10 Reasons for a Law Student to Blog
By Kristopher A. Nelson
in April 2009
800 words / 4 min. Image 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 […]
Note: this post is from 2009. Evaluate with care and in light of later events.
Image 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).
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
Image 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.)
Image 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.)