Law Faculty Blogs and Disruptive Innovation: Replacing Law Reviews

The law blogosphere is no longer a state of nature lacking in intermediation.  A cluster of faculty law blogs have emerged that are often cited by courts and legal publications.  A list of these blogs can be found here.

The reasons are not hard to see.  They fill a gap in the scholarship continuum largely left unaddressed by traditional law reviews. 

There has been plenty of criticism of law reviews.  They have been criticized for their length and questionable relevancy.  One of the most significant is that they take significant time to write and significant time to publish.  When they are out in hard copy, many legal debates are already over.  Many metrics show a decline in the influence of law reviews, whether Supreme Court citations or paid subscriptions.

Faculty law blogs, in contrast, represent a superior method for disseminating legal analysis in some cases.  Law blogs are often the first (and sometimes the only) source of analysis on current developments, whether new cases, proposed legislation, or pending rules.  They can quickly introduce ideas into an ongoing debate or apply existing ones to new developments.  Nor do these posts consist only of unsupported opinion.  They frequently refer to legal authority, although in a less dense, more flexible narrative.  As a result, the analysis is more accessible to those outside the academic community, including judges, practitioners, and regulators. 

In other words, blog posts not only can qualify as scholarship but they can qualify as better scholarship than law reviews, at least in some cases. 

Law reviews have tried to stem this influence through online companions.  We will address the success of this approach in the next post. 

The full paper, Essay:  Law Faculty Blogs and Disruptive Innovation is here; the underlying data is posted here.

J Robert Brown Jr.