Are the Days of Independent Legal Blogging Over?
[UPDATE: Maybe the headline is throwing folks off, so let me reiterate my key question: has there been any noteworthy legal blog started since 2010 that isn't attached to a big law firm? Also, if you read to the end, you'll see that I say there will continue to be new independent entrants, but much fewer than in the past.]
Back in the 2000s, I helped organize several gatherings of “Bay Area Blawgers,” an informal group of local bloggers covering legal topics. (Here’s the recap from the last gathering). The participants came from almost all corners of the legal industry: students, academics, small firm practitioners, non-lawyers and more; but one player in the legal industry ecosystem was conspicuously absent: big firm lawyers. At the time, most big law firms were fairly blogging-adverse. Blogging was still new, and large law firms are notoriously late adopters of new technology. Furthermore, many law firms were petrified of the conflicts issues, including the risks of blogging about clients or their adversaries and the risks of having their words quoted against them.
With this background, I note the recent article from the Recorder, “Law Firm Blogs Come of Age.” The article discusses how big law firms have embraced blogging, including lawyers at Orrick, Duane Morris, Shearman & Sterling and Allen Matkins.
I’ve noted this trend in my RSS subscriptions. Most of the law-related RSS subscriptions I’ve added in the last few years are from big firm law firms/lawyers–such as Venable’s All About Advertising, Arnold & Porter’s Seller Beware, Edwards Wildman’s Digilaw, Orrick’s My Distribution Law Blog, Thompson Coburn’s Sweepstakes Law Blog, Seyfarth Shaw’s Trade Secrets, and others.
[Note 1: I follow a lot of blogs, as I explain here. Note 2: I often purge blogs after a while if I don't find them consistently useful, so I cycle through blogs frequently.]
The Recorder article, and my associated realization, prompts my question to you: has there been any noteworthy legal blog started since 2010 that isn’t attached to a big law firm? I’m sure the answer is yes, but I couldn’t think of it. Email me your suggestions.
I draw three tentative conclusions from all of this. First, legal blogging has become corporatized. This trend was apparent by the end of the last decade, but I think it’s been fully realized. Corporatized legal blogging is still useful blogging, but in general corporate bloggers don’t have as strong a blogging voice as independent legal bloggers.
Second, it’s long been my position that bloggers are born, not made. When blogging first emerged, there was a backlog of born-to-be-bloggers folks who started blogging; but now that we’ve worked through the backlog, the rate of new emerging born-to-be-bloggers per year has dropped to much lower equilibrium levels.
Third, I wonder if we’ve seen the end of large numbers of new independent legal bloggers. Given the slow rate of newly emerging bloggers generally, and the increasing market share of the corporate bloggers–who are well-financed and already have built-in audiences–we’re not likely to see many new blogging “stars” emerge. Some surely will, but the deck is now stacked against the independent legal bloggers. The 2000s were a wild time for legal blogging, and it appears that things have calmed down a lot.
UPDATE: One reader pointed out the emergence of book-related blogs, many of which peter out soon after the book launch. Some blog suggestions of good new entrants since 2010: Thomas Cotter’s relatively new Comparative Patent Remedies blog.