Last year I had the great fortune to be given the opportunity to work with the UK Human Rights Blog ("UKHRB") team. The blog, which is an initiative of barristers of 1 Crown Office Row Chambers, has after only just under 2 years developed a large and loyal readership. Contributors come from a range of legal professions (solicitors, academics, barristers) and their posts discuss a variety of subject matters, all with an underlying relationship with human rights law. My thoughts on legal blogging and why it is a good idea to embark upon this activity are based on my experience with the UKHRB.
In my view, legal blogging (or blawgging) has a number of benefits. Firstly, it helps demystify the law: legal bloggers have endeavoured to convey information about legal developments in an accessible manner, avoiding the excessive use of “legalese”. This has led to an increase in interest in legal news beyond those of us who happen to work or wish to work in the legal profession.
Secondly, it provides for accurate reporting of legal developments, something which was at times missing in main media vehicles.
Thirdly, law blogs get people talking: ideas and arguments are debated both by writers and readers, which allows the general public to engage in the development of the law.
There are also many benefits to those who write legal blogs, particularly if you are a law student.
Firstly, you get to write about law in a different context to that you are used to at university. Your writing skills are greatly improved as you learn how to write in an engaging manner, and to convey complicated ideas in a straightforward and succinct manner in order to attain your goal of making law accessible to non-lawyers.
You also enhance your critical eye and develop your ability to evaluate judgments, legislation or any other legal development in a more comprehensive manner.
Secondly,you get the chance to learn more about areas of law which you would not normally be interested in, or learn about areas of law which were unfamiliar to you. Not only that, you keep yourself up-to-date with the latest legal developments, which can help you get ahead during your law degree, or give you an edge during a job interview.
Thirdly, you get to convey your thoughts on a given-subject matter, which can be very rewarding, especially when what you write generates a good heated debate.
Finally, there is a whole community out there of legal bloggers. You get exposure to them, and they get exposure to you. There is great networking to be made and a lot can be learned both in terms of knowledge and professional experience by becoming part of this network.
There are many ways by which you can get involved in blawgging. You can apply for positions as a writer which may either be advertised by legal blogs, or you can take the initiative and write to those responsible for the law blogs you have an interest in and they might offer you a position. But for those who have a new idea, or wish to be in control of what they want to write about, the suggestion would be to start your own blog. Websites such as Wordpress.com, or blogger.com are good platforms. For those who have little spare time to dedicate to law blogs, the best option is to try and seek a position within an already established blog, or even to write the occasional post and try to get it published by legal blogs that interest you.
One way to get to know many of the legal bloggers and to follow the publication of their latest posts or the latest legal news, is to create a Twitter account. You can find the Twitter accounts of many of the various blogs out there, and receive Twitter feeds with the latest news. I would also suggest those of you who own smartphones to download an one of the Reader applications; you could try Digg Reader or Feedly (there are plenty of other apps which do a similar thing), which constantly checks your favourite news sites and blogs for new content.
As for the content of your blog, you can focus on anything you would like: case-commentaries, general legal news, legislation, law reform, you name it! You can write in your own name or have a pseudonym, and you can choose to either write in an impartial and objective manner, or give a more personal opinion on whatever subject you are writing about. The important thing is not to be shy, but to be bold.
I very much enjoyed my time as a legal blogger and would thoroughly recommend the activity to any lawyer out there, particularly to law students.
Many thanks to Melina Padron for this excellent piece. Melina took both the GDL and BPTC at The City Law School. She also has an LLM in Public International Law from UCL and an LLB from Universidade de Fortaleza (Brazil).