Margaret Schilt interviewed a number of blogging law professors, read law reviews which have portions published in blog format and opened with this statement:
If you are looking for the future of legal scholarship, chances are that you may find it not in a treatise or the traditional law review but in a different form, profoundly influenced by the blogosphere.
The big reason:
Blogging contributes to the shortened life cycle of a theory or idea, reflected in what is called the open access movement. Law review articles no longer meet their readers first in published and printed form.
Traditionalists may not appreciate the quality control the blogsophere offers.
Quality control in the blogosphere resides in the occasionally naive assumption that good ideas will rise to the surface and less fully theorized ones will eventually disappear. The relentless pace of blogging assists with the disappearance aspect; flawed or uninteresting ideas will be exposed and then ignored while the blogosphere moves on.
The theory is that good ideas will survive and be strengthened by the immediate feedback. The process is not infallible, though, and the people making the judgments are not all scholars. The law review could offer peer review by professional scholars rather than second- and third-year law students, enhancing the recognition and reputational value of print publication. Anyone can post on a blog; only peer-reviewed scholarship would achieve publication in a law review.
Schilt is hedging her bet with cautionary words such as ‘occasionally naive assumption’ and ‘the theory.’ My guess is after she spoke with leading professors and spent time reviewing law reviews in blog format she sees legal scholarship going to the blogosphere.
In addition to scholarship, UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge picked up on the public service aspect of academic law blogs. “Instead of scholars focusing inward, writing for and expecting to be read only by other academics, legal academics blog with the desire and the expectation that they will be read by the public.”
No question that law professors and practicing lawyers are networking more because of blogs. Their blogs are referencing each others’ posts, they’re commenting on each others’ blogs, and blogs published by academic are being cited in legal briefs and court opinions.