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What Is a Blog?

In posts here and here, I've attempted to identify the first legal blogger. In response, I have received e-mails from several bloggers suggesting either themselves or others as possibly the first. These e-mails highlight the primary problem with identifying the first legal blogger -- first you must define "blog." Two of the e-mails I received warrant mention, because they are both from people who have been active in publishing online for the legal community since the earliest days of the Web and who are both highly regarded for their work.

The first came from Bruce W. Marcus, a veteran legal marketing consultant who in 1994 went online with his newsletter, The Marcus Letter on Professional Services Marketing. He wrote, in part:

"The earliest blog serving the legal profession? The Marcus Letter on Professional Services Marketing went online in 1994, following several years when it was published in hard copy. It sprung from my first book on marketing professional services, in 1982. It offered some of the earliest advice in marketing and managing law firms -- as it does today-- and in analyzing the ramifications of the legal profession. Many articles have been reprinted elsewhere, frequently."

The other e-mail that warrants a mention was from Sabrina Pacifici, who writes the blog beSpacific and who, in 1996, founded the Web journal She points to an feature called Newstand, which made its debut in January 1997 and continued to run monthly. Here is how described this feature:

"In this column, we list selected articles from computer-oriented publications, such as Database, Online, PC World, PC Computing, Internet World, PC Magazine & Searcher as well as business magazines such as Forbes, Fortune & BusinessWeek. If you come across an article of interest that is not on our list, please choose 'Add Comments' at the bottom of this page, and tell us about it. All citations will be archived in the Library one month after posting."

Thus, well before the word "blog" was over coined, both Marcus and Pacifici had created Web pages that featured regularly updated content of interest to the legal profession. Which begs the question, what is a blog? I put that to Pacifici, and here was her response:

"Regularly posting current, topical material to the community, on law and technology related issues -- free, unsponsored, unbiased, independent. In any case, it predated 'blogs' per say, and fits the definition of regularly updated content. And since I am the only one, I think, who has been continually publishing on these topics to this community for 10+ yrs, it may merit a mention."

I don't know if anyone has heaped as much praise on over the years as I have. I have given it top rating in my book, The Essential Guide to the Best and Worst Legal Sites on the Web, and it was regularly selected as one of the "Best of the Web for Lawyers" in my former newsletter, as this March 1999 column of mine shows. But by that definition, I predated LLRX, since I have been posting my monthly column online since March 1995. I do not mean to take away from either Marcus or Pacifici their well-deserved status as trailblazers and innovators. I have the highest regard for the work of both, and they each deserve prominent places in the legal-Web history books. In my opinion, however, they were both publishing newsletters or e-zines online, not blogs, when they launched their respective features in 1994 and 1997. What's the difference? I'm not sure. Maybe it's frequency, maybe its intent. But for now I'm sticking with my original choice for first legal blog.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 24, 2007 at 04:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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