Friday, August 1, 2008

Blogging as a way of increasing a law school's academic reputation?

I was reading Race to the Bottom (an excellent corporate law blog) and came across an interesting paper written by Prof. J. Robert Brown Jr., at U. of Denver Strum College of the Law. Entitled, Of Empires, Independents, and Captives: Law Blogging, Law Scholarship, and Law School Rankings, it's premise is that law schools can increase their academic reputation through serious academic blogging. Because of the decline in influence law journals command and the entrenched nature of the academic recognition process through such scholarship, and rise in the influence of blogs, Prof. Brown suggests that law blogs may be a cost-effective way for lower ranked schools to increase their academic presence.

Well, it's an interesting theory, but I'm not sure if I buy it...yet. First is the problem with getting noticed. Even if you put out a quality product, there's no guarantee someone's going to buy it. There are a ton of bloggers out there. I suppose this is where ingenuity in finding a niche would come into play. But I'm not sure how entrepreneurial law professors are.

Second, even though blogs have risen in influence with the general public, I'm not convinced they've risen in influence with academics, the actual folks who submit their opinions to the US News and World. While blogs may be interesting to read and may bring up interesting points of views, it's the law journal articles that generally fully flesh out ideas and complex legal issues that face modern legal scholarship. As a result, this will always play a dominant role. At best, blogs will play a minimal influence.

Third, as Prof. Brown points out, while blogging isn't anywhere near as time consuming as writing a journal article, blogging still does have a sizable opportunity cost. Anyone who blogs, or has written a post can attest to that. I'm not sure if professors are willing to take that cost.

I suppose though, I'm being a little short sighted. I mean, I am blogging about an academic article, thereby spreading the word of Prof. Brown. Maybe some time down the road, after this process repeats itself, it might influence his school's rankings. So maybe there is something to this blogging thing. Wonder if my school should do it.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Not only should USF Law professors be blogging, it should be a source of shame for us that at a school smack dab in the middle of silicon valley, and one that purports to have a focus on IP and technology, that not a single professor seems to either blog, contribute to a group blog, or even guest contribute to a group blog. That is downright ridiculous.