By Kevin O'Keefe

Which legal publisher will harness the value of blog content?

legal publisher blogsLegal publishing is undergoing dramatic change. Not the least of which is driven by blogs published by law students, lawyers, and law professors.

Hidden behind the ‘content marketing’ message of blog for visibility, traffic, and SEO is the excellent legal insight and commentary delivered by blogs. Not just in the article and journal format we have had for years, but in a new form of dialogue that blogs, RSS, and ancillary social media enable.

We are just seeing the beginning of legal blogging. With law schools yet to rally around the merits of blogs, we’ve yet to see one law school class graduate native to blogging. Though there are thousands of blogs published by lawyers and law firms, blogs have yet to be fully embraced and too many blogs are published for marketing alone (don’t get me wrong, good legal blogging brings an enhanced reputation and work).

Which legal legal publisher will harness the value of blogs? LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters seem ill suited in the their present form. Both seem to view blogs as content for visibility, even to the extent of their writing blog content for lawyers and law firms. Far cry from legal publishing.

LexisNexis syndicates some blog content through Newstext. But Newstext hasn’t gained traction, the blog content is behind a paywall, and the three page Newstext agreement a blogger needs to sign is chilling.

Bloomberg Law acquired legal publisher, BNA, in 2011 to bolster its legal content. At about the same time, Bloomberg announced it would become the exclusive sponsor of SCOTUSblog. That sponsorship is coming to an end.

William S. Hein and Company, a legal publisher of 90 years with over 1,400 law journals and law reviews, recently partnered with Fastcase, a provider of case and statutory law, to provide a deeper legal library to each companies’ subscribers. Blogs are yet to be part of the portfolio offering from either company.

Wolters Kluwer, with more limited legal and regulatory offerings in the U.S. than LexisNexis and Thomson, does not index or showcase blogs as best I can tell.

ALM has recently licensed Forbes’ Falcon publishing platform to enable lawyers to publish posts to ALM’s site just as authorities do on the Forbes network. However, ALM does not appear to be showcasing individual law blogs nor developing a blog platform for law firm blogs.

A traditional legal publisher is, of course, not needed to index and curate legal blogs. The LexBlog Network is curating posts from 8,000 law blog authors. Law blog content can also be curated by RSS readers and apps such as Flipboard.

But law blog content, being more than content for marketing alone, placed in context – accompanying primary legal research of case and statutory law, or along side legal news would be a win/win for blog authors and the legal profession as a whole.

Blogs represent the finest in legal insight from thought leaders in niche areas of the law. Blogs also represent the collective knowledge and collaborative thinking of these thought leaders, something we’ve never had before blogs.

Which legal publisher will seize the opportunity that law blogs present? Who knows? It may be publishers such as LexBlog and other innovative companies availing ourselves of the technology never before available.

Image courtesy of Flickr by NatureNerd.

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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