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An estimated 16-minute read

India's best legal writers and bloggers, round-up; Blogging contest, one month to go

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A great blogger has a voice that readers trust, enjoy and want to listen to, over and over again. Great bloggers bring smiles to readers' pursed lips, turn the mundane into the enlightening, inspire self-belief or make you sit up and think. Or sometimes all of the above at once.

Legally India has been happy and proud to provide a platform to bloggers of all legal and writing experience to express themselves and communicate with the wider legal community.

Picking one favourite out of all bloggers will be one of the hardest things any of the judges and reader voters will ever have to do, come 31 July 2010.

Below follows a retrospective and report card of some of the top bloggers to date. Any criticism is subjective and well-intentioned and should not be taken personally by bloggers.

Please share your thoughts on your favourite bloggers in the comments.

(The below bloggers are listed in order of the bloggers' popularity. This metric will NOT be used as a factor in judging the competition or the popular vote, which will be conducted independently of the number of hits blogs have received to date.)

LegalPoet LegalPoet (19 posts)

In his words: "I love a law that rhymes – Little Legal Poet – LLP. Happy to help! :)"

It is hard to put LegalPoet into a box.

His output has been prodigious and his topics have been eclectic to say the least, spanning careers advice, legal cricket, life at law schools, preparing freshers for culture shock, and the very personal. And of course poetry.

He has been by far the popular blogger on Legally India and his blogs have had an almost unerring knack of honing in on students' and future students' interests.

LegalPoet's blog posts also display an obvious flair and love of writing, both prose and poetry, and the attention to detail, effort and care spent is obvious.

One of his poetic posts that particularly sticks out is the story of Rohan the intern, which was inspired and very entertaining.

LegalPoet shows a willingness to experiment in his posts. While most successful blogs stick with one voice or theme throughout, you can never quite predict where one of LegalPoet's posts will take you. This is both a risk as well as a strength, which can make for pleasant surprises.

One of these was the interview with non-national law-schoolite Nitish Saxena, which has turned him into a minor celebrity in his own right. Perfectly timed to coincide with CLAT results and the inevitable disappointments of some, the post creatively tackled the myth that the only place worth going to is a national law school. And judging from the comments it must have inspired at least hundreds.

LegalPoet has also managed to try and quell the eterneal my-law-school-is-better-than-yours debate. Points well made though perhaps a futile task?

His writing style is idiosyncratic and unconventional. He does not mince his words or opinions and retains a conversational style throughout and manages to write great headlines that draw the eye of every average student reader.

If you had to criticise LegalPoet – and he has been keen to receive criticism - his posts will split opinions. His open populism, analogies and casual, highly personal writing style are not for everyone, but then again, they are not meant to be.

LegalPoet knows his audience and writes for them with consistently inspiring, informing and amusing posts, which is one of the hallmarks of the very best blogging.

Almost every single one of his posts is worth reading so get cracking, whoever you are.

A reader's view: "Some of his posts are funny and full of wit. Best in the category of students and I think his easy poetic style is quite endearing to most readers."

anirban1 anirban1 (22 posts)

In his words: "A blog where I as a young litigator share my thoughts on the subject, profession, practice and procedure and other related issues, which perhaps sully the quest for justice."

Anirban Bhattarcharya is an ILS Law College graduate, practising in litigation for around six years. Since 2006 he has been an associate at Luthra & Luthra in Delhi specialising in litigation, with a particular focus on corporate disputes and ADR.  

Anirban1 has been the most prolific blogger on Legally India with 22 posts, delving into topics affecting the bar and legal practice as a whole as well as offering astute analysis of legal issues.

Some of his posts have been amongst the strongest and most unique individual entries in the competition so far, helped particularly by his hands-on litigation experience informing the topics he writes about.

For that reason, one of his posts should be counted among the best in the competition so far. In 'Comfortably numb' he paints a vivid and haunting scene of what life is like in Delhi's Metropolitan Magistrate court. The writing shows an impressive eye for detail, characters and description and leaves a lasting impression. Anirban1 has also created what is perhaps the most innovative and entertaining case note ever written.

Also, read his posts on the courtroom witticisms of legal legends through the ages, examining salary transparency in law firms, a new take on 'face value', a lament of the abysmal state and implementation of India's social programs, the perils of preserving court records and much much more.

The legal analysis of his more analytical posts of judgements and legal developments too has been sound, often provoking great discussions. Click through to his full blog for more excellent posts.

Some possible suggestions for improvement would include tighter editing of posts and cutting down some of the lengthier posts – the internet's attention span is often shorter than that of MTV-watchers. Some of the academic blog titles could also be improved with a little more context to draw readers in.

In short, a hugely talented writer with great legal and practice knowledge who has produced some articles of genuine blogging brilliance.

A reader's view: "His posts are very well researched and detailed. The passion with which he pens down his thoughts shows in his writing irrespective of whether he's able to reach a logical conclusion to his arguments."

sss sss (12 posts)

In his words: "My blog primarily focuses on life in law school, issues encountered at law school, what is the prevailing sentiment among students at law school and the perennial dilemmas faced by a law student, his quest for answers to these dilemmas."

Sss wears his heart on his sleeve and speaks his mind and more, often taking a refreshingly critical look at issues related to law schools and careers without pulling many punches.

One of his early posts should still count as one of the best Indian career topics ever written about. In 'Jugaad' sss candidly examines the reality that who your dad or connections are still matters massively when seeking a career in the law.

Sss' creative post on law school life from the perspective of a sutte (cigarette) reads almost like a short stage play and is very entertaining with its an immediate and engaging style.

And sss' love letter to the legal profession should be required reading in any careers counselling class to explain why the profession is worth entering into.

Some of sss' earlier writing was slightly inconsistent and could have benefited from tighter editing to condense posts down to the most salient points. But throughout the blogging season the structure of sss' posts has improved considerably and his pieces are now almost consistently of a high-quality.

False  News With Balls False News With Balls (7 posts)

In its words: "Read for fun, I hope no love is lost."

As a concept, this satirical fake legal news blog has to count as one of the best ideas for a regular blog, although it is also notoriously difficult to execute well.

As a clear homage to US's The Onion, India's Faking News, UK's The Daily Mash and a raft of similar sites, False News With Balls has big shoes to fill but is for the most part a refreshing change from serious law firm news or careers advice.

At least when readers understand that none of the 'news' the blog 'reports' are real.

Although it is still early days for the fake news publication, sometimes posts have arguably missed the fine line between satire and (albeit entertaining) nonsense. However, some topical posts such as its take on 'open book' bar exams and India Today and Outlook law school rankings are inspired, very funny and well-written.

Satire is a very hard genre to successfully master but False News With Balls seems to be well on the way.

nandiireywal nandiireywal (11 posts)

In his words: "Dante's Fourth: My Journey - All characters and events described in this blog are fictitious. Any resemblance to any persons, dead or alive, is purely coincidental."

Nandii Reywal is that Indian law grad you know who was lured by the City of London's bright lights and a fat pay package at top UK firm Colby, Hewitt and Richards LLP.

He therefore has a story to tell that is almost archetypal by now, after years of Indian lawyers' exoduses abroad and the more recent reverse exodus back home.

The anonymous and anagrammatic Indian Lawyer is one of the strongest bloggers in the competition. He has created a strong fictional persona, given him an articulate, insightful and genuinely funny voice, and produced one quality post after another.

His stories from the underbelly of life as a London corporate law trainee feel like a best friend's postcards from another world and any of his fans will be loyal and genuinely excited about new posts.

In part, you will know exactly what you are going to get when you click on one of Nandii's posts and readers have yet to be disappointed. This is firmly in the tradition of some of the best bloggers who have made it big in the real non-law mainstream world.

His writing style is also one of the tightest in the competition, with not nearly a word out of place, typo or inelegant turn of phrase to be found. His posts are a joy to read and have created their own self-consistent fictional universe.

Check out Volenti "Non Fit" Injuria, or his guide to English English, how to deal with a lack of deals in a recession, or a look at Indian and overseas examination frenzy with a hint of sexual tension thrown in.

And, in what was easily one of the funniest posts to date in very clever packaging, read the first issue of the BarelyLegallyIndia.com newsletter.

A reader's view: "His writing has the effect of effortlessly conveying most mundane thoughts in a captivating manner. A memorable light read true to the word - crisp and refreshing. Flow of thoughts fits in perfect with the context, choice of words and medium of expression is engaging, never get bogged down reading through his posts.

His blogs have the quality of keeping the reader's interest alive right till the end. I for sure look forward to reading his posts and haven’t missed out any."

legaldrift legaldrift (10 posts)

In her words: "A drift is a movement or force that makes something move along. Law itself signifies change , movement and evolution. It is a force that can compel people to sacrifice their beliefs and dogmas. Law shapes the opinion of masses in due course of time. Law has the capability to alter the notions of people and this legal force is the inspiration of our site 'Legal Drift'"

Written by second-year NLIU Bhopal law student Meghna Agarwal, mirroring posts of her long-running blog at www.legaldrift.com, she is a social blogger and firebrand extraordinaire with a strong sense of justice and evident passion for what she writes about.

Legaldrift's posts are some of the most well-researched blogs on Legally India and tackle difficult issues.

Some highlights include her investigative report into the plight of widows in Vrindavan and Mathura, and examining difficult issues such as male rape, date rape laws, marriage laws and more.

Legaldrift's occasional penchant for sensationalism in writing coupled with a concise and easy-reading style works well in this case to bring complicated issues home to the audience.

A reader's view: "She is an idealist - a born social activist. Straight and simple, easy and concise writing enables to hold the interest of readers.

"Her earnest attempt to communicate the importance of certain pressing issues makes her posts credible, the fact that a social message is put through is another advantage.

"She has dealt with some unique topics that are interesting again."

Bihari  Babuu Bihari Babuu (10 posts)

In his words: "Makkhan (Butter) from Milk. I have one huge black buffalo in my village. I love churning makkhan (butter) from her milk. I do that to people’s brains too. This is what this blog is about."

Bihari Babuu is one of the most unusual bloggers on the site, exhibiting real creativity and hidden depths in his early posts, which were often deceptively banale on first reading.

Early posts such as White roads under Article 21 of the Constitution, for example, were subtly brilliant. His other hallmark was the inspired legal fable, drawing analogies between foxes, sour grapes and lawyers' billings, or linking court delays to the boy who cried wolf.

However, Bihari Babuu as a blogging character or voice may have been difficult to maintain, with some of his more recent blogs having lacked the serious intent or intelligence of the earlier posts.

john2010  john2010 (10 posts)

In his words: "Law School Rebel - This blog is about issues law students face but no one talks about..."

John2010 is another excellent student blogger who is not afraid to tackle difficult and important issues affecting law students.

He is a natural storyteller with effortless and concise personal writing and consistently high-quality and well-structured posts.

His gutsy debut post on depression and mental illness at law school addressed a topic that is all-too-often swept under the carpet.

Some of his other equally eloquent posts make the case for careers counsellors at law schools, illustrate the tacit acceptance of endemic cheating, address law journal plagiarism in an innovative format, question students' ignorance of how their law school spends its money and more.

Serious blogging talent.

danishsheikh  danishsheikh (6 posts)

In his words: "My blog tends to lean towards queer rights issues, though I wouldn't want to just be restricted to that one area. I write because I feel there's not enough discourse on the area - and otherwise just because I enjoy it."

Out and proud, fourth-year Nalsar Hyderabad student Danish Sheikh has definitely succeeded in his stated aim and more, creating beautifully written and personal blog posts under the rainbow banner and some of the best and most refreshingly objective articles on his college.

His writing is near flawless and his personal one-year journey after the Naz Foundation section 377 judgment is a prime example of what is so great about blogging.

Secondly, danishsheikh's guide to Nalsar is probably the best and most objective article anyone in India has ever written about their own law school. If more law students were prepared to talk about their law school openly and without bias, the rivalry and debates between schools would surely become far healthier rather than the current great "law school bitchfest".

legalpopat legalpopat (4 posts)

In its words: "Popat Speak! No desc available. Squawk Squawk!"

Although law firm associate legalpopat's blogging career was regrettably short, the parrot definitely had a sharp way with words and a knack for causing merriment.

Read how to marry, the corporate law way, a dictionary documenting the bastardisation of language that is legal practice, and how to get laid off come annual review time.

Great stuff. Despite many readers' repeated demands for legalpopat's return from retirement and regular threats to Legally India's editor by the legalpopat to do so, the bird remains on flight.

Best of the rest

For the above round-up we only included some of the more regular or popular bloggers. Apologies if we have missed out any of your blogs or individual entries for space reasons. If you think we have missed you or your favourite blog, please let us know.

Almost all of the above bloggers will be eligible for the best blogger prize, subject to a reasonableness test under the competition terms.

Best legal blogger category demonstrating overall blogging excellence

  • First prize: Rs 30,000 cash award
  • Second prize: Rs 20,000
  • Third prize: Rs 10,000
  • Highly commended prize: Rs 5,000

Many new bloggers also recently joined the fun with their first posts and the quality set by new entries seems to be increasing rapidly. Most of the new bloggers or those with not very many posts will not be eligible for the best blogger prize, although some flexibility will be reserved there.

However, every single blog post that has been posted on Legally India to date is potentially eligible for the below categories (subject to the other competition terms). This will happen on a process of self-nomination, so do start thinking about no more than four of your best posts in each category.

Single best blog post categories:

  • Favourite overall post: Rs 10,000
  • UPDATE: Most useful post: Rs 5,000 [replaces "second best overall post" category]
  • Funniest and/or most entertaining post: Rs 5,000
  • Quality/skill of writing award: Rs 5,000
  • Best post on working as a qualified lawyer: Rs 5,000
  • Best post on life as a law student: Rs 5,000

Plus special jury prize for social justice blogging:

  • The two most thought-provoking posts tackling issues of social and legal importance: Rs 10,000 each, sponsored by a practising lawyer and blogging supporter who wishes to remain anonymous. Please note that winning posts will have to be of exceptional quality and must contain rigorous argument.

For more on the selection and judging process, click here.

The current blogging competition officially ends on 31 July 2010.

Bloggers will be able to continue writing for the sheer love of blogging after that date and until we roll out the competition's second edition, which will see some significant changes and most likely also take into account blogs posted in the interim time period.

In any event, congratulations are in order to all bloggers who took the initiative and put themselves out there with your writing. Kudos! All of you have raised the bar of legal writing in India while informing and entertaining tens of thousands of lawyers and students.

Plus, a great big thank you for helping to make Legally India even more fun and useful and sharing your time and wisdom with us.

Some general feedback for bloggers:

  • Keep posts shorter rather than longer, unless you really need the extra space to say what you want to say.
  • Before posting, look through your blog and kill any errant phrases that are not necessary and hunt down all typos, punctuation and spelling errors.
  • Keep paragraphs short, no longer than a few sentences. It reads a lot better online rather than long blocks of text.
  • Many of the most popular bloggers engage their audience in the comments. You do not need to respond to every comment individually and how much of this you do is up to you. What commenting does do, however, is make your blogs truly interactive and give you a chance to interact directly with readers, which is a rare and (mostly) special thing.
  • If you are copy-pasting your blog from Microsoft Word, use the blogging software's "past from Word" option (the paste/Word icon towards the right side of the blog editing toolbar)
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