Lawprof Blogging: Scholarship or Distraction?:
Paul Caron has a post summarizing the panel discussion on lawpof blogging at the AALS conference this past week. The panelists were Victor Fleischer, Larry Solum, Dennis Patterson, and our own Randy Barnett. I missed the panel, unfortunately, but based on Paul's summary it was a very interesting event.

  UPDATE: Dan Markel offers additional thoughts here, and Dan Solove adds his 2 cents here. And don't miss Christine Hurt's take on gender and blogging here.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Blogging and Scholarship:
  2. Lawprof Blogging: Scholarship or Distraction?:
Lawprof Blogging: Scholarship or Distraction?

Why not both?
1.8.2006 4:49pm
Larry Eubanks (www):
I think there are two potential benefits from lawprof blogging that did not seem to be mentioned by Paul Caron's summary. (1) It strikes me that academic scholarship should include more than research and writing for professional journals. After all, law schools are at universities. I think scholarship should include teaching, and it seems to me that blogging can contribute significantly to teaching. Blogging can contribute to teaching because it can involve the practical application of legal knowledge, and also because it can turn the professor's attention to practical application as well. Such blogging may also enhance your student's understanding of legal issues, the law profession, and government (2) Most universities, especially state funded universities, also have a public service mission, in addition to the teaching and research missions. Blogging about policy and legal issues seem to me to make significant contributions to the public service mission. It seems to me many people think about policy issues with very little background knowledge of the law and our constitution. As such, much public policy discussion seems to be ill-informed and often inaccurate. I've found this blog to offer important context for policy issues that is simply missing from many discussions in the traditional news media.
1.8.2006 8:36pm
Mac (mail):
Mr. Eubanks is100% correct! Knowledge of the law and our constitution is vital to understanding policy debates. A perusal of any paper's Letters to the Editor will demonstrate a vast ignorance of both. This forum provides that framework.
1.8.2006 9:37pm
frankcross (mail):
Blogging should count as public service, and substantially so. At least good blogging. I'm too jealous of my time to blog, but I get great value from this and other blogs.

But it's not scholarship (or teaching).
1.8.2006 9:56pm
RGB (mail):
Good blogging is both scholarship and teaching.

Teaching used to be placed in the universities because that is where the libraries and knowledge once were.

No longer.

If universities cannot become an open forum ... and a source of true professional learning and credentialing rather than a place of privelige ... they will not survive.

Evidence based examinations will take over.
1.8.2006 10:30pm
Wintermute (www):
I've written a note and co-written an article for a law review. I write a blog and comment on a few. My note is annotated twice in my state's code. My article was helpful to judges I think but is not top of the pops on Shephard's, AFAIK.

Better peer review and permanence for L.Rev. Wider audience for blog but with perils of rush to judgment, being spun (used), and caught up in celebrity.
1.8.2006 10:57pm
KMAJ (mail):
Prof. Kerr,

As we are talking about law school and professors, a slight detour for some advice. My son is graduating cum laude with a 5 year degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri and is applying to law schools, he wants to stay in the northern midwest, for some reason, he likes cold weather. He wants to specialize in intellectual property law, he figures it will tie in well with his engineering degree. He is looking at three state schools, Missouri, Wisconsin and Michigan State and four private ones, DePaul, Marquette, Saint Louis and Drake. His LSAT score was 161. I was wondering if there were any other schools you might recommend with strong departments in intellectual property law.

If anyone else has any advice, it would be appreciated.
1.8.2006 11:26pm

I don't know; I don't work in IP, so I wouldn't want to guess. Also, I think the common wisdom is that the best approach usually is to focus more on the best school overall and less on specific strength in an individual area. You never know if your son will stay interested in IP; he may take a course in it and find he likes something else instead. But of course every case is different.
1.8.2006 11:56pm
cfw (mail):
Far more influential and impactful to blog well. Who reads law reviews? Who cites them? As a practical matter, good blogs for a general audience (like VC), op eds, briefs in cases like Hamdan, consulting, expert work, books for general audience, teaching, seem like the way to go.

I say this as a UVA law grad from '81 who has never taught in any law school.
1.9.2006 12:28am
Rhadamanthus1982 (mail) (www):
Have to agree with Orin on this one, a blog is fundamentally informal; especially if the comments section is open. I think the distinction is that blogging is capable of being educational, and this one certainly is most of the time, but that they are not uniformly of educational benefit. Were they to be strictly an on-line version of Law Review for example the Conspirators would have to cut Kevan Choset loose; and then surely the world would come to an end!!

Likewise, given the informality, there is no reason why informal somments can't be posted, i.e mocking the losing teams in the play-offs; damn I miss being in the States for the Super Bowl.
1.9.2006 1:00am
RGB (mail):
Total nonsense, all.

The last several posts have been nothing but good old boy orchestrating as the Titanic sinks.

I can cite Ivy League credentials with the rest of you, but what you are saying is just posturing with the hope that the imaginary world you are living in will keep on keeping on.
1.9.2006 1:09am
Diversity Hire:
I don't know about law schools, sinking ships, or what not, but blogging has a definite place in the new academy. In a tax-funded grant situation, I think it'd fall under "outreach". While I'm skeptical of most outreach efforts, the fact is I never would have read, for example, Professor Kerr's {awesome|fascinating|enlightening|amusing} "The Big Brother That Isn't" without The Volokh Conspiracy. Thanks.
1.9.2006 10:49am
Well, I can't cite "Ivy League credentials." And I never saw "Titanic."

Still, blogging does strike me as outreach. But outreach is rarely rewarded at research universities, unless required by a grant. And even then, one gets promotion/tenure consideration for the *grants*, and not for the outreach that the benefactors required: My dean of faculty would be perfectly happy if our institute's grant did not require faculty to spend time developing Asian Studies curricula for a local high school.

I am not a lawyer, and so I run the risk of being "flamed" on this one. But the comments about the difference between law review articles and blogs strikes me as a bit overstated. Law reviews are not, generally, peer-reviewed journals, are they? A friend of mine has written a couple articles for good law reviews, and gets nothing on his tenure-promotion sheet for having done so. He, like me, teaches in the Arts and Letters college, which credits us only for peer-reviewed articles. Law review articles go under the c.v. heading of non-scholarly publications, in the company of, say, my irregular column on foreign policy for a newpaper.
1.9.2006 11:45am