Law students writing on blogs and other social media are contributing valuable legal writing.
“Turn on your computer, write a blog post – and you’re an author,” says Andrea Lunsford, Stanford University’s Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor, Emerita.
The co-author of the digital-age writing guide Everyone’s an Author, told Angela Beccerra Viderergar (@abecegar) of the Stanford News that students are “writing more today than they ever have in the history of the world, and it’s because of social media.” Students themselves “may think it’s not writing, but it is writing, and it’s important writing.”
Sure it’s a different medium than the traditional law review and quality control comes in different ways, but the contributions made are no less valuable. They may be more valuable.
Historically, law students applied to be on law review as a resume enhancer leading to clerkships and high paying jobs. Those with top grades and and the “right stuff” as determined by law professors and law review veterans got “on law review.”
Articles would published by only some students and the audience who would read them would be limited and would come, if at all, long after publication. The goal was really show and tell, not necessarily to contribute to legal dialogue.
Now a mid tier student with passion for an area of the law or societal niche can flip up a WordPress blog and have at it.
They’ll immediately connect with other like minded thought leaders whether law students, law professors, lawyers, and business/societal leaders. Peer review is immediate and wide. Their content will be seen immediately, commented upon via social media, and they’ll join a national or, in some cases, world-wide conversation on the niche.
These same contributions can be be made via other social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Medium. Twitter leads to wider readership, collaboration, and relationships among contributors.
We’ve got more valuable content on the niche. We’ve empowered a law student to chase their passion. We’ve provided a path to a job for the law student – in an area of the law they love. We’ve added another mind to the collaboration and the advancement of the law in a niche.
I don’t see any downside other than for the law review gatekeepers and those wanting law reviews to retain their stature.
Law reviews will remain, they’ll just be less importance in a world of open source writing and collaboration.