Having now trashed Twitter (Twitter and The Age of Information Overload) before using it and semi-trashed it again after using it (Twitter: A Review), and having concluded it is not the future, the question remains: What is the future of the legal blogosphere?
To figure out the future, you have to know what the present is, which is easier said than done in a fast-moving digital age. But the present information distribution seems to be dominated (for attorneys) by a few distinct forms (leaving aside static web sites):
- Listservs, which are set up generally based on either locality or practice area;
- Individual Blogs such as this one or group blogs such as Volokh or Concurring Opinions (both run by law professors); and
- Social networks such as Facebook, Linkedin, and increasingly Twitter.
This will change, and if you pull up a chair, I’ll look into my crystal ball. For I see a future that blends and links together each of these three. No one has created the site yet, though someone surely will.
First, what is missing from the legal blogosphere is a group blog for practicing lawyers. While Volokh or Co-Op are possible templates for group blogs, I see something more akin to the splashier Huffington Post, except that it would be written by and for lawyers. The benefits of such a blog or webzine to the writers should be obvious: You can have 100+ contributors, who may not want to write something each week (or day) as is the custom with individual blogs. And the benefits to the reader should be equally obvious: An enormous amount of content under one roof from a wide variety of writers.
Now mix in the social element, whether this is for swapping tips and links or engaging in political discussion away from one’s own practice area. It happens to some extent in comment areas, but this is limited. It also is happening in Twitter, but the format is anything but ideal. Twitter is a crude technology, as compared to what is already available, and will not have staying power for lawyers when a better site is created. A well-located and well-designed legal forum can be significantly superior to it.
Well designed discussion boards such as those operated by The Motley Fool financial site, for example, have been enormously popular for over a decade, and the ability to write/read in threads and ignore users/threads is incredibly simple. There are no extra programs to download and no tools to learn.
Just as The Fool centers on stocks, the law forum would center on law. (Though, as testament to the power of community, you can see a vast array of other forums such as politics, and about 20 different boards related to sports at The Fool site.)
And each user of the site can have a profile page that would list, to the extent that people wanted it, contact information and links that allows for social networking and professional marketing.
This site — be it called The Motley Post, Huffington Fool, or Turkewitz Times Version 3.0 (version 1.0 was 20 years ago and this blog is 2.0) — would also have a reader base with some of the best advertising demographics in the nation. Advertising (cars, booze, travel, etc) would be an easy sell relative to other sites, as would law firm sponsorships.
Who will create this site? The logical candidates are:
- The ABA, which has shown through the ABA Journal that they have a serious commitment to the digital arena;
- Incisive Media, owners of Law.com, the New York Law Journal, American Lawyer, and a host of other publications;
- David Lat, creator of Above the Law and now managing editor of Breaking Media;
- Kevin O’Keefe of Lexblog, a lawyer-entrepreneur who knows an opportunity for digital space when he sees one; or
- The next Kevin O’Keefe, a small blogger or entrepreneur that comes out of nowhere and decides to implement an idea.
Thus, a savvy entrepreneur will one day blend the desires for blogging and the desires for a legal-social element into one web location, in an easy-to-use site.
I don’t know when it will happen, but it will. And remember, you heard it here first.
(And yes, The Turkewitz Times is available for licensing. I’m just sayin‘.)
Updated: I was interviewed at LegalTech New York regarding this post, and you can see the short interview here.
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