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Are the "Common Lawyers" Making Blogging Dangerous for Academics?

As academic blogs proliferate, many practicing lawyers are enjoying the benefits.  As Wisconsin lawyer and jury consultant Anne Reed posts at her blog, Deliberations, blogging has provided her with an easy opportunity to participate in conversations with law professors, a chasm never before bridged.  From Reed's post:

as far as I can tell [...] blogging has changed the way lawyers and professors talk to each other.  Practitioners hear from professors daily, not when the quarterly review comes out.  Professors hear from practitioners, instead of just each other.  And whenever either side posts, the other side chimes in with comments.  It's a discussion.

But could too much flirtation with practicing lawyers endanger a blogging law professor's reputation?  In this post, Professor Brian Leiter considers whether blogging helps or hinders a law professor's career.  Leiter writes:

Because blogs are easily accessible and thus easier to read in a spare moment than, say, a scholarly article or scholarly book, blogs that purport to treat scholarly topics are far more likely to solidify an impression of a professor's mind and overwhelm the merits of his or her actual publications (assuming the two have different merits).  This is why, it seems to me, it is particularly risky for either students or junior faculty to blog much:  the first, and perhaps dominant, impression of this person's work is likely to be defined by the blog, whether fairly or not.  If you're going to blog on scholarly topics, it had better be good!

While Leiter references at least one professor whose career suffered from too much blogging, he mentions other examples -- such as Orin Kerr and Larry Solum who enhanced their reputations through scholarly blogging.  And Leiter also recognizes that his own blogging (in non-academic circles, Leiter is best known for his alternative law school rankings) expanded his opportunities in academia.

Let's hope that Leiter's cautionary words don't put a chill on law professor blogging and end the conversation between lawyers that's just beginning to thrive.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on November 14, 2007 at 05:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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