The concept of a legal blogging community is inspiring to me. Always has been.
Back in the day, when law bloggers were bloggers, we got to know each other. Virtual as it was, we had a bit of a community going.
We followed each other’s blogs, often with a news aggregator, commented on other’s blogs and “commented back” from our blog by saying our thing in response to what the other blogger wrote.
Blogging was how got to know each other. Blogging was how we learned about ourselves. Blogging was how we learned to be better lawyers.
Blogging was how we connected with people. Who knew – real authentic conversation from the heart connected us with folks – in many cases, prospective clients.
Sometimes these virtual legal blogging communities formed around areas of practice, but often they formed by who we got to know as bloggers. No matter that a lawyer was doing energy law, they got to like the style of a white collar criminal defense lawyer and started to follow them, to read their stuff.
We took our blogging communities offline. We met for meet-ups before there ever was a MeetUp site. We got together for beers, some of the get togethers when I traveled and announced on my blog, come to this Irish pub and I’ll buy the beers – the advent of Beer for Bloggers.
The value of our growing blog community wasn’t missed by the traditional legal publishers.
More than idle conversation, as many unknowing lawyers looked at blogs back then, legal bloggers were advancing legal dialogue. They were reporting on the unreported. These legal bloggers had first hand experience with what they published. They cared deeply about the subjects of which they wrote.
In November 2004, journalist and entrepreneur, Lisa Stone, later a co-founder of Blogher, a blogging community and media company founded on the blogging of women, picked up on legal bloggers while at ALM in launching ALM’s Legal Blog Network as part of ALM’s Legal Blog Watch.
ALM’s blog network may have been small, but Stone had a good eye for legal bloggers – Elefant and Ambrogi among them. Each still blogging and each leaving a significant mark on the law through their blogging and the podium blogging provided them.
I shared Stone’s post on Twitter over three weekend, citing legal blogger, Eugene Volokh, that legal blogs were often more authoritative than traditional publishing:
The advent and recognition of law blogs, as penned fifteen years ago by @LisaStone, then at @ALMMedia. Blogs provide a more timely and more sophisticated analysis of the law than traditional media, Eugene Volokh/@VolokhC told Stone. Still do. https://t.co/3UxwHOYMVo
— Kevin O'Keefe (@kevinokeefe) July 27, 2019
To which Stone responded:
Yes, still do. I remember the first time I saw a blog—make that a blawg— sourced in the footnote of a Ninth Circuit Court brief. Boom.
— LisaStone (@LisaStone) July 29, 2019
“Still do.” Kind of says it all.
Not long after ALM’s and Stone’s recognition of the publishing power of law blogs, Ed Adams, then editor and publisher of the ABA Journal, reached out to me. “What’s this legal blog network you’re blogging about?”
Adams wanted to see if the ABA could be apart of what would come to be LXBN (LexBlog Network). The ABA saw the journalistic integrity and had already started to recognize the best legal bloggers in their Blawg 100.
Fast forward fifteen years and we have thousands more legal blogs, offering legal insight and commentary on the law from experienced, caring and passionate lawyers.
Admittedly, there are spam blogs just trying to garner some SEO love and non-lawyers selling “blog content” to lawyers, but that doesn’t diminish the blog publishing of real lawyers.
But it’s hard to find of all these lawyers and their blog publications. Bloggers aren’t often engaging each other. Some because they don’t care to and others because they don’t know who’s around them blogging.
The lack of community prevents collegiality, inspiration, learning and the attaboys and attagirls that bloggers deserve from time to time.
The lack of community into which the consumers of legal services (company or consumer) can look into impedes selecting the best lawyer in an informed fashion.
LexBlog is taking a hard look at framing what we do as empowering a global legal blogging community. What it means. What it requires. How we use what have (it’s close to a community). How we measure success.
What do you think? Is a legal blogging community possible? Is it worthwhile for lawyers and the people we serve? What would it take?
A community after all is about the people in it.