academics, journalists and others. And while the founder and publisher of SCOTUSblog, Tom Goldstein, has a practice that focuses on Supreme Court advocacy, the blog never seems like a marketing vehicle but always remains focused on providing useful information.

Monday’s redesign will be, by my count, the fourth complete overhaul of the site since it launched in October 2002. More notably, just a year after SCOTUSblog unveiled a major redesign in which it moved away from the traditional blog format of presenting posts in reverse-chronological order, it is now returning to that format.

Among the changes that will be unveiled on Monday:

  • The front page “reverts” to a two-column, reverse-chronological format that more closely resembles a traditional blog format, as distinguished from the three-column format now in use that separates “Featured Posts” and “Other Posts.”
  • A new bar is added across the top of every page that highlights “Featured Content.”
  • There is more prominent integration of social media, particularly with buttons on each post to publish the post to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
  • Key content now located in the lower portion of the center home page now moves to the right-hand column. This includes the calendar, “This Week at the Court,” “Upcoming Oral Arguments,” “Upcoming Petitions” and “Term Snapshot.”
  • The top-of-page navigational elements are restructured in ways that have them point more directly to different types of content.

By email, Tom Goldstein tells me that the most major new feature accompanying the redesign will be a “community” system for discussions. He also provided some insight on the reasons for the redesign:

In some respects, I decided that we needed to move backwards to move forwards. Our last platform was so unusual that I think more than half the readers didn’t really like having the two columns noting blog posts, though there are certainly loud exceptions. I think that platform educated the readers about the other features we have – like the case pages, calendar, and statistics – so those don’t have to be front and center, with everything on a single page, any longer. And the “featured content” level is a better solution to highlighting our most important posts (including because it appears on every page).

This platform is also evolutionary: there is a direct and immediate list of the current term’s merits cases; and the list of upcoming arguments is better than the previous upcoming merits cases, because you see a whole week and a summary of the issue.

These changes to the blog come in a year that also saw changes to Goldstein’s practice. In January, he left Akin Gump and returned to his former firm, Goldstein & Russell, citing client conflicts as his reason for leaving. Initially, it was unclear whether the blog — which he brought to Akin Gump — would follow him when he left. Fortunately for us readers, it did.

A group of 18 soon-to-graduate Harvard Law School students so fear the approaching loss of “the discussions we’ve had over bagels and coffee” that they have started a blog in the hopes of perpetuating their exchanges, if only virtually. The blog, Just Enrichment, is wide ranging in its coverage. In less than a month of operation, its topics already cover a range that extends from online poker and labor unions to sex equality and burqa bans.

Like any self-respecting group of bloggers, they are also on Twitter as @justenrichment.

[Hat tip to Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy.]

Here are four new blogs of interest to legal professionals:

  • Summary Judgments. From Loyola Law School in Los Angeles comes this blog, which will serve as a clearinghouse for faculty commentary on a range of issues and highlight faculty scholarship. The blog kicked off the new year with “11 on ’11,” a series of posts in which professors are forecasting what lies ahead in 2011.
  • Letters Blogatory. If you are enough of an international law geek to deal with letters rogatory, then this is the blog for you. Its author, Ted Folkman, a lawyer at Murphy & King in Boston, says his goal is to provide a practical resource for practitioners to keep up with developments in international law.
  • Retail Law Observer. The law firm of Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C., publishes this blog, devoted to covering legal issues and key trends facing the retail industry. Topics will include property leasing and development, labor and employment, consumer protections and bankruptcy.
  • Legal Skills Prof Blog. Another addition to the Law Professor Blogs Network, this blog aims to provide a forum for discussion among the law professors who teach legal skills, the practitioners who hire their students, and the students themselves. The blog’s editor is James B. Levy, associate professor at Nova Southeastern School of Law. Among the contributing editors are two non-academics who are well-known legal bloggers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

Several legal blogs of note have launched recently:

  • The ZRG Blog. For roughly a decade, legal researcher Andrew Zimmerman has published Zimmerman’s Research Guide, an online encyclopedia for legal researchers. Last month, he launched this blog to keep his readers informed of updates to the guide.
  • In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress. Launched this week by the Law Library of Congress, this blog will feature a team of bloggers writing about current legal trends in the United States and elsewhere, developments and enhancements to THOMAS, and cultural intelligence and the law.
  • CaseClothesed. Created, edited and run by students at New York Law School, this blog covers fashion law and offers a legal perspective on developments in the fashion industry.
  • Legal Divas Blog. Four women partners with the law firm Bowman and Brooke write this blog focused on diversity law. The blog is intended as a resource for women in law and other professions to keep them up to date on best practices, benchmarking, current issues and trends that impact women in leadership, business and law.
  • Crime In The Suites. From the Washington, D.C., Ifrah Law Firm, this blog covers white-collar crime, DOJ enforcement, federal sentencing and similar topics. Contributors include the firm’s founding partner, Jeff Ifrah, and several associates.
  • California Corporate & Securities Law. Keith Bishop, a partner with the California law firm Allen Matkins, covers California securities laws and regulations, corporate governance, the California Department of Corporations, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the California Secretary of State, pending legislation and rulemaking, quirky California laws and other topics.

The Law Library of Congress this week unveiled a Web archive of legal blogs. The library began archiving selected legal blogs in 2007 and now has archives for more than 100 blogs covering a range of legal topics.

It appears to me that these archives are periodic snapshots of each blog rather than complete collections of the blog’s posts. From this page, the collection can be browsed by subject, blog title and author name. The page also provides searching, but only of the blog’s bibliographic information, not its full text.

If you don’t know what is meant by “legal informatics,” I suggest this quote as an oversimplified definition: “Everywhere, more and more courts, legislatures, and agencies are putting information on the Internet in more and better ways using improved technologies.” The quote is from Thomas R. Bruce, cofounder and director of the trailblazing Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School. It appeared on his blog recently, part of a thoughtful, longer post about the need for legal information professionals throughout the world to be more directly engaged in a conversation about mapping the future of legal information.

If there is to be such a conversation, it will have to confront a variety of difficult topics — access, transparency, standards, technology, government policies, IP laws and about the roles of government and private commerce. It is a conversation the LII hopes to help move forward with its launch last week of a new blog, VoxPopuLII. Bruce describes the blog this way:

Our new guest blog, VoxPopuLII, is designed to help the conversation along with biweekly posts from folks you may not have heard from before. They’re from all different tribes in all different places on the intellectual and global map. We’ve asked for their big ideas — and if you’ve got big ideas of your own, I’d invite you to get in touch with me about writing something for us. And of course we invite your comments and suggestions about what you find there.

The first post in the series, What is a Legal Information Institute?, comes from Kerry Anderson, deputy director and head of IT for the Southern African Legal Information Institute. The blog promises to be host to a conversation well worth following.

The American Bankruptcy Institute and St. John’s University School of Law have teamed up to launch the ABI Bankruptcy Case Blog. The blog is written by the student editors of the American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review at St. John’s and promises to deliver in-depth research on cutting-edge bankruptcy issues. “Each entry is the product of extensive research and constitutes a succinct analysis of the issue and holding of the particular case, how that issue is situated in the larger discourse of bankruptcy law, adn why the case is important.”

[Hat tip to Consumer Law & Policy Blog.]

The attorney general of Massachusetts, Martha Coakley, has launched a blog called At Issue & In Focus. The introductory post says:

This blog is designed to help residents to understand and participate in the work of their government. We will strive to address topics relevant to the broadest possible audience and will grow to include all the areas in which the work of this office affects Massachusetts residents, including consumers, families, businesses and others.

The AG’s office now also has a Twitter feed and an official YouTube channel. A statement of the AG’s Web communications policies says her use of Twitter “is intended as one-way communication” and the office will “not respond via Twitter to press inquiries, consumer complaints, or other constituent matters.”