The Clawbies Turn 10

The 10th annual Canadian Law Blog Awards is now officially open for business! It’s hard to believe that ten years has passed since I first scribbled down a list of my favourite law blogs (probably on the back of a Christmas napkin) and then wrote up a post explaining what those blogs meant to me.

The spirit of the Clawbies hasn’t changed much over the past decade. We still tell bloggers not to nominate their own blog, and instead, to write a nomination post identifying three or more other blogs that made an impact on their professional lives. That message has always been crucial to creating a feeling of community among legal bloggers. We don’t see the blog-to-blog exchanges (or heated discussions) as much as we used to. Many of those casual conversations have transitioned to social media. All the same, those discussions do still happen, and the Clawbies season each December is one of those times when we still see professionals publicly acknowledge the work of their peers.

Law blogging wasn’t big back in 2006, but it was growing. Law librarians, academics and a handful of introspective practitioners were leading the way. We all had different audiences, but the camaraderie was always there. I recall just hours after posting the first Clawbie awards receiving dozens of positive messages. One blogger (I think it was Michael Geist) tweeted out that he had no clue what a Clawbie was, but any recognition was always welcome — a boost to the grind of the continual writing that blogging requires.

Bloggers got their due, of course. My colleague, Emma Durand-Wood, has just completed a weekly series of interviews with some of the original Clawbie winners (See: Canton, Geist, Gautrais, Wolf, Fraser, Melliship and coming this Wednesday, Melissa Kluger). Bloggers shared their ideas, and in turn, were identified as leaders in their chosen areas. That writing ‘grind’, especially for an academically-driven profession such as law, proved to become a viable path to career success.

The Clawbies have had their changes too over the past decade,

  • We reoriented the Awards to make the nomination period the focus, so everyone could participate.
  • I stopped writing the awards by myself, and added Jordan Furlong, Simon Fodden, and this year Emma Durand-Wood to help with the judging.
  • As a perpetual winner, we retired Slaw from competing for a Clawbie.
  • About four years ago, we indexed all the Clawbie winners into — nice for visitors to see who’s won before, and nice for us to keep spreading our circle of the award recognitions out further.

As I said in the Clawbies opening post, law blogging is still proving its value today, and has had a huge impact on the sharing of ideas and digital discussions. First-person opinion-driven commentary is an essential method of presenting one’s thoughts online, and it’s visible in all forms of discourse. Professionals who blog (not professional bloggers) bring the substance to these exchanges. Legal bloggers especially are often recognized as trustworthy sources, worth sharing their fact-oriented quality arguments, worth citing, and worth reading regularly. Good legal bloggers also use the platform to explain, teach, and break down complex ideas for their chosen audience.

Those are the attributes we’ve always looked for with these awards. Those are also qualities that blog writers who’ve won in the past should proud of.

So please take some time in the coming weeks to write a blog post or tweet a nomination. Tag it with #clawbies2015 or #clawbiesat10 to let us know about your favourite legal blogs (or bloggers). Give a shout-out to your colleagues & peers… They will appreciate it!

Nomination deadline is December 23rd. (After that, you can still nominate, but we’ve got our heads down writing.) As usual, the Clawbies will be announced on New Years Eve!


  1. Well … you could allow the authors to nominate their own blogs but only for the Clawbies equivalent of the “ig Nobel” awards: say, “the ClawedBacks?” Nominations to be made only by the authors of the blogs, or accepted by the authors, to keep thing things above the belt.

    You could have two overall categories:

    (a) worst intended attempt at legal humour; worst intended attempt at legal logic; worst intended attempt at legal math; worst intended attempt at legal fiction; … etc.

    (b) worst unintended attempt … etc.

    I’d draw the line at a version of the Darwins, though, for obvious reasons.

    April 1 would be a good date for that version of a Clawbie.

    Or not.


  2. David, you should write your own version of the Awards with your own unique categories. Not only can I guarantee you that we would read it and get a good chuckle, but we’d probably throw an award your way for good measure.

    Garry Wise did a nice parallel edition of the Clawbies a few years back where he highlighted his own picks in each and every category. It was pretty cool & I suspect well read.

  3. I’ll think about it over an appropriate amount of imported peat-bog squeezings. One problem (for me) with something like “Clawzies” – stealing from the Razzies, but it fits even better to describe the anti-Clawbies – for law blogs is my perception that thin skins is endemic problem, not just an occasional hazard. I suppose the former group would self-select out if I limit the awards to bloggers who’ve nominated themselves.