May 01, 2006
Socio-Legal Brown Bag
Posted by Gordon Smith

Ann Althouse and I filled in for a cancelled speaker on today's Socio-Legal Brown Bag, organized by Mark Suchman. We started with a mini-reprise of the Bloggership Conference, but participants in the brown bag were interested in why legal scholars seem to be more active bloggers than sociologists (for example).

One theory proposed was that law scholarship is closer to blogging in the sense that it is not peer reviewed; thus, blogging is more comfortable for legal scholars. A similar point was made by another participant, who suggested that law has fewer disciplinary conventions than sociology, so blogging would seem like a more natural extension of the job of a law professor. Ann suggested that law blogging may fourish because law professors like Lessig, Volokh, and Reynolds paved the way.

Just curious: is it true that legal scholars are over-represented in the blogosphere? That sounds right, but there seem to be lots of economists with blogs. And maybe people in other fields, too.

Anyway, my favorite comment of the day came from Mark Suchman, who wondered whether blogging might be good for legal scholarship in a way I had never considered. If blogging diminishes the market for case commentaries or "recent developments" scholarship more generally -- do we really need a student case note on Disney after all that has and will be written on the blogs? -- then perhaps legal scholars will need to come up with something more demanding to get a placement in a top law review. We are trending in the direction of more demanding (read: empirical) scholarship anyway, and perhaps blogging will fill some of the vacated space.

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