Somin Cited in National Journal on Effect of Blogs on Legal Scholarship

A recent issue of The National Journal suggests that lawyers' blogs have established themselves as an important new method of communication, and the result has been an expansion of sources for legal news, a showcase for legal scholarship, and widespread opportunity for lawyers to promote their careers, viewpoints, and firms.

The article cited Professor Ilya Somin's recent postings urging the Supreme Court to hear a particular case as an example of how legal scholarship benefits from the give-and-take of blog-generated discussion.

Lawyers' blogs have gained a firm foothold in the legal profession, providing analysis, news, and even gossip (Section: Lobbying and Law), The National Journal, December 16, 2006. By Bara Vaida.

"As instant publishing mediums, blogs are becoming an adjunct to legal scholarship. Law schools produce lengthy, analytical commentaries on case law through the institution's paper-based law review, which generally takes many months to produce. Jack Balkin, a Yale Law School constitutional professor and the creator of the blog Balkinization, says that blogs have made the law review process more like journalism where lawyers are instantly commenting back and forth on cases, speeding up the breadth and depth of legal scholarship.

"'Legal bloggers now rush to comment on important new cases the day they come down,' Balkin wrote in an online posting on the 'Pocket Part,' a companion to the Yale Law Journal. 'The end of each year's Supreme Court term brings a veritable orgy of blogging.'

"An example of these discussions can be found on the Volokh Conspiracy, a Web site for libertarian and conservative law professors. On December 11, Ilya Somin, an assistant law professor at George Mason University, blogged about an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to hear an eminent domain case. Somin's post received a number of responses, to which Somin replied in kind, resulting in a multiparty discussion about individual property rights and the law.

"Underscoring how law blogs have seeped into scholarly discussions, 489 law review articles in the United States and Canada have referenced specific blogs, according to Ian Best, a graduate of Ohio State University's Moritz School of Law who has researched the effect of blogs on the law.

"An even more significant figure is the number of judges who are reading and using the blogs. Best found 32 examples where judges cited legal blogs in their decisions on 27 different cases."