Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 ClawBie Nominations (#ClawBies2012)

'Tis that ClawBie time of year again, and the Canadian legal blogosphere continues to evolve.

I have to be honest. Most of the new Canadian law blogs  I've encountered (and many of the old) are more information-heavy than readable.

Many of these blawgs are really wonderful when they turn up on a Google search of a topic I'm researching, and that is a significant contribution indeed.

Truth be told, however, they are not destination-blogs that I would keep going back to for the sheer joy of reading.

Whether this is ultimately an indictment of the risk-aversion of the corporate law-blog-by-committee or not, I'm not sure.  I'll just note that I don't find all that much interesting about these cookie-cutter blogs.

I've always leaned in the direction of writers with a point of view.

Law Blogger of the Year

It is therefore a no-brainer that Mitchell Kowalski receives my nomination as 2012 blawger of the year.

Whether you agree with him or not, Mitch will always get the discussion going. His ongoing critique of the inertia of the legal profession and its regulators is coupled with his own broad vision as to how we can embrace the challenges ahead.

He makes a key point - client-driven change is here, whether we like it or not, and those who adapt and innovate will be the profession's success stories of the very-near future. Mitch's well-received  book, Avoiding Extinction, released earlier this year, is a good entry-point for the uninitiated.

As a blogger, he's interesting, provocative and engaging.  Most importantly, he is emerging as an important, plain-English voice in Canada's dialogue on the future of the legal profession.

Keep an eye on this guy.

In With the New

Darryl Singer is a new, refreshing voice in the the nation's blawgosphere, and I will gladly nominate him as the ClawBie rookie of the year. His December 12, 2012 post, The Law Society's Misguided Decision, is one of the ballsiest and most personally courageous commentaries I have encountered in my nearly eight years online.  The fact that it provoked a detailed, online response from Law Society Treasurer Thomas Conway is no accident.

Mr. Conway's own Treasurer's Blog is more than worthy of a ClawBie nod, as well. Launched in October 2012, readers will be surprised to find that this is not just  the Law Society "party-line" and announcements  blog. The Treasurer's willingness to take a personal stand on the issues and engage in real debate is truly a breath of fresh air.  It's a must read.

Sarah Cohen's Fertility Law Canada Blog is another new law blog to take notice of.  A fine example of everything a specialized, niche-practice blog should be, there is no better resource online on the cutting-edge and rapidly evolving area of Canadian fertility and reproductive technology law.  As Sarah's online biography states, she "loves what she does - and it shows."

What About Bob?

I was pretty much decided quite some time ago that Bob Tarantino's Entertainment and Media Law Signal would be one of my ClawBie nominees this year.  Articulate, clever, thoughtful, witty and thorough - well, that's Bob Tarantino and that's his blog. He is one of Canada's best.

So I was decided on Bob - until I read Bob's own ClawBie nominations, and, specifically, his nomination of Barry Sookman, who, as Bob points out, has not to date been recognized with a ClawBie.

Barry is a prolific tweeter, blogger, and nationally recognized leader in Copyright, Intellectual Property, Computer, Internet, and e-Commerce Law.  Beyond that, he is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge - the kind of practitioner who can readily quote from memory entire paragraphs from dissenting Supreme Court of Canada opinions.

In a year that saw profound change in Canadian copyright law, Bob and Barry were a pretty effective one-two punch for ongoing updates and analysis.  I will thus nominate them jointly.

The Future

Others have observed an increasing gravitational pull away from law blogs and toward Twitter for online legal dialogue and information.  It's a distinction without a difference, I believe. The two platforms are entirely complimentary, and likely will continue to be.  The blog will remain the better forum for in-depth commentary and analysis, whereas Twitter will reign supreme for quick blasts of  breaking news, opinion and occasional hilarity.

While I've done more tweeting than blogging this past year, that's not carved in stone as the plan for 2013.  There is something to be said for articulating thoughts - and allowing them to evolve - through good, old-fashioned writing.

Time will tell.

But that's it for 2012.  It was a good year that saw the launch of WiseLii, participation in the LSUC Articling Debates, a gig at lawTechCamp, and a number of excellent Toronto Law Blogger meetups.

As I close out this year's blogging, my wish for 2013 is simply this - may next year be the year of technological modernization of Canada's courts.  There is no single more important initiative on the table, in my view, for our regulators, legislators and judiciary.

The absence of electronic filing of court documents imposes huge, unnecessary expense on the nation's litigants.  We can't claim to be serious about enhancing access to justice when our archaic court system still requires human couriers to attend at court in person to file each and every document in a court proceeding - at a cost of $30.00 to $150.00 a pop (depending on court location and time-urgency).

The absence of e-filing adds hundreds of dollars - or more-  in avoidable disbursement costs in every heavily-contested matter and, frankly, is an embarrassment to the administration of justice.

If the courts  and governments can't figure out the perfect system to implement - or pending implementation of such a system once developed - fergawdsake, just allow documents to be emailed to the courts, in lieu of in-person filing.

Happy 2013.
 - Garry J. Wise, Toronto
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