Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy thinks that legal blogosphere has hit its saturation point. He couldn’t be more wrong.
Kerr writes, without citation, that “For the most part this was a year of little growth or even a slight decline among law blogs.”
I thought that was crazy when I read it, but then I saw Dan Solove at Concurring Opinions agree with him. He also did so without citation to any empirical data, other than his group’s own traffic and that traffic has almost doubled in the past year! But, he goes on to say, that the big will just get bigger, and the little niche guys (like me or Scott Greenfield who also clearly disagrees), won’t really go anywhere. He writes, “There are so many blogs that a person can read, and many folks have found their favorites now and are content,” as if the number of blog readers is some static number instead of a dynamic one. His opinion on the future doesn’t even mention the practicing lawyers who are opening up their own internet outposts.
Now I know that real data is hard to come by, so I’m not too critical, but I think these professors need to look outside their ivory towers.
Here is why they are not just wrong, but very, very wrong, and here is what you will see in the future:
First the present, from my own niche: According to Justia there are 33 New York blogs. The ABA Journal‘s Blawg Directory lists 41 New York blogs. According to the ABA, however, there are 147,096 lawyers in New York. I, for one, see a bit of room for growth with that disparity.
But wait, there’s much more. The New York State Trial Lawyers Association has about 4,500 members that handle predominantly personal injury matters. There must easily be 10,000 lawyers in New York who handle them (or think they can handle them) as many are not members. Yet I can count on one hand the number of my brethren covering the subject on blogs.
Rather than being saturated, I think the legal blogosphere is in its infancy.
Now here is the future: There are precious few (if any) group blogs for practicing lawyers. The group blogs belong to the law school set. This will change. Someone, perhaps myself, will start gathering in more practicing lawyers for a group blog, perhaps modeled on the Huffington Post (TurkewitzTimes, anyone?) These lawyer/bloggers will be collected through the growing use of listserves, where small practitioners share tips. It is the perfect format for those who want to opine occasionally without the need to keep their blog up constantly. There will be several of these, and they will rival anything that currently exists.
Saturated? Stagnant? Profs. Kerr and Solove (and David Hoffman before that), you guys ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Links to this post:
blawg review #140
the blawg review is a weekly review of the best law-related posts from a variety of blogs. having enjoyed hosting blawg review #103 (the baseblawg review) in april, i eagerly volunteered to host another installment. …posted by Jonathan Frieden @ December 24, 2007 9:16 AM
the state of the – *yawn*
it seems like every month or so, one of these posts makes the rounds [that’s five already; six if you count this. there’s room for two more in my phrase. who wants to step up?] of the blogosphere. can the blogosphere survive yet another …posted by Gideon @ December 20, 2007 9:46 PM
Eric, I sure hope you are right that there is plenty of room for new blawgers and personal injury blawgers in particular!
As you know, I recently started my own blog and I wanted to publicly thank you for your email/telephone assistance that you so graciously and selflessly provided.
I know I have TONS to learn but I am very excited about working on good solid content for my blog.
My only hope is that my blog can be 1/10th as good as yours!!
To you and your readers, Happy Holidays!
Jim Reed, Ziff Law Firm, Elmira, N.Y.
Both you and Scott really misread my post. I didn’t say that there is no room for niche blogs or new blawgers. I even said that the number of blog readers and bloggers would increase!
My point was that only a few blogs would achieve very high readership levels (several thousand to tens of thousands a day). Scott’s post and your post characterize me as saying that there will be little to no growth among niche blogs. But that isn’t what I said. What I agreed with Orin about was that we’re not likely to see the same meteoric growth as in the past; and we’re not likely to see many new blogs attract very large readerships. Could a new blog, in a year or two, earn an audience as large as the Volokh Conspiracy’s? Yes, it is possible, but my point was that I didn’t think that this was likely. This point says nothing about the value of smaller blogs or niche blogs; nor does it say that small blogs won’t grow. My observations were based on the fact that there are a lot of really great smaller blogs that still haven’t generated a big audience; with the exception of David Lat, most of the blogs with big audiences have been around the longest.
As fun as it is to say that law professors need to “get out of their ivory tower,” I don’t see how this argument is at all responsive to what I wrote.
First, I did not argue the position you claim. I claimed that the market was flat in 2007, which Paul Caron has since verified with about 20 links at Taxprof blog, and then I speculated as to the possible reasons and offered saturation as one possibility.
Second, to say that a market is “saturated” does not mean that there are no more potential users of the product. Rather, it means that the demand for the product is not likely to increase rapidly. For example, if I say that the doughnut market is saturated, it does not mean that it is impossible for people to eat more doughnuts. It just means that the demand for doughnuts is not likely to increase.
Third, I don’t get the argument about law professor bloggers being in the “ivory tower.” If you have a blog and I have a blog, how do you tell which is the ivory tower blog? Is that based on which site is more widely read? Widely read by practitioners?
There are over a million lawyers out there in the US, but only 1-2,000 law blogs at the very most that post at least once a week. My opinion is based on raw numbers in the overall marketplace of potential. I don’t think the snapshot of numbers for any one blog will get you anywhere (and besides, they are all over the place. You were stagnant while Co-Op doubled). More importantly, the numbers available to the public are wholly unreliable because so few are actually available.
My comment about the ivory tower is not meant to be insulting, only that it is a view completely insulated from the world I move in. While blogs may have saturated the prof community (I am in no position to offer an opinion) most practicing lawyers have never seen them and have no idea how they work, a fact I was discussing just the night before at a large gathering of other PI attorneys in NY. So I see the potential for explosive growth.
I may have overstated my summary of your position a tad, but it likewise, I think, ignores the practical blogosphere to a large degree. Because the professors got the ball rolling, and did so in groups, they generally have the bigger blogs (with the obvious exception of David Lat). But the market of potential bloggers from practicing lawyers is so vast, and so untapped, I see it is as impossible to ignore. And the potential for group blogs of practicing attorneys is huge, and completely untapped.
It was a pleasure speaking with you, and I wish you all the best. Feel free to call me again. As is happens, you are part of that great reservoir of attorneys that want to blog and are just getting started.
Thanks for the response, although I think you’re still misunderstanding my argument. Yes, there are many more possible law blog readers out there than currently exist; most law people don’t read them. Of course! But that doesn’t go to the issue I raised, which is that 2007 seems to have been very different than 2006 for a wide range of legal blogs (as Paul Caron’s stats show). Yes, some blogs went up, but others went down.
As for CoOp’s traffic, it did go up, but I don’t know how much of that is lawyer traffic as opposed to people searching for .jpgs (which I understand to be a significant chunk of CoOp’s traffic).
You know it’s odd, but I get a lot of folks coming in for my graphics also. An old photo of John Edwards I used for a piece on his med mal “reform” position brought in hundreds of unrelated hits when it was used elsewhere, and a Giuliani picture I used for a story regarding judicial appointments likewise brought a lot of traffic.
All of this makes the traffic patterns game (and the fact that different services measure differently) so unreliable. I now get 20,000+ visitors a month, but I don’t think for a moment that this means they have all read what I have written.
So I’ve looked at the much broader picture to project. 1,000 – 2,000 active law bloggers, but over a million lawyers. That means a whole lot of educated people with something to say that haven’t yet read or understood the essence of the blog.
Links to this post:
blawg review #140
the blawg review is a weekly review of the best law-related posts from a variety of blogs. having enjoyed hosting blawg review #103 (the baseblawg review) in april, i eagerly volunteered to host another installment. …
posted by Jonathan Frieden @ December 24, 2007 9:16 AM
the state of the – *yawn*
it seems like every month or so, one of these posts makes the rounds [that’s five already; six if you count this. there’s room for two more in my phrase. who wants to step up?] of the blogosphere. can the blogosphere survive yet another …
posted by Gideon @ December 20, 2007 9:46 PM