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Blawgs and lawyer blogs : New York Times article

October 10, 2005

Inside every lawyer, it is said, there is a brilliant writer, held back by professional ambition or by fear of failure. Nowhere is that truism more evident than in the explosion of online blogs by, for and about lawyers.” So writes Jonathan Glater in an excellent story about blawgs – lawyer blogs – in last Friday’s New York Times.

The story covers lawyer blogs, often called blawgs, including Neil Wehneman’s blog on his life as a beginning law student, Markos Moulitsas Zúniga political journal, www.dailykos.com, Evan Schaeffer’s www.legalunderground.com and John H. Hinderaker’s www.powerlineblog.com, which contributed to the downfall of Dan Rather.

What was real interesting was the popularity of lawyer blogs or blawgs. Lawyers constitute considerably less than 1 percent of the population but per a survey conducted by Blogads.com found that 5.1 percent of the people reading blogs were lawyers or judges. This puts lawyers fourth behind computer professionals, students and retirees.

The survey also found that 6.1 percent of blog publishers were in the legal profession, putting lawyers fourth again, behind the 17.5 percent who said they were in the field of education, 15.1 percent in computer software and 6.4 percent in media.

The Times also reported lawyers have fun publishing a blawg.

Lawyers may also find some of their day-to-day tasks unrewarding, [said Hinderaker], and blogging offers a way to wield more influence in discussions of topics that they care about – especially politics. The law ‘is a business that attracts a lot of people who have quite a bit of ability and ambition,’ he said. ‘For many of them, their law practice doesn’t fully satisfy that desire to play a part in the world.’

‘It’s our natural environment, to read things on the Web, to read news stories, and to have something to say,’ said Ann Althouse, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin who posts her views at althouse.blogspot.com. Compared with spending a year writing a law review article, she said, blogging is fun.

And perhaps most importantly, lawyer blogs put people in touch with average people. Denise Howell, perhaps the first lawyer to publish a blog put it well.

…[T]he blogs demystified the law without costing outrageous sums; led to more open, frequent and occasionally informed discussions of politics, law and occasionally morality; and helped forge links between practicing lawyers, law professors, law students and the real world. Blogs break down the barriers.

Blawgs or lawyer blogs are really taking off. Coverage this last week ranged from the leading legal newspaper, The National Law Journal, to the nation’s largest daily newspaper, The New York Times.

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