Law Student Blogs:
Back in the early days of law blogs, around 2002-04, law student blogs were a really important part of the blawgosphere. Law prof blogs regularly linked to law student blogs, and for the most part there wasn't a sharp line between them in terms of readership.

  Am I right that law student blogs play a less important role today? Perhaps the best is Nuts & Boalts, which has been around for years and is still going strong. But by and large the law student blogs seem to have dwindled in number and importance: Fewer law students write for general interest law blogs, and fewer general interest law blog readers regularly visit student law blogs. That's my impression, at least.

  I'm not exactly sure what changed. Perhaps the blawgosphere has matured? Perhaps the student bloggers of the old days were unusually good, and when they graduated no one replaced them? I don't know. Either way, it seemed like a shift worth noting.
Anderson (mail):
Maybe someone noted a correlation between "devoting the necessary time to maintaining a law student blog" and "flunking out"?
1.29.2009 2:58pm
In an age where anyone can google your name and find out numerous scandalous details on your life, having a net presence is largely a liability for law students. If I was in law school I wouldn't even have a facebook account.
1.29.2009 3:02pm
blog fiend (mail) (www):
Are you kidding? We're scared to death to write blogs. Career Services constantly freaks us out with stories of law students who have been denied jobs or fired because of the stuff they put on the Net. Employers know all about those YouTubes nowadays. So law students are afraid to use them.
1.29.2009 3:07pm
Ben P:
Time and accountability are certainly both good points, but I think a third factor is most responsible.

This is simple continuity. Most of the law student blogs I read in the past died when the primary authors graduated and encountered some combination of being too busy to write, and having fewer entertaining things to write about as a junior associate than as a law student.

Some, like Nuts and Boalts have been successfully passed off a few times. But imagine how difficult it would be to keep The Volokh Conspiracy going if there was essentially an entire turn over in membership every three years. Even if you could keep the institution going the quality would change over time depending on who wrote and how involved they were.

Given that law student blogs may be creatures with a limited lifespan, I'd also say they're declining because the nature of the internet is in constant flux. Many people still blog, but it's not nearly the fad it was a few years ago. Today law students are much more likely to have an online presence in facebook and or twitter and or various forums than they are to start their own blog.
1.29.2009 3:09pm
Wilson (mail):
I don't blog because I have an irrational fear that someone when I'm trying to get a clerkship/job/teaching position is going to look back at my poorly reasoned and only partially researched critique of something or other and figure out that I really am a bonehead.
1.29.2009 3:12pm
PIzza Snob:
There was a point early in the evolution of blogs during which every law student assumed they could be the new Scott Turrow. It didn't occur to most of them that 1L has survived in paperback solely because it's a semi-appealing piece of required reading for prelaw courses, not because anyone ever sought it out for pleasure.

The voyeuristic novelty of the online diary has faded. As the blogging thing has become ubiquitous, the conventional wisdom has acknowledged that bloggers ought to have something worthwhile to say. So we've seen a drop off in the number of "what I had for dinner" online journals, and a steadier drop off in the cliched "my humorous take on law school" tripe.

The law professor blogs have grown more popular proves the rule. Informed discussion of interesting issues by knowledgable writers: pretty much the antithesis of the law student blog.
1.29.2009 3:20pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
I find myself wondering what you mean when you use the word "important."
1.29.2009 3:29pm
Benjamin Wolf (mail) (www):
Well my employer just asked me to start one for him, so to me, it's a great way to read cases on a variety of topics, learn something and it's all part of my job. We'll see if I'll be able to consistently come up with something interesting to contribute.
1.29.2009 3:30pm
GW 2L (mail):
There's also a ton of internal pressure to not make the school look bad, if the school is identified in the blog. That trepidation, combined with the career services warnings makes it hard to have a worthwhile blog.
1.29.2009 3:31pm
Terry Hart:
Haha, yes, back in the day law school students were exceptional writers, but kids these days can't blog and don't respect their elders.

I think your observation is consistent with blogging in general these days. At one point it was new and exciting and someone could become quite popular merely for the fact of doing it. Nowadays blogging is so ubiquitous that one doesn't consider doing it. Why would someone at tier 2 school want to talk about how omg difficult torts was when no one cares? And if they did, they can pick up Turow's book and it's a lot more fun to read that anyway.

Partially, it's also a generational shift. Yes, employers are using the net to knock out potential candidates, but eventually there will be a recognition of the fact that if you search the net enough, those employees will recognize the fact that you can find a drunken post of them debating the merits of the old Star Wars vs. the new Star Wars and they will accept that as just a more publicly accessible version of what everyone normally goes through.
1.29.2009 3:32pm
Adam B. (www):
I wonder how much of it is the problem of entry costs. Back in 2001-02, there were so few legal bloggers that everyone knew and linked to everyone else, and if you got to be friendly with Volokh, Bashman or Reynolds you could make a name (and an audience) for yourself with a few good links.

Nowadays, with so many more established names, I wonder if it's harder to break in -- established bloggers link to other established bloggers, and don't have as much inclination to boost new voices.

Even in the political blogging realm, who other than Nate Silver emerged from relative anonymity into top-tier bloggerdom in 2008?
1.29.2009 3:35pm
Matt L. (mail):
Perhaps the student bloggers of the old days were unusually good, and when they graduated no one replaced them?

I'm pretty sure this is the case?

As a 1L who has tried, it had nothing to do with privacy or future employment. For example, you can set up Blogger so it doesn't show up on search engines (and thus doesn't get cached?), and you can totally shut off the public's access to it. Additionally, you could always keep the blog anonymous (i.e. "I am a 1L student from X law school.")

Personally, it was (1) the lack of time (still a 1L), (2) a lack of creative output, and (3) a lack of creative energy. I'd like to think the lattermost was responsible for the second, but it's probably because I'm just not well-educated or "smart" enough to sustain consistently interesting work.

Finally, there is so much good stuff out there. I sorta felt like a dillettante trying to contribute.
1.29.2009 3:36pm
Gilbert (mail):
Personally, I see student groups interacting by running competing blogs (3 guesses as to which two groups I have in mind). Its great because you can use assumed names (blog fiend), it solves both the continuity problem and lets people share the burden of the time/attention problem (Ben P.). You can also pick up some readers who wouldn't read anything as uninformed as a student blog, except for the fact that they know some people involved. For example, I expect to keep my law school groups' rss feeds in my feed reader after I graduate.
1.29.2009 3:40pm
jukeboxgrad's favorite YouTube video:
I don't blog because I have an irrational fear that someone when I'm trying to get a clerkship/job/teaching position is going to look back at my poorly reasoned and only partially researched critique of something or other and figure out that I really am a bonehead.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
1.29.2009 3:40pm
BRS (mail):
Really, after the fifth time you read them, observations about how law school is just like high school, or about how "gunners" are annoying get a little old. I do like what the University of Chicago has done, which is invite students to write guest blogs on the Faculty blog. That way you get quality writing, and the students have something on the internet that employers will actually be excited to see.
1.29.2009 3:45pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Adam B's theory seems right to me.
1.29.2009 3:47pm
Not so fast, my friend (mail):
I really miss Buffalo Wings and Vodka. That was one awesome blog.
1.29.2009 4:17pm
I move that our illustrious editors offer a "Law School Associate" position to some worthy law student.

They could have a writing competition, and select the candidate based upon the quality of his/her work. Make it a one-year thing, and those of us who have left our law school days behind can keep abreast of what current students are thinking.

Just an idea.
1.29.2009 4:18pm
Speaking for myself:

(1) I have to goddamn much work to do, between law school and my day job.

(2) I get more than enough exposure to morons and jackasses in my classes already; I'm not particularly interested in increasing that exposure by writing a blog.
1.29.2009 4:19pm
Adam B. (www):
CT, there's one other factor worth mentioning (at least on the left), and that's community blogging. You save a lot of time in building an audience and reputation by blogging at a site like Daily Kos which allow users to contribute their own content in the form of site diaries, rather than try to establish one's own separate website. If your content is good, it'll be read, and folks will be eager to click on your future offerings.

That said, such sites are more geared towards legal/political analysis (which I do) rather than experiential reporting on what it's like to be a law student, say.
1.29.2009 4:22pm
jukeboxgrad's favorite YouTube video:
(1) I have to goddamn much work to do, between law school and my day job.

(2) I get more than enough exposure to morons and jackasses in my classes already; I'm not particularly interested in increasing that exposure by writing a blog.

And yet... you post here.
1.29.2009 4:28pm
The rise of ATL and autoadmit comments probably created an outlet for the students who wanted to vent about current events and law school minutiae and share law student info, and the lawprof blogs gradually became a better source of information...

Also, I never found the student blogosphere to be all that good to begin with. The best stuff from there was probably the humor (e.g., Jeremy Blachman and the Wings &Vodka blog).

There were very few student blogs that took a crack at substantive legal issues. The ones that did were often bad at it, or they buried those sorts of posts under a bunch of other stuff. Most students seemed to really want to write about law, but seemed to find it much easier to talk about clothes, recipes and literature.

The ones smart enough to write about law were probably too busy studying or writing real articles.

Or maybe I just missed out on a bunch of the good blogs
1.29.2009 4:30pm
And yet... you post here.

And yet.

You might be able to work out this apparent contradition by considering the time and effort that's necessary to make the occasional brief comment at VC in comparison to the time and effort that's necessary to keep up a blog of one's own.
1.29.2009 4:38pm
Bob White (mail):
Pizza Snob and Adam B. covered the most important reasons, I think.
1.29.2009 4:41pm
I'm a first year associate. A popular lady in the class above me blogged, albeit mostly about law school life in general and not legal issues. She wasn't explicitly identified on the blog, but everybody in the school knew she was the author (she made no attempt to hide this). She was 'invited' into the dean's office a couple of times over truly trivial stuff. Career Services is also a purveyor of horror stories. The rewards for blogging are far outstripped by the costs and risks. The rewards for law student blogging are even fewer, and the costs/risks are much higher. As a result...
1.29.2009 4:42pm
Maz (mail):
I blogged for a while, but never really attracted an audience. In the end I had a few attorneys read it, comment on it, and ask me to take down content. The content they requested to be taken down? Information about cases they had worked on. I was doing a background law stories blog. I would interview attorneys and parties, put together articles, send them to the attorney or party, ask for permission to publish it on my blog. It worked well, made some good contacts. But senior partners found out about it, asked how someone in the public had found out that information regarding a case (usually what happened after), or a client would complain, and three months after posting it I would be asked to take it down. After over half of my work was taken down and the only people viewing the site were people sending me take down requests, I said forget it and took the whole site down.

Total time from up to down? Eight months. Too bad, it was fun while it lasted.
1.29.2009 4:55pm
I'd start one but I'm about to graduate. It would have mostly been me complaining about my school though. I'm not sure they ever were an important part of the law blog arena.
1.29.2009 5:01pm
BRS (mail):
I can see how a blog might be useful to law firms in making hiring decisions. I remember stumbling on one by a guy who was a summer associate at a big firm somewhere, and he actually (I couldn't make this up) had a post about a game that you could play with other summer associates, whereby you scored points by having sex with various people in the firm (the higher up the totem pole, the more points), and the person with the most points at the end of the summer won. It is a shame that career services people are discouraging this kind of behavior, so that idiots like that author can slip through the cracks, get hired, and then do something really stupid when a client's money is on the line.
1.29.2009 5:10pm
Prof. S. (mail):
I think that there isn't any other good material out there. Buffalo Wings &Vodka and Anonymous Lawyer (turned out to be a law student) were funny and original.

Today, a law student blog would just look like a ripoff of the old stuff.

Our generation has now moved onto blogs about associates' lives - hence Above the Law. And even that's getting weaker day by day.
1.29.2009 6:12pm
I knew a guy in high school who ran a blog while he was a law school student. It was no big deal.
1.29.2009 6:14pm
SocialMediaLawStudent (mail) (www):
"Death be not proud, though some have called thee"
John Donne

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Most are worried about finding jobs in this economy. Prediction: explosion of law student blogs and use of other social media technologies in near future to promote themselves as a result of current job outlook.

1.29.2009 6:43pm

(Though I give Nuts &Boalts top billing myself...)

Maybe student blogs don't fill the same space as prof blogs? The ones I've seen are more focused on student life and issues specific to the school, and not on discussion of the law more generally. Time is also a huge limitation. (Crescat Sententia came out of Yale; is it wrong to say we work a lot harder further down the food chain?)
1.29.2009 6:51pm
Tritium (mail):
Too bad there isn't a Constitutional Blog to review the widespread arguments by clause, both by professors and students, to get an idea where the majority of the new generation of Law Professionals will likely stand.

Click on Article, section, clause... cause and effect... Is there such a place out there? Some people have some unique ideas... but it's the majority of the misguided that I am most curious about.
1.29.2009 6:59pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

Am I right that law student blogs play a less important role today?

I was just thinking about the other day, as I was trolling (in an older sense of the word) around various law student blogs. The ones that I found consisted of a lot of whining about law school that I don't really find interesting or relevant personally, now that I'm no longer in law school. But that's just my personal experience from a very limited survey of the law student blogosphere.
1.29.2009 7:00pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):
Just fyi, for those concerned about blogging while in law school: I began a blog shortly before law school, and continued it through and to this day. However, that blog was for political opinion and I never really touched on my law school experiences all that frequently, and I blog anonymously (or mostly anonymously anyway.) I think what people are afraid of here are myspace pages or blogs that focus specifically on their school experience, and on which they don't bother to maintain their anonymity very well. They should be concerned about that; if you want to blog about law school while you're in law school, do it anonymously. If you want to post half naked pics of yourself at a party, or blog about how much you drank or who you hooked up with, you probably should just not do that.
1.29.2009 7:07pm
Bama 1L:
I knew a guy in high school who ran a blog while he was a law school student. It was no big deal.

Frat Stud's punctuation improves when he posts at better blogs, I see.

There is a blogger at my school. It is widely voiced that the blogger will have trouble getting a job for that reason. The blogger is also better known for having started a wildly popular facebook group.

If you understand this story, you also understand why there are no good student blogs.
1.29.2009 7:14pm
Christopher M (mail):
Two things. One is barriers to entry, which as Adam B. notes above, are much higher now than they were back then.

The second is the proliferation of law professor blogs. Back then, there was Volokh and Reynolds and a few others -- and they were mostly generalists. Now, there's a slew, and what's more, there are specialists in just about every substantive legal field that has any general interest at all. Who wants to read some law student's musings on torture and war-on-terror law when you can read Balkinization? Who needs the offhand thoughts of some law student who just discovered law-and-econ and thinks he's found the key to the whole world, when you can read Posner &Becker? Law professors have the time and the expertise to write posts of greater depth and sophistication than most law students can put out, especially with the frequency of updates that has come to be expected from a blog that wants to be widely read.
1.29.2009 8:01pm
I agree with much of what has been said, and add one additional observation. I think group blogs tend to be more vital and long-lasting than solo blogs. On a group blog, if you take two weeks off from blogging, the blog still exists when you come back, and there are things being talked about that might inspire you. On a solo blog, if you take that much time off, it becomes an open question whether the blog really still exists, and restarting takes much the same energy as starting the project in the first place.

I think blogs went through a period where this fact got sorted out. There are still a few prominent solo bloggers out there, but they tend to be people who have shown really huge commitment to blogging, but I think a lot more solo blogs shut their doors after the initial blog fad than was the case with group blogs. I would speculate that this phenomenon and the decline of law student blogs have some relationship
1.29.2009 8:37pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
the kool kids these days are all twittering. (or whatever this week's thing is)
blogging to them is like writing briefs with a quill pen - it's how the old fogies did it back in the day.
as the singularity approaches, communication media gets faster and faster.
1.29.2009 8:55pm
Paul Gowder. (mail) (www):
There are more blogs now, = more competition for attention, = expected utility of having a blog is lower = only those who think they can achieve their ends in the increased competition start up. I'd expect that current law student bloggers would be fewer but better than past law student bloggers. And also that they would be perceived as less good, because observers would be comparing them to a better pool of non-law-student bloggers.
1.29.2009 9:48pm
Luke Gilman (mail) (www):
I didn't leave the blawgosphere, the blawgosphere left me...

Are we really waxing nostalgic about the '02-'04 blawgosphere as if they were the '27 Yankees? Maybe we just need to update our bookmarks...
1.29.2009 10:58pm
Are we really waxing nostalgic about the '02-'04 blawgosphere as if they were the '27 Yankees?

Welcome to internet time.
1.29.2009 11:47pm
Cardozo'd (www):
I'm a law student who runs a daily updated blog (ignore today - extra busy)...given it is not a law blog, but I still keep up on news.

I move that our illustrious editors offer a "Law School Associate" position to some worthy law student.

This seems like an excellent idea to me. I know I'd take part.
1.29.2009 11:58pm
bloggojevich (mail):
Nuts &Boalts bloggers were dissatisfied with the school's claims that random numbers were generated for each semester's registration process. N&B harnessed the power of teh internets and blew away the administration. They proved that registration was completely stacked and the same students were getting screwed semester after semester. Well played.
1.30.2009 12:40am
theobromophile (www):
Agree with all of the above, but would like to add one more thing in.

These days, when a lot of people have solo blogs (either anonymously or not), it's hard to get them to join a group blog, too. I began blogging in 2006, started blogging for my school's Fed Soc blog around 2007, but couldn't maintain both simultaneously. (I even cross-posted a few legal items, but didn't want to turn the Fed Soc blog into "theo's Blog, Lite," so that idea didn't go anywhere.) Looking back through that blog now, the only people who ever really posted on it already had their own blogs, and split their blog-time.
1.30.2009 1:16am
sometimes it helps:
Will Baude was blogging at Crescat even before YLS. He's now clerking for the Chief.
1.30.2009 9:21am
Bill O'Hara (mail) (www):
If anyone is interested, several GW law students have started a blog at

It's a non-partisan public policy, law, and national security site, updated 2-3 times a week.

As a side note, I've been trying to promote the blog across the internet, and not many blogs (including this one) seem to really care much about what a law student blog says. Presumably, it could be that the articles we've pitched just haven't been that good, but I honestly think the quality of writing is very high. You're welcome to check out the site to find out for yourself.
1.30.2009 10:34am
I have a few theories:

1. Cultural change. People are less willing to put the time into endeavors that don't lead to career advancement. This might or might not be true, but it's the reputation that "Millennials" have acquired.

2. They haven't gone away, you just don't have access to them, because they are friends-locked. (I have blogged about legal issues, sometimes even intelligently, but scrupulously locked anything on my blog that even hinted I might be in law school.) I think we have a serious cultural problem of putting too much weight on things people did when they were really very different people -- it's not productive.

3. Saying that the legal stuff is "buried" in other content is misleading. Writing a specialty blog involves assuming a huge limitation regarding your content, and that just might not be as acceptable to people anymore. Specialization might not even make for the kind of blog people want to read every day -- one of the things I really, really like about the Volokh Conspiracy is consistently interesting commentary on a wide variety of topics. I've been reading it since before I decided to go to law school. At the time I was not thinking of it as a "law blog". It would be interesting to see how many readers actually see it that way.

4. People might be less willing to write public blogs altogether, not because of issues of privacy, but because widely-read blogs might also be perceived as limiting.
1.30.2009 12:34pm
Paul Karl Lukacs (mail) (www):
Law students don't blog for fear of an adverse employment decision, often on the advice of career services deans.

Great, law school has fostered yet another way to make students think and act like indistinguishable members of a herd, all conforming to the Most Uptight Common Denominator.

1.31.2009 7:09pm
Jansen (www):
I don't believe a link from a professor makes a student blog "important."
2.1.2009 3:03pm
zitouttoxornebis (mail) (www):
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2.7.2009 12:04pm
FASlocrisorry (mail) (www):
2.9.2009 1:51am
jesusiaalbure (mail) (www):
Hi, cool site, good writing ;)
2.9.2009 6:36am