It’s a law publishing blog about publishing law blogs

It’s a law publishing blog about publishing law blogs

The recent release of Simba Information’s report Global Legal Publishing 2016-2020 presents a very unique opportunity, one that I cannot let pass-the chance to publish a blog about law publishing and blogs.

I know, take a breath, gather yourselves because we are about to boldly go where only Seinfeld’s Cosmo Kramer-he of the coffee table book about coffee tables-would go.

The legal publishing industry is facing some of the same changes the science, technical and medical (STM) publishing faced, as there is a greater push for more open access to legal information. Open access advocates have suggested that blogs might be a path to a broader open access publishing network in law.

Lawyers, law professors and law students currently write and edit pieces for academic legal journals, law reviews, periodicals and books. Most of it is done for free while the publisher retains the rights and sells the content.

But what if individual attorneys, law professors and students suddenly found it easier to pursue open access individually by publishing a blog?

Blogs are unique in that they contain legal insight from thought leaders in niche areas of the law. Blogs also represent the collective knowledge and collaborative thinking in the legal community.

A blog that is well thought out in terms of its subject matter is apt to be cited, shared on social media and retrieved through a Google, as much as traditional academic publications. It can raise the stature of the author, which is one of the primary benefits of writing for traditional academic legal publications.

That said, law schools have yet to equate the merits of blogs to traditional forms of legal publishing.

Blogs have gained more ground in the professional realm. Thousands of blogs are published by lawyers and law firms. Armed with a niche blog, a lawyer can collaborate with other lawyers as well as establish themselves as a “go to” lawyer in a niche or a locale. That’s much harder to do contributing to academic publications.

The down side is that many blogs are published for marketing purposes alone, which tends to water down the content and make it less useful.

Legal publishers have yet to fully harness the value of blogs. As blogs gain prominence, there will be opportunities for publishers to package them with primary legal research of case and statutory law, or alongside legal news.

Simba’s Global Legal Publishing 2016-2020 also found that social media is providing opportunities for new content creation, even for legal publishing. LinkedIn is pursuing a professional publishing strategy to draw in more users, which is easily extended to law. Wikipedia, the ultimate in crowd-sourcing, already contains quite a lot of legal information.

The faults lie when things like case summaries omit information that a lawyer would consider essential.

Currently, the prevalence of good public legal information sites and the finite amount of time available to lawyers to contribute work against things like blogs and crowd sourcing becoming a main stream sources of legal information - and by extension a threat to traditional forms of legal publishing.

Lawyers continue to pay for authoritative and accurate secondary legal information. They rely on the accuracy of their sources and ensuring the accuracy of that information has a cost.

This is why large legal publishers have confidently said the release of free information on the Web does not impact the demand for their subscription services from professional users.

Still, there is more discussion now about the relative benefits of an open system and how that might work than there has ever been, and publishers need to take heed.