Legal blogging: what can it achieve?

Last night I attended a small legal blogging discussion at One Crown Office Row chambers near Temple.

The panel featured David Allen Green (Jack of KentNew Statesman), Carl Gardner (Head of Legal) and Adam Wagner (UK Human Rights Blog), and was chaired by Catrin Griffiths, editor of The Lawyer.

It was interesting for me, as a relative newcomer on the ‘legal blog’ scene – and as someone with a journalism, rather than legal, background (I currently float somewhere in between).

While I may have arrived late to the legal blog, or heaven forbid, ‘blawg’ party, it turns out that many lawyers are only really discovering the fun of social media now (they’re rather more cautious than journalists – there’s a bit more at stake, I suspect).

Fortunately there wasn’t too much of the sycophantic ‘thanks for the follow!’ type stuff, and it was good to hear David Allen Green dismiss corporate social media ‘strategies’.

We did touch on legal blogging’s future, advertising, marketing etc. but it wasn’t too painful. Important points were raised by the audience. Hugh Tomlinson QC from Matrix talked about the demise of the newspaper legal correspondent; Siobhain Butterworth provided useful insight into the Guardian’s comment moderation process; and I also enjoyed the discussion around anonymity – and the risk of blogging as a student after a training contract.

It was only the start of the conversation, however. There are very serious issues to consider, as lawyers increasingly take to social media and online activity. Ethics and regulation, for example…

The value of legal blogging, in my view, is that it plugs a gap between the ‘locked up’ legal data behind enormous paywalled businesses and the ordinary people outside the profession.

Blogs enable us to find simple explanations and examples of case law that would previously be secreted internally.

Locked up legal data is one of my bugbears and something I’d like addressed. Why is so much stuff inaccessible until you get expensive subscriptions?

Everyone waxes lyrical about Bailii (it’s very useful, I agree) but that’s partly because there’s a dearth of other open, useable databases for UK law.

I hope that some of the legal bloggers will join in the conversation about how to free more of our courts data. I’m hoping to talk to the Ministry of Justice about this soon.

Thoughts and suggestions welcomed, either by email ( or below. Thank you. And thank you One Crown Office Row for the event!

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7 Responses to Legal blogging: what can it achieve?

  1. Lawyers need to start thinking like publishers and the blog is the ideal vehicle. They are paying for expensive and poorly packaged legal material – case reports and verbose precedents – but haven’t thought in the main how some of that might be offered to their prospective clients (as a way of winning work). I am not talking about on-line legal services but rather a way of showcasing the precision of their work and how they can solve a real problem. I wonder if lawyers wonder which of their clients want to read the latest Court of Appeal decision? None or very few. What they want is practical information and something that has value. I love blogs (I have 4 of them in different stages of development) and would love to see all firms with a nice rich, amusing and interesting blog. I suspect the uptake will be less than 10% though. What a wasted opportunity.
    Julian Summerhayes

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Legal blogging: what can it achieve? | media law & ethics --

  3. Nearly Legal says:

    I was a couple of rows behind you at the do. And I have a few things I was going to say on anonymity while searching for a training contract – not least the law of unintended consequences. But on the big issue – wholeheartedly agree. Nearly Legal is dedicated to open and free case reports (and commentary) on housing law. We do rely a lot on bailii for links to source text, but report anything we can get our hands on.

    Nick Holmes at Binary law ( and the freelegalweb project ( would be good as a contact on the open case law issue. He knows people…

  4. JTownend says:

    Unintended consequences could be negative or positive, I suppose… ?

    Thank you for the links. I was in touch with Nick last year, and that reminds me to follow up! Maybe we could theme a #lawblogs type event on legal data issues at some point…

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  7. Pingback: #lawblogs: blogging makes lawyers better at Danegeld

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