Home > Blogging about Blogging, Current, Discourse, Information, Internet > The Value of Citation, Vol. II: Recognition and Transparency

The Value of Citation, Vol. II: Recognition and Transparency

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I wrote about the value of citation before and suggested that it has a few different purposes (e.g., allowing readers to locate the materials upon which an author relied; strengthening an author’s credibility; and showing respect or signaling quality). The substance of that post was tied to the release of the ABA Journal’s top one hundred law blogs of 2009. Continuing the tradition, the publication now is seeking nominations for its 2010 list. While I (somewhat famously) supported the nomination of The Volokh Conspiracy for the 2009 list, I think there are some newer sites that also deserve attention in 2010.

Because of the title, the first is recent Georgetown Law graduate Mike Sacks’ First One @ One First, a Supreme Court blog. Frequent readers of this site will recall that I’ve linked to F1@1F many times, and Sacks’ on-the-ground reporting style is a needed compliment to more traditional outlets like SCOTUSblog (which itself has a redesigned site). He also provides specific and general analysis of cases and Court trends in a way that is both informative and easily understood. From Sacks’ first post:

My name is Mike Sacks. I am a third-year law student at Georgetown interested in legal journalism and the intersection of law and politics. This semester, I have no morning classes. As such, I will be taking advantage of living only minutes from the Supreme Court to pursue a rather unorthodox extracurricular activity: reporting from the Court as the first one in line at One First Street.

For every politically salient case from January through April, I will attempt to be at the head of the general admission line….

Camping out at the Court in winter’s nadir will not be easy. Tents are forbidden. The concrete sidewalk makes for an unforgiving bed. Sprinklers spring up in the still of the night. Challenging climate be damned, however; when the next person arrives, excited to be first, he or she will find me, with my cracked lips and frozen fingers, sardonically asking how it feels to be second and seriously inquiring why he or she is crazy enough to get in line so early.

And that question–”why are you here?”–is what I set out to explore. Every Supreme Court reporter tells us what goes on inside the Court at argument and in its opinions. Every Supreme Court reporter gets insight and analysis from expert academics and practitioners. Sometimes Supreme Court reporters even interview a party in the case to expose the human element often lost in the rarefied air of high court’s legal abstraction. But no Supreme Court reporters ever ask the Courtroom’s spectators why they have congregated inside the Temple of our Civil Religion.

Our citizenry who have come to witness the Court first-hand surely have something to say, whether when waiting in line before the Court opens or spilling out onto the steps after the Chief Justice’s gavel bangs closed the day’s session….

While Sacks has been coy about plans for year two of his blog, he recently promised to share more about “big things” yet to come, so stay tuned.

The second is the News blog at Law School Transparency‘s site.* LST is a nonprofit organization working to improve the quality and transparency of law school employment data. As with F1@1F, I have linked to LST information here before. See, e.g., here. From the recent post entitled, “Support Our Mission? Nominate LST as a Top Law Blog“:

The ABA Journal is soliciting nominations for its annual list of the one hundred best legal blogs. If you think Law School Transparency belongs on that list, please nominate us by clicking here.

Visibility is an important component of our drive to further our transparency mission. In addition to the growing amount of information available in our Data Clearinghouse, this blog allows us to communicate openly and directly with all of our stakeholders, including law schools, current, past, and future law students, and the general public. We have and will continue to use this space to create an open conversation about transparency in law school employment data reporting.

Your support will make LST an even more visible part of the legal community online.

I have written about substantive aspects of law school and the legal profession. See here and here. LST’s work, which is in line with my emphasis on the importance of access to information, provides a complimentary, quantitative perspective based around statistical data. See also here.

The legal profession isn’t the only important thing in the world, nor has it been the sole focus of this site. With the recent appointment of two new Supreme Court justices, the impending start of a new Court Term, and the ongoing media attention to LST’s efforts, however, this is a fitting time to highlight these two sites and recognize their continuing contributions.

Topsy Washington – “Recognition,” The Waterline EP (2004)

* Full disclosure: I recently became a member of LST’s Advisory Board, and I have begun to assist with blog posts, including the one quoted above.

  1. September 15, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks for the endorsement!

  2. AD
    January 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Today, a note of congratulations for Patrick Lynch and Kyle McEntee, the co-founders of Law School Transparency, who beat out a field of famous and infamous attorneys to win Above the Law’s 2010 Lawyer of the Year Award. ATL founder David Lat:

    “Congrats again to Patrick Lynch and Kyle McEntee. It’s easy to complain about or poke fun at law schools pulling the wool over students’ eyes — we do it quite often here at Above the Law — but it’s much harder to develop a concrete solution and push for its implementation, which is what McEntee and Lynch are doing. Gentlemen, we salute you.”

    The full story is available at http://abovethelaw.com/2011/01/atls-lawyer-of-the-year-2010-the-winner.

  3. AD
    April 4, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Late last night, Mike Sacks announced his plan to end his blog, First One @ One First (profiled above), and has taken the site offline this morning. His last post remains available in Google’s cached version of the site, and its full text (minus hyperlinks) follows.


    “On Friday I posted my part in an April Fool’s joke. But this post, sadly, is no joke.

    “When F1@1F turned one year old at the end of this past December, I posted a short thank-you for your making F1@1F a deeply satisfying project. At the time, I hadn’t realized that just a few months later, I’d have to re-extend those sentiments upon the closing of this site.

    “Tomorrow, I will be starting as a first-year associate at a law firm here in DC. When I leave for work in the morning, I will be taking F1@1F off the air. Accordingly, by the time many of you read this post in your morning email check or RSS sweep, the blog will be a memory. Of course, due to my last batch of law school finals, intensive bar studies, getting a job offer, proposing to the First Lady of F1@1F, and preparing for the new gig, F1@1F has already been de facto wound-down.

    “Closing F1@1F will be bittersweet: while I’m incredibly proud of F1@1F and will miss having my own corner among Court watchers to contribute my commentary, I also feel very lucky to have a job in DC and a steady paycheck in a recovering-but-still-slow legal market.

    “Luckier still, my firm has assured me that it maintains a liberal publication policy. So while this personal blog may disappear, I hope to return in due time as an active analyst in my firm’s own outlets or in op/ed pages across the country.

    “So I said it in December and I’ll say it again now: thank you all. You have made this little project of mine into something far bigger than I had ever imagined.


    For the reasons I explained in the main post, above, it should be clear why F1@1F will be missed. Sacks was a counterweight to mainstream Court-watchers by being more plugged into the mainstream by way of a democratic point of view: he kept a close watch on both the justices and those citizens coming to observe the justices. He had a good eye for keeping track of how the justices situated themselves with respect to his democratic lens, and he supplemented his Court reporting with both lighthearted commentary and thoughtful conceptual development of his own.

    Sacks’ short run in this important niche area is reminiscent of another short run by a critical observer in a broader context: Dave Chappelle. The Chappelle Show ran for only two seasons before abruptly ending, but during that time, it provided its host with a platform for searching critical and comedic reflections on modern American culture, and it left a number of popular reference points that remain viable today.

    My hope is that, whether someone else takes up Sacks’ mantle or he returns to reclaim it himself, we recall the value of his too-short contributions and the possibilities for Court reporting they illuminated.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: