Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Rethinking Law Review Podcasts (Jr. Law Prawfs FAQ)
Last week I questioned the value of law review-sponsored podcast programs, predicting that they'd be the next Betamax (as opposed to the next iPad). Based on the comments, Twitter responses, and emails, a line from one of the most ridiculous and ridiculously funny new shows on TV comes to mind: "But what if it wasn't."
In particular, it seems like there are a number of really terrific law podcast series out there, including Oral Argument and The Week in Health Law. These podcast series are not sponsored by law reviews, and seem to have carved out a niche audience with field-specific content. So I'm still skeptical that just generalist law reviews doing podcasts on the diverse articles they publish would be a recipe for success, as you need to build subscriptions and an audience.
Accordingly, if I'm the editor-in-chief of a major law review, I see two main paths forward:
First, you become the official podcast of the law school more generally, and you turn all of the school-sponsored speeches, ACS/FedSoc debates, events, etc., possible into podcasts as well as sponsor your own live events to turn into podcasts. That way, you tap into the alumni network of your school as well as lawyers within your region. Depending on the speakers, there's a potential to build your audience beyond those networks.
Second, you specialize in one area of the law and do a podcast series around that. Some journals already do this with online blogs, annual symposium issues, etc. For instance, the Harvard Law Review could do a Supreme Court Review podcast (perhaps partnering with SCOTUSblog?) similar to their annual issue, and those journals that cover particular circuits could do the same -- like the Ohio State Law Journal with the Sixth Circuit Review or the Wake Forest Law Review with the Fourth Circuit Review. The Duke Law Journal and George Washington Law Review both do annual administrative law issues, so that could be an option. That said, the Administrative Law Review and/or Yale Journal on Regulation would also be in a prime position to do a weekly administrative law podcast.
I guess there is a third and slightly different path forward: The law review editors could approach one of the existing podcasts and see if they wanted to partner, lending time and resources to an already successful podcast series.
In all events, my hunch is that the generalist law review doing a generalist podcast series probably won't cut it. But, again, I could be wrong. I'm much more optimistic, though, about a focused podcast that develops an audience in a field (or around a law school's general programming and built-in networks). That said, my guess is that launching and maintaining a successful podcast would require a fair amount of time and energy -- time and energy that could be put to other good uses. So consider the opportunity costs.
These posts are awesome, but I wish you would consider spreading them out a bit more over time. I feel we've been inundated with so many topics relevant to junior professors in such a short period of time that none are getting the full attention they deserve. Just my .02.
Posted by: Anonprof | Apr 26, 2016 5:12:28 PM
Thanks for the feedback, and I completely agree that this has been a sprint. I'm only here for the month of April, so I wanted to try to cover a dozen or so of the most frequently asked questions I've heard from junior law professors. Hopefully these posts are just discussion starters, and the questions covered (as well as others) will get fuller attention here and elsewhere.
Posted by: Chris Walker | Apr 26, 2016 9:43:17 PM
I agree with your conclusion that generalist law reviews are unlikely to run successful podcasts without specializing in some way. But I would chalk that up at least in part to their increasing irrelevance. At this point they literally contribute nothing more than credentialing & even do that poorly.
Posted by: Brian L. Frye | Apr 27, 2016 12:53:22 PM