2017 Clawbies: Canadian Law Blog Awards

Happy New Year’s Eve! As 2017 ticks down its final hours, we’re happy to once again unveil the very last — and therefore, the very best — awards of the year. The 2017 Canadian Law Blog Awards are here!

The 12th annual Clawbies provide us with the opportunity to recognize some stalwart blogs that have been carrying the blogging torch for many years, while also identifying and shining a spotlight on several fresh faces and intriguing new players on the blogging scene. We’re especially excited by the rapid growth of legal podcasting in Canada and have singled out several outstanding examples.

Canadian legal blogging continued to flourish in 2017. Over at lawblogs.ca, we’re now tracking 540 blogs and podcasts about the law based here in Canada, and we’re thrilled that so many new entries arrive annually to swell their ranks every year. The 2017 Clawbies reflect the strength of this growing community.

And now … the winners!!


1. The Fodden Award for Best Canadian Law Blog


Winner: Cowling Legal. The winner of last year’s Legal Culture Clawbie takes home the Grand Prize for Canadian law blogging this year. Erin Cowling, a Toronto-based freelance lawyer, legal writer and researcher, combines sharp insights into the Canadian litigation landscape and timely commentary on vital social issues with terrific writing and a unique personal style. Among her standout posts this year were The Weinsteins of Canadian Law, Barristers’ Robes: The Courtroom Equalizer, and Stop Asking ‘Why Are Women Leaving Law,’ heralding the arrival of an important new voice in Canadian law blogging.

Runner-up: The Docket, an outstanding podcast from Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt and U of O criminal law prof Emilie Taman. This podcast checks all the boxes of authentic, engaging blogging – personality, opinion, humour, information — all on the latest developments in criminal law and access to justice that have (or should have) everyone talking. With The Docket’s two engaging hosts and a roster of A-list guests, this podcast is a strong contender for the Fodden prize.


2. Best Practitioner Blog Awards


Winner: Combat Sports Law Blog. Ahead of the Mayweather-McGregor boxing match earlier this year, The New York Times needed a legal commentator to interview. Guess who they chose? Congratulations, Erik Magraken of Vancouver!

Winner: News from the Breakroom Last year’s “Best New Blog” award winner solidifies its place in the Clawbies with more timely posts applying an employment law lens to the news stories everyone is talking about. By Toronto’s Shaun Bernstein.

Winner: Robichaud Law. Criminal defence lawyer Sean Robichaud of Toronto  continues to generate thought-provoking, practical, and newsworthy posts about criminal justice and other legal matters in Canada.


3. Legal Culture Award


Winner: The Civil Resolution Tribunal Blog – Not just one of Canada’s great legal innovation success stories, B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal is considered a worldwide leader in access-to-justice and online dispute resolution. The CRT’s blog, led by CRT Chair Shannon Salter, gives readers a front-row seat to one of the law’s most exciting innovation projects.

Runner-up: Attorney With A Life, a collaborative blog among lawyer coaches, led by Slaw regular Allison Wolf of Vancouver. Written for the legal professional audience, this blog covers the soft skills and emotional factors that inevitably impact work life. Leadership, mindfulness, goal-setting, decision-making, stress, and grief are just some of the critical yet under-addressed issues covered here.


4. Change and Advocacy Award  


Winner: ReconciliAction YEG. Multiple nominations on Twitter affirmed the choice of Reconciliation YEG, written by law faculty at the University of Alberta and hosted on the U of A Faculty of Law Blog, as a deserving winner. Powerful and searing posts detail efforts to achieve long-overdue justice for indigenous peoples in Canada and especially indigenous women.

Runner-up: Jumping Off the Ivory Tower, an essential new podcast from one of Canada’s most important A2J researchers and advocates, Prof. Julie MacFarlane of the University of Windsor.

Runner-up: Reconciliation Syllabus, a collaborative blog to support recommendation #28 of the TRC Calls to Action, led by Prof. Rebecca Johnson of the University of Victoria Faculty of Law.


5. Best Law Library Blog Award


Winner: Legal Sourcery. The pride of the Law Society of Saskatchewan, Legal Sourcery continued its top-quality blogging in 2017 with a steady stream of useful content alongside an enjoyable amount of personality and playfulness (earlier this month, they featured “12 Days of Recipes” as a fun December feature). While strictly speaking a library blog, this really could be seen as the go-to source for Saskatchewan legal news.

Runner-up: O’Faolain. David Whelan’s blog really represents the best of old school blogging: storytelling, opinions, and posts that are “as long as they need to be” — all delivered through carefully crafted, highly pertinent posts in an engaging first-person voice.

Runner-up: Great LEXpectations. News and Views from the Manitoba Law Society Library in Winnipeg. Manitoba is finally on the law library blog map with Great LEXpectations, which debuted this year and includes a good mix of library news and critical updates for legal professionals in this province.


6. Best Practice Group Blog Awards

Each year we select three practice dedicated blogs from larger law firms that deliver helpful commentary on a select business industry or legal challenge. Here are the publications that stood out in 2017:

Winner: Cannabis & Life Science Law, by Cassels Brock & Blackwell

Winner: Occupational Health & Safety Law, by Dentons LLP

Winner: Timely Disclosure, by Fasken LLP


7. Best New Blog Awards


Winner: Canadian Cybersecurity Law. One of the most frequently nominated blogs, CCL is the work of Bradley J. Freedman of Borden Ladner Gervais in Vancouver (although the blog is explicitly not affiliated with BLG). Cybersecurity has never been hotter or more relevant to lawyers than it is today.

Winner: Kate Dewhirst Health Law. The eponymous blog of Toronto health lawyer Kate Dewhirst delivers a steady volume of posts, an easy, conversational tone with personal touches, and great storytelling.

Winner: Know How. Just launched in September, the newly minted blog of the Great Library at Osgoode Hall (the home of Ontario’s law society, not the law school) is off to a terrific start, with librarians at the Great Library delivering regular helpful posts. This is sure to become a must-read blog for Ontario practitioners.


8. Best Law School/Law Professor Blog Award


Winner: IdeaBlawg. The IP blog and podcast of University of Calgary law professor Lisa Silver, a multiple runner-up, is overdue to finally take home a Clawbie. Consistently one of the best online legal resources in Canada.  

Runner up: Double Aspect. Leonid Sirota’s essential constitutional law blog concludes another successful year.

Runner up: National Self-Represented Litigants Project Blog. Since their win in the Change and Advocacy category in 2016, Professor Julie Macfarlane and guests have gone on to produce another commendable year of posts exploring the intersections of access to justice, legal education, family law, sexual assault, and much more.


9. Best Niche Blog Award


Winner: Labour Pains. Consistently one of the most incisive legal blogs in Canada, the employment and labour law blog of Sean Bawden at Ottawa’s Kelly Santini enjoyed a superlative year and gets a well-deserved Clawbie nod.

Runner-up: Canadian Trade Law Blog  Produced by Ottawa’s Woods Lafortune LLP, this blog documented the firm’s efforts to support indigenous participation and inclusion within Canada’s current NAFTA negotiations.

Runner-up: Lash Condo Blog. Denise Lash and her condominium law team in Toronto help the standard for what a great niche law blog should be: focused, practical, and solution-oriented.


10. Best Podcast/Vlog Awards


Winner: Lawyered Podcast – Toronto’s Husein Panju has now spent three years talking to lawyers in a wide variety of fields about recent development of importance in their area. Great for both legal and non-legal audiences.

Winner: Borderlines. Steve Meurrens and Peter Edelmann of Vancouver exchange ideas and share insights about Canadians visas, permits, citizenship, and other timely immigration law issues.

Winner: The Docket. We try to avoid repeat winners, but The Docket has become a real pioneer for the Canadian legal podcast format, and Michael Spratt and Emile Taman are as fun to listen to as they are informative and interesting.


The Clawbie Hall of Fame!


This year, we’re inducting two new members into the Canadian Law Blog Awards Hall of Fame. A blog or podcast must have received three Clawbie Awards to be inducted and is no longer eligible to receive future Clawbies. Joining the ranks of “The Best of The Best” in 2017 are:

  • ABlawg. The blog of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law has long set the standard for legal academic blogging in Canada.
  • Wise Law Blog. Very pleased to welcome Garry Wise of Toronto, who has been one of Canada’s most faithful legal bloggers, since April of 2005! An overdue entrant.

That’s the show, folks! Our congratulations to all the winners and runners-up, and our sincere thanks to everyone who nominated a candidate in their own blogs or on Twitter. A special shout-out to all the hard-working bloggers who didn’t receive a Clawbie — keep up the great work! We see you, we appreciate you, and we’ll keep considering you every year.

Best wishes from the Clawbies team to all Canadian law bloggers and podcasters, and everyone who reads and listens to them, for a bright and happy 2018!

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