The Blawgosphere in 2007:
In the 2003-06 period, it looked like the blawgosphere -- the part of the blogworld devoted to law blogs -- was expanding rapidly and becoming more and more important. As 2007 comes to an end, however, I think we can see a very different picture for 2007. For the most part this was a year of little growth or even a slight decline among law blogs.

  The major new blog was David Lat's Above the Law, which has quickly become highly trafficked. But there were surprisingly few new blogs that took off, and many more blogs that looked bright in 2006 but became mostly or entirely dormant in 2007. Most of the major blogs have kept going, and readership on the whole has been roughly stable. But my sense is that there hasn't been a lot of growth in overall law blog postings and readership.

  What happened? Perhaps law blogging has hit a saturation point. Only so many people are interested in reading these sorts of things, and maybe that crowd is pretty stable and hard to grow. Alternatively, perhaps the problem is declining blogger enthusiasm: I would guess a lot of people thought law blogging looked fun until they tried it and realized it was a lot of hard work.

  Maybe both? What do you think?
anym_avey (mail):
Maybe all the dedicated blawgers have gradually been Borged into the larger group blawgs, where they can contribute at a more reasonable rate?
12.19.2007 6:42pm
George Weiss (mail):
i think the saturation point is better.

blogging is actually addictive..which should cancel out any effect people have in thinking its "hard." also..people blog as much or as little as they its not as if entirely because they have other things to do. not everyone puts in the amount of ime you do to blogging Orin.

i also think the fact that there are a few well known blogs in legal categories (such as this one) that people know they will be in the shadow of...makes it hard to blawg
12.19.2007 7:22pm
U-M 3L:
Too many blawgs mistakenly focused on an area of law rather than a perspective on law. I read this site because it offers reasoned perspectives on different areas of American law, and I particularly enjoy posts on topics I know little about.

Above the Law isn't really a blawg: It's schadenfreude interspersed w/ New York salary data.
12.19.2007 7:33pm
Peter Wimsey:
I think that there is something to be said for the saturation explanation, at least for "national" law blogs. But I do think that there is still a lot of room for local, high-quality, active law blogs, though.

Also, it's probably just me, but it seems like the resolution of Blakely caused the 1/3 of all law blogs devoted to Blakely to stop publishing.
12.19.2007 7:35pm
Blawg Reader:
Don't forget about this great new blawg that started this year, that pokes irreverant fun at the patent legal system:

(Not sure if the link works, it's at
12.19.2007 7:53pm
In 2006 blawgs had 17.3% of all literate web comments. If they become more popular, comment quality will probably decline.
12.19.2007 8:04pm
CarolynElefant (mail) (www):
Some general observations. First, I've noticed is that with the exception of major blogs like ATL, WSJ Law Blog and this one, there's very little commentary at blogs. I'm not sure if that's because many lawyers are (surprisingly) reticent about offering comment voluntarily or because many blogs simply put out a link to an article, without any added opinion. Also the amount of back and forth conversation between bloggers seems to have decreased from the early days.
12.19.2007 10:08pm
My 2 cents:

1. Blogs take a lot of time and work (VC works well because there are so many authors so that there are lots of daily entries)

2. I think that between VC, SLP, HA, and perhaps a few others, there's little else new under the sun...
12.19.2007 10:48pm
Kevin OKeefe (mail) (www):
I wonder if your comments are merely anecdotal Orin.

Talking to Ed Adams at the ABA Journal they are appoving 30 new law blogs a week as meeting their editorial standards to be included in their law blog directory. At LexBlog we're seeing 80 to 100 law posts a day from almost 300 law blogs, both up significantly over the last year.

There are no other 'Above the Law's.' It's in a league of its own in regards to traffic. Guaging the growth, or lack thereof, of the legal blogosphere by looking for comparable blogs is short sited.

I have skin in this game, but I think we're just scratching th surface as far as law blogs. The lawyers in private practice who have traditionally published offline are just seeing the potential of blogs today.
12.20.2007 12:58am
former blogger (mail):
I think that it's easy to get carried away with the thrill of blogging, as when you put your thoughts out there on the Web and they are instantly accessible across the globe. It does seem like a revolutionary medium.
And yet... there just aren't too many people who read them. When you use a Sitemeter you find out that people who visit your blog often come by accidentally, such as doing a Google search for a bunch of words that happen to appear on a post.
Also, there are lots of weirdos out there, so when you open comments you find out that the people who respond don't always have a life of their own, but rather spend all their time sitting at a computer making snide comments.
Point being, blogging has a lot of potential, but it can be overrated when it comes to impact. I think a lot of people who tried blogging may have decided it wasn't worth the time or energy commitment, and was in fact a distraction from more important work.
12.20.2007 10:27am
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
I suspect that there are multiple potential explanations for any leveling off in legal weblog growth. Here are some that seem plausible to me:

First, I think that Professor Kerr is right about the "hard work" part. The time commitment necessary to run a smart, entertaining blawg is a major obstacle. That's the reason I personally chose not to continue my blawg after my clerkship ended. I suspect many practicing lawyers lack the time to run a blawg (or at least think the opportunity cost is too high, given the long hours that lawyering can require).

Second, many practicing lawyers may be reticent to start a blawg due to the potential for professional repercussions. At-will employees, such as associates, might be especially risk averse in this regard. Also, many of the blawgs that thrive offer some actual legal expertise (e.g., EV writes about the First Amendment; OK writes about the Fourth Amendment). Most practitioners, however, likely are reluctant to write about the areas of the law that they know best. As advocates of their clients' interests, practitioners are less free to be candid and objective about the areas of the law in which they specialize.

Third, legal writing is not necessarily easy. Despite their profession, many lawyers lack the ability to write well, let alone with any style or panache, even on subjects about which they are knowledgeable. Writing about legal topics for a wider audience is a skill that is in even shorter supply. So the number of lawyers capable of writing well enough to attract an audience may not be all that high.

These potential explanations all focus on practicing lawyers (as opposed to academics and others). But my guess is that any stagnation in blawg growth is attributable at least in part to the fact that the largest segment of the population capable of blawging has a variety of reasons to stay away from this activity.
12.20.2007 12:25pm
I believe the downfall of blawging happened in mid-2006, when shut down.
12.20.2007 2:37pm
advisory opinion:
Glad to see you still make the blog rounds once in a while, Curmudgeonly ex-Clerk. Your blog is missed.
12.20.2007 2:59pm
Eric @ New York Personal Injury Law Blog (www):
The legal blogosphere is in its infancy, with but a tiny fraction of the overall number of lawyers participating:

Is the Legal Blogosphere Saturated? Fat Chance!
12.20.2007 3:16pm
? (mail):
Who's the grinning idiot on the NY Personal Injury Law Blog?
12.20.2007 3:36pm
Eric @ New York Personal Injury Law Blog (www):
Hey, my web site photo is worse.
12.20.2007 3:45pm
DJR, you are too kind.
12.21.2007 3:18am