I have always viewed blogging, particularly legal blogging, as something different than writing an article, a review, an alert or other form of written communication.

But what is blogging? Should it be defined by the software on which you a publish? Should it be defined by pages in a website labeled as “Blog?”

It hardly makes sense to artificially call something a blog or call what you do blogging because of the software used or the label you place on it.

Literary forms or literary genres carry various classifications (free dictionary).

  • Drama – the literary genre of works intended for the theater
  • Prose – ordinary writing as distinguished from verse
  • Expressive style, style – a way of expressing something (in language or art or music etc.) that is characteristic of a particular person or group of people or period; “all the reporters were expected to adopt the style of the newspaper”
    form – an arrangement of the elements in a composition or discourse; “the essay was in the form of a dialogue”; “he first sketches the plot in outline form”
  • Poetry, verse – literature in metrical form

Why not carve out blogging as a literary form, if not to be widely accepted like prose, drama, music or poetry, at least to have a common understanding by bloggers and those who strive to blog?

Asking if we should have a law student blog conference in a recent post, I cited Dave Winer’s post asking if we should think of blogging as a literary form.

  • If we taught courses in public writing on blogs?
  • Good use of links.
  • Building community.
  • Different voices. Active vs passive.
  • Style.
  • What if we had blog writer’s retreats?
  • If we studied the kinds of tools that work best?
  • Connections with technology? (I would totally benefit from that.)

Run with Winer’s thinking a bit. Lawyers learn to blog as an art much like they learn legal writing as a 1L. A lawyer’s blogging improves over time as they develop their own style by emulating the style of other bloggers and journalists they follow and cite.

Lawyers come to understand that blogging well may be nothing more than sharing what you have read and offering your take.

They learn that blogging is a learning experience. The more a lawyer blogs, the more learned the lawyer becomes as a result of their reading and sharing. The bigger their network of peers, authorities and journalists becomes.

We have conferences and meet-ups of bloggers. We’re not pigeonholed at marketing conferences. Though we may come there and share what is going in the blogging world just as a media publisher may come to give tips on how to get earned media.

A byproduct for the public is that we (as an in-house counsel, executive, consumer or small business person) get to listen in on this information being surfaced and commented upon by good lawyers. Information and insight never before available.

Where does blogging fit with marketing? As a result of blogging, a lawyer receives the benefits marketing strives to achieve. Notoriety, relationships, referral network, earned media exposure, speaking engagements etc.

But the goal of blogging is not to market. Marketing, if you want to call that the outcome, comes as the result of good blogging.

The result of legal blogging, though a different “literary form” than writing articles, a book, and law review pieces accomplishes much the same as those mediums have for lawyers over the last century.

Blogging has not only democratized this form of publishing by not requiring one to go through intermediaries, blogging has added elements which totally differentiate it from other forms of writing. Elements that work to a lawyer’s advantage and the public’s advantage.

What do you think? Ready to acknowledge blogging as a literary form?

Doing so may give blogging the differentiation and jump-start it deserves.

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  • Kirsten Oliphant

    I definitely think that blogging is a genre. Not with rules as hard and fast as some of the other forms, but then again– we seem pretty good at ditching the rules across the board. Loved this post and shared with my newsletter! I’m not a law blogger, but this was a fantastic read!

  • janemaurice2

    Thought-provoking commentary ! For what it’s worth , if someone is wanting a CA FTB 590 , my business partner filled out a fillable version here https://goo.gl/gnZoFc.