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Ohio Supreme Court Justice : Lawyers ignoring blogs do so at their peril

Via a recent article in the National Law Journal entitled ‘Blogs are liberating the profession from dull writing,’ I caught this April interview of Ohio Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger by Ian best.

Amazing points by Justice Lanzinger:

  • She periodically reads blogs but does not have the time to read law reviews.
  • Citing of blogs by judges will continue to grow.
  • Lawyers ignoring blogs do so at their peril.
  • Blogs have advantages of immediacy and networking that law reviews do not have.
  • In favor of students, lawyers, and law professors blogging.

Here’s some excerpted questions and answers from the interview, and mind you this from a state supreme court justice.

Q: When you cited a legal blog, did you consider it unusual or unprecedented at the time?

A: It did not seem unusual to me at the time. I wanted readers of the opinion to have the most current information on a narrow issue (Blakely updates) and so I cited to a blog (Sentencing Law and Policy) that directs a reader to primary sources themselves.

Q: How often do you read legal blogs?

A: Periodically, depending on time available.

Q: Do you consider blogs to be substantial and legitimate forms of scholarship?

A: Obviously, not all legal blogs are created to promote academic research. There are some, such as Professor Berman’s, that do advance legal scholarship through this new forum. The legal blogger can sponsor ideas on current issues that can be reviewed immediately through the input of readers. The best serious blogs define a particular field of interest and inquiry and stay within that scope.

Q: Do you think legal blogs will begin to be cited more often by the courts?

A: If worthwhile blogs continue to appear, and judges become aware of them, I think that citing will grow.

Q: What predictions do you have about the effect of legal blogs on the profession?

A: Assuming that legal blogs are now in their infancy, and that they will grow to have a long and fruitful life, I think that lawyers who ignore them altogether will do so at their peril.

    

Q: Do you regularly read law reviews? If so, which are your favorites?

A: I don’t have the time or inclination to slog through many law review articles in my spare time. When briefs refer to an article or I become aware of a piece that speaks to an issue of interest, I will try to read it.

Q: What advantages and disadvantages do legal blogs have when compared to law reviews and other traditional forms of scholarship?

A: Because of publishing realities, law reviews may appear hide-bound while legal blogs operate with free-wheeling immediacy. The legal blog depends upon the integrity of the author rather than an institution — no one is vetting accuracy of blog citations, for example. Editorial oversight over law reviews can bland articles down, or worse, fail to expose pedantic jargon. On the other hand, without peer review, blogs can publish anything and suppress anything –- so caveat emptor.

I believe that the serious blogs do have a time advantage in raising issues, networking primary sources, and serving as a clearinghouse for additional discussion. Law reviews have the luxury of handling an issue in depth; however the time lag can be a negative when fast-moving matters are being considered. Law reviews are permanent; one does not have to worry about a broken link or missing achival material. Nevertheless, even if (and maybe because) they are ephemeral, legal blogs are fun to read. Most cut to the chase and many have a sense of humor — a plus in my book.

Q: Do you have an opinion about whether law students, lawyers, and/or law professors should blog?

A: The First Amendment guarantees all of us the freedom to speak. The internet now gives us the opportunity to disseminate that speech in ways the broadside printers never dreamed. Of course I’m in favor of blogging.

And Ian, you’d be willing to forgo blogging to gain law firm employment?

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