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?

It’s appalling talking to law professors and law school administrators and finding out how little they know about the benefits of blogging and other social media, let alone knowing how to use them.

A career development person at a major law school acknowledged to me that neither the dean nor anyone in the school’s administration used any form of social media for professional development or alumni or student relations. He wasn’t aware that any of the professors did either and said that though though he didn’t think any of the professors blogged, they had many professors who read blogs.

Read blogs. That’s like saying we have professors who read books and articles, have a cell phone and use a computer.

Social media strategist and frequent university lecturer, Lina Duque (@LinaDuqueMBA), writes at the Harvard Business Review this morning that in today’s digital age social media competence is a critical communication tool for academics.

Whether you’re looking to engage students, increase awareness of your research, or garner media coverage for your department, engaging in social media will give you a competitive edge.

Duque cited the case of a University of Toronto professor doing a study on the impact of air pollution on cyclists. She turned to Twitter to begin her survey work. That led to a cycling magazine blogging about her study, which was picked up by the major Toronto metro newspaper which then led to appearances on Global TV and CBC Radio.

There’s simply no way a professor not understanding social media would have that type of reach. Their research would suffer, the quality of their work product would be inferior and their career path would be limited.

Duque shares a good few tips that I’ll elaborate on.

Build a targeted profile. Get focused in a niche area you in which you want to learn more about, to network with people with similar interests and build a reputation. Generating and sharing targeted content will attract a targeted audience. Let people know the value you offer by what you share and how you describe yourself on profiles on social media networks.

Engage your audience in meaningful conversations. Speaking up about things you are passionate about will, in time, get you positioned as a thought leader in your space. When you see a blog post or news story that you agree or disagree with, speak up. The publisher of the post or reporter of the story will hear your views. So will others with an interest in the area. People love knowledgeable and informed people sharing information and insight with a little conviction.

Duque shares the story of Imogen Coe, a cell biologist and Dean of Science at Ryerson University in Toronto who took to Twitter last year to express her views on a sexual harassment story in the science community.

She… respond[ed] to Science magazine’s career column, which advised a post-doc researcher to look the other way when the latter complained that her male supervisor was looking down her shirt. Appalled by that advice, Coe e-mailed Science magazine, offering alternative advice on how to deal with harassment. She then tweeted a screenshot of her e-mail, which was quickly retweeted and supported by scientists around the world.

A reporter with the Washington Post saw the tweet and contacted Coe to get her thoughts on the story. The next day, Coe’s comments appeared in the Washington Post. The dean’s social engagement has amplified her message and helped her garner media attention as a respected source in her field. More importantly, her voice and that of others resulted in the original advice column being removed and replaced with crowdsourced advice, including Coe’s, that helps the person being harassed.

Make social engagement a habit. Make social media a daily habit so that you can stay up to speed in your area. Some professionals use a news aggregator, some Twitter, some LinkedIn and some Facebook. Not listening to what is being reported and shared on social media today is shirking your responsibility to stay abreast of developments in your field.

Engage other leaders in the field by blogging what you are reading and sharing your insight. Share with a quick comment a post or article you have read.

The Internet and social media and blogging, in particular, are a conversation. They’re not broadcasting content. These conversations lead to growing a network of knowledgeable, passionate and trusted colleagues from around the world.

“I don’t have enough time” is a lot of bunk. It’s as if you’re saying I don’t have time to be good at what I do.

Santa Ono, president of the University of Cincinnati who has over 69,000 Twitter followers, told Duque “Social media really doesn’t take that much time. I tend to use it mostly in the evenings before bedtime and in between meetings.”

Law schools and law grads are struggling. It’s become a national pastime to discuss on social media declining law school enrollments and the struggles grads are having in gaining meaningful employment.

Not only do schools have an obligation to use the communication and engagement mediums of our day, but law schools could help themselves in process.

The vast majority of law schools do not have professors, administration members or students using social media and blogging for learning and professional development. Start a social media initiative that will start getting results and you’ll shine so bright you will receive national coverage.

Get word out that your grads, as a result of being encouraged and taught to blog and use social media are getting jobs and you’ll have picked up a big time differentiator. The stuff works. It’s why a Michigan State 2L is clerking in London this summer and a recent grad of theirs is working in the general counsel’s office at General Motors.

My COO, Garry Vander Voort, mentioned in a meeting this morning just how easy it is to learn from and connect with people through blogging and social media. Rather than newspapers and periodicals for news and information, we use the net and social media, he continued. He smiled in saying it’s surprising just how many people don’t understand that times have changed.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Samir Luther

This January, Emory Law School started a class devoted to blogging in the legal profession. It’s a great initiative that’s getting law students thinking about how to best communicate themselves through blogging early.

I spoke with Jennifer Romig, the teacher behind the class, and she was kind enough to answer questions about the class and blogging strategies students can get started on now. For people looking for more, check out the article she wrote on legal writing for the public.

How did this class get started—what was the impetus and ensuing support for it?

The administration was very open to my proposal for a class on blogging and other forms of “public legal writing.” By that I mean legal writing for the public, not any one client, ranging from tweets to blogs to bar-journal articles. Emory Law has always offered the foundational 1L course in legal writing and analysis, as well as a popular class in advanced legal writing and editing, research seminars, advanced legal research, and a variety of courses for litigation and transactional skills. Now it is also offering a set of smaller, targeted upper-level classes such as time-pressured legal writing, motions practice, and law-practice technology.

The blogging course fits nicely into those offerings. When the law school’s Assistant Dean of IT, Ben Chapman, signed on to co-teach the course, it became even stronger because of his technical strengths and our collaboration on the course content.

My own personal impetus was the experience starting Listen Like a Lawyer. For years I had wanted to start a blog but was focused on traditional legal writing. In 2014, I searched for an open niche and launched Listen Like a Lawyer. It’s a modest lawyering blog, yet it has taught me a lot and opened up some great conversations and opportunities both online and in person. That experience reinforced for me that law students can learn and contribute by blogging, and build marketable skills in the process.

In your own words, why is this class important? Why should law students know blogging?

Years ago as a summer associate, I was assigned to write a magazine column about a particular legal question, addressed to non-lawyer professionals in that field. Today’s variation on that assignment is writing blog posts. Even before that, as they go about their job search, law students may be interviewing with big, medium, or small firms that have a blog or want to start one. One friend who is a solo asked me if the students in this class could set up a blog for his practice. So I think the class will position students to respond to employer requests to write a blog post on a topic, find a topic and write about it, or even develop a strategy for starting a blog.

On a more personal note for students, blogging provides a creative outlet. I know from teaching 1L legal writing for many years—which I still do—that learning to write a traditional legal memo can feel highly formal and uncomfortable. Blogging is a nice change from that. Students definitely need to represent themselves well in their blogging and write clearly and grammatically. But they can write about what they want. They can use contractions. They can ask rhetorical questions.

They can embed videos and long block quotes and link to non-traditional sources. I have a theory that blogging will help students’ other writing skills as well. The ABA Journal opened up a conversation on this several years ago by asking “Has Social Media Tightened Your Writing Style?”

How do you go about teaching and framing the class? What are the classes and activities like?

The class is structured to start with foundational concepts of ethics and the history and methods of blogging. As part of that we invited several guest speakers: Paula Frederick, General Counsel of the State Bar of Georgia; and Keith Lee, a practicing lawyer in Birmingham who blogs for Associate’s Mind and Above the Law. We will also be hosting Professor Alexander Volokh, a colleague on the Emory Law faculty and longtime blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy.

The middle of the class is a writing phase where students study how legal bloggers communicate their legal analysis and how they use voice and style. We have a class blog where students are posting and commenting on a variety of assignments such as a case update, analysis of a recent legal development, highlights of a law-review article, and an authentic yet professionally appropriate personal reflection.

Students also work in small groups to change the WordPress theme of the class blog and then explain to the whole class how and why they selected that theme. The small groups are also doing group presentations on topics such as citation and linking practices, writing for non-lawyers, using visuals effectively, and so on.

At the end of the semester their “final exam” will be revising their work and creating individual WordPress blogs. They can make these public or semi-public and show them to potential employers if they would like.

What sorts of trends do you encourage students to keep in mind in your class? Where do you see legal blogging headed?

One theme that I have emphasized and students have recognized for themselves is the crucial importance of writing well. I read a ton of posts leading up to the class and found—not surprisingly—that law bloggers are very, very good writers at the technical level. When they break grammatical rules, they know exactly what they’re doing and they do it for a reason. My co-teacher, Ben Chapman, has kept coming back to the social aspect of social media. Law blogs don’t always have a lot of comments in the comment sections, as Real Lawyers Have Blogs has pointed out. But if a blog is effective, it should be generating conversation on other platforms and/or through personal networking and connections (ideally both).

In terms of trends, Ben and I are encouraging students to add visual components to their blogs and to carefully attribute their use of images. We want to touch on different styles lawyers tend to use on the various social media platforms. And one of the broadest goals is of the class is that students will have the skills to follow trends on their own and adapt to new ways of using social media. If you were to leave prospective students of this course—or law students who don’t have such an opportunity—with one piece of advice when it comes to blogging, what would it be?

They need a healthy mix of caution and creativity. In terms of caution, it’s best to listen first. They should follow blogs and really study what great legal bloggers are doing. And when they’re just getting started, I would recommend practicing on a blog behind a password, in a small supportive community of friends and writing mentors.

But the great thing about legal blogging is the opportunity to be creative. The short format of blog posts lets them explore different angles on their areas of interest and try different formats such as using visuals, quotes, or embedded social media. And they need to figure out what legal issues are interesting and motivating to them. If they were in a room of lawyers talking about law and lawyering, what would they want to discuss? They will write well about issues they care about.

Photo Credit: Kate Tomlinsoncc

I had the honor of participating in a wonderful program at Michigan State Law School on Friday afternoon.

A select group of law students had the opportunity to share how they were currently blogging and using social media for learning and career development. The students were from all classes, 1L to 3L, and used all forms of social media.

The students were also participating in a social media contest to keep them motivated, to learn from each other and to inspire other law students not blogging or using social media to think about it. (Think about that contest idea law firms)

I shared some introductory comments on how to use social media for professional development, gave the students feedback on what they were doing, and participated in a vibrant discussion between audience members and the panelists.

One student, who blogged, got a clerking opportunity with a UK firm through Twitter engagement. Another had a company fly her to San Francisco for a conference based on her social engagement and the Internet presence she created via all forms of social, including blogging.

That wasn’t it. Another was engaging the fashion industry in New York and California via her Fashion Law Blog and other social media. A 1L was networking with professionals in the tech industry (which he previously worked in) via LinkedIn.

And one student was using social to put a “real person” behind her resume. Through Twitter, blogging and other social media, this veteran, mom, and animal welfare advocate gave the world a real feel for who she is.

In the conference hall was a big crowd of law students, business students and recent grads. Why? To learn how they could use blogging and social media. Not only did they learn via the presentations and dialogue, but they left inspired to act.

In her opening comments welcoming me, MSU Law School Dean, Joan Horwath (@joanhowarth1) said it was the students who brought me to East Lansing. It was not the administration.

The students engaged me via blogging and social media as long as a year and a half ago. I was engaged and enthused by their energy and desire to use blogs and social media as a way to learn, engage leaders, and build an online identity.

But for the law students using social media in ways they soley decided upon (not the school telling them what to do), I would never have made it to East Lansing for an afternoon that I’ll long remember.

The lesson for law firms? Turn some lawyers loose. Empower them through your encouragement, support, and education to blog and use social media. Tell them it’s all about professional growth, building word of mouth and building relationships.

Have a contest to keep the lawyers motivated. Sounds trite for lawyers in a law firm, but as Americans we are motivated by competition in just about everything.

Select five or six of the “contestants” to present at a large get together of the firm’s lawyers. Encourage audience members to engage the panelists with questions and comments. Have some fun and laughs. Find out what is working and what isn’t.

Go a couple hours and follow it up with beer and wine.

As at Michigan State Law School, every one will have learned a lot and many of your lawyers will leave inspired to blog and use social media – or to blog and use social media better and more effectively than they have.

I have seen a lot of law firms push a rope trying to motivate and teach their lawyers to blog and use social. This method works.

A big thanks to Dean Howarth, Professor and Assistant Dean Dan Linna (@danlinna) and his team in the Career Services Office (@msulawcso) and, of course, all the students.

Image courtesy of Moyan Brenn

I would welcome any ideas you have on how college students can blog and use other social media for professional development (learning) as well as networking to build relationships and word of mouth to gain employment upon graduation.

It’s no pipe dream. I am hearing of law students from last year’s class who got jobs through blogging.

I am headed to the University of Notre Dame and Michigan State University this week. Football rivals when I was at Notre Dame in the ’70’s.

On Thursday I am presenting to Professor John Webber’s Internet marketing class at the Mendoza Business School at Notre Dame (@NDBusiness). The focus will be how businesses are best using blogs and other social media for marketing and business development — as well as how students can blog and use social media for professional development and networking.

On Friday I will be presenting and leading a discussion among law students at Michigan State (@MSULaw) who are already blogging and using social media for professional development and networking.

Michigan State Law School may be the nation’s leader on this front. The school is even hosting a contest this year to foster the use of blogging and social media by law students.

I have ideas of my own, but like I said I would welcome yours.

And if you have not had the opportunity to speak at Universities and Law Schools, do it. It’s invigorating.

Michigan State Law School is branding itself, at least in my mind, as one of the more innovative law schools in the country.

A school that is recognizing the importance of a sound legal education, while at the same time preparing its students to use technology and social media while in school — and upon graduation.

The wild thing is that the public’s perception of MSU Law is not changing because of a centralized public relations campaign by the school or via mass mailings to the alumni.

The law school’s students are rebranding the school through their individual use of social media. And the students are doing it without the direction of the law school.

I receive more requests to connect on LinkedIn from MSU law students than from students at any other law school. The same goes for Twitter followers. Not many on Facebook yet, but that mirrors that age group’s slower take to Facebook for networking.

The students are connecting and engaging on social to learn — as well build word of mouth and network for job opportunities.

I blogged a few weeks ago about MSU Law grad Pat Ellis (@pmellis) getting known by lawyers and law professors around the country and getting a job through his blogging and social media efforts while in school.

I had a great discussion with Chelsea Rider (@chelseamurto), a veteran and MSU Law 3L, two nights ago about the impact of technology and social media. Her inquiry centered on how we could leverage tech and social to make the law more accessible.

How many other law students around the country were having such a discussion at one o’clock in the morning?

I had no idea who Rider was 48 hours ago. Now I cannot wait to meet her.

MSU law students didn’t just pick up social and tech from the water in East Lansing. They were exposed to it by professors and guests speaking at the school. It was up to the students to run with the ball.

Ellis tells me it was MSU Law’s ReInvent Law Laboratory created by professors Renee Knake (@reneeknake) and Daniel Katz (@computational) which opened his eyes to the innovative use of tech in the law and the power of social media.

Rider blogs she was exposed to ReInvent Law and the thinking of legal futurist, Richard Suskind, who spoke at MSU Law a couple years ago. But it wasn’t until Assistant Dean of Career Development and Professor Dan Linna (@DanLinna) hosted a weekend workshop, “Delivering Innovative Legal Services,” lead by Kenneth Grady (@LeanLawStrategy) from Seyfarth Shaw that she realized the legal profession was being reinvented while she was in school — and that she could learn and network via social media.

I’ll confess I am getting a lot of student engagement from MSU Law because I spoke, via Skype, to MSU Law students last month. But it was Linna in career development who asked.

Other law school career development offices have turned down my offer to present. Some felt it not their job to teach their students something that feels like a trade school subject. Others believed their students would get in trouble and ruin their reputations by using social media.

I am not the only one speaking about MSU Law like this. Many legal bloggers have written about ReInvent Law and engaged the school’s students via blogging and social media.

Just today I received an email from Alan Rothman, a New York attorney and knowledge management professional, referencing a blog post of his analyzing the merits of social networking and blogging by law students. He was prompted to blog by Ellis and my later presentation with Ellis at MSU Law.

Social media buzz about MSU Law will only increase with the law school’s ongoing social media contest which will highlight the efforts of individual students.

Social media in law school will seem trite to many of you. Blogging, Twitter, and Facebook? What’s that have to do with the law? Why would MSU Law want to be known, in part, for social media savvy students?

Social media is changing learning and career advancement. We learn socially through others we respect, trust, and engage. We reach out and connect in a real and meaningful way with people we could have only dreamed of meeting before. We learn from and mentor beneath these folks.

Building relationships, a word of mouth reputation and a network are all accelerated by blogging and social media.

Being known for innovation and preparing your students for the future in ways that other law schools are not is all positive for MSU Law, its students, and its alumni.

Kudos to the current MSU Law students who are re-branding the school through your social media efforts. Kudos to the professors and law school leadership who are empowering the law students to do so.

That’s the word from Michigan State University law grad, Pat Ellis (@pmellis), in speaking to an audience of law students, law professors, and administrators at his alma mater today.

Ellis parlayed his online networking while in law school into a job with leading Detroit law firm, Honigman Miller. As a result, he was invited back by Dan Linna (@DanLinna), Assistant Dean for Career Development, to educate and inspire.

Ellis told the audience that one blog post of his shared on social media brought far more attention and conversations with lawyers and law professors than a law review article would.

Heck, I met Ellis at the LegalTech Show in New York City earlier this year as a result of engaging him via his blog. There were any number of lawyers at the same cocktail party who Ellis met with because of his online networking.

Ask yourself how many law students travel to New York City for such an event, let alone know a lot of lawyers attending the same event. Ellis was there because his blogging opened up doors that would have been otherwise closed to him.

Blogging was also more enjoyable for Ellis because of its more engaging style. No long articles that needed to be footnoted. How long would that take? Who was going to read such an article?

His message was a strong one. The things historically thought of value by law students — which law school, law review, moot court, who you know — were no longer as important. Developing an online presence via networking was more important, per Ellis.

When blogging while in school Ellis advised having a good blog design, great content, linking to social, tracking visitors, posting regularly, and writing in your voice.

Ellis was a man after my heart when he told the audience that networking online requires law students to listen, engage, curate and create content with their own point of view.

He was wise beyond his years in advising students to forget trying to please everyone, you’ll please no one. That’s a lesson most lawyers have yet to learn.

I had the honor of speaking to the audience, via Skype, to kick things off. I enjoyed it immensely, but it was Ellis who stole the show and drove home the message that students ought to blog and network online — if they wish to get the job they’re after.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Fernando Stankuns

I had the good fortune to meet Silvia Hodges Silverstein via blogging and social media, first, and then in person earlier this year at ReInvent Law in New York City.

Dr. Hodges Silverstein (@SilviaHodges) researches, publishes, teaches, and speaks on topics related to corporate procurement of legal services, as well as law firm management and change in law firms. She’s not only been studying client purchasing decisions for over a decade, it was the topic of her PhD.

Dr. Hodges Silverstein is the Founder & Executive director at Buying Legal Council and teaches courses in law firm management and law firm marketing as a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School and as an Adjunct Professor at Fordham Law School.

We have a common passion in empowering law students to blog. So it was my pleasure getting an opportunity to interview Dr. Hodges Silverstein, a blogger in her own right at The Law Firm as a Business.

Why did you consider teaching law students to blog?

Young lawyers need to differentiate themselves if they want to have a chance in today’s competitive market. Blogging can help them do this and start making a name for themselves.

It takes time to become a thought leader, but you have to start somewhere. It’s a first step towards building your own brand.

Blogging gives them a platform and the opportunity to engage with others interested in their chosen field, get exposure for their big ideas and deep thoughts.

Rather than just being told about the advantages of blogging and reading blog posts, I wanted them to learn by doing. They choose a topic they are passionate about on a professional level and blog about it. Do they want to be famous for fighting patent trolls? Divorce law in New Jersey? Fashion law?

How did your law students respond?

Students signing up for my law firm marketing class know they have to blog, since many of them have taken my law firm management class before or come by word-of-mouth from other students.

After picking their blog topic and setting up their site, they write their first post that I critique and grade.

The point of their post needs to be clear, the post needs to be interesting, readable and engage the reader. The blog posts have to be unique, original content – no re-writes of existing content, with a clear message/call-to-action, and they have to be topically appropriate for the blog they have chosen.

Students have to publish on a regular basis and follow editorial and optimization guidelines.

Do you see law blogging as a learning opportunity for law students?

Absolutely. Preparing to write a blog post forces you to research the topic, dig deeper into the issue. You need to understand who has written about it already, what are different points of view etc. You learn about different stakeholders’ issues and claim your own ground. You also learn what engages blog readers, what furthers the debate and so on.

My students are quick learners, I see great improvement after a short time.

Is blogging an opportunity to grow one’s network and reputation while still in law school?

You don’t become a thought leader or have a great network over night. You have to start somewhere — expressing an interest in a topic, engaging with others.

Blogging lets you be part of the debate and reach out. I have received feedback from former students who said that blogging helped them land their job. It distinguished them from their competitors and gave them something great to talk about in the interview.


Thanks Dr. Hodges Silverstein for your thoughts. More to come one law student blogging in upcoming interviews and posts.

Image courtesy of Flickr by marsmetn tallahassee

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.

I don’t think so.

A law student or a young lawyer can take to the Internet and make a name for themselves and build a few relationships along the way without becoming famous.

New York City lawyer and blogger, Scott Greenfield (@scottgreenfield), raised the question Saturday morning in the case of blogging by law students and young lawyers.

But isn’t the goal of every young lawyer to become internet famous? That’s all that matters.

Greenfield’s point is well taken. Why should we have law students, young lawyers, or, even law professors who haven’t seen the inside of a courtroom be out giving legal insight and advice on the net?

Earning respect. Earning credibility. Gaining the experience by doing something, and doing it well, is hard work. Gaming Google to create the appearance of importance is far more fun and a whole lot easier.

I agree, but I am not sure that’s what most law students or young lawyers are trying to do via blogging.

There are a ton niches not covered in legal blogging. Law students can report on these niches and tie threads together across statutes, case law, news stories, and blog posts.

Such reporting offers value to the legal community and those working in the industry or consumer niche being addressed. After all, who hasn’t used a law student or young lawyer for research, briefing, or drafts of jury instructions?

I used law students I met and hired via AOL message boards in the late 90’s. A lawyer in my office oversaw the research and motion briefing to make sure all the bases were covered. If it was more critical matter, we’d do the work ourselves.

With blogging, law students can improve their chances of getting a job. Something that’s been tough sledding over the last few years.

How so? If a lawyer wanted to start working with large law on pro bono matters, blog on the pro bono work being done in large law.

Highlight their work, the people involved, and the causes and cases worked on. Reference news stories on pro bono efforts, making special effort to engage the individual reporters.

Set up a Twitter list that receives news of their pro bono work and the pro bono work of legal organizations across the country. Retweet meaningful items.

In six months you’ll be known coast to coast in the pro bono community and by the reporters and bloggers who cover it.

Certainly no guaranty of a job, but I’d take my chances over a law student waiting for a job posting.

How about a law student at Notre Dame wanting to move back to their home town of Houston and work with a law firm in the oil and energy field?

Do the same thing. Follow the lawyers and law firms from Houston blogging on the subject. Follow key federal and state regulations on energy through Google alerts or the free Westlaw service you have available. Follow relevant reporters and stories with an RSS reader and set up a Twitter list with the right folks.

Blog to report and tie things together, not to give the legal insight only a an experienced lawyer could give.

We have undergraduate journalism programs filled with students reporting on various subjects. Heck, we have reporters and newspapers across the country reporting on legal news.

We have law students working on law reviews which with blogs are becoming more irrelevant by the day. They do it to say they did and to hone their skills in research, analysis, writing, and editing.

Why can’t a law student do the same, and much more, via a niche subject blog of their own to get known for their interests and passion? Why can’t a law student make relationships with and learn from lawyers and other professionals in the area of in which they are heading?

They can. All without the goal of becoming Internet famous.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Rupert Ganzer