Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 CLawBie Award Nominees

Firstly, hello, fellow law bloggers of Canada.

I'm beginning this post with a greeting because, frankly, I've enjoyed getting to know many of you better through your writing this year.

Blogging - and all social media, for that matter - is really about building relationships. Relationships with your readers, your peers, your clients and in some cases, even your adversaries.

You may be surprised to learn who your readers are. The surprise may come from a comment, an email, a stranger saying hello at a social function or a phone call from a journalist who's just read a post you forgot about a year ago.

It may come in the form of a request from your Law Society for your participation in a CLE. Or a mention in a court hallway by a fellow counsel who has been reading your work. It may come in the form of a repost via Twitter, or Facebook, LinkedIn or some private message-board you've never heard of.

Not surprisingly, many of your readers are probably also law bloggers. And as much as I enjoy the writing and reading part of blogging, what really stands out in my mind as the highlight of this whole thing are those too-infrequent occasions when I have had the opportunity to meet with new "blogger friends" in person.

In those circumstances, the "relationship" part of blogging and social media really hits home.

There were a couple of those occasions this year. I have concluded we truly are an interesting, talented and unusually good-looking bunch.

With this long preamble behind me (I'm going somewhere with this, I promise...), I've decided this year I'd like to honour the Canadian law bloggers whose writing has stood out because they've allowed us, as readers, to enjoy a more personal connection with them. Over time, we feel like we are getting to know them a little bit better.

The Canadian law blog world has matured. Those of us who've been around for a while truly welcome the next generation of law bloggers that is emerging. Generally the new blogs are topic-specific, and deliver excellent news, information and updates about their subject matter.

For me, however, some bloggers stand out from the crowd. In addition to case reports, legislative updates and academic legal content, they deliver something more.

Personality.

They are humans with temperaments, thoughts, questions and opinions.

Among my favourites, some are brilliant, some are cutting edge, and some are brusque and abrasive enough that I'm pretty sure we'd all hate to be cross-examined by them. Others are good, old-fashioned storytellers. Some are obviously genuinely excited by their subject matter.

And of course, there is the "philosopher gang" that toys with crystal balls to deliver ever-refreshing prophesy on the bleak future of our legal profession. I sometimes laugh to myself about their certainty as to the many ways the sky is about to fall.

(It won't). And I enjoy reading them all.
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My Nominees

One blogger, in particular, stands out in my mind for his consistently informative writing, innovation, and his gentle leadership of Canada's blogging community. He is a mentor by example, demonstrating that law blogs at their best can and do provide practical tools, information, education and service to lawyers and the public.

And on top of that, every Friday, virtually without fail, he shares a little personal tidbit - a fillip, he calls it, about something that happens to be on his mind.

A fillip is defined as follows:
1.something that adds stimulation or enjoyment
2.the action of holding a finger towards the palm with the thumband suddenly releasing it outwards to produce a snapping sound
3.a quick blow or tap made by a finger snapped in this way
vb
4.( tr ) to stimulate or excite
5.( tr ) to strike or project sharply with a fillip
6.( intr ) to make a fillip
Simon Fodden certainly does all of that and more. He is my first 2010 CLawBie nominee.

He is the founder of Slaw, Professor Emeritus at Osgoode Hall Law School, and the true godfather of Canadian law blogging. While Slaw itself has been much lauded over the years, with good reason, allow me to suggest that 2010 be the year that we collectively honour Simon for his many individual contributions, via Slaw and elsewhere, to Canada's legal and blawging communities.

With his gracious permission, I proudly feature his Slaw search engine of Canadian law blogs on this site, and use it religiously in my own research.

We all owe him thanks. He has paved the way.
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My second nomination goes to Antonin Pribetic for his Trial Warrior Blog (and his related antics on Twitter). If you don't follow him, you should. For if there's any controversy or brouhaha percolating anywhere online, Antonin is likely to be all over it. Or at the centre of it.

His recent stand, asserting copyright protection for his blog content, and by extension, all of our law blogs' content, left me convinced he is at the vanguard of an issue whose time has come. And the next time a major issue arises, I'm going to want to know what Antonin thinks.

Don't let the bravado fool you, however - based on my brief professional dealings with him, I can tell you he is the consummate, gentleman litigator.

He was one of my nominees last year, when his blog was but a few months old. Since, then, Antonin's presence and influence have grown, and will likely keep growing.

But mostly, Antonin stands out of an example of a blogger who speaks in a deep, passionate voice that resonates as it allows his readers to know who he is - as a person and as a professional.

That's what good blog writing is supposed to do.
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For my final nomination, I have to travel all the way to beautiful Victoria, British Columbia.

Now, as I understand it, B.C. has its own, rather ideosyncratic system for addressing motor vehicle accident injury claims. This, of course, is of only passing interest, here in Toronto. I don't typically drive or work in Lotusland, and frankly, the niceties of injury claims under the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia regime don't often cross my mind in my spare time.

However, there is a blogger who writes almost exclusively about such processes that certainly has caught my eye.

This probably should just be called the "who the heck is Erik Magraken" nomination, but it is precisely because I do know Erik through his blog that I am nominating him for his BC Injury Law And ICBC Claims Blog.

Erik's online adventures are a case study in how to do everything right when it comes to establishing a widely effective and credible professional presence via the internet.

Utilizing video, his blog posts, a buffet of social media sites, and good, old-fashioned personal networking to reach out to other law bloggers, Erik has established a prominence in the blawgosphere that far exceeds the plausible reach of his localized niche practice in "plaintiff-only personal injury claims with a particular emphasis on ICBC claims involving orthopaedic injuries and complex soft tissue injuries."

Through his blog and social networking, Erik has established a national profile - in under two years.

If that doesn't inspire up-and-coming bloggers, nothing will.
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Honourable Mentions

Here are a few more of the excellent law blogs I read all the time - I hope the CLawBie powers-that-be will give them very serious consideration, as well:

| Precedent | Michel-Adrien Sheppard's Library Boy | David Bilinsky's Thoughtful Legal Management | Omar Ha-Redeye | Michael Carabash's Dynamic Lawyers Blog | Lynne Butler's Estate Law Canada | David Doorey's Workplace Law Blog | Damien Penney | Dan Pinnington's Avoid a Claim Blog | Michael Geist | Chris Jaglowitz' Ontario Condo Law | Heenan Blaikie's Entertainment and Media Law Signal | Law Diva | Financial Post's Legal Post | Dan Michaluk's All About Information | David Canton's eLegal |
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Friend of the North

He came to Canada. He invited Toronto's law bloggers to get together for a meet and greet.


As if that isn't enough, he then took the time to do a video with us when the party was over.

'Nuff said.

Kevin O'Keefe is one of the legal profession's social media pioneers and founder of LexBlog. His related sites, LexMonitor and Real Lawyers Have Blogs consistently feature current and topical Canadian content.

Nobody speaks more eloquently than Kevin on blogging as relationship-building:

[T]he Internet is about communicating. Communicating does not mean shouting content at people.

Realize the word 'social' is included in social media. The term 'social' means interaction of living organisms (humans in particular) with other living organisms.

Being social means engaging other people. Engagement requires listening first and then entering into a conversation. It's how we as people build relationships. Relationships drive client development in the legal industry.

...Being social for client development purposes means identifying your target audience, going to where they are congregating, listening to what they are saying, engaging in the conversation by referencing what others are saying, and offering information and insight of value to others.

Food for thought.

He remains way ahead of the curve on both sides of the border. He is a friend of Canada's law bloggers, and those worldwide.

(Besides, he bought us beer.

And calimari).

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

Visit our Toronto Law Firm website: www.wiselaw.net

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