WordPress legal publishing Reading Nash David’s interview with WordPress creator, Matt Mullenweg, reminded me how far WordPress has come in eight years.

Mullenweg, while still a student at the University of Houston in 2003, created WordPress as an offshoot of b2/cafelog, blog software he was then working on. Seven years ago Mullenweg, Jay Allen, a software engineer at Six Apart (creators of Moveable Type software), and I debated whether WordPress had a mature enough development community to support an enterprise such as LexBlog.

Since then WordPress has exploded in use.

  • WordPress has been downloaded over 65 million times.
  • WordPress is now now powering 14.7% of the top million websites in the world, up from 8.5%.
  • 22 out of every 100 new active domains in the US are running WordPress.

What started as simple blog software has developed into a robust content management system. WordPress is many times more capable than the publishing and community platform that I built Prairielaw.com on in 1999. And that cost $500,000 to develop.

WordPress is not only being used by small time bloggers. Watching the movie, Page One, a documentary on the NY Times today, I saw their reporters using WordPress. 62 New York Times blogs, incorporated into the main NY Times news site, are run on WordPress blogs.

Entire magazines, such as Wired, are run on WordPress.

What’s the impact of WordPress on legal publishing?

WordPress is powering thousands, if not tens of thousands, of law blogs. Those blogs, whose content is now a mixed bag, may be kicking out more legal information and commentary than the combined Thomson Reuters, Reed-Elsevier (LexisNexis), Wolters Kluwer, and Bloomberg. If they are not already, they soon will be.

WordPress is driving a bottom up publishing phenomenon. Rather than legal content being authored by academics and ‘lawyers in the know’ with connections and published by major publishers, good practicing lawyers with street know how are publishing their own insight and commentary.

Rather than major legal publishers curating in books and websites the content authored by legal practitioners, the content is curated by individual users on Google Reader and apps such as Flipboard.

LexisNexis may hand out badges for the best blogs and ALM may try to form a blog network, but law bloggers as a whole, empowered by open source software and innovative technologists, are running laps around them when it comes to this new age of publishing.

Small companies, such as LexBlog, have the opportunity to build blog publishing platforms run on WordPress in the cloud. For discovery of publishers and content, we can build networks such as LXBN (run on WordPress), which is currently curating posts from over 8,0000 blog authors.

Large legal publishers are already using WordPress on a limited basis. Wolter Kluwers’ blogs, such as their Intelligent Solutions Blog, are run on WordPress.

WordPress is open source software. That means thousands of innovative and motivated technologists and developers from around the world are constantly making improvements to and developing enhancements to WordPress. These developers are working for emerging growth companies bringing us the future.

If you doubt that WordPress can compete with large legal publishing, think back to when WordPerfect drove word processing in the law. A young upstart named Bill Gates, whose father and grandfather were lawyers in a large Seattle law firm, brought us Word, free word processing software that came loaded on most office computers. Anyone use WordPerfect today?