The Rise and Fall of Law Faculty Blogs

A few years ago, it was all the rage for law schools to start up faculty blogs. All the professors at the school could post to the blog, making the blog a good place to go to know what a faculty was doing. At the time, I wondered if the new blogs would challenge more traditional law professor group blogs organized among friends or subject areas or rough ideological categories. A few years later, I think it’s safe to say the answer is “no.”

Looking around the blogosphere at law school faculty blogs, they seem pretty quiet. Some just petered out. Georgetown’s faculty blog was last updated in 2009, and has only a single one-line post in the last two years. Chicago’s faculty blog was last updated more than three months ago. University of Houston’s faculty blog was last updated in July.

Other faculty blogs are updated more frequently. But the frequency is on the order of once a week or once a month, not once a day. Some of the posts are administrative or general law school news rather than scholarly posts. For a few examples, see Chicago-Kent faculty blog, the UC Davis faculty blog, the Louisville faculty blog, and the Tulane faculty blog. The only exception I’m aware of is the Marquette faculty blog, which is updated pretty frequently. But on the whole, law faculty blogs don’t seem to be active.

What happened? I think faculty blogs ran into two problems. The first problem is that blogs require a ton of time and effort. They’re very easy to start: That part takes about five minutes. But the actual writing is quite time-consuming, and professors generally don’t have an incentive to take the time to write for a new blog with no established traffic just because it happens to be affiliated with their law school. The second problem is that successful blogs tend to have a theme. They have a subject, or an approach, or a style. That tends to draw traffic from readers looking for that particular subject or who like that approach. Law faculties necessarily draw from a wide range of scholars with different views and different subjects. As a result, law faculty blogs usually don’t have a theme. Without a theme, they have a hard time establishing a readership.

UPDATE: A reader points out that the Loyola-LA faculty blog, Summary Judgments, is unusually active. That one may be a good blog to watch, as it seems to reflect a sustained effort to get the faculty to contribute.