Legal Blogging Goes Boom!

There is indeed a veritable explosion of legal blogs (blawgs, twegals and other twaddle). Until not so long ago it has been quite an isolating experience combining practice at the bar with a slightly more creative approach to writing, particularly one that involves expressing a personal view (Typing “IMHO” is contrary to a barrister’s most basic instincts in so many ways. It requires conscious effort to retrain oneself to function normally in internet society). Trying to imagine the bar 2.0 has been tough, the independent bar operates in a world where we are given a daily platform to play devil’s advocate, always safe in the knowledge that we are simply doing a job and not responsible for what we say. But when I am blogging they are my words are my responsibility. And it’s not a trivial one. “Your Honour, those are my instructions” just doesn’t cut it.

But enough of the navel gazing metaphysics of blogging. John Bolch has noticed the big bang and he ponders whether it’s all getting a bit ordinary. One of many. Blah blah. I admit to the occasional resentful feeling recently – it may have been isolating, but it was at least novel. Perhaps it is less of both these days. But ultimately I don’t blog for the USP, I blog because I enjoy it. And I think that’s an essential ingredient of an interesting blog, a great blog. Blogging is in all honesty a little bit of a vanity project for all of us (deny it if you like but it’s true), but it is dull, pointless and blah if that’s all it’s about. There are some “blogs” which are transparently no more than adverts (blahdverts?), and which offer little of interest. But there are still lots of really excellent writers out there, and more each day. It’s just a question of sifting through the dross.

To prove my point, here are a few new blogs I’ve discovered in the last couple of days alone, they look to have lots of potential and I wish them well:

Carrefax is a blog from a law reporter. I read his recent post on the dining experience with interest, although I have to say I don’t really agree with him. I found the whole experience rather dull, pointless and isolating and I don’t take particular issue with the Guardian article he critiques in his post. I guess my chip was harder to shrug off than Carrefax’s.

Clerkingwell (geddit?) is a blog from a barrister’s clerk, Jeremy Hopkins in which he bravely tackles the topic of ABS.

Family Law Confessions is the new blog of a junior family solicitor. I recognise much of the world he describes, and I will be following with interest to see how he deals with the difficulties of blogging about day to day practice given the constraints of confidentiality. As I write this post the site seems to be down, but you can find it here, no doubt it will be unglitchified and back again before long.

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6 thoughts on “Legal Blogging Goes Boom!

  1. Thank you so much for the kind words; much appreciated!

    I think the site is back up now…!

    COAFL

  2. I have just posted this comment on Family Lore:

    Thanks for starting this debate John!

    I am a relative newcomer to legal blogging (UK Human Rights Blog is just over a year old) but I think you are right that legal blogging has become more establishment.

    I also think this is inevitable when something starts as countercultural but begins to reach a wider audience because of its obvious value to the general public as well as to the people doing the blogging. The establishment players will then take an interest and begin to step in.

    I think that competition is good for a medium like blogging. The barriers to entry are very low, so it is just as easy for a sole practitioner to start up a blog as it is for an establishment organisation. In fact, establishment organisations tend to be bureaucratic so it is probably harder to get something like a blog going from e.g. a big solicitors firm than as an individual.

    This is largely self-pepetuating, and there’s not much anyone can do about it. It was much easier to persuade my chambers to start up a blog because I could point to other chambers’ blogs (e.g. Matrix and 11KBW) as case studies. This made everyone feel safer to follow their lead.

    And because anyone can start up or read a blog with little or no cost, the medium is pretty meritocratic. I don’t really agree that established players will be able to trample over sole bloggers in this regard. My experience of blogging has been that pre-exisiting reputations count for very little; what matters is how well you write and whether people enjoy reading your blog.

    Interestingly, this is quite different to the wider legal profession, which is more plutocratic and much more difficult to start up in with no pre-existing reputation. Perhaps this is because of the inevitable (and justified) caution clients show in instructing newbies to take on a case which is important to them, but it is still easier to set up in legal blogging than it is in law. That said, the two can be intertwined.

    I would like to think that the established blogs (and these are not at all synonymous with the establishment blogs) will continue to support and promote new blogs through links, mentions and tweets. In addition, the more established media have helped enormously to promote blogging to a wider audience – especially the Guardian and Legal Week. I see no sign of this abating. In fact, the wider the field, and the more people are reading legal blogs, the more audience there is to help newer blogs start up.

    So, although you may think I would say this – being part of the establishment – I think that the more the merrier, and, as Lucy Reed has said on her response to this piece, legal blogging is ultimately about having fun. Thankfully, the establishment can have fun too!

  3. I would also like to thank you for taking the time to read a bit of my blog and make mention of it here.

    Being a new kind on the blogging block isn’t easy! Will endeavour to make it as interesting as possible!

    Carrefax

  4. [...] Tape has put up an interesting piece on the the recent boom in legal blogging. I only started this blog a little under a week ago. I am a child of that boom. About this boom [...]

  5. [...] Reed of Pink Tape comments on the recent explosion of blawgs in Legal Blogging Goes Boom!: Blogging is in all honesty a little bit of a vanity project for all of us (deny it if you like but [...]

  6. I welcome more people to the blogosphere providing they have something interesting to say and not just public relations drivel!

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