Last week, The Volokh Conspiracy ran an item by Professor Orin Kerr that asserted law student blogs are not as numerous and important today as they once were. According to the item, around 2002-2004, “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.”
I will take Professor Kerr at his word regarding the diminished role law student blogs now play in the blawgosphere. I didn’t start law school until 2006, so I was, unfortunately, not privy to this golden age of law student blogging.
Why has law school blogging decreased so dramatically? Commenters on Professor Kerr’s item picked up on a couple of issues that I’ve grappled with writing for The Shark.
The first major issue is fear. 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. Blogging requires a certain approach and writing style. Why expose yourself needlessly to the critical eye of a potential employer who may not understand these blogging conventions, or may simply disagree with you?
This was a major concern of mine when I started writing for The Shark. At some point, however, I began to trust that employers would be able to separate blogging from my employment qualifications. Thus far, my faith has been rewarded.
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. I also encourage them to check out the blog, but mention that I hope they’ll realize that it’s meant to be informative and entertaining, not reflective of the kind of legal writer or employee I would be. Interviewers’ responses have always been positive.
Another major reason law students don’t blog is time. Time is everything in law school and, even when it’s possible to carve some time out for non-law school related activities, it can be difficult to justify spending that time writing about the law or law school. Getting paid to blog helps.
Despite these issues, many brave law students still venture out into the blawgosphere every day. There’s us, there’s Nuts & Boalts, and a bunch more can be found in The Legal Underground’s Weekly Law School Roundup.