Sunday, 31 October 2010

A Halloween Hoot

Welcome to the 31 October 2010 edition of ukblawgroundup, and the fourth in the series of round-ups initiated by Michael Scutt to promote blogging lawyers in the UK.
The theme of this edition is, spookily enough, what with the date and everything, Halloween; the origins of which date back to the Celtic festival of Samhain which celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half", where the border between this world and the other becomes thin enough to let the spirits pass through, and when we wear costumes and masks to ward off evil.
But I live in the countryside, and what this time of year means to our family is the harvest from the local farmers. And at Halloween, of course, we take great delight in carving up some of that harvest. I was most proud of my local farm in Little Budworth, Cheshire, which this October has just harvested over 3,000 pumpkins:

Image copyright of The Hollies Farm Shop
Halloween festivities are embraced with much more vigour on the other side of the Atlantic, and when Michael started this UK blawg review at the beginning of 2010 he observed that lawyers in the UK hadn’t embraced social media nearly as much as their American counterparts either.  And what a difference (not even) a year makes, because I’m now writing this edition against the backdrop of Legal Week’s recent analysis of the UK blogging scene. It’s article, The Geek Shall Inherit, introduced the audience of the mainstream legal press to the lawyers who operate in the online world, looking back at history of the UK legal blogging scene and presenting both some established bloggers and recent entrants. 
As insightful as the article was, and that one piece of journalism probably succeeded in bringing forward the legal digital mind-set by approximately 5 years, what it was unable to do was mention every credible UK blawgger, and there are few. Some additional players are mentioned in the commentary against the article, so do take a read of both the article and the commentary if you’re looking to increase the number of blawggers on your watch list or your RSS stream.  What the omissions do tell me though is that blawg round-ups such as this one are extremely important to spread the word and to promote the profiles of all of the great blawggers in the field, because by giving each other a pat on the back from time to time, we can help this community grow.
The Law Actually Blog knows a thing or two about patting its fellow blawggers on the back.  Penned by The (mysterious) Michael (whom we only know as an LLM and LLB student working in-house for a telco company)  this quarter it successfully ran its annual "Blawggies", the awards for, well you guessed it, blawgs.  As well as the  Blawggies Results, you can get to know the blawgeratti by reading the regular  “A Law Actually Interview with…” series of posts.  Take a look at the most recent, Law Actually Interview with Charon QC  for the type of thing which you can expect.  You'll also become very familiar very quickly with tech law developments and generalist legal observations too such as Council Goes Bonkers over Conkersa scenario observed with the observational dis-belief that a fellow in-houser can truly appreciate.  Speaking of which, have you had the good fortune to stumble upon Legal Bizzle? An anonymous in-houser The Biz, who in his own words has been "saving your ass since 1999",  just tells it like it is.  Check out 5 Words I Hate to Hear, and  What does Success Look Like? to see why.
Another round-up we saw this quarter was the FT’s Annual Survey of Innovative Lawyers, but I was disappointed that it didn't feature lawyers who are taking strides into social media as part of their practice strategy, however, to rectify the position, we also saw the 360 Awards, at which Paul Hajek received the award for most effective social networker. Paul is a regular on the UK legal blogging and Twitter scene, and the Clutton Clox Blog succeeds where a lot of law firm blogs fail: it's kept bang up to date and presents a well-rounded perspective of what the firm is about, its work and its people.
The reviews kept on coming this quarter, and one which caught my eye was from Linda Cheung, CEO of Connectegrity.  In September, Linda reviewed the Top 100 Law Firm Websites in Pictures. No spoilers here, you'll have to check out her blog for the winner.  

Image copyright of Tyson Moore, via Flickr, depicting some spooky fence ghosts 
The telling of ghost stories and viewing of horror films are common at Halloween. This quarter has seen its fair share of legal horror stories and frightening tales too. Most of which, it has to be said, have emanated from the demise of Halliwells. So may I take this opportunity to present Peter Blair, Director of Mar-aon Consulting which specialises in Risk, Operations, Strategy & Communications in Law Firms, and his eminently sensible Pitch for Common Sense, dealing with issues ranging from Responsibilty and Leadership to Keeping Up to Date. Whatever your profession or specialism there is a multitude of "makes sense" opinion and information on Peter's blog.
More gremlins in the machine this quarter, but thankfully with much less consequence.  Brian Inkster summarises his encounters on the Inksters Solicitors blog in IT Problems at Trainee Summer School. Inksters are officially Cool Lawyers recognised for the example which they set in social media, and I'd agree, like the Clutton Clox blog, Inksters keeps a refreshing balance of posts about the firm's work and it's people.

The above image is of Vice President Dick Cheney's Labrador retrievers Jackson, left, and Dave, right, prepare for Halloween, as they sit for a photograph at the Vice President's Residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Jackson is dressed as Darth Vader, Dave is dressed as Superman. (Random legal copyright fact: This image is a work of an employee of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, taken or made during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.)
The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays dates back to the Middle Ages. ‘Guising’ as it became known, was prevalent in Scotland and Ireland in the 19th Century, and became extremely popular in the US in the 20th Century. Rather aptly, blogging also allows lawyers to take on a disguise where their  be-devilled alter-ego can roam free.
Guising with expertise is the UK’s very own Baby Barista who provides us with a fictional "worm's eye view of the English Bar" with unparalleled eloquence and wit which has been observed and applauded for some time, however hot on his heels is a the new and superb Magic Circle Minx providing readers with a fictional account of the life of a trainee solicitor at a London Magic Circle Law Firm, her blog is now a regular on my RSS list.  Another esteemed blawgger who makes no bones about his devil-may-care blogging style is the wonderful Charon QC who this quarter has had me hooked on his (fictional?)  Muttley Dastardly LLP series.
Taking on a guise, but not one so scary, is iPad Lawyer documenting his journey as a lawyer with THE piece of kit of the quarter. The iPad Lawyer explains step by step how to use the apps and software for a lawyer's best effect and productivity, and his excellent commentary in iPad workflow - some thoughts is a great example of his hands-on, explanatory approach.  The man behind the mask is Jon Bloor of Peninsulawyer fame who this quarter has also taken a look at Go Compare the Money SuperMeerKat (or why I don't buy Wigster) providing his views on the recent announcements by Wigster and others of the launch of price comparison sites for solicitors.

Image copyright of Shane Gorski, via Flickr "no one knows who lives here but there is proof of life at this property"
There is a tradition of decorating a haunted house at Halloween, filling it with eerie music, cobwebs, spiders, zombies, mummies, jack o' lanterns, devils, witches and of course the witch's cat.  One of my favourite cats is IPKat, aka Jeremy Phillips, home-grown but internationally recognised for his passion of all things IP.  Jeremy and his team provide regular consistent and credible work and I've personally read Jeremy's blog since I discovered it back in 2003, immediately capturing my attention for its valuable insight in my practice area. In September, I was impressed further by the excellent live-blogging series, Handbags at Dawn 1, 2, 3 and 4, reviewing an IP & Fashion conference - yes, live blawgging, as it happened, brilliant.  The team really do live, breathe and eat IP; see The Advertising Wars of Kelloggs Cornflakes for evidence of this assertion.
Other animals featuring in this blawg round-up, but not seen so much at Halloween, include:
CyberPanda, aka Asma Vranaki, who is a Doctor of Philosophy of Law at Oxford University. Asma's blog posts and tweets are brimming over with information and considered opinion tackling issues such as Facebook: the Privacy Backlash and Pan-European Copyright Laws all helpfully summed up in a Cyber-Law News Daily
Technollama, aka Andres Guadamuz, a lecturer at the Edinburgh School of Law.  This month I enjoyed reading his discussion on cyber-regulation in the well-penned post Is it time to take Anonymous Seriously? Readers of Andres' blog are always guaranteed an enlightening read.
Staying true to her identity, and founder of another technology blog, is Shireen Smith at Azrights Solicitors.  Shireen's posts are bang on the money for her target audience and I always benefit from a legal brain refresher when reading her posts.  She has a knack of making her specialism a subject which everyone should take an interest in:  Facebook Places, Privacy and Implied Consent and Rejecting Anonymity, Making Authors Accountable are both good reads whatever your specialist practice area.
Stepping away from technology blogs, and back full-circle to the founder of the UK blawg round-up now. Michael Scutt's passion for blogging is evident as he wears two blawgging hats, one for Jobsworth, Employment Law Explained, and the other for There May Be Trouble Ahead, Legal Services De-regulation.  Jobsworth is an essential blawgging read for anyone in practice remotely affected by employment law (and, lets face it, who isn't?).  His analysis of the Equality Act in The Equality Act: Here at Last ? Worth the Wait? (and the earlier posts referred to therein) really get to the nub of the issues underlying why and how the legislation has come about to provide a much fuller and contextual picture, but he also does the practical stuff too, see Why Employers Shouldn't Ask Pre-Employment Health Questions: Equality Act 2010 #2 for the answers to the "ok but what does it mean I actually have to do" questions.  In There May be Trouble Ahead, Michael has himself well-positioned as a thought-leader amongst the profession challenging views of what de-regulation will mean for it.  His September post, More on Branding, questions how much a law firm is prepared to invest in a franchised brand. 
I couldn't let the opportunity of this blawg round-up go by without mentioning Mark Gould, with a background as an academic and lecturer in Competition Law, Mark is currently Head of Knowledge Management at a leading law-firm.  His blog, Enlightened Tradition explores a rational approach to organisational learning and knowledge management. He draws inspiration from many sources and his blog posts pay homage to his academic background being clearly well-researched; a shining example is his recent post  Corporate Professional Spectrum: Law Firms, KM and the Future.
And last but not least, Jennie Law, a law librarian in Edinburgh. I've had Jennie's feed on my RSS stream for a while now, and her light-hearted "say what you see" approach is perfectly summed up in How to Make a Librarian Happy.
Image copyright of Anon, via Flickr
And now, the witching hour really is upon me, I have work to do! Happy Halloween readers!


  1. Very nice post Melanie. Professor Phillips is also one of my favourite bloggers with his IPKat and also a v approachable man.

    One day or even its subdomain ScotsLawBlog shall, hopefully, make your list :)

    Best wishes

  2. Thank you for your kind comment Gavin.
    I believe WardBlawG is indeed very popular, and I've added it to my RSS feed also, so I look forward to getting to know it better :)

    So that you, and any other interested blawggers are aware, its possible to submit posts for inclusion on the UK Blawg Round-up via Blog Carnival:

  3. Really nice round up. I'm constantly amazed by the diversity and quality of the UK blawgosphere. Your commentary adds real value.

  4. @Intelligent Challenge, Thank you for taking the time to comment so kindly, and also for introducing your blog to me. Its on my list now too!

  5. Great post Melanie, and many thanks for the mention.

    I've been described in many ways before but 'mysterious' is definitely one of the more favourable! ;-)

    btw I've added you to my blawgroll over at Law Actually :-)