Newsflash: Legal Bloggers are real people! Reflections on the #LawBlogs seminar

This week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a seminar about the future of legal blogging held at One Crown Office Row, home of the brilliant UK Human Rights Blog.

In his post entitled “That was the future of legal blogging”, Adam Wagner of the UK Human Rights Blog gives a good run-down of what was covered.

Legal blogging is certainly alive and well if the #LawBlogs event is to be a barometer. There are new blogs springing up all the time to augment the body of older ones – one member of the panel, Carl Gardner, set up his blog in what he called “ancient history in internet terms” (2006) – and covering all aspects of the market.

It took being in that room with a large number of people who blog for me to realise just how many varieties of law blog there are.

At the moment, I’m not in a position to write about the finer points of law; I don’t feel sufficiently qualified. I tweeted a while ago about this, saying I was a frustrated law blogger because despite my desire, I don’t know enough law to blog authoritatively. But that doesn’t matter – even those who clearly do know enough to blog in that way don’t always do so; for every blog like Carl Gardner’s, Adam Wagner’s, David Allen Green’s (although his New Statesman blog is less about legal intricacies) or the fantastic LawThinkUK blog, there’s one like Legal Bizzle’s, Tim Bratton’s or mine (not that I’m in their league, of course).

I intend, as I progress through my career, to keep up my writing. Whether that is to continue writing about the process of studying & working in law and its impact on me, like Barry Gross or Tim Bratton do, or whether I’ll move into doing more complex analyses, I don’t know. But whichever one it is, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

One of the questions that was discussed was “who do you blog for?”. One of the things I took away from the evening about blogging is that whoever your intended audience may be and whatever effect you hope your writing will have, you are ultimately blogging for yourself. Blogging is unpaid and, as was agreed in the form of much nodding and murmuring when it was mentioned at #LawBlogs, can be very time consuming. It’s not something that any of the legal bloggers would do if they didn’t enjoy it. And I think it’s that enthusiasm that comes across when you read a blogpost – even when Legal Bizzle’s at his most irritated I can sense that, even if he’s not enjoying the work or the people with whom he has to interact, he is enjoying telling the rest of us his story. Blogs aren’t written entirely for the writer’s benefit, though – if it was just about the writing, we’d all be writing diaries – and the more legally-focused blogs rely on their audience in a different way to the ‘therapeutic’ blogs.

It’s sometimes easy to forget – or rather, it’s sometimes difficult to comprehend – just how many blogs you read in the course of any given time period. I was surprised to sit in a room with 30 people on Thursday night, each of whose blogs I have read at least once this week, in some cases many more times than that. There are also plenty of bloggers who were not in the room whose blogs I have also read this week.

#LawBlogs was marvellous because it confirmed to me that there really is a “blogging and Tweeting community”. It was great to meet in person the people who before now had simply been Twitter account names, especially those who use alternative names and photos, and to talk about things we have in common. The main tie binding those who were present was an enjoyment of law (although some might say it borders on an obsession with law).

There were people from all stages of qualification, from lowly, GDL-studying me to those who have made it to the very top of the profession; people who work in all areas of law, and those who write from the outside about the law and its practitioners. It was great to find common ground about blogging with people whom I’d never have met were it not for Twitter, talking about self-censorship in blogposts and the value we’ve found in tweeting about law.

Without the invention of the internet, there would never have been an invitee list like there was at #LawBlogs. Being there was a great pleasure, and there are plans afoot to hold a bigger version of the seminar later in 2011. For me, it was yet another great illustration of the power of the network. Long live legal blogging, in all of its many forms.

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