Greetings to one and all, and welcome to the end of 2022 – and what a year it’s been in the social media sphere! Whether this column finds you on Twitter, Instagram, Post, Mastodon, Substack or another hastily assembled communication network, we think you’ll agree that it’s been a year of great upheaval and flux in the online information world.
Now, upheaval isn’t necessarily bad – we’re fans of innovative disruption, after all. While hardly anyone is happy with the mess being made of Twitter, there’s something to be said for trying out new spaces and places to share our knowledge and ideas. But we can also agree that all the chaos and commotion has been discombobulating.
So how do we recombobulate ourselves? How do we bring some order to the chaos, or at least some control? Well, we’re also sci-fi fans here, and science fiction has provided us imaginative examples of such devices, from the Infinite Improbability Drive to the Flux Capacitor to the Heisenberg Compensators. But who needs fiction when we’ve got fact? We have our very own real-world system for unifying all the disparate strands of 21st social media in one convenient place.
That’s right – it’s time for the 17th annual edition of the Clawbie Awards, where we honour the very best Canadian online legal content! Wherever and however Canadians have produced online information, insight, and commentary about the legal sector in the last 12 months, the Clawbies are here to sort through it all and declare the best of the best.
Your intrepid panel of judges has once again rung out the old year and welcomed the new with what everyone agrees are – if not the most important awards of the year – absolutely the last awards of the year. And so, with no further ado, please put your hands together for the 2022 Clawbie Awards winners!
Fodden Award 2022
Since 2010, the Fodden Award has been the top Clawbies honour, recognizing the very best in Canadian legal commentary. This year’s winner is:
The Trauma-Informed Lawyer Podcast
We’re hard-pressed to name a legal publication that focuses on more important and pressing issues in 2022 as Métis-Cree lawyer Myrna McCallum’s Trauma-Informed Lawyer Podcast.
Having won Clawbies in the Best Podcast category in both 2020 and 2021, the Trauma-Informed Lawyer features fascinating interviews with judges and lawyers, profs and educators, survivors and community leaders, experts and everyday people.
In 2022, the podcast tackled topics such as restorative justice, boundary-setting and mental health, vicarious trauma in the courtroom, trauma-informed teaching, decolonization, and much more. Powerful, frank discussions carry out the podcast’s mission to build critical competencies that are missing from law school and bar course competency requirements. Transcripts for most episodes also increase accessibility.
Congratulations to Myrna for her essential contributions to the Canadian legal infosphere. We’re looking forward to Season 3 with a major new investment from the BC Law Foundation!
The OG Clawbies category! Our appreciation for the humble blog has never waned, and it’s heartening that so many different types of organizations are still embracing the medium. Here are our top five blogs for 2022:
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Blogue SOQUIJ is a wonderful complement to Quebec’s main primary law and commentary source. SOQUIJ staff lawyers share clear and concise case summaries, topical roundups, and new English translations of French-language cases, while the SOQUIJ editing team contributes language tips. We love the blog’s attractive visual layout and how it engages with the community and in self-reflection.
Flex Legal Blog
The Flex Legal Blog demystifies freelance lawyering (both in retaining freelance lawyer services and providing them), delves into finances and equity, and “consistently provides helpful information and creative ideas” to the legal industry. It’s no surprise this blog works so well – Flex Legal founder Erin Cowling is a three-time Clawbies winner herself.
Stewart Sharma Harsanyi Immigration Law Firm Blog
Raj Sharma, KC’s blog isn’t flashy, and that’s exactly what we love about it. The Calgary lawyer shares observations on the Canadian immigration system, case comments (including his own matters), interview transcripts, and reflections on his own lived family experiences. A true old-school blog, exactly the sort that inspired the Clawbies so many years ago.
Toronto tech, IP and privacy lawyer Barry Sookman was one of Canada’s earliest law bloggers covering computer, internet, copyright and general technology law. His timely aggregation of new caselaw and weekly news roundups are often among the fastest to production. Barry’s extensive archives stretch back almost two decades and show discipline and dedication to his practice area, while serving as an ongoing online complement to his traditionally published treatises and texts.
This blog by Osgoode Hall’s Professional Development arm paints a vibrant picture of the various programs and certifications on offer and the professionals who study there. Alumni profiles, course spotlights, and event recaps succeed in showing, not just telling, how learners benefit from taking part in the OsgoodePD learning community.
Best Blogger on a Group Platform
This category allows us to recognize new and long-term individual author contributions to larger group blogs that have been retired to the Clawbies Hall of Fame. This year, we honour:
Susannah Tredwell on Slaw
Vancouver law librarian and seasoned legal researcher Susannah Tredwell has been producing original monthly tips for Slaw since 2015!
From basics how-tos and best practices, answers to common questions and how to tackle the trickiest legal research tasks, Susannah has generously shared nearly a hundred bits of wisdom – the kind of information you learn through years of hands-on practice and by paying attention to which challenges come up over and over again.
Susannah’s tips are essential reading for anyone who does legal research, especially law library staff, articling students and new lawyers. As Slaw Tips evolves into Tips Tuesday, you can find an archive of Susannah’s contributions here.
Best Podcasts & Video
2022 was another big year for legal commentary in podcast and video form. Here are our top picks:
The Law Garage Podcast
Now in its third season, host Marco Sciarra took the reins of this biweekly criminal law podcast when creator Paul M. Cooper was appointed to the bench. A listener favourite, the Law Garage teaches new lawyers the stuff they didn’t learn in law school and acts as a “tune-up” for experienced lawyers. A standout episode this year: Guests answer the perennial question “How do you defend those people?”
FACL BC Podcast
Highlighting the diverse and unique members of the Asian Canadian legal community, the FACL Podcast features candid conversations with lawyers in every type of practice, on topics ranging from career development to practice management, equity and diversity, breaking barriers, and more. Guests wear many hats: litigators (featured in an “Asian Litigators” mini-series), in-house counsel, small business owners, recruiters, Benchers and life coaches, to name just a few.
Family Law Now LIVE
Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers has long been a prolific content producer. During the pandemic, the Ontario firm began hosting this free, bi-weekly virtual event series as an extension of its Family Law Now podcast. Webinars broadcast live panel discussions and Q&A to an audience of family law practitioners, law students, and the general public. Events are recorded on Zoom, and later published to YouTube and as audio via podcast.
Best Social Media Accounts
By popular request, we created a new Clawbies category for best Twitter accounts in 2019. With so many different social platforms in use (and in flux!) in 2022, we’ve named standout accounts for Facebook, TikTok and LinkedIn too:
In a country where one or two provinces (not naming names) get a lot of attention, Ryan Clements has developed a loyal following for his case summary tweets, which feature criminal appeals from across the country and are later compiled into his popular “Cross-Country Note-up” blog & CanLII Connects posts.
Onus Probandi (Facebook)
Founder Léo Fugazza and co-author Gabrielle Perron post a steady stream of original criminal case summaries, legislation updates, news about the profession and access to justice, with opinion and analysis from time to time. The self-described “micro-blog” recently celebrated five years – and now, its first Clawbie!
Charmaine Panko’s @commonsenselawyer (TikTok)
Saskatchewan family lawyer and mediator Charmaine Panko delivers practical tips, law developments, and encouragement with humour and a warm yet authoritative style. Charmaine also answers questions from followers, and makes us laugh with relatable life moments.
The Scheffette (LinkedIn)
Charlene Scheffelmair’s biweekly LinkedIn newsletter details her journey to building a successful legal practice in Alberta and provides public legal information in an un-intimidating tone and format. Whether it’s sharing how she overcame a serious fear of public speaking or thoughts on “quiet quitting” and the legal profession, Charlene’s chronicles are a pleasure to read.
Best Innovative Projects
Our most inspiring category – what a pleasure to honour five of 2022’s most novel, creative and exciting projects!
The Criminal Law Notebook
Nominators called Peter Dostal’s wiki-style Criminal Law Notebook a go-to resource that “achieves the difficult feat of being all at once expansive, painstakingly sourced, accessible, and short.” Generosity and knowledge sharing are core to the Clawbies, and this website is a textbook example of these values in action.
Obiter AI – Supreme (AI) Transcripts
Lawyer and PhD student Simon Wallace has developed an AI transcriptionist that automatically generates transcripts of SCC proceedings from its webcasts (read the explainer here–it’s fascinating!). This is an exciting project that increases accessibility and the ability to analyze proceedings quantitatively.
IP lawyer and mother Prudence Tsui’s Equilawbrium website tackles the “Dual 10 challenges”: the steep learning curve inherent to both the first 10 years of law practice and the first 10 years of your children’s lives. The site features interviews and resources that explore how to manage a work-life balance without losing sight of what’s important to you.
AC Friends of Court – Multilingual Everyday Law Series
AC Friends of Court is always striving to increase access to justice in BC, and now they’re doing that by making their materials available in languages other than English. Several of their Everyday Law Series public legal education videos have been made available in Mandarin, and the organization has also created A2J awareness tools in Japanese, Tagalog and Portuguese.
Madam Justice Project
A collaboration of the CBA’s Women Lawyers Forum and Judges Section, the Madam Justice Project “celebrates diversity on the bench by showcasing advice and perspectives from women judges across Canada.” Sit down with these engrossing profiles (45 of them and counting) and you may soon find an hour or more has elapsed.
Best Multi-Platform Presence
Each year, we honour an individual, firm or organization that masters multiple mediums with a “something for everyone” online presence.
Provincial Court of BC
In the notoriously reserved world of courts, the Provincial Court of BC has long been a trailblazer when it comes to accessibility and transparency online. The Court has been doing a commendable job at proactively educating and interacting with British Columbians. You may remember their groundbreaking #A2JChatBC Twitter town hall, which won a Clawbie in 2019.
Today, the Provincial Court of BC offers a wide variety of resources in various mediums and on multiple platforms, to reach people wherever they are. Content is created not just to educate, but to interest and engage (e.g., “What podcasts do you listen to, Judge?”; “Why did Provincial Court judges draw lots to decide municipal elections?”)
The Court’s website and other public materials are written with the principles of plain language in mind. From its robust website, to its eNews service (previously a Clawbies winner), to its friendly and approachable Twitter account, podcasts in partnership with Legal Listening, and videos on Vimeo, the Court embraces new types of content, formats and mediums. When it comes to online presence, courts everywhere would do well to take a page from the Provincial Court of BC’s book.
Best Long-Form Publications
With this category, we recognize two important, longer contributions to the Canadian legal infosphere. This year, we’re celebrating an open access textbook and a collaboratively written legal writing guide.
Tort Law: Cases and Commentaries, 2nd edition
Allard School of Law prof Samuel Beswick’s open access casebook Tort Law: Cases and Commentaries, designed for teaching Canadian common-law torts courses, is a resounding hit. Nominators call it “clearly and elegantly presented,” “a joy to use,” and “a clear winner with students.”
Gender Diversity in Legal Writing: Pronouns, Honorifics, and Gender-Inclusive Techniques
This guide from the BC Law Institute is a timely, well-written, and important new language resource that reflects a modern understanding of gender and gender identity. The guide is based on the premise that “gender-inclusive legal writing speaks to more people,” and includes a pocket guide version as well as a helpful glossary or terms and common misconceptions.
Hall of Fame – 2022 Inductee
In 2016, we began “retiring” a handful of past multiple-year winners into the Clawbies Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame recognizes the hard work of these authors and also makes space for new voices in the main awards. Inductees will no longer be considered for annual Clawbies, but are recognized with a Hall of Fame badge for their use, as well as a notation of the honour at lawblogs.ca.
The 2022 inductee is:
Easily one of the longest-running Canadian law blogs, Michel-Adrien Sheppard’s Library Boy launched in 2005 and won a Clawbie in the inaugural awards the following year, when Steve praised Sheppard for “constantly relaying content that librarians can rely on.” Congrats to Michel-Adrien for serving up his signature “law library blogaliciousness” for more than 15 years!
And that’s a wrap on the 2022 edition of the Clawbies – congratulations to all the winners! We are sincerely grateful to everyone who submitted nominations: seeing so much mutual
appreciation, respect and admiration within the community is a truly satisfying and uplifting way to end the year.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2023 – may it be writer’s-block-free!