By Kevin O'Keefe

Law blogs impacting law reviews : Wall Street Journal

Law blogs are impacting traditional law reviews per an article in the Wall Street Journal (sub. req’ed)

For years, publishing in journals has been a prerequisite to getting tenure or to moving to a more prestigious institution. And for just as long, scholars and laypeople have criticized the stultifying style of legal academic articles, which tend to be extraordinarily long (sometimes 100 pages or more), dense, and endlessly — even sadistically — footnoted.

But the most recent wave of criticism has been especially costly to the legal journals. More than any other time in the past, law professors are looking beyond law reviews, moving relevant and timely commentary to the Internet and the blogosphere.

The law reviews, it seems, have gotten the message. From insisting on briefer pieces to creating new and timely Internet features that engage broader audiences, the law reviews are experimenting with ways to reaffirm their significance to the profession. Whether the efforts will pay off is still an open question, but the law reviews have at least made it clear that they will not go down without a fight……

Blogs are filled with excellent contact. As I discussed with Marty Schwimmer this week, blogs often have better content than that coming from traditional legal publications. The Journal article nails this as it relates to law reviews.

Twenty years ago, little outside of the occasional book or magazine article deflected attention from law reviews. Today, legal blogs are siphoning away the attention of law professors and lawyers on issues of the day. Blogs such as The Volokh Conspiracy, Opinio Juris, and SCOTUSBlog attract tens of thousands of readers and feature informed discussion on everything from constitutional theory to law-related television shows. Blogs now occupy so many professors, in fact, that at the American Association of Law Schools annual conference, a panel was held to debate the influence of blogs in the legal academic community.

The law reviews are also turning to another strategy — moving content to the Internet — to boost readership. The law schools at Harvard and Yale, for instance, have both introduced special web-based supplements to their print publications. Yale’s new feature, called The Pocket Part, runs synopses of selected articles from the print version, along with short responses from both practitioners and scholars. Material on The Pocket Part reads much like traditional opinion pieces, in keeping with Yale’s instructions to contributors: ‘You should write as if you were contributing an op-ed to a popular newspaper or magazine.’ The most recent Pocket Part, posted before the Alito hearings, summarized an article on a proposed new methodology for Senate questioning of Supreme Court nominees.

It’s no wonder that I was contacted by a large legal publisher late Friday inquiring as to why blogs were drawing so many lawyers looking to publish. Writing a book or chapter for a law treatise or law review was once an honor (was for me), and still probably is, but lawyers get much a bigger and long lasting bang by publishing a blog. And a blog is a heck of a lot easier to write.

Source of post: the C I V I T A S papers

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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