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September 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 2, 2014

  • Police have traced the crime wave to a single micro-neighborhood in the California capital [Sacramento Bee]
  • “Adam Carolla Settles with the Patent Trolls” [Daniel Nazer/EFF, Reason, related eight days earlier and previously] eBay takes on Landmark in the E.D. of Texas [Popehat]
  • Frank Furedi on law and the decline in childrens’ freedom to roam [U.K. Independent]
  • On “ban the box” laws re: asking about job applicants’ criminal records, it’s sued if you do, sued if you don’t [Coyote]
  • Fake law firm websites in U.K. sometimes parasitize the real ones [Martha Neil, ABA Journal]
  • What C. Steven Bradford of the blog Business Law Prof reads to keep up (and thanks for including us on list);
  • As applications to renounce U.S. citizenship mount, many related to FATCA, our government hikes fee for doing so by 422% [Robert Wood, Forbes]

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ABABlawg100HallofFameDetails here. The “Hall of Fame” began last year with 10 inductees and this year the ABA Blawg 100 competition is inducting 10 more, with us in the batch. Its description:

Whether or not you’re sympathetic to tort reform and the idea that the government overregulates, Overlawyered is a little hair-raising and eye-opening. Its stated mission is to bring to light abuses of the legal system that raise costs and inhibit justice. Acquired this year by the Cato Institute, the blog is the project of Walter Olson, a senior Cato fellow. Having celebrated its 15th anniversary in July, Overlawyered says it may be the oldest legal blog: “At least, no one seems to be able to name one that’s older.”

So far as anyone we know has been able to tell us, Overlawyered, launched in July 1999, is the longest running blog about law. From time to time the question arises whether it was the very first law blog, a question discussed at Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites (and in turn noted in an Editor’s Note at the above ABA link). It was certainly not the first regularly updated law site; there were plenty of those in 1999, such as Mark Astarita’s which dates back to 1995 (!). In a 2003 post Greg Siskind writes that his was first to adopt a blog format, citing a 1998 post (visible at Wayback Machine here) that provided regular updates on H-1B legislation over the course of a month, with older updates scrolling down the page, and which drew wide traffic. For reasons I advance at LawSites, I think a lot depends on one’s definition of what a blog is, and that’s probably not a subject we’ll all agree on soon.

Also, Overlawyered has been included in the ABA’s 7th Annual Blawg 100 this year, as often in the past. To vote for your favorites by category, click here. They’ve put us in the “Torts” category.


I’m honored to announce that I’ll be giving a talk in the Frank G. Raichle Lecture Series, part of the pre-law program at Canisius College in western New York. Details here in a press release from the college. Previous speakers in this lecture series include an extraordinary list of legal notables including Chief Justice Rehnquist, Justices O’Connor, Scalia, Ginsburg, and White, among many others such as Alex Kozinski, Harry Edwards, John Langbein, and Randall Kennedy.

Earlier on the same day (October 30) I’ll be addressing the Buffalo Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society.

August 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 7, 2013

  • 7th Circuit cites Rumpelstiltskin; quashes plaintiff’s bid to turn straw to gold [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “One of the most prolific writers and tweeters in the online legal world. A must read.” Thanks Jim D. [Abnormal Use, and his suggestion about ABA best-blawg nominations is worth heeding]
  • “… as if compliance departments actually are associated with law-abiding behavior…” [Ira Stoll]
  • Sex extortion lawyer Mary Roberts won’t have to pay restitution [MySanAntonio, background]
  • Guess who’s the big new lobby fighting marijuana legalization? Medical-pot providers [Politico]
  • “Woman awarded $775,000 after tripping on speed bump at a Vegas casino” [Calgary Herald]
  • Some thoughts on “libertarian populism” [Jesse Walker, Josh Barro/Tim Carney]

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  • An Instalanche from Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, and Prof. Bainbridge remembers the phrase “takes the Boeing;” R.S. McCain on blogging communities and linkiness; Coyote (“Congrats… The Overlawyered blog is one of the blogs I read every day, and is one of the grand old blogs of the Internet”); Joe Patrice/Above the Law; Chris Fountain/For What It’s Worth (“If you haven’t used it to keep track of the inanities of our modern society of flawed men and laws, here’s a good opportunity.”); Think Tank Watch.
  • From Twitter: Tunku Varadarajan (“I love — and recommend — ‘Overlawyered'”), Alan Gura (“so the lawyers have gone over all the details and finalized the documents?”), Sohrab Ahmari (“sharpest critic of our litigious culture… must-read”), Popehat (“indispensable”), David Boaz, Danny Alvarez, Sr. (“REALLY? Congrats. You better keep that flippant attitude now that you are part of ‘The Man!'”), Jack Robling (“I’d love to meet the lawyer who lawyered @overlawyered and @CatoInstitute’s marriage”); occasional guestblogger Ron Coleman (“So, hey, am I now retroactively a prestigious ‘Cato blogger’?”), Kurt Loder, Andrew Stuttaford, John Carney (“Surprised it took this long”), Massimiliano Trovato (“must read for anyone interested in law and liberty”), Jeremy Kolassa (“must [follow] if you want to know how litigation is screwed up in this country”), Scott Greenfield (“indie blogs bite the dust. Congrats to Wally, but I hate to see it go ‘corporate'” — and exchange with Popehat), Tom Kirkendall, Susan Cartier Liebel, Business Roundtable, Bob Lucas Jr., and many others.
  • At Facebook, various reactions including from longtime reader Doug Iverson: “I’d just like to say that I think Overlawyered was better before Walter turned it over to Cato to market. I think it’s hyped more.” My response, in part: “Ian, my colleague at Cato, now writes the regular Facebook links, which are the chief reason visits to the site via Facebook are up tremendously in recent weeks. If Doug writes to Cato to say that Overlawyered’s Facebook presence has become a flagrant puffery scheme designed to lure readers into giving the website a try, I think they will give Ian a raise.”
  • If you missed it, Friday’s announcement.


February 26 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 26, 2013

  • Tel Aviv: “City Workers Paint Handicap Space Around Car, Then Tow It” [Lowering the Bar]
  • Editorial writer has some generous comments about my work on excessive litigation. Thanks! [Investors Business Daily]
  • Nuisance payment: Toyota will throw $29 million at state attorneys general who chased bogus sudden acceleration theory [Amanda Bronstad, NLJ]
  • “Iowa Woman Who Didn’t Break Allergy Pill Limit Law Charged with Crime Anyway” [Shackford]
  • Cutting outlays on the nonexistent census, and other bogus D.C. spending cuts: in the business world, they’d call it fraud [Coyote, Boaz] Skepticism please on the supposed national crumbling-infrastructure crisis [Jack Shafer]
  • Tassel therapy: “Lawsuit Claims Dancing in a Topless Bar “Improves the Self Esteem” of the Stripper” [KEGL]
  • Was there ever an economics textbook to beat Alchian and Allen? R.I.P. extraordinary economist Armen Alchian, whose microeconomics introductory course for grad students I was fortunate to take long ago [Cafe Hayek, David Henderson, more, more, more, Bainbridge]

Mentioned in WSJ

by Walter Olson on December 24, 2012

Columnist Gordon Crovitz notes that when “Borking” entered the language as a synonym for ferocious, factually dubious assaults on a nominee, “there was no Internet to correct the record — no legal blogs such as today’s SCOTUSblog, Above the Law, Volokh Conspiracy and Overlawyered.”

Social media: pass it on

by Walter Olson on December 22, 2012

Bloggers who don’t link to others’ opinions miss out on half the potential of the medium, as Eric Turkewitz (New York Personal Injury Law Blog) learned to his advantage.

The ABA’s beauty contest/collection of notable law blogs is in its sixth year and once again we’ve been nominated, in the “Torts” category.

The News/Analysis category has the really tough competition, including Ken White at Popehat, Above the Law, and Volokh Conspiracy. Also, in other categories: Stephen Bainbridge’s Prof. Bainbridge, Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice, Paul Caron’s TaxProf, Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites, and many others. And they’ve cited Jim Dedman’s excellent Abnormal Use blog, but I’m not supposed to mention that because it’s competing with Overlawyered.

Molly McDonough, Sarah Randag, and Lee Rawles of the ABA Journal describe all the various entrants, with links, here. There’s also a new Hall of Fame of perennial nominees and a Twitter list.

To vote for (or for that matter against) Overlawyered, you’ll need to register: do that here.

November 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 15, 2012

  • Ninth Circuit dissent: ruling “jeopardizes academic freedom” by making it too easy for students to sue professors [WSJ Law Blog]
  • When the bumptious and sociopathic go after our blogging friend, it’s Ken 1, b./s.-ers zero [Popehat]
  • Uh-oh: “Election Results Seen as Victory for Business of Law” [Gina Passarella, The Legal Intelligencer]
  • In the mail: “How to Feed a Lawyer: And Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground” [Evan Schaeffer]
  • “Cato Files Brief in the First Federal Appeal Regarding the Contraception Mandate” [Ilya Shapiro, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • “Judicial independence” campaigners snooze through unfair attacks on D.C. Circuit [WSJ, earlier]
  • “Anyone whose blood pressure needs a boost should check out Overlawyered…” [James DeLong, American Thinker]

Our blog-iversary

by Walter Olson on July 1, 2012

Overlawyered turns 13 today, launched July 1, 1999. You can read our first fifteen days’ worth of posts at this page.

P.S.: “It’s a blog-mitzvah!” (Ira Stoll).

And a sampling of other reactions via Twitter: “First in time and, to this day, in merit.” [Andrew Grossman] “In internet years, 13 makes you ancient. Cheers!” [@libbyspencer] “Heaven help me, I remember that, approximately.” [G.S. Taylor] “A voice of reason in an often twisted civil justice system.” [Marc Williams] “You are the Methuselah of the internet.” [@scottgreenfield] “I remember reading the site when I was a law student in 2000.” [Jim Dedman] “Do you realize your blog’s now a teenager? Time to start locking up the liquor…” [@petewarden] “Happy blogiversary! Your book, The Litigation Explosion, was one of the most import that I, then a young lawyer, ever read.” [@bookwormroom] “#haiku? @overlawyered blog/ Started thirteen years ago/ More profound than me.” [@SupremeHaiku] “Congrats @walterolson on your blogiversary! even a progressive like me reads it regularly! ?#imafan” [Monique Hall] “Started reading not long after; never stopped. Here’s to the next 13 years!” [@Hal_RTFLC] “Happy (belated) 13th birthday to @walterolson’s indispensable legal blog” [@damonroot], Jim Dedman (“we here at Abnormal Use were early readers”).

Plus: some generous comments from Dan Pero at American Courthouse, Kevin Underhill/@loweringthebar, Bob Dorigo Jones (“It’s long held the first spot on my list of Must Read blogs.”).


May 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 22, 2012

  • Lacey Act madness: might Feds be empowered to disrupt summer concerts by seizing musicians’ Gibsons? [Bedard, DC Examiner; earlier; recent Heritage Foundation work; reworded to reflect comment from "Density Duck," below]
  • Contributors to new “Privatization Blog” include friend of this blog Coyote, e.g. here and here;
  • “Big Government Causes Hyper-Partisanship in the Judicial Appointment Process” [Ilya Shapiro] Fuels Culture War, too: “The faster the state expands, the more likely it is to violate your values” [Matt Welch]
  • Demagogy on expatriates: Schumer proposal for stiff tax on emigrants may have read better in original German [Ira Stoll, Roger Pilon/Cato, Paul Caron/TaxProf]
  • Georgia high court considers $459 million fax-spam verdict [AJC, AP, my take] “Hot fuel” class actions enrich the usual suspects [PoL]
  • New rebuttal to trial lawyer/HBO movie “Hot Coffee” [Victor Schwartz et al, auto-plays video] Ted Frank crossed swords with Litigation Lobby on the movie in January, particularly on the question of coffee temperature and the Liebeck case [PoL]
  • Overlawyered “will become the first [law] blog teenager this summer” [Bruce Carton, Legal Blog Watch] “I’ve been a fan of Walter Olson’s Overlawyered blog for years.” [Amy Alkon, Advice Goddess] Thanks!


January 28 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 28, 2012

January 26 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 26, 2012

{ 4 comments } has compiled this list which prominently includes @overlawyered. Why not join more than 3,500 other Twitter users and follow us today? For even more engagement, follow my personal account @walterolson where you’ll find both law and non-law content, including an advance peek at many stories and links destined to make their way to this site.


I’m pleased to announce that Overlawyered has been named by the American Bar Association as one of its “Blawg 100″ noteworthy legal blogs. It’s not our first appearance on the list, but it’s always gratifying when it happens.

And here’s the good part: you can vote for us. In particular, you can go to this page:

You’ll need to register (which only takes a few moments) and then vote for your favorite in each of a list of categories. (They put Overlawyered in the “Torts” category.)
The nominations include many of our favorite and most-linked blogs, including Lowering the Bar, Prof. Bainbridge, Volokh, Jon Hyman, Daniel Schwartz, Abnormal Use, Eric Turkewitz, and Russell Jackson, to name a few. A number of these are also in the “Torts” category which means you’ll need to resist the urge to vote for them and select Overlawyered instead. Please take a moment to vote now. Thanks in advance for your support!

Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on November 10, 2011

  • Blog feature at National Law Journal on future of law schools stirs discussion with contributions by William Henderson, Brian Tamanaha and more, James Moliterno, followups here and here, plus a profile of renegade lawprof Paul Campos;
  • Richard Fallon: when should scholars sign amicus “scholars’ briefs”? [via Kenneth Anderson]
  • “If law school isn’t miserable, you aren’t doing it right.” [@Popehat]
  • “Chicago’s View on the Future of Law and Economics” [Josh Wright] Vanderbilt Law Review publishes tributes to Prof. Richard Nagareda [ConcurOp]
  • White House awards ceremony for Legal Left broadcast to >100 law schools [BLT]
  • “U of Illinois Law School Admits To Six Years of False LSAT/GPA Data” [ABA Journal]
  • Life in legal academia: 10/22 Temple confab on “Aging in the US: The Next Civil Rights Movement?” [via Post, Volokh]
  • “All law is public law.” No, not really [Solum on 10/21 HLS conference]
  • Thanks to Northwestern’s Federalist Society for inviting me to speak on Schools for Misrule this week as part of my Chicago visit. And thanks to Declan McCullagh for saying “all prospective law school students should” listen to the related Cato podcast. Why not book me for the spring semester to speak at your institution?


Welcome Economist readers

by Walter Olson on September 7, 2011

“Overlawyered” is the name of a widely read blog on America’s legal system….

Thus begins an article in the new issue of The Economist, the London-based newsmagazine, discussing First Thing We Do, Let’s Deregulate All the Lawyers, a new book by Clifford Winston and Robert Crandall (Brookings) and Vikram Maheshri (University of Houston) on barriers to entry in the legal profession. Check it out here.