I read an excellent article on Lawyerist.com yesterday. It was titled "Don't Waste Your Time Writing Law-Review Articles." It was written by Matthew R. Salzwedel, a practicing attorney in Minnesota, a former clerk for the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and the former lead managing editor of the Minnesota Law Review.
Mr. Salzwedel points out that the trend in legal scholarship is short, focused columns and blog posts. He points to the dramatic decline in law-review subscriptions and argues that short, narrowly focused articles written for local newspapers and online publications (read, "blogs") are now the preferred way to improve your legal writing skills and market your practice. He argues that lawyers shouldn't write law-review articles because it is a long, tedious, and exhausting process that probably will not equate to a single new client. He points out that he has never obtained a single client lead from a law-review article, much less an actual paying client.
I wholeheartedly agree. I have been pushing this exact message, although much less eloquently, for many years. I would never even consider writing a law-review article. I turned down the opportunity to "write on" to the law-review in law school. I could not imagine a bigger waste of my valuable and limited time while living on a college campus. (Insert winky-faced emoticon here.) To even consider writing a law-review article as a practicing lawyer is absurd. Who are you trying to impress? The three, 23 year-old editors who are only reading it to pad their own resumes?
On the other hand, my practice has benefited greatly from this blog. I have obtained dozens of paying clients through this blog. It is amazing how often I hear from clients that one of my blog posts turned up in a Google search and lead to a a phone call to my office. I have heard the exact same thing from other contributors to this blog. In fact, the two most-read posts ever on this blog were not written by me. Where would you rather find your name nowadays? On Google or on the dusty shelf in the basement of a law library? If you choose the former, rather than the later, you can get full access to the blog by emailing me HERE.
Michael, I would add a third category in between blog posts and law review articles - bar association journal and newsletter articles. This varies from article to article of course, but with the proliferation of newsletters for the many bar sections, there is a high demand for articles that are of concisely focused and of good quality, but not of the length and level of detail of a law review article. A blog post may be a starter piece to which the author adds more detail (such as properly formatted citations) for the bar newsletter article with a minimal amount of additional time and effort.
I agree. Matthew Salzwedel made the same point in his original article. Along those same lines, look for my article in November's Kane County Bar Briefs.
(I will link to the article for all non-members)
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