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Thursday, September 07, 2006

That's So Six Months Ago: Blogging and Student Scholarship

The September 2006 issue of the Yale Law Journal Pocket Part is now available, focusing on "The Future of Legal Scholarship." Among the series of interesting essays by really cool people and co-bloggers (Christopher Bracey, Paul Caron, Eugene Volokh, Jack Balkin, and Ann Althouse), is a short piece by me, titled "That's So Six Months Ago: Challenges to Student Scholarship in the Age of Blogging."  (PDF here).

In my essay, I suggest that one of the heretofore understudied areas of scholarship impacted by law blogging is student writing, given its propensity to focus on recent developments in the law. As blogging increasingly preempts that field (and the essay cites some examples), I explore the nature of the challenges that aspiring student scholars face in this "age of blogging," and the possible means by which bloggers, law professors, and even student-edited law journals can stimulate new (or, in some cases, old) forms of student scholarship less susceptible to these concerns. In short, the essay argues that blogging may well have a significanct impact on student writing, but that, to the extent that it pushes students away from pieces focusing on well-studied recent developments, that may actually be a good thing.

I'm curious, though, whether readers think that I'm overselling the impact of blogging on student scholarship, or, perhaps, overselling the extent to which this is a "problem" worth a solution... I also hope to have some thoughts later today on the other essays, all of which look far more interesting than mine.

Posted by Steve Vladeck on September 7, 2006 at 03:02 AM in Article Spotlight, Blogging, Steve Vladeck | Permalink


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i think you raise some very valid points. i recall writing my student Note on California's junk-email legislation, arguing that it violated the "dormant" (!) Commerce Clause. the legislation was eventually made moot by the CAN-SPAM act, but i think that if california were to issue such legislation today, the heavyweights in the field, as you suggest, probably would have chimed in rather quickly and pre-empted my Note before Congress did.

nonetheless, i think you might be overstating it a bit. it is true that the "cool" issues will likely be beaten to death on the blogosphere, but, given that many law profs eschew writing on the law ("law and..." seems more en vogue these days), there are an extraordinary number of open legal issues out there that would benefit from student input. when i get my copies of MLR in the mail, i usually notice that the only pieces in the volume to actually talk about statutes, regs, treaties and caselaw are the student notes. i don't think students have to be too worried about profs pre-empting *legal* topics ("distributive justice" may be another matter...).

what might happen is that students will be pushed away from the "cool" topics, and towards the stuff that hasn't caught the blogosphere's attention. this is perhaps bad for students-- it's hard enough learning how to write a note with only 1 year under your belt, and perhpas even harder if it's on an abstruse topic. but, all is not lost-- i would conservatively guess that there are thousands and thousands of legal issues out there that could profit from student insight.

to that end, more should chime in on http://www.lawtopic.org/, a clearinghouse for student note topics.

Posted by: andy | Sep 7, 2006 6:59:34 AM

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