Legal scholarship today ought include blogging


University of Arkansas property law professor, Steve Clowney (@steveclowney), who teaches property law has put together a list of the most “cited” property law professors in the country over the last five years.

Although Clowney does not make clear the purpose of his list, it appears to being taken as recognition of the top scholars.

Law schools, including Notre Dame, are sending out press announcements of the prowess of the scholarship being conducted by their law professors on the list.

The list was arrived at by running searches across Westlaw for the number of times that a professor’s law journal articles had been cited in other law journals.

Is such a list an accurate assessment of a law professor’s influence and level of scholarship today?

What about their blogging? How often do they blog (evidence of their research)? How often do they cite other blogs (demonstrates their network)? How often are their blogs cited on other blogs and shared on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook?

How does a professor use other social networks for collaboration, learning and networking? Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Law journals can be very insular and slow moving when it comes to legal scholarship. Most are not read by anyone other than fellow academics. This leaves the academics penning journal articles out of the legal discussion being driven by blogs published by practicing lawyers, law students, other law professors and media commentators.

At a time when law schools are scrambling to make themselves relevant and prepare their grads for the world ahead, why would law schools reward their law professors for nor engaging with the real world?

Law journals are also very slow in developing and advancing legal scholarship. With the advent of the Internet, and with it blogs and social media, thought leadership moves quickly. Professionals in other arenas are learning and advancing knowledge at speeds far greater than ever before.

Courts are citing blogs and many law journals written by law professors are citing blogs. One law professor tells me off the record that they are looked at as a leading scholar in their field, in substantial part because traditional law review articles are citing their blog, boosting their citation count compared to many of their peers.

It makes little sense to say that professors get hired, promoted and make tenure based on traditional legal research so only law reviews and law journals must be how scholarship is measured. That’s a hamster wheel and sounds similar to what newspaper publishers argued.

Including blogging as a measure of scholorship drives needed change. The vast majority of law professors and law firm administrators have no idea of what blogging and the use of social networks really mean when it comes to professional development and the advancement of the law. Make blogging and social networking a measure of one’s scholarship and you’ll see a move towards the future.

It seems to me the measure of legal scholarship today would include a lot more than law journal and law review articles.

Am I missing something?

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.

Photo of Kevin O'Keefe
Subscribe to Real Lawyers Have Blogs via Email or RSS
Recent Posts
See our Archives for more.