10 Reasons for a Law Student to Blog

MoneyImage by TW Collins via Flickr

10. Make money fast!

Hardly. Blogging may pay the bills for some, but law blogging is hardly going to pay for the coffee you need to get through the semester, much less your books. So stick to free tools like Blogger.com and WordPress.com so you at least don’t lose money. Still, if you want to make a go of bringing in some income, sites like ProBlogger.net can help.

9. A chance to express your opinion on what you think is important

It can be demoralizing to be one amongst 90+ students in a lecture hall. Your voice is only heard when your prof takes the Socratic method to heart and spends 20 minutes grilling you on the finer points of the Rule Against Perpetuities. At least blogging lets you finally get your two cents out there. Submitting to social media like Digg, StumbleUpon, and sharing via Twitter and Facebook can help get your voice heard.

8. Future employers will research you on Google

Better insightful Web commentary than drunken MySpace pictures, no? (You are writing insightful commentary, aren’t you?) If you’re not comfortable with this, don’t blog. You can try to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, but it can be difficult, and defeats some of the main point of blogging. Regardless, be sure you are fine with what you write because your online words tend to stay around longer than you would think.

7. You can participate in scholarly discourse

Why wait to publish a note or an article in a law review? On the Web, you are your own editor. Use that power wisely (see #8) and you may reap the rewards. The back-and-forth of the Web can be a wonderful thing, if you choose to participate directly. But even indirect participation far from the “center” of the discourse can be fruitful and rewarding, and the skills you develop will serve you well later (see #6).

journals (1, 10-40)Image by paperbackwriter via Flickr

6. The more you write, the better you’ll get

Practice makes perfect and all that. Just remember that people may actually read what you’re writing, if not now, then perhaps just before your key interview. So even though it’s easy to dash off something without thinking, try to keep your grammar decent and your points on track. But there’s a reason why so many professional writers force themselves to do it every day: it’s one of the best ways to get better.

5. Legal scholarship is moving online

Law reviews and legal publishing are slow, ponderous efforts. Blogging is quick (in both a good and bad sense). Response and back-and-forth is easy and public. Margaret Schilt writes in “Is the Future of Legal Scholarship in the Blogosphere?“:

If you are looking for the future of legal scholarship, chances are that you may find it not in a treatise or the traditional law review but in a different form, profoundly influenced by the blogosphere.

4. You can get immediate feedback

Via comment systems and reactions from other bloggers, you have the potential to gain quick and useful feedback on flaws in your analysis or on points to pursue further. Without blogging, you’re limited to the views of those you approach and talk with. Blogging opens your work and your ideas up to the world.

3. It can do wonders for your reputation and your personal brand

Attorney business card 1895Image via Wikipedia

(See also #8, above.) If you write well, employers, colleagues and clients can all see that demonstrated for themselves. A well-written blog can really build your reputation and your personal brand. It is an effective supplement to your old-school resume and business cards. (At the same time, a poorly-written blog can kill your reputation.)

My Moleskine journalImage by Earl – What I Saw 2.0 via Flickr

2. You can capture your own ideas for future use

Need a paper topic? Look back over your blog. Like a searchable journal, a blog gives you an archive to mine for future research, and may well come with the bonus of commentary and critique by others.

1. Lawyers write

Being a lawyer is, at least in part, about writing well. Blogging is a natural extension of this. If you’re a law student, you need to “think like a lawyer.” Blogging can help. (See #6.)

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Kristopher Nelson

I'm currently a graduate student of the history of law and technology at the University of California, San Diego. I also provide law and technology consulting services. Additionally, I'm a non-practicing lawyer and former developer/sysadmin at a biotech non-profit. For more about me and my work, see krisnelson.org or my Google Profile.

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