Machines today are presenting lawyers with law they should see without the lawyers even searching or looking for the law.

When I practiced, when I wanted the see the law I needed to search for it, and not via a computer but in books, lots of them. The closest I came to machines and AI was an annotation to a code section or a case which told me there was an American Law Review article on point.

Today legal tech and legal research companies deploying AI (machine learning) are white hot and so is investment in them ($200 million invested in legal tech in the last couple months, mostly in AI).

My friend and colleague, Bob Ambrogi, wrote this week about the World Economic Forum recognizing 61 early-stage companies as tecnology pioneers for their design, development and deployment of potentially world-changing innovations and technologies.

Only one was a legal tech company, Casetext, which has been a key player in pioneering the use of artificial intelligence to enhance legal research.

From Economic Forum on Casetext:

Casetext provides free, unlimited access to the law and charges for access to premium technologies that attorneys can use to make their research more thorough and more efficient. It is the novel application of artificial intelligence (AI) to the law that allows attorneys to use the context of what they are working on to jumpstart their research.

I may be off a touch, but Casetext technology enables lawyers to share with a machine what they are working on, ie a brief of their’s or the other side’s and AI will indentify for the lawyer cases they should look at.

Imagine casting that across everything a lawyer is working on. Transactional documents, pleadings, memorandums, correspondence, you name it.

You key or talk somnething in and AI tells you, without a search, that you should look at this or that. Better knowleldge and at a small fraction of the cost of lawyers searching. Pretty neat.

Neat enough that the Economic Forum recognized AI in the law in the same context with previous companies recognized, the likes oif which included Airbnb, Google, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Scribd, Spotify, Twitter and Wikimedia.

But there’s a gap in the law which AI is presenting lawyers. Secondary law. The insight and commentary of lawyers with expertise in niche areas of the law.

Secondary law should not be discounted. It’s regularly cited for persuasion at the trial and appellate court level. Secondary law is used by lawyers to guide them in transactional and litigation matters.

And secondary law is better than it’s ever been. Historically the province of legal academia, much commentary came from lawyers who never practiced. With the democratization of publishing with blogs and the Internet, the number of niches and the amount of content is greater than ever.

Beyond just reading the secondary insight, you’ll be able to reach out to the lawyer immediately, subscribe to their RSS feeds in your reader or engage them via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

The key will be aggregating blogs – nation and world-wide – and deploying the curated insight via AI. This way lawyers will discover information and sources they never knew they were looking for.

Aggregation is beginning, the AI part is probably coming faster than we think.

Whether it’s a bar association website, a monthly lawyer magazine or a blog, they are all publishing — and today, digital publishing running on software.

There are fifty state bar associations and, I assume, about fifty or seventy metro/county bar associations with websites and other digital publishing. Maybe more.

Strange thing is that as I look around the net and talk to bar professionals, I find that the bars are mostly operating on different publishing platforms. The core software, for example, WordPress, may be the same, but custom development, custom design, custom hosting architecture and custom support rules the day..

Why wouldn’t bar associations use the same website software for their digital publishing? Better yet, a SaaS based solution so that the bar staff or people/companies on behalf of the bar could run the design, set up and changes, as often as they wanted and to the extent they wanted.

Designs and lay out would be different, but the core software, development, hosting architecture and regular upgrades and feature enhancements would be the same across the board. Better, faster and cheaper would be the outcome.

When do bar associations receive regularly upgrades and feature enhancements at no cost now? They wait years until a new site or publication is done — most often with budget problems. The result is an insecure and underperforming platform for years on end.

In addition to cost savings, readers get a better experience. Last year I saw that many state bars were publishing their monthly magazine on a “pdf-like’ interface which gave instructions on how to use the interface for reading when you opened it up. That’s embarrassing and has to make lawyers wonder about their bar’s tech aptitude..

I’ve been told that using a common publishing solution is totally doable. The problem is committee politics and member requirements for specific items.

Nice. Committee members, mostly lawyers, who are unskilled in web development, software and usability making uniformed decisions.

As far we need to have this and we need to have this because we saw it some place, that’s absolutely crazy. Makes as much sense as asking for a custom designed car as you don’t like the ones that are available. Or a custom designed and custom developed practice management platform because the major players don’t provide every single feature you want.

Invariably, the dedicated bar association staff and lawyers feel resource constrained when it comes to web publishing development and site maintenance. They don’t get what they want to start with as they are spending for custom work that’s not needed. Necessary upgrades and feature enhancements do not get made.

More than one savvy bar professional have shared with me that the publishing software is only part of the web development challenge – and maybe the smaller part of it. Association membership, e-commerce and other software platforms play a big part — and drive custom work.

Maybe I am dumb, but the publishing software and other software could be integrated without developing custom solutions. It’s getting data going back and forth – not trivial, but something that need not require custom platform development.

It can be tough to all come together on something, but I’m just talking web publishing, with the focus on presenting information, articles and other content.

What do you think?

Legal tech and innovation conferences universally bill themselves as bringing the best and brightest together to discuss and advance innovation and technology.

Some say their conference will break down the silos and build connections across a fragmented industry, where everyone across the country and the world is well intentioned, but not collaborating.

Others say they’ll bring together the industry’s leaders, innovators and peers to collaborate so as to bring greater access to legal services.

All good, but only a tiny fraction of the industry’s leaders attend. And don’t get me started on the “leaders,” who with their public relations people, pay to be included on a panel or two.

When I have contacted legal tech and innovation conferences this year, I don’t recall any being live streamed. One was, but they were charging (I got free access as widely followed on social media, others did not).

If the conferences truly believed in their mission to advance legal innovation and technology — and to bring the industry leaders together for greater collaboration, they’d live stream their event and make it available for free.

Live streaming is not one of those things that you throw off till next year because of the complications. Live stream via an iPhone and iPad on Facebook Live – for free. It’s not hard.

Most conferences have an expensive recording crew manning expensive recording equipment for videos that will or may be available later on. When is later on? Do hundreds of industry leaders who did not attend call, and presumably pay, for videos a month or two after the conference?

I was at an Avvo confernce in 2017 attended by 700 pepople that was live streamed to the world via Facebook Live by one person using an app call Switcherstudio. I believe he used a couple iPads and an iPhone so he could do split shots and zoom in on slides.

Your Facebook Live video would be posted immediately after its live presentation. You can also “pull” it from Facebook and publish it to YouTube. The YouTube embed will allow you to have the session videos on your site by the end of the day.

You want to go really wild, you spend a hundred and fifty bucks and you get all the videos transcribed with the transcripts posted to your site by the next day.

Ideas, minds and innovation live far beyond the four walls of a conference center or hotel ballroom. Why wouldn’t you want to include those minds? Why wouldn’t you want instant collaboration with those minds via social media.

Open things live online and you’ll attract the thinking of those not viewed as “the leaders” and those who don’t have the money for flights and hotel rooms.

You open up thinking to those world-wide. The legal tech and innovation community in the U.S., other than those selling products overseas, is pretty myopic. The U.S. is a small place when talking tech. Live stream and you’ll get people watching and participating from around the world.

If you’re thinking that you can’t live-stream for free as it will cost you paying attendees, that’s plain dumb. If anything your conference will be talked about more ahead of time and afterwards, only increasing attendance in year one and subsequent years.

If you’re an association such as a bar assoction or other network where propfessionals pay dues, you owe it to members to live stream. You’ll also make yourselves more relevant.

Most importantly, we have a lot at stake here. 85% of people in the U.S. alone have no access to the delivery of legal services. And it’s not all about costs. It’s more about getting a functioning legal system out where people are – online and using innovative technology.

Presuming that by throwing “leaders” into conference rooms and having them go out for dinner and drinks (I enjoy it as much as anyone) is the fastest way to cross the chasm on the delivery of legal services is a little short-sighted. We need all hands on deck in an easy and effective way. Live streaming helps do that.

If you’re having a legal tech and innnovation conference, you, more than anyone, need to demonstrate your grasp of technology and innovation. You need to be liive streaming via Facebook Live.

This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of WordPress.

What started with the release of open source publishing software by Matt Mullenweg, then a freshman at the University of Houston, and a friend has grown to power over 30% of the top sites on the web.

Gates, Bezos and Zuckerberg are known by nearly all for their disruption. But Mullenweg, with WordPress, is right with them.

Fifteen years ago ago, I was six months away from toying around with web publishing (blogging) in my garage. The concept of publishing to the web by everyone had been realized by few back then.

Little off the shelf publishing web software was available. Heck, I’m not sure many folks could see why they would even need it.

Few people were publishing blogs, mainstream publishers kept their monopoly with expensive proprietary publishing software and marketers and public relations agencies had yet to coin the phrase “content marketing” to save their jobs.

A short fifteen years later and Mullenweg’s original goal has been reached, publishing has been democratized. There’s other publishing software, much proprietary, but without WordPress, digital publishing, the heart of how we publish today, would not be at the disposal pf everyone.

WordPress powers 30% of all Websites in the world. WordPress powers 70% of all websites with a “content management solution” – that’s sites that are publishing.

No matter how you cut, that is extraordinary growth. Start from zero and run 70% of all web publishing in fifteen years.

Did Bill Gates and ‘Word’ close on “WordPerfect” word processing software that fast?

We’re going to see the day when WordPress is ubiquitous. When virtually all web publishing will be run on WordPress. Those who doubt it think back to those saying WordPerfect was better.

I may not have started LexBlog on WordPress but we’d not be empowering legal professionals, students and legal tech companies to shape the future of legal reporting and publishing without it.

LexBlog is but a drop in the WordPress bucket. Per Mullenweg:

There’s so much: A group of high school students bands together to build a national movement on WordPress; a president builds the foundation for his own next chapter on WordPress; the current WhiteHouse.gov switches over; or when someone like Hajj Flemings brings thousands of small businesses onto the open web for the first time, with WordPress.

And the key to it all is open source. WordPress, the legal profession and the web would not where it is today without Mullenweg’s and WordPress’ commitment to open source development.

Many in the open source world are like Moses in that they speak of the Promised Land but will never set foot there. If I spend the rest of my life working and we don’t reach almost all websites being powered by open source and the web being substantially open, I will die content because I already see younger generations picking up the banner.

LexBlog has the best WordPress development team anywhere upgrading and adding features to our core product. New aggregation and syndication products are being developed on WordPress. We’re being challenged by bar associations to develop a do it yourself website solution to sit on our WordPress platform.

All on WordPress and the best may be yet to come from WordPress’ Gutenberg release later this year.

Thanks for fifteen years, Matt. Here’s to the next fifteen.

LexBlog, via the law bloggers it supports worldwide, has become one of the largest legal news and information networks.

We support these bloggers with a digital design and publishing platform we developed on a WordPress core.

Developing the platform was the only way we could scale our offering. Without the platform, we could not provide each blogger/publication regular upgrades and feature enhancements, let alone support all of these publishers with our success team.

Our platform is not limited to a blog site user interface. The platform can present interfaces for websites, mini-sites, magazines, content portals and what have you.

Knowing this, organizations have approached LexBlog asking if they could license our platform for their members and customers. We’re in the process of doing so.

In discussions with these folks, I started thinking that LexBlog was basically offering a SaaS solution for digital design and publishing. Organizations, or end publishers directly via a do it yourself (DIY) blog, website etc, receive web design and publishing software cloud hosted and supported by LexBlog.

Pulling up the Wikipedia definition of a SaaS solution, what are doing seemed pretty close.

Software as a service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”, and was formerly referred to as “software plus services” by Microsoft. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser. SaaS has become a common delivery model for many business applications, including office software, messaging software, payroll processing software, DBMS software, management software, CAD software, development software, gamification, virtualization, accounting, collaboration, customer relationship management (CRM), Management Information Systems (MIS), enterprise resource planning (ERP), invoicing, human resource management (HRM), talent acquisition, learning management systems, content management (CM), and service desk management. SaaS has been incorporated into the strategy of nearly all leading enterprise software companies.

The term “Software as a Service” (SaaS) is considered to be part of the nomenclature of cloud computing, along with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Desktop as a Service (DaaS), managed software as a service (MSaaS), mobile backend as a service (MBaaS), and information technology management as a service (ITMaaS).

Wow, that’s a mouthful, but you get the point.

Calling things “as a service” can be helpful to understand an offering.

LexBlog’s entire team is in WeWork, which has been characterized as “offices as a service.” Rather than rent and set up offices with everything you need, WeWork provides you everything you need, and more, in a hosted environment for a monthly subscription.

What do you think? Is it helpful to describe LexBlog’s offering as a SaaS solution for digital design and publishing? Does it matter?

“The internet is not ruined just because there are a few assholes on it.”

This from author, journalism professor, media consultant and long time blogger, Jeff Jarvis,  discussing the positive things he is seeing with the open Internet, digital journalism, Internet advertising and social media platforms.

…[L]et’s please remember that the internet is not ruined just because there are a few assholes on it. This, too, is why I insist on not seeing the net as a medium. It is Times Square. On Times Square, you can find pickpockets and bad Elmos and idiots, to be sure. But you also find many more nice tourists from Missoula and Mexico City and New Yorkers trying to dodge them on their way to work.

Let’s bring some perspective to the media narrative about the net today. Please go take a look at your Facebook or Twitter or Instagram feeds or any Google search. I bet you will not find them infested with nazis and Russians and trolls, oh, my. I will bet you still find, on the whole, decent people like you and me. I fear that if we get carried away by moral panic we will end up not with a bustling Times Square of an internet but with China or Singapore or Iran as the model for a controlled digital future.

Too many lawyers, law professors, legal technology entrepreneurs, access to justice leaders and other legal professionals stay away from social media and even blogging because of their belief that the Internet is overrun with noise and crazies.

Very few law schools incorporate social learning into their teaching as a means of getting students to learn, collaborate and network across social media channels. Law professors and deans, who shy away from the net out of ignorance, don’t see the potential.

A business colleague stays away from social media, in part, because of the Russians meddling in our election and businesses possibly violating people’s privacy.

A consultant who helps law firms build a more profitable and efficient practice through the use of technology questioned my second guessing the majority of law firms’ failure to use social media strategically, wanting empirical evidence that social media could be worthwhile for lawyers.

I am not against social media but I do think it tends to be an echo chamber where those who do use it talk a lot about it to others who use it, while most of my atty friends & clients see it as the time suck it can be.

I suppose it could be a time suck to hang out with and engage those discussing only the subject of social media. But ask any appellate lawyer, general counsel or legal entrepreneur using social media to learn, network and grow business if that’s who they’re hanging out with.

Things are far from perfect on the Internet, per Jarvis, and it’s going to take an effort to solve some of its challenges.

First let’s be clear: No one — not platforms, not ad agencies and networks, not brands, not media companies, not government, not users — can stand back and say that disinformation, hate, and incivility are someone else’s problem to solve.

But I’m with Jarvis, “The net is good.”

Good for lawyers, legal journalists, access to justice leaders, legal technology entrepreneurs, law students and legal association leaders.

Staying away from the Internet because you see a few asses on it is dumb.

The transition to a new world is the hands of the old.

This from author, consultant and speaker, Euan Semple addressing the biggest challenge to digital transformation.

Those who can bring themselves to use the phrase “Digital Transformation” are invariably those who least understand, or would like, its implications.

The true transformation of a digital culture is in behaviours and interactions between people. It is in the ability to more directly connect with each other in the workplace, to reduce unnecessary steps and overheads, and to be able to adapt and respond to challenges more quickly. All of this threatens the status quo and the authority of many of the gatekeepers who have, until now, been deemed necessary.

Reading Euan’s post, I couldn’t help but think of the roadblock to the adoption of legal technology and innovation across the legal industry. Whether it’s law firms, bar associations, or even legal technology associations, the transformation to digital, the use of technology, social media, and efficient solutions is often in the hands of the old guard.

Law firms can’t do this or that when it comes to the use of the Internet for networking to build trust, learn and engage people.

  • We cannot have a lawyer post blog posts without them being reviewed by someone senior.
  • We cannot have lawyers post their posts directly to the publishing platform directly, marketing needs to do that for them.
  • We cannot have lawyers using their personal Facebook accounts to engage clients, referral sources, business colleagues and others.
  • We don’t have lawyers posting their blog posts to the lawyer’s LinkedIn accounts so as to engage those who may comment on or like the post, our marketing people control that.
  • We don’t have lawyers with personal Twitter accounts for following news, engaging influencers or sharing posts, we have one account for the blog on which a lawyer is an author.

If not directly mandated by the old guard, such limitations come because the old guard does not understand how the Internet works for learning, engaging people, building trust and business development. Those below fear taking a stand.

The vast majority of people in this country have no access to legal services. Yet bar associations adopt ethics rules to stifle innovation and efficiency brought by legal technology companies to improve access to legal services in the name that consumers need to be protected.

Very few law firms have adopted technology solutions and processes in the delivery of legal services. The old guard, understandably, wants to use billable hours in charging for services, charges that would be eroded by improving the delivery of legal services.

Bar associations, legal technology associations and legal technology conferences are often led by executive directors and boards that do not use the most powerful tool they have at their disposal – the Internet – to engage their constituents, the influencers of their audience, the public and the media.

Rather than use the Twitter, Facebook and blogging to listen, to connect and lead change, these folks wear it as a badge of honor that they have no time for such interaction, let alone learn what’s about.

  • I wish I had the time that the associate general counsel of a $100 billion company, a law school dean and a practicing lawyer has to use twitter, but I have a full time job.
  • It’s not up to me as executive director of a bar association to use social media to connect with members who are leaving my association in spades.
  • I don’t feel comfortable using Facebook like managing partners, other law firm executives, and legal company CEO’s do.
  • It’s not my responsibility as a board member of a legal technology association “leading change” and running conferences to stay abreast of relevant online discussion or to engage constituents through the net.

Sure law firms, bar associations, legal technology associations and traditional legal publishers will talk technology and innovation. Publications and conferences are abuzz with the topics. But do they want transformation.

…[M]ost organisations want tinkering rather than transformation. They would rather rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic than face the true challenges of “Digital.” They find it easier to digitise their dysfunctions than to face up to them.

This is human nature.

The brave will try harder

Well said, Euan.

I received an email this afternoon from Edwin Khodabakchian (@edwk), the founder of Feedly. He relayed that together, we’ve read 1.2 billion articles on Feedly this past year.

Feedly is a news aggregator, and by far the most popular one that I know of. By news aggregator I mean an application that runs as a mobile app or on a desktop browser that pulls in and organizes the news and information you want to see.

Blogs, columns, mainstream news reports, you name it. You can subscribe by source (ie, abovethelaw.com) and get all the stories from the source or subscribe by subject (FMLA) and get all the stories from influential sources reporting on a subject ala FMLA.

Using feedly is a huge plus. As Khodabakchian wrote:

Some of us connected to thought leaders or found new favorite blogs, while others learned new skills or searched for deeper insights into changing industries. We are all united, however, in the belief that reading makes us smarter.

I’d be lost without Feedly. It’s how I stay abreast of news, insight and developments. You can try to stay on top of the marketplace, trends and competitive landscape without a news aggregator, but I don’t have that much time. I’m also not dumb enough to believe that I’d  see what Feedly delivers to me.

Feedly is also how I network online so as to build relationships and, hopefully, a better name for myself. I share, with my commentary, what I read on Feedly onto Twitter, Facebook and my blog. Engagement ensues.

After all, content, whether your own or someone else’s, is not the end goal. Content is the currency for engagement and resulting relationships.

Per Khodabakchian, Feedly also got smarter in 2017.

You can now annotate and save essential articles, filter out noise, disseminate critical insights, and re-organize your feeds.

I just spent some time reorganizing my “feeds,” which I organize in folders, moving the things I most want to see towards the top. Items that open business opportunities as well as open doors to support law schools and access to legal services.

Feedly is essential for anyone who is looking to stay up to speed in their field and looking to develop business through the Internet.

What are you waiting for? 1.2 billion served just this year alone.

When Amazon built a digital department store, then competitor, Toys “R” Us licensed Amazon’s technology for the online sales of its goods. Toys “R” Us could not compete on software.

When Amazon had surplus cloud hosting capacity, Amazon created AWS for the licensing of its cloud hosting services to third parties. AWS now represents over a third of Amazon’s revenue.

When Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post, the Post, at the encouragement of Bezos to follow the AWS model, built a digital publishing platform the Post could license to third parties.

Arc Publishing, the name of the Post’s publishing platform, is now licensed to news publishers as large as Tronc, the owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun. Ironically, Tronc had claimed that its technology prowess would allow it to succeed whether other news publishers failed.

It’s a nice model, develop the software platform you need to succeed and license your technology to third parties whose services exceed the scope of yours. The Washington Post does not cover Chicago and LA news. Amazon does not provide near as many services as are being delivered by companies using its AWS cloud service.

Reading Jack Marshall’s Wall Street Journal story on Tronc’s licensing Arc, I was struck by how LexBlog’s model mirrors the Post’s — obviously on a smaller scale.

For years, LexBlog ran a design and development factory shop much like other web developers and marketing agencies. Graphic designers rendered designs, which when approved by clients were reduced to PSD’s (photoshop design files), which were then developed on our platform by web developers.

Time consuming, fraught with points where mistakes could be made and it didn’t scale – the more “successful” we were in selling, the greater the problem we had in maintaining, hosting and upgrading ‘sites.’

The answer for LexBlog was to develop the publishing platform we needed to succeed – the Apple Fritter design and publishing platform.

Apple Fritter, built on WordPress core and customized WordPress software, allowed our art director to design in software on a ‘live’ site. Customers could look in if they wanted to. No developers needed. Developers work on AF upgrades (including quarterly WordPress upgrades) and new features.

Arc isn’t bare bone publishing software, it offers publishers a suite of tools. Per Marshall:

The Arc technology suite includes a range of tools designed to help publishers produce, manage, publish, host and monetize their websites and apps, in addition to offering other analytics and optimization tools.

Tronc CEO, Justin Dearborn sees Arc giving its newspapers everything they need on the software front.

This partnership will provide us with the capabilities that our reporters need to deliver award-winning journalism across all platforms and new tools that allow our marketing partners to connect with our growing digital audience.

I’ve been in DC and Chicago the last couple weeks introducing large client publishers to Apple Fritter and the ability to license our Apple Fritter as a self service design and publishing platform for their blogs, mini-sites, magazines and networks.

Apple Fritter, with its tools and features, provides client publishers all they need to publish, distribute and track their posts, articles and stories. Custom designs for various types of publications will have already been loaded by LexBlog.

As with the Post’s Arc being available to all news publishers, large and small, Apple Fritter will be available to all publishers – law firms, law schools, bar associations, legal tech companies, web development agencies, marketing companies and other organizations. Not only for publications, but also for websites.

As context, all of LexBlog’s products and add-ons are named after products at Top Pot “Hand Forged” Doughnuts, a large doughnut chain here in Seattle, that boasts of being the official doughnut of the Seattle Seahawks. Thus Apple Fritter.

With the advent of the Internet, and with it the expansion of open publishing, it’s not reasonable to expect law reviews to continue in their current form.

Law professors looking to publish should be provided their own “printing press” operated and supported by the law school. With WordPress the defacto content management system of record for digital publishing, WordPress should serve as the law school’s printing press.

Law reviews have been published in the States for almost 200 years, with the first being the University of Pennsylvania Law Review in 1852. Today, we have Law Reviews published by most every major law school, covering either general topics with the law review in the law school’s name or a partcular area of the law, such as environmental law.

Until the Internet, printed law reviews made a lot of sense. How else could the insight of law professors, judges and practicing lawyers be disseminated? How else could such commentary be cited by the courts?

But, as University of Kentucky College of Law Professor Brian Frye writes this week, as information costs drop ever closer to zero, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify law reviews in their current printed form.

Law reviews today, rather than disseminate legal commentary per Frye, limit the distribution of valuable ideas.

The inefficiency of the law review editorial process is legendary. While peer-reviewed journals may take even longer to publish articles, law reviews are still inexcusably slow. Many (most?) law professors post drafts of their papers to repositories like SSRN, Bepress, or the new Lawarxiv. Typically, articles do not appear in “print” until long after they are publicly available, often a year or more. By that time, most of the intended audience for the article has already seen and read (or ignored) it. Much of the delay is caused by the pointless convention that law review articles appear in printed “volumes” and “issues.” Nobody wants a printed law review, especially a smorgasbord generalist one. It is a huge waste of time, money, and effort to produce print law reviews that inevitably go straight to the landfill, along with the law porn that accompanies them. There is no longer any reason for law reviews to publish anywhere other than online. If authors actually want printed copies of their articles, they can order them print on demand.

Worse than distribution, says Frye, is the incoherent and arbitrary way student run law reviews choose what to publish, and from whom. A lot of good ideas and insight from legal professionals never sees the light of day.

A lot of good scholarship gets ignored, especially on subjects law students don’t understand, and a lot of flashy dross gets published. It is an article of faith among law professors that law review editors prefer constitutional law to any other subject, and the odds of placing an article are proportional to the number of editors who have taken the relevant class. Law students also reward articles with lots of carefully bluebooked citations, a metric that seems largely uncorrelated with good scholarship. And under the wildly inefficient and depressing “expedite” tradition, most “prestige” law reviews don’t even consider or bother reading articles until one of their “prestige competitors” has accepted it for publication.

University of New Hampshire Law Professor, Ann Bartow, hit on the idea of law professors having their own printing press at the law school in a 2008 blog post, cited by Brye.

What if faculty members published their articles exclusively in their “home” journals? That would eliminate the focus on the “placement” of a piece, hopefully with increased attention to actual content as a result, and motivate both students and faculty to do more high quality work, I’d suspect. Bias against scholarly subject areas would be reduced, and generalized bias against faculty at lower tier law schools would no longer affect the “sorting function” that placements have on junior faculty writers. Law faculties that produced good, relevant scholarship would see their home journals get numerous citations. Law faculties that did not would see the impact of their home journals and the reputation of their law schools suffer, and deservedly so.

Ten years ago it would not have been as easy to set up, or license, a WordPress publishing platform. Most law professors were, and still are, publishing blogs on TypePad, outdated and little used publishing software, originally produced by Six Apart.

Today, WordPress is running almost 70 percent of the content management systems in the world. WordPress is regualrly updated and enables a multi-user platform with multiple individual sites, all of which would be needed by a law school’s “printing press.”

Many law reviews publish online-only content in addition to their print publications, with some law journals abandoning print entirely, publishing solely to the Internet.

Why not go with the inevitable and enable the “home journals” referenced by Bartow and Frye with the open source technology we have at our disposal today, WordPress.