My nominations for this year’s Clawbies, and some other recommendations

December in the Southern hemisphere means that summer, not winter, is around the corner, and while the Santa Parade and Christmas trees are all there, they mostly provoke cognitive dissonance in those of us used to their being accompanied by snow (or grumblings about the lack thereof). That, and also concerns about Santa and his reindeer suffering a heatstroke. (On the plus side, I suppose there is no danger of getting burned in a chimney.) One holiday tradition that is not so weather-bound (though it will still be upended ― by the time difference that is; by the time the results come it, it will very much be 2017 in New Zealand) is that of the Clawbies ― the Canadian legal blogosphere’s yearly dose of self-congratulation.

We are about half-way through the nomination period, and some people, to whom I am very grateful, have been kind enough to put a word in for Double Aspect. It’s time for me to make my own suggestions. To be clear, by nominating some blogs and not others, I am not suggesting that these blogs are in some objective, absolute way “better” than others. What I am saying is that I like them, and think they deserve attention from readers and recognition from the Clawbies’ judges. Plenty of others do too, but the Clawbies’ rules say we are limited to three nominations, but the truth of the matter is that picking only three is pretty much mission impossible. So I will also bend the rules a bit, and make a few recommendations ― blogs I do not formally (and in some case am not permitted to) nominate, but which I still think should get considered for (and indeed win) some Clawbie or other.

Indeed, I will start with a recommendation, because it is for a blog that I could, and perhaps should, have nominated: Paul Daly’s Administrative Law Matters, last year’s big winner. Having nominated his blog repeatedly, I hope prof. Daly will forgive me for taking a break this time. I am pretty sure I will be nominating him again very soon, and indeed he would be a richly deserving winner again this time.

So for my actual nominations:

  1. The Université de Sherbrooke’s Law Faculty blog, À qui de droit: I mentioned it last year as a possible future nominee, and here it is. Sherbrooke’s response to Calgary’s ABlawg and the University of Alberta Faculty of Law Blog doesn’t (yet) have the former’s Clawbies-winning pedigree or the latter’s record of placing its contributors on the Supreme Court, but it is the best such collective effort east of the 110th meridian.
  2. Édith Guilhermont’s Juris Blogging: last year, I described Dr. Guilhermont’s as “the tireless apostle of legal blogging in Québec (although, ironically, not yet a blogger herself ― nudge nudge!)”; now, fortunately, the main part of this description is even more true, while the parenthetical no longer is. Juris Blogging is, so far as I know, the only blog devoted to law blogs in Canada. This may seem insular, but if Dr. Guilhermont is right that, for an increasing number of lawyers, blogs will be a supplement to, and even a substitute for, traditional legal scholarship, then she will be describing an increasingly important component of the legal culture and practice.
  3. Lisa Silver’s Ideablawg: Prof. Silver’s probing reflections on difficult issues in the criminal law are a must read for anyone interested in the subject. To my lasting regret, I didn’t care one bit for criminal law as a student, and avoided classes in it except for the compulsory one; Ideablawg helps me make up for the resulting ignorance, and I am grateful to its author for this! Thrice a Clawbie runner-up, it’s time Ideablawg were a winner already.

And here’s another recommendation, for a blog that I cannot nominate because I occasionally contribute to it (which reminds me that I’m overdue on my next installment): that of the CBA’s National Magazine. Its variety of subjects, contributors, and perspectives is pretty unique in the Canadian blawgosphere.

Finally, I thought I’d mention a couple of bloggers from my new home, New Zealand, which has more to teach Canadians about matters constitutional than we tend to suspect. One is Edward Willis, whose blog offers some very thoughtful takes on constitutional law and theory; the other is Andrew Geddis, whose posts on Pundit are always interesting, and will often highlight to Canadian readers the remarkable similarity of the issues faced in our two countries.

See You in 2016

With the announcement of the Clawbies’ 2015 winners, the blogging year is at an end. Paul Daly’s Administrative Law Matters is the overdue and most worthy winner of the Fodden Award for the Best Canadian Law Blog. And Double Aspect is a runner-up for the Fodden (which it won last year, to my continuing amazement). It’s a great honour, especially considering the quality of the “competition.” (I don’t know if any of us bloggers think of each other as competitors. I doubt it.)

There are many other great blogs among the winners and runners-up, so have a look at them. I want to note, especially, the National Magazine’s Blog’s win in the “Legal News” category ― since I’m a (somewhat irregular but proud) contributor to it. And, on a somewhat self-congratulatory note, I also note that not only the winner, but also all of the runners-up for the Fodden are academic (or, in my case, wannabe-academic) blogs. The next time people start questioning the value of academia, or scholarship more broadly, to the real world, keep this little data point in mind.

With this, I sign off for this year. Even if your celebrations, like mine, are appropriately a tad less glamorous than prof. Daly’s,  I hope they are joyful and bring you together with good company. See you in 2016, dear readers!


What happens in December that’s in better taste than ugly sweaters and more reliable than snow? The Clawbies, of course! They are, in case you don’t know, a “celebration of excellence in law-related blogging in Canada (and beyond).” In that celebratory spirit, here are my nominations for this year’s awards, and also some other blog recommendations.

The nominations

  1. Paul Daly’s Administrative Law Matters: I said I would keep nominating prof. Daly’s blog until it wins the Big Prize, a.k.a. the Fodden Award for the Best Canadian Law Blog, and possibly after that too, and will keep nominating him. For good reason, of course. Administrative law does, indeed, matter, and it is a tangled, intricate mess. Prof. Daly helps us see our way through it.
  2. Sir Henry Brooke’s eponymous blog, for the “EuroCan Connection Award”: it has only been around for a few months, but this blog by a retired Lord Justice of Appeal is already an invaluable repository not only of recollections from a long and illustrious career, but also of thoughts on issues that matter well beyond England, and will matter well beyond 2015 ― notably the law’s and the courts’ relationship with technology, and their handling of multiculturalism and diversity.
  3. Michael Geist’s eponymous blog: I’ve nominated prof. Geist’s blog before too, and the giant of Canadian legal academic blogging hardly needs either my endorsement or even a presentation, but it deserves continued recognition for helping us understand the complexities, present and future, of IP and telecommunications law and policy (which, incidentally, might have been the most under-discussed subject during the late election campaign and in its aftermath).

Blogs I Cannot Nominate ― But Someone Else Should

The Clawbies have a rule against self-nomination, and while I read it as preventing me from nominating blogs to which I contribute, I still want to put in a good word for them.

  1. CanLII Connects: actually, I’m not quite sure whether it ought to counts as a single blog ― its list of contributors makes scary reading for anyone who’d want to compete with it ― not that anyone would want to, because it is a great public service (well, except my own posts, which are just self-promotion), as well as a shining example of the possibilities of online collaboration, which should put any technophobe or Luddite, in the legal profession or beyond, to shame.
  2. The CBA National Magazine’s Blog: this one definitely is a blog, and it addresses a great variety of subjects, some more abstract, others very practical, from a variety of perspectives. In short, it’s pretty great, and well worth keeping at least an eye on.
  3. The “Law” side of the Perspectives Blog of Policy Options: It would still be a good blawg if it stood on its own, but being part of a multi-disciplinary magazine and blog combo that pitches itself to people interested in policy rather than just lawyers makes it that much more interesting. It seems tailor-made for the Clawbies’ “Non-Lawyer Audience” category.

Blogs That I Might Nominate in 2016

These are a couple of blogs that are also worth keeping an eye next year, one of them recently-resuscitated, the other brand new.

  1. Dan Priel’s Juristhoughts: prof. Priel’s thinking on legal philosophy is iconoclastic and if you are interested in the subject, you should read him whether or not you agree with what he has to say. At the very least, he’ll force you to ask yourself why it is that you believe the things you have always believed.
  2. Université de Sherbrooke Faculty of Law’s À qui de droit: joining the likes of ABlawg and the University of Alberta Faculty of Law Blog, it’s a blog for the professors and students of a law faculty, who are already covering a wide variety of topics. While I’m at it, I’d like to salute two persons who have, I take it, inspired its creation: Edith Guilhermont, the tireless apostle of legal blogging in Québec (although, ironically, not yet a blogger herself ― nudge nudge!), and Maxime St-Hilaire, whom I have had the pleasure of hosting and the honour of debating here.

Finally, a word of special thanks to Michael Spratt for nominating Double Aspect. Happy reading, and blogging, in what’s left of 2015 and next year, everyone!

Farewell 2014

… You won’t be much missed. But blogging-wise, if not in other ways, it was a good year. And, the powers-that-be-in-Canadian-law-blogging have ruled that Double Aspect is the “Best Canadian Law Blog” of the year, which is a great honour. I am very grateful to those who have nominated my blog, and especially to those who have said some very kind things about it in the process. I am equally grateful to the judges, Steve Matthews, Jordan Furlong, and Simon Fodden, for the accolade ― and, even more so, for making it possible for the Canadian blawgosphere as a whole to indulge in some (well-deserved!) self-congratulation and, more seriously, for helping us be aware of each other’s work.

Having made something of a career out of criticizing judges, I wonder if it’s not hypocritical of me not to have another go at it on this occasion, especially since there are so many other great blawgs out there. But, precisely for that reason, I think they deserve to be considered experts, and given that expertise, I’ll hope that their decision is, while certainly not unquestionably correct, at a possible, defensible outcome in light of the facts and whatever the applicable law might be, and paragraphfortysevenofdunsmuir it, as we used to say when I clerked at the Federal Court. I am glad, however, that all of the blogs which I nominated for ClawbiesKarim Renno’s À bon droit, Paul Daly’s Administrative Law Matters, and Michael Spratt’s blog ― either won or were finalists, as did the great CanLII Connects and the CBA National Magazine’s Blog.

Good blogging in 2015, everyone!


The end of the year is just around the corner, and this means that it’s time for the Clawbies ― the (virtual) awards given out to (some of) the best Canadian law blogs. So here, without further ado (and in no particular order) are my nominations.

  • Paul Daly’s Administrative Law Matters: I nominated Prof. Daly’s thoughtful blog, which manages to make the rather dry area of administrative law more interesting than you’d think likely, last year. For a reason that escapes me, he didn’t win, so I’ll nominate him again, and will keep doing it until he does. And probably after that too.
  • Karim Renno’s À bon droit: Mr. Renno produces a steady stream torrent of reports about Québec cases,  posts on civil litigation, weekly overviews of his favourite new blog posts, historical flashbacks, and probably other things I miss because he is, really, impossible to keep up with. He has also recently been battling it out with Prof. Daly on the standard of review for procedural fairness ― something I haven’t (yet) had the courage to do. In short, he is prodigiously prolific, and just prodigious.
  • Michael Spratt’s blog: Mr. Spratt does a wonderful job of the sad, but most necessary, task of explaining the theatre of the absurd sometimes described as the Harper government’s criminal law policy. He also produces podcasts that explain important points about the criminal justice system. The combination of on-the-ground experience and thoughtfulness that he brings to his blog make it a pleasure to read.

I also want to put in a good word for a couple of blogs to which I have been able to make some very modest contributions (which unfortunately disqualify me from actually nominating them):

  • CanLII Connects, CanLII’s offspring that that centralizes summaries and commentary on judicial decisions by practitioners, students, and bloggers, and integrates them with CanLII’s full-text decisions.
  • And the CBA National Magazine’s Blog, run by Yves Faguy, which provides a platform for all kinds of commentary as well as Mr. Faguy’s invaluable summaries of comments on law-related events elsewhere on the web.

Last but not least, I want to thank the people who have nominated Double Aspect, and especially Prof. Daly and Mr. Faguy, who have said some very nice things about it, for their support. It’s very flattering and a great honour.

The Best

I’m a bit late, but still on time. ‘Tis the season ― for Clawbies nominations. So here are mine:

  • Paul Daly’s Administrative Law Matters:Don’t let the title put you off, like I did for too long. Administrative law might not sound like a very exciting thing, but that just highlights the measure of prof. Daly’s success in turning out consistently interesting and thought-provoking posts about it.
  • Philippe Lagassé’s eponymous blog:Whether or not you find it exciting, the Crown is a very abstruse topic in Canadian law. it is also, despite appearances of quaintness, still important, and bound to remain so for the foreseeable future. Prof. Lagassé does a fantastic job of explaining it.
  • Michael Geist’s Blog:Hardly needs a sales pitch from me, but speaking of relevant, you can’t really beat IP and telecommunications. Lots is happening in these areas, and it matters, whether we understand it or not. Prof. Geist helps us do so.

Clawbies Nominations

The Canadian legal blogosphere hasn’t Hollywood’s glamour just yet (we’re working on it, I hear), but it does have its own yearly awards, the Clawbies. Here are my nominations, in no particular order.

Michael Geist’s Blog: hardly needs a presentation, but it is an invaluable resource for IP and internet-related news and analysis.

The Court: all Supreme Court-related news, and good analysis of some interesting court decisions (not just those of the Supreme Court).

Le droit au silence: fighting the good fight debunking the sort of popular misconceptions about criminal law that drive the tough-on-crime discourse and legislation.

Have a look at them, they’re worth your time.