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DU Law Prof : Law Blogs Making Law Reviews Obsolete

August 27, 2012

Law review replaced by law blogsTechnology has greatly changed the legal publishing landscape. With the emergence of law blogs, law reviews are arguably impractical and irrelevant in today’s world.

J. Robert Brown, Jr., a professor at University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, shares with us how law blogs are becoming the reigning standard for law professors in his essay, “Law Faculty Blogs and Disruptive Innovation.

Law blogs are completely diminishing the function of law reviews. People want to stay up-to-date on all of the latest news and the Internet has allowed them to do so. Unlike law reviews, law blogs have the capability of rapidly publishing legal analysis to its readers.

Law faculty blogs effectively fill a gap in the continuum of scholarship not adequately addressed by traditional law reviews. Law reviews have been criticized for their length and questionable relevancy. In addition, the publication process often moves at a glacial pace, with the final product sometimes out of date by the time of publication. Law faculty blogs fill these gaps.

Brown notes that law faculty blogs have become much more influential over the past few years as can be seen by the increasing number of law blog citations by courts and law reviews.

A study done in 2006 chronicled 27 references to blogs in court opinions, including once citation by the US Supreme Court. By June 2012, the number increased to 88, including a second US Supreme Court citation. Another study conducted in 2006 found 486 legal citations to blogs in various reviews and legal periodicals. Two years later, the number had more than doubled. By June 2012, the total had increased exponentially, with blogs accounting for more than 6,340 citations in assorted law reviews and other legal publications.

The advantages of law faculty blogs over traditional law reviews are obvious. With blogging, faculty can increase their own reputation as well as the reputation of their school.

Law blogging represents a method for routing around traditional means of determining reputation. Faculty can increase awareness of their expertise and scholarship without having to obtain “prestige slots” in elite journals. Moreover, with blogs increasingly used for authority in law review articles, posts represent a mechanism for increasing the number of faculty citations.

Having an online presence increases name recognition. Blogging can increase awareness, helping faculty and schools to become better recognized among other academics as well as judges and practitioners.

Almost half (43%) of all law review articles are uncited and perhaps unread, particularly among the more tech savvy lawyers. And, while the number of journals has proliferated, subscriptions have fallen off a cliff.

All of this leads to a question I asked with one of my recent blog posts, “Blogs and social media to replace law reviews?” Are law reviews coming to an end? With all of the proven advantages of faculty law blogs over law reviews, there just doesn’t seem to be a need for them much longer.

Although some of the most elite law schools have yet to join the blogosphere, as Brown says “In time, blogging will become status quo for all law schools.”

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