Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

On Monday at 9:30 a.m. we expect the Court to issue orders from the October 31 Conference; we do not expect the Justices to issue any decisions on the merits.
Our list of "Petitions to watch for that Conference is here.

Tom Goldstein Publisher

Posted Tue, October 4th, 2011 9:15 am

SCOTUSblog and legal blogging

Today, we invite you to discuss SCOTUSblog and legal blogging generally.  (This is an unusually self-reflective and -referential topic that does not relate directly to the Supreme Court; the redesign of the blog and the launch of the Community present an unusual opportunity to discuss these issues.)

We welcome your thoughts about the work that we’re doing and whether we should be doing it differently.  More broadly, this is an opportunity to discuss the state of legal blogging, and its place in scholarship.  We would also welcome your thoughts on the creation of this forum for comments and whether and how it can be useful and informative.


  • Tom Goldstein – 0 Promoted Comments

    In this thread, discuss the role of SCOTUSblog, and whether it succeeds or fails in fulfilling that role.

    • Howard Friedman – 1 Promoted Comment

      Legal blogging in a peculiar enterprise. It is an industry whose purpose is undefined, and whose measures of quality are undeveloped. As legal blogs have proliferated, some pundits have attempted to gauge their importance through hard data, such as number of visitors or number of page views. This misses the point. Legal blogs have a niche audience as consistent readers– with other readers occasionally dropping by in response to a Google search or the like. However, it is the quality of the regular readership of a legal blog, and the blog’s impact on that audience, which counts. Before the Internet, generally one could become an “insider” in a field of law only through a personally developed network of professional contacts. A good legal blog now allows a consistent reader– even in the most remote outpost– to be an “insider” who can develop a feel for the ebb and flow of issues and who can understand the nuances of context necessary to be a meaningful player. The challenge is helping readers discover the legal blogs– like SCOTSblog– which will reliably keep them on the “cutting edge.”

    • Reuben Lack – 1 Promoted Comment

      I honestly owe a great deal of my interest in law to SCOTUSBlog. Ever since I began following cases with the easy to understand analysis on this site, I have been captivated by the workings of the Supreme Court. I am a Senior at my high school, and this interest in law has definitely shaped the career path I will seek.

      As to the blog itself, I think there are two factors which drew me to stay here. First, it is updated on a fairly regular basis. These continuous posts gave a sort of ‘fast pace’ to the actions & decisions of the Court which made it more appealing. Secondly, the access to the original documents; it is one thing to read analysis on a website, another to have a sorted collection of the briefs at each stage in one place. If I was interested in a case, I could quickly find the petitions themselves — this made the action feel ‘close’, in some respect.

      I hope this blog continues strongly into the future, and I look forward for future opportunities to discuss the ‘legal issue of the day’ with the lawyers who are working in the field itself.

      Now…to finish my homework….

      • Aaron Tang – 0 Promoted Comments

        That’s awesome, Reuben! It’s great to hear that SCOTUSblog can be of interest (and accessible to) not just practitioners and law students, but high school students too.

    • Curtis Neeley – 0 Promoted Comments

      SCOTUS[+]blog.com has “blog” in its name and should have a BLOG forum. The term “BLOG” was formally recognized and “blogging” is generally thought to include comments posted by various readers of an initial entry. Random unidentified comments are not helpful regardless of academic allegations.

      The fact that a comment is approved or not allowed does not create any attorney-client relationship but creates a duty to “regulate” comments or otherwise be involved. Basically it requires more work that simply “posting” a story.

      Comments allow the “public” to gauge the feelings of a sub-set of the public and should be categorized rather than being approved or denied and presented like Pro(4) Con(4) OffTopic(4) such that it is easy to avoid comments that have a purpose like the creation of a personal copy+right. Comments should be editable for a limited period.

      What is the general mission of SCOTUSblog? How should the commoner comment regarding a purpose of a legal BLOG without understanding that? What about the contention that US Courts are generally unfair due to being massively overburdened such that pro se IFP cases are NOT CONSIDERED but are nevertheless made to appear just?

      There are so few BLOG entries here that it is impossible to have much of an opinion but now is the best time to fine tune a new BLOG. What is the purpose of the BLOG for us commoners or does it have one? I recommend a mission statement.

      How do you call a right never recognized to be an extension of the limited period once given of (zero) when the fundamental right is finally first recognized. Read (10-545) and watch that argument made.

      Why care about academics whatsoever when such ridiculous, idiotic claims are made before the Supreme Court. Academics and common sense obviously do not matter contrary to the prior thoughts of a commoner like myself.

      I followed SCOTUSblog until today but have decided it much ado about nothing. Good luck.

  • Tom Goldstein – 0 Promoted Comments

    In this thread, discuss your favorite and least favorite features of SCOTUSblog, including your reactions to the recent redesign of the site.

  • Tom Goldstein – 0 Promoted Comments

    In this thread, address the Community and the role of commenters, including how you hope to see this feature develop.

    • Paul Horwitz – 1 Promoted Comment

      I’ve been law-blogging for several years now, and some days more than others the purpose of doing so escapes me. And yet, I keep finding that there’s an audience for it. Perhaps it’s just something to do between writing memoranda in opposition to remand; but perhaps there are particular values to legal blogging that are worth thinking about. I can think of a few. Sometimes, legal blogs offer useful up-to-the-minute information about legal goings-on; that, so far, has been what has made SCOTUSblog so essential. Sometimes it offers decent, if imperfect, first-cut analyses of fast-breaking issues, oral arguments, and other recent developments. Sometimes it’s about a different kind of information: those who are interested in legal scholarship check out Larry Solum’s Legal Theory Blog every day, because the sheer volume of new scholarship out there creates a need for filtered information to help us find the best and leave the rest for later.

      And yes, sometimes we read for a sense of community. Legal teaching and practice can be lonely enterprises, taking place behind closed office doors and, especially for practitioners, under time pressures. Blogging within the legal community can reveal flashes of the person behind the lawyer or law professor, reminding us of each other’s humanity and of the things that dn’t always end up in briefs or articles. Yesterday, I wrote on Prawfsblawg about dealing with chronic pain; it served no educational purpose, but it was a way of sharing what I’m going through with others, and I certainly heard back from other lawyers and law professors confronting the same issues. Other times the discussion is more directly about legal issues, but the simple fact of sharing our views brings us back to the idea of a common mission of making law make sense: making law the best it can be, in Dworkinian terms. So we are reconnected to each other as both a professional and a human community. I could think of better ways to connect: namely, face to face, not just with other lawyers but with those out there who desperately need our services. But I could think of worse things to do with one’s Internet time, too. If SCOTUSblog’s Community page encourages that sense of community and connection, so much the better. I hope participants and commenters will both listen seriously to each other and treat each other warmly and with a sense of fellowship. But these things are organic, and no matter what happens I hope SCOTUSblog won’t neglect its other important function: as a source of information we can’t get elsewhere, or as quickly, in a legal world that moves very quickly indeed at times.

    • Daniel Schwartz – 1 Promoted Comment

      I saw a great tweet recently saying this: what’s the long-term strategy here? do we keep doing this forever? I think the same things apply here. Where do blogs go from here? Just more blogs? Or communities like what Scotusblog is trying.

      • Jon Hyman – 1 Promoted Comment

        I think every blog strives to create a community from its readership via comments to posts, and less directly, from interactions on other social websites such as Twitter and Facebook. What Tom has created here, though, takes this a whole new level that most of us could never hope to replicate (at least without help from a big corporate sponsor). Kudos, though, to Tom for starting something new and fresh.

    • David Lat – 1 Promoted Comment

      Commenters on a legal blog are both a blessing and a curse. At the blog that I founded and oversee – Above the Law, http://abovethelaw.com/ – we are still experimenting with the best approach to commenting and commenters.

      Commenters can be very helpful to bloggers in multiple ways. They can alert bloggers to new stories or unexplored angles, serve as informal fact checkers (by noting errors in posts), and even function as copy editors (by pointing out typographical or grammatical errors).

      But commenters can also create headaches. They can post content that is problematic – for example, comments that might be defamatory, violative of privacy, or reflecting prejudice or bigotry. They can bring down the tone of an otherwise high-minded or positive discussion.

      At Above the Law, we do not moderate comments very aggressively – partly due to the volume of comments we receive, and partly due to free speech concerns. We typically work on a “notice and takedown” approach, where readers can email us and alert us to problematic comments, which we then review for possible moderation.

      But I’m very interested in seeing how commenting in the Community space here at SCOTUSblog unfolds. It seems that the Community will be actively moderated. This is resource-intensive, but depending on the results, perhaps we will move in this direction on Above the Law.

      Thanks for creating this Community, which is an exciting new addition to everything that SCOTUSblog already offers!

    • Robert Arnoldt – 1 Promoted Comment

      I am neither a lawyer nor a part of the legal profession. This type of forum affords people like me, people who otherwise would not ordinarily be privy to these conversations, thoughts, ideas, the ability to gain huge amounts of perspective and knowledge. I for one am grateful to have this opportunity. The potential to educate that blogs like this have is something that should be fully taken advantage of.

    • Mike Sacks – 1 Promoted Comment

      From my time doing First One @ One First, I found that small-c community really mattered not only in building readership – something SCOTUSblog need not worry about – but also in fostering a sense of belonging in the Court-watching world. Before the law blogs, there was the Supreme Court press room, the Supreme Court sidewalk, and Supreme Court seminars in schools across the country. But there was no one place we could all find each other and mark out to our heart’s content.

      Now there are places online where we can engage with each other on the same site and read bloggers debating each other across different sites. Still, the Court-watching community can sometimes feel balkanized. SCOTUSblog’s Community feature has the potential to be our main hub for discussion.

      The challenge, then, will be how to overcome any sense that SCOTUSblog is the lecture hall to the many law blogs’ breakout groups – that is, the place where we learn about and research what’s happening at the Court only to take our thoughts elsewhere. That part, however, is up to SCOTUSblog’s readers. I trust, however, that we’re a talkative bunch.

  • Tom Goldstein – 0 Promoted Comments

    In this thread, discuss the relationship between legal blogs and the legal academy, including the extent to which blogs can and should be treated as serious scholarship.

    • Alfred Brophy – 1 Promoted Comment

      Blogs seem to be taking over the role that the New York Times used to serve…. Most, if not all, ideas appeared in the Times before they appeared (usually a few years later) in a law review. While a lot of us were quite skeptical of them a half dozen years ago, we’ve accepted them as part of the legal academic landscape, at as the foothills if you will, of the landscape. I’m not sure that’s good, actually. While we get analysis quickly on blogs, a lot of it is shallow. It may, however, be as much analysis as the average person wants on a topic. What has emerged is the blog as quick and light commentary. And for those (perhaps few) who want more serious commentary, it comes later. I suppose there’s a place for the quick takes – and maybe for the occasional post that injects some new perspective or maybe even tries to re-direct the course of thinking.

    • Jason Rantanen – 1 Promoted Comment

      Legal blogs are useful to both academics and practitioners, in that they serve as a conduit between the two group. Yet it’s a fine line to walk – if the blog’s postings are too academic, it runs the risk of losing its practitioner audience; if it is too practitioner-focused, it may fail to transfer insights into broader issues and trends in the law. Writing for a legal blog is much like teaching: it involves providing information, keeping people interested and focused on that information, and perhaps, at least a bit, encouraging them to question pre-formed ideas and beliefs.

    • Douglas A. Berman – 2 Promoted Comments

      In our modern so-called information age — where legal developments take place in hyper-speed (or cyber-speed) and in which everyone struggles with information overload — simply the form of most legal scholarship now keeps much of what law professors produce from being very useful to judges, administrators, legislators, and practitioners. The modern timelines of law review production and book publication, combined with the current norms of traditional legal scholarship, entail that even those articles and books that might be “practical” as a matter of content often will still be impractical as a matter of form. These realities mean that frequently only academics will have the time and inclination to read most traditional forms of legal scholarship.

      More than any other media of communication, blogs enable a law professor to reach and interact as cyber-peers with an extensive and extraordinarily diverse audience. My blog work facilitates the exposure and scrutiny of my legal ideas by a national and international readership that includes not only judges, policymakers and practitioners at all levels in many jurisdictions, but also academics from other disciplines, journalists of all stripes, many non-lawyers interested in criminal justice issues, and also, perhaps most valuably, the real people whose lives are most impacted by the policies and doctrines that I discuss.

      In part as a result of my diverse, engaged and interactive readership, I am informed about legal developments that I never would have discovered and I hear about legal and non-legal ideas and experiences that I never even could have imagined. In this way, blogging has become for me an extraordinary and unique research tool for all my other professional work: I truly have learned more about my field and gained more original insights during a few years of blogging than during a previous decade of traditional research.
      (More here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=898174)

    • Frank Pasquale – 1 Promoted Comment

      Many academics are put off by the blogging medium. They think of the academic as searching for transcendent truth, and the blogger as addicted to ephemeral buzz. While there’s surely a divergence between the academic vocation and the blogging avocation, I tend to think of these two activities as contrapuntal, each drawing on and enriching the other even while being opposed in nature.

      Whether journalist or academic, everyone has presuppositions and value commitments they bring to the table. In a blog post, you can express those commitments much more openly than you can or should in a work of objective journalism or detached scholarly analysis. Ideally, these forms complement one another. The blog post is a place to test out one’s theories on new developments. The blog itself can become a series of interpretations of the news that fit into one’s theory. But in a scholarly work, one is absolutely committed to finding and addressing the best arguments against one’s own point of view. Blogs give you a venue to try out a narrative.

      I have more points on it here:
      http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2009/01/on_sullivans_wh.html
      http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2009/01/why_blog_i_the.html
      http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2009/01/why_blog_ii_the.html

    • Bridget Crawford – 1 Promoted Comment

      Separate from the question of the relationship between legal blogs and the legal academy, what relationship between blogs and legal change?

      My own theory is that if Norma Rae lived in the 21st century, she’d be a blogger, for sure.

      To my mind, blogging is a populist legal method, in the sense that individuals (and groups) use blogs to influence public opinion, culture and, ultimately, law. Legal blogging is the domain of not just lawyers and law professors. It’s a DIY tool for anyone who wants to change a workplace, institution or community.

    • Margaret DiBianca – 1 Promoted Comment

      On one hand, I think that legal blogs and legal academy serve similar purposes–primarly, to educate and inspire deeper thought. On the other hand, the two “channels” differ in that blog content is unregulated and, for the most part, unedited. In part, this is a result of the “need for speed”–getting content out quickly is an essential part of blogging done well. In part, this is a result of each blogger being the king of his own domain, with no higher power to suggest that a post or perspective may not be accurate or appropriate.

      Although I am devoted blog reader and author, one of my biggest concerns for the future of the legal blawgosphere is this lack of censorship. Without editors, some bloggers speak about topics in areas of the law of which they are unfamiliar or take a shock-jock approach to their posts. And, because the squeaky wheel gets the oil, so they say, those who are the loudest are often considered the “experts”–even if they are less than knowledgeable and far from an expert. I think that, over time, this will leave a sour taste in the mouth of readers who ARE the experts and will result in a discrediting of blogs as a source of legitimate legal commentary and thought.

      So what is the solution? Of course, it would be best if these individuals were to suddenly mature and recognize that the shock-jock approach has no place in the legal profession, I doubt this will happen. I suppose the best alternative would be that the firms for which these individuals write actualy read the blogs and take the author to task for his or her approach and/or content. Similarly, I think it’s up to those of us who take our blogs seriously and see blogging as more than a marketing exercise to be more judicious in who we link to and read.

  • Tom Goldstein – 0 Promoted Comments

    In this thread, discuss your favorite legal blogs and why you value them, and please give special attention to sites that you think are often overlooked.

    • Mirriam Seddiq – 1 Promoted Comment

      Most people that have commented to me about my blog tell me they like that it is so personal, that I don’t just talk about legal rulings with no context as to how they relate to human beings going about their business. Then again, my blog isn’t aimed primarily at lawyers, but those folks who think things like Supreme Court decisions don’t affect them as human beings going about their business. For me anyway, the point is to try to get people to understand why they should care what happens in our criminal justice system, why these decisions and issues matter TO THEM. And, the blogs I like to read also have something to say – it’s not just a regurgitation of the latest rulings. As Jim Rome said “have a take, don’t suck” that’s what makes for some good legal blog reading. And for just pure nerdy goodness, there is SCOTUSblog.

    • Kevin OKeefe – 1 Promoted Comment

      Legal blogging has been the great equalizer for good lawyers across this great country of ours. Not only does a good blog enable a lawyer to demonstrate their care, expertise, and passion for what they do, but their blog enables them to build relationships and enhance their reputation like never before. What once was the sole province of law firms with larger marketing and PR budgets has been made possible with the power of a blog.

      Lawyers network with peers and business associates through blogging — not just for business development, but for professional development. When I joined the board of my state’s trial lawyers association and became a sustaining member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America backed when I practiced law I did so to network with the best lawyers. I wanted to engage them, build relationships with them, learn from them, and ideally to work with them on cases.

      Blogging does the same. Good caring lawyers accelerate relationships and reputations for professional and business development.

      Plus look at the level of legal insight and commentary we are now receiving from law blogs. Wow!

      Until blogs, legal insight and commentary was controlled by law reviews and large legal publishers. Now we have lawyers where the rubber meets the road dealing with practical niche fact and legal situations providing insight and commentary through the power of blogging.

      And these blogging lawyers, whether in Omaha, Des Moines, or Reno have much to offer on niches they cover. They care about people and the law and in many cases wanted to be a lawyer their whole life. Blogs give them them the ability to ‘give back’ to society and to do good things for themselves. Is there a better way to feel good about being a lawyer?

      And wow the niches we see. Retail Patent Litigation; New York Business Dissolution; Florida Probate Litigation; New Hampshire Family Law; Athletes in Court; Marcellus Shale Law; and more. No way, no how such insight on such subjects would be brought to people and networking taking place between lawyers, reporters, association leaders, publishers, and the public with out the advent of blogging by lawyers.

      Kudos to SCOTUSblog and Tom Goldstein for being there from the start.

      • Jon Hyman – 1 Promoted Comment

        What is interesting to me is the analysis of new, burgeoning issues to which the blawgosphere grants practitioners access. It used to be that developing legal areas and analyses would be left to quarterly law reviews and other journals. Now, we practicing lawyers have the opportunity, almost in real-time, to contribute. Of course, a blog does not offer the depth of analysis, but it does allow to show our expertise while offering an opinion.

        As for my blogging experience, it is one of the most professionally fulfilling experiences of my career. It’s allowed me to write a book. It’s networked me across the country with high-quality practitioners in my area. It’s connected me with reporters who have featured my quotes in prominent articles in national and local publications. It’s given me the chance to travel the country and speak to business groups. Most importantly, it’s enabled me to create a name and reputation for myself from my office on the 20th floor of an office building in downtown Cleveland. It is a reputation of which I am very proud, and which I guard very closely with every post I write and tweet I send.

    • Nathaniel Burney – 1 Promoted Comment

      I value different legal blogs for different things. I come here for actual analysis of cases, and frankly wish there were more blogs doing that. Volokh is the only other one providing solid legal analysis that I visit regularly.

      I go to Simple Justice not so much for the law as for Scott Greenfield’s personality, which comes through in every post, and also for his prolific attention to things going on in the legal world that might otherwise have escaped my attention.

      Popehat — particularly Ken’s posts — is where I go for my daily dose of straight talk and the occasional call to arms.

      Less regularly, but with equal enjoyment, I’ll also check out Mark Bennett’s Defending People, Dan Hull’s What about Paris (inexplicably at whataboutclients.com), Gideon’s A Public Defender, and Siouxie Law. Each one has a unique voice that rises above the dull murmurs of bare reporting, SEO efforts and self-congratulation that make up so much of the blawgosphere.

  • Carolyn Elefant – 2 Promoted Comments

    Perhaps because Kevin sees so many blogs day in and day out, he is familiar with the scope of content. As for me, I have been very disappointed by the lack of analysis in most practitioners’ law related blogs. Last year, I researched and wrote a journal article on Social Media in the Regulated Utility Industry. My article covered a vast array of topics, from regulatory matters to social media and employment and e-discovery. I thought, great, I can just go to the blogs and find a lot of the information that I’m looking for. To my dismay, I found that at least 80 percent of the blogs that I came across simply announced the issuance of a case without analysis; some gave a brief summary. Few linked to underlying statutes or cases even as they are readily available online. My article is a testament to the lack of material available – few of my footnotes cite bloggers – http://www.felj.org/docs/elj321/13_1_social_media.pdf.
    At one time, even this genre of blogs – the information aggregators – served a purpose in that they’d inform me of new developments. But with the rise of Twitter, the role of blogs as information aggregators has been diminished. If a federal agency or court where I practice just released a decision, I can pick up the info on Twitter and read the case for myself.
    Of course, Scotus Blog is an exception to the no-analysis rule, as are blogs like Volokh, Berman and of course Simple Justice (Greenfield), Defending People (Mark Bennett), Turkewitz NY Personal Injury Blog, and a few others – though mostly criminal defense and PI. Information on ethics issues is also hard to come by, so I really value Stephanie Kimbro’s legal analysis of ethics issues and other developments concerning the virtual law firm (virtuallawpractice.org), Lisa Solomon on ethics issues related to legal outsourcing (legalwritingandresearchpro.com) and Niki Black on ethics and cloud computing (she covers other topics on technology and social media – http://nylawblog.typepad.com/suigeneris/)
    There are blogs I used to read – Scheherazade Fowler’s Civil Procedure and others that kind of talked about the experience of practicing law in an honest way. I think Mirriam Seddiq’s blog (see her comment above) still reflects that genre. Some of the “regional” solo blogs as I like to call them- Peter Olson Solo in Chicago, the Nutmeg Lawyer, Solo in Minneapolis – they too convey what it feels like to run a law practice. I am also loving Mark Hermann’s column on being an In house Counsel at Above the Law. He is curmudgeonly, yes, but very honest.
    Otherwise, frankly, I can’t stand most of the solo/small firm blogs – it’s not so much that they don’t offer good, solid practice information – they do. But they are so fake and phony and full of happy that they lose credibility in my eyes and I can’t relate to them.

  • Tom Goldstein – 0 Promoted Comments

    In this thread, discuss the extent to which legal blogging helps to build legal practice.

    • Orin Kerr – 4 Promoted Comments

      I think legal blogging generally is a poor way to build a legal practice for two reasons. First, making original and interesting insights about law and legal developments is time-consuming. If you’re blogging regularly, you’re spending time on blogging rather than something else, like, well, building a practice.

      Second, while legal blogging can showcase your expertise in a particular field, I don’t think there is a lot of crossover between the readers of law blogs and the clients who are figuring out who to hire for a particular legal case or problem. Readers of law blogs tend to be law nerds, either lawyers or law students or laypersons who are just interested in the legal issues. Clients tend to be in house counsel or people with legal problems who want to find an expert lawyer for their case and can’t tell who is good or bad based on who is writing about it online. There is some crossover, but not much.

      Probably the best way that legal blogging can help build a legal practice is the indirect way, through the press. If you blog about topic X, reporters may consult you and quote you as an expert in topic X. Potential clients may see that. But that’s a pretty indirect route. If you’re looking to build a legal practice, usually you can find better ways to do it than through blogging.

      • Orin Kerr – 4 Promoted Comments

        Oh, and let me add one addendum to my earlier comment: If you have a niche area of expertise and your blog is targeted to other lawyers in the field, that may be a helpful way to build a practice. Those other lawyers who read your work will know of your expertise in that field, and may seek out your services. But I think that’s a relatively specialized sort of thing, and even then the question is whether the time spent blogging is worth the benefit.

    • Nathaniel Burney – 1 Promoted Comment

      I’d say that, for most practices, it’s foolish to expect a blog to generate new business. If it’s worthwhile and well-written, a blog can be reassuring to existing clients, or provide an extra level of confidence to a potential client or referrer who was already considering you. But there aren’t many who say to themselves “I need a good lawyer, time to go read a bunch of blogs.”

      That said, there are practices where a blog can generate new business, when they establish you as someone who knows what the heck they’re talking about — or someone with views the potential client happens to agree with. A reputation as an authority on a subject doesn’t hurt, and a good blog can help build such a reputation.

      Exceptions exist. I get a surprising number of new clients from my own blog, and have done almost from the start, yet it never ceases to amaze me to learn that it’s what attracted the client. I write it strictly for my own amusement, post mostly unedited first drafts, and don’t stick to any one topic. It is not a marketing tool by any means, and yet… And something tells me that if I started writing it with the intention of attracting clients and referrals, it would cease to do so immediately. Exceptions exist, but they are not to be counted on.

  • Carolyn Elefant – 2 Promoted Comments

    Actually, Orin, I think you are wrong on this point. I practice in some very specialized areas – marine renewable energy, social media in regulated industry – and while my blogs get me a good deal of recognition, I don’t think that I’ve ever directly brought in a client from them. By contrast, my solo colleagues who blog about consumer-friendly topics like How to File for Bankruptcy, FAQs of estate planning, etc…may generate as much as 1/3 of their business directly from their blogs.
    Of course, this in turn has lead to the rise of ghost blogs and the use of blogs purely as SEO rather than educational tools. However, there are still some very first rate consumer oriented legal blogs where the lawyer’s voice shines through.

    • Orin Kerr – 4 Promoted Comments

      Interesting, Carolyn, thanks for the feedback.

  • – 1 Promoted Comment

    As a law student who works on a student-run intellectual property law publication/blog (www.ipbrief.net), I have found the blogging process to be a fantastic educational tool. It encourages student bloggers to explore a topic, area of law, or something in current legal news to which they might otherwise not have been exposed. I have personally found that it encourages me to stay generally informed on things going on in the legal community.

    I think potential clients expect practitioners to be “experts” in their fields regardless of whether they blog or not. As a law student, however, you can develop your expertise in specific areas in an academic environment and demonstrate (to fellow students, professors, potential employers, etc.) that you not only have an interest in those areas, but that you have taken the initiative to study them on your own time.

    That you can establish an international readership and (hopefully) add something to the discourse community on topics that stimulate you is also just cool.

    As a side note, reading blogs like SCOTUSblog helps me predict how the justices will vote on fantasyscotus.net. I am one of those aforementioned law nerds.

  • Jordan Furlong – 1 Promoted Comment

    Before blogs, most lawyers couldn’t publish anything without the permission and support of an established publishing platform: a law review, a law firm newsletter, a lawyers’ magazine, a mainstream periodical, etc. Blogs created an alternative path to publishing that bypasses these gatekeepers and allows a lawyer to say whatever she wants, whenever she wants, to whatever audience she wants.

    You might not like the resulting spike in the noise-to-signal ratio in legal writing. You might not like the minimization of the editorial role in legal publishing. But you’ll never convince me that the emergence of blogs is anything but a huge net positive for everyone connected with the legal profession and the marketplace of legal ideas.

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