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Monday, August 18, 2014

"Every Law Student is on Law Review": Why Law Students Should Blog

The quoted portion of this post's title is the title of this post by Kevin O'Keefe at Real Lawyers Have Blogs. In his post, O'Keefe mentions this article from the Stanford Report. The article discusses how the digital revolution has given students the opportunity to write about virtually any subject, and to actively share their writing with professional communities.

O'Keefe applies the article's discussion to the legal profession:

Historically, law students applied to be on law review as a resume enhancer leading to clerkships and high paying jobs. Those with top grades and and the “right stuff” as determined by law professors and law review veterans got “on law review.” 
Articles would published by only some students and the audience who would read them would be limited and would come, if at all, long after publication. The goal was really show and tell, not necessarily to contribute to legal dialogue. 
Now a mid tier student with passion for an area of the law or societal niche can flip up a WordPress blog and have at it. 
They’ll immediately connect with other like minded thought leaders whether law students, law professors, lawyers, and business/societal leaders. Peer review is immediate and wide. Their content will be seen immediately, commented upon via social media, and they’ll join a national or, in some cases, world-wide conversation on the niche.
I agree with O'Keefe, and I think that all law students should give blogging serious consideration whether or not they are on law review. Speaking from my own experience, I feel comfortable saying that blogging gives students the chance to engage with the law on a level beyond their coursework. It also encourages them to keep abreast of current events and legal developments.

Beyond O'Keefe's important discussion of the impact students' blogging can have in the professional community, students' blogging has further value when it comes to interviewing or writing cover letters. In these contexts, students are more likely to excel if they can demonstrate their enthusiasm for a particular area of law. Blogging encourages students to learn about particular areas of law and to remain aware of developments in the field. And the blog itself serves as a tangible indicator of this engagement.

Moreover, blogging gives students the opportunity to practice legal writing. While virtually all law schools require students to take some sort of legal writing course, writing is a skill that demands constant practice and refinement. One course may teach students the basics of writing memoranda and briefs, but once that course is done, students must rely on their own initiative to develop their skills further. Blogging is one opportunity to do legal writing on a regular basis.

Legal writing courses will almost certainly teach students how to write structured briefs and memos, but there often will not be enough time to teach students how to write about the law in a clear, understandable manner for clients and other lay readers. Blogging about the law, and communicating arguments about the law to the public at large, gives students the opportunity to write about the law in a non-technical manner.

These are just a few points that I think are worth considering along with the benefits of blogging that O'Keefe describes. For me, blogging has been a wonderful experience, and I encourage all law students to give it a try.

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