Why are there more legal Blogs in the US than the UK, or Ireland?

Times MastheadFrom an article in The Times by Alex Wade (who as Surf Nation):

Legal blogs: isn’t it time British lawyers staked their claim in the blogosphere?

Should law firms have blogs? In America they are all the rage. Just about every self-respecting law professor has one, many firms believe them to be a must-have accoutrement, and even one or two judges have got in the act.

In Britain only a handful of legal practitioners maintain blogs, but as society increasingly embraces the Web 2.0 world of interactivity, collaboration and social networking, isn’t it time that UK firms staked their claim in the blogosphere? …

It may be, too, that the embedded right to freedom of expression in American society, in contrast to Britons’ tendency to discretion (exemplified, arguably, in our highly developed libel laws), is another factor in transatlantic enthusiasm for the blogosphere.

I’m sure exactly the same questions can be asked in Ireland. But I wonder whether things are as quiet on the east side of the Atlantic as The Times supposes. For example, ComputerWeekly.com recently announced the winners of its IT Blog Awards 08; one of the 10 categories (each with a shortlist of 10 nominated blogs) was IT law and governance blogs, for blogs by “lawyers who specialise in information, internet, and technology law, and blogs covering the wider issues of legislation and governance of IT issues, from privacy to politics”. It was a fascinating shortlist, and the category was – deservedly, in my view – won by the peerless IP Kat. Kudos to them. The point, though, is that the varied selection of blogs in that category demonstrates exactly the kind of diversity and ferment that The Times suggested as the norm in the US. Perhaps it may be that, as a smaller jurisdiction, the UK simply has fewer examples than the US. And Ireland in turn has fewer than the UK. Nevertheless, the ComputerWeekly awards demonstrate that, whilst the quantities of UK (and it might be said, Irish) legal blogs might be fewer, the qualities are just as varied.

Update (24 August 2008): Nick Holmes makes a similar point:

Alex Wade in Times Online looks at blawging: “only a handful of legal practitioners maintain blogs”.

No way! Sure only a handful of law firms maintain firm-branded blogs, but as we on Binary Law [link added] all know, maybe half the hundreds of UK blawgs out there are by practitioners; and let’s not forget to mention the academics, pupils and others in the legal world who are blogging good stuff. Go make your case.

And if you’re just getting started, have a look at this page, which provides a useful (if rather serious) starting point for lawyers interested in either identifying law blogs they wish to monitor or starting their own blawgs, and Nick has excellent advice on what makes a good blawg (I should follow it sometime). In any event, many examples can be found in the blogroll on the left, especially in the lists of blawgs in the last category. Go ahead, start a blawg today. You may surprise yourself at how much fun it can be! :-)

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