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The Next New Thing in Law Student Blogs?

At The Volokh Conspiracy last week, Orin Kerr wondered where all the law student bloggers had gone. "Back in the early days of law blogs, around 2002-04, law student blogs were a really important part of the blawgosphere," he wrote. "Law prof blogs regularly linked to law student blogs, and for the most part there wasn't a sharp line between them in terms of readership." Today, law student blogs seem less important, Kerr said. "By and large the law student blogs seem to have dwindled in number and importance."

Kerr could not say with certainty why this was so, but several of those who commented on his post were unequivocal in their explanations. "Are you kidding?" one wrote. "We're scared to death to write blogs. Career services constantly freaks us out with stories of law students who have been denied jobs or fired because of the stuff they put on the Net." Another turned the table and blamed the decreased prominence of law student blogs on the proliferation of law professor blogs. "Who wants to read some law student's musings on torture and war-on-terror law when you can read Balkinization?"

Of course, plenty of law student blogs carry on. At one, The Shark, law student Brian Lauter considers Kerr's post and agrees with the commenter who cited fear as a disincentive. "For ambitious law students competing with similarly qualified peers for jobs, an online record of your pithy comments can look like a real and unnecessary liability," he says. It was a concern for him when he started blogging, but it has turned out to be, if anything, a positive factor in his job hunting. "I’ve discussed blogging in several interviews and I’m always careful to highlight that it keeps me up to date on contemporary legal issues." Another factor, needless to say, is time. A law student's to-do list is long enough, without adding blogging.

After writing that post, Lauter followed with a second in which he proposed the concept of school-sanctioned blogs as a way to encourage law-student blogging. "Law schools could alleviate the time and employment concerns and stimulate law student activity on the internet by sponsoring blogs run by their students with professor supervision or assistance." My first thought after reading that was: Hasn't any school done this? After all, blogs have become an accepted outlet for legal scholarship. Witness those very law professor blogs that Kerr and others allude to. Lauter's suggestion makes sense on so many levels. Not only could a school-sponsored blog be valuable academically, but it could also be good for the school's overall image and profile. If successful, an "official" student blog could help raise a school's visibility and position it closer to the cutting edge.

Are you listening, law school administrators? Hmmm, probably not.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on February 5, 2009 at 11:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)


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