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August 16, 2012


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Colin Miller

1. I read blogs mainly for two things: (1) to learn about new things about which I was previously unaware; and (2) to get the blogger's take on certain topics. Some of this reading is for business (e.g., the Civil Procedure & Federal Courts Blog), some of it is for pleasure (e.g., a movie or sports blog), and some of it is for both (e.g., this blog). These are mainly the same reasons that I started my blog: so that evidence professors, lawyers, judges, students, and some lay people could learn about recent developments in evidence law and/or get my take on them.

2. My reading of legally focused blogs is partially about teaching and partially about scholarship. I read blogs both to learn about new developments that I feel I could/should incorporate into my classes and to spark ideas about things I might want to research/write about in the future.

3. In terms of the relationship between blogs and scholarship, I imagine that many people read legal blogs in part to get some ideas for future scholarship. I know that I've gotten a few e-mails from people who have written articles that they say were prompted by reading something on my blog. This also provides part of the reason why I write a blog: pre-scholarship. Most of my articles now originate from ideas I initially explored on my blog, such as a piece I just finished a few days ago, which originated as a blog post about a recent case.

4. I think that the biggest impact that blogs have had on legal scholarship, though, is the rise of the online law review supplement. I think that blogs revealed that, for many pieces, the typical long-form law review article that takes 6-12 months from acceptance to publication doesn't make much sense. This has now prompted a huge number of law reviews to create online supplements in which professors can publish looser, shorter pieces that address current developments with a much quicker turnaround. More and more, we are seeing a three-tier approach to recent developments in the law: (1) a professor publishes a quick-hitter in the hours/days after a new law, case, etc. on a blog with some initial impressions; (2) a professor publishes a 1,000-5,000-ish word essay in an online supplement that backs up these initial impressions with some preliminary research; and (3) a professor publishes a long-form piece in a traditional law review that is comprehensively researched and footnoted. I think that, in effect, blogs revealed the utility of this second-tier.

Bill Sherman

When I was a law student/law review editor in the late '90s, I fielded a phone call from a professor who decried the law review format. He said that profs have lots of great ideas and observations that should be shared, but that the profs didn't have the time (or inclination) to develop 75% of them into ultra-footnoted 80-pagers, so the ideas go nowhere. He pitched the fanciful idea of a slimmed-down "Journal of Good Ideas." Sounds great, I sez, but I don't see how it would work. this, of course, was probably within months of the popularization of blogs...

The best legal academic blog posts, I think, fill the need for a venue to discuss or raise good ideas that would otherwise die as echoes in the halls of faculty offices or conferences. I'm grateful for those posts, and wish I'd thought harder about how to develop that prof's idea way back when.


There are differences within and among law blogs. But they are in fact popular. If you notice, they are slipping into the citations of more "print" law journal (both law review and specialty journals) indicative that they do present some "value" to academic scholarship. Is there a substantial amount of "waste" among blogs, yes. On the other hand, there are (as referenced above) some good blog posts which do contribute to scholarship.

Jim Loxley

Interesting write-up. In my experience as a legal marketer in the UK, blogs have had a dramatic effect in the industries, scholarships and otherwise. Because of the nature of law, with it's many shades of grey and hot debatable topics, and the nature of legal professionals as a demographic, they just seem to do really well. Legal pros love a good quality blawg, and they take notice.


Thank you for the wise critique. Me & my neighbour were preparing to do some research about that. We got a excellent book on that matter from our local library and most books exactly where not as influensive as your details. I’m pretty glad to see these details which I was searching for a long time.

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