Law Faculty Blogs and Disruptive Innovation: Introduction

We posted on this Blog a data set that provides the number of law faculty who are currently blogging (as of June 2012).  There were slightly more than 300 active bloggers on that date (a number that has been remarkably consistent over the last five or six years).  We also broke down the faculty by law school and showed that law blogging is dominated by faculty at schools outside the top 50.

The data set included a list of the top blogs by citations in court opinions and citations in legal publications.  The lists demonstrates that there are a cluster of law blogs that are widely cited as authority.  With respect to legal opinions, one faculty law blog has been cited 45 times.  For legal publications, one faculty law blog has been cited over 700 times, with another 17 blogs having more than 100 citations in legal publications.  

At one level, the data shows that the number of law faculty who blog has remained relatively consistent over the last five years (although the particular faculty and the list of active law faculty blogs has evolved considerably).  The increase in citations shows that faculty have become increasingly comfortable citing law blogs as authority.  Moreover, in rankings of faculty based upon law review citations, citations to posts count.  Thus, faculty who blog may obtain an increased citation count in these rankings.

But in fact, the raw data tells a much larger story, one that requires an additional set of data points.  The raw data also looks at the full time law faculty in the top 200 of SSRN downloads for the 12 month ending May 1, 2012 and identifies the faculty in the list who also blog and where they teach.  All of this data provides a basis for some intriguing conclusions.  

While we will explore the meaning of this data over the next two weeks, lets start with a conclusion.  Faculty law blogs have become a permanent part of the scholarship continuum.  They are, in certain circumstances, a better mechanism for articulating ideas and participating in legal debates than traditional law reviews.  Moreover, efforts by law reviews to fight back through online companions have largely failed. 

So let’s talk about what all of this data means.  The full paper, Essay:  Law Faculty Blogs and Disruptive Innovation is here; the underlying data is posted here.

J Robert Brown Jr.