Whenever we start thinking about blogging, rather than about drug and device law, Bexis gets spooked.
So this post was written by Herrmann alone, ruminating about the life expectancy of a newborn legal blog.
What prompted the rumination?
The professors who previously manned the Product Liability Prof Blog and the Civil Procedure Prof Blog have apparently given up the ships. As of last week, the Law Profs Blog Network was soliciting new professors (here and here) to take over the reins of those two blogs.
Even the academics can’t do it! The professors can’t feed their blogs; it’s too much work.
And those guys spend their lives wearing tweed jackets, smoking pipes, and thinking great thoughts!
So today’s question was this: How long does the average practitioner-blogger last?
We don’t have a clue.
But that won’t stop us. To answer our question, we thought about two things:
First, we reflected on our neck of the woods. A while back, we thought that the Medical Devices: Law, Trends, and Oddities Blog was okay. We weren’t hanging on every word that was published there, but we thought it was worth watching. So how long did it last?
We welcomed that entry into the blogosphere in December 2007, and the last post we could find reported on Warner-Lambert v. Kent in March 2008. Four months and out.
More recently, we thought Russell Jackson did a spectacularly nice job at his Consumer Class Actions and Mass Torts Blog. He picked his topics intelligently, wrote them up with flair, and contributed to worthwhile discussions on the web. And this was a guy who had written a column for the National Law Journal for a while, so he knows how to crank out the words.
How long did he last?
He started his blog in January 2009 and hung up his cleats in April 2009. Four months.
That’s our neck of the woods.
In addition to thinking about the drug and device space, we tried to think about legal blogs more generally.
We can just barely spell “empirics.” We don’t have a clue how to analyze empirically the lifespan of an average newborn legal blog (although that would be a fascinating project for the right person).
But we’re masters of down-and-dirty research.
So, instead of hard information that you can count on, we’ll give you a tiny little, unscientific survey.
We went over to “Real Lawyers Have Blogs,” which is manned by Kevin O’Keefe, who both sells a legal blogging platform and (perhaps not surprisingly) thinks that legal blogs are God’s gift to lawyers. We went to Kevin’s blogroll on August 18, and we looked at the last six blogs on the first page of listings. Those links were titled: Arizona Injury and Insurance Lawyer, Arizona Family Law Lawyer, Arizona Eminent Domain Lawyer, Arizona DUI Lawyer, Antitrust Lawyers, and Angiosarcoma Lawyer. (Now you see why we weren’t going all the way to “Z.”)
We checked to see whether those six, randomly selected, blogs were still active.
Half of them were.
As of late August 2009, the Arizona Injury Lawyer had last posted on October 13, 2008. That blog’s dead.
The Arizona Divorce and Family Law Blog had last posted on June 19, 2009. That’s a mighty long summer vacation; we’re calling it dead.
The Arizona Eminent Domain Lawyer had last posted on March 31, 2009. That’s Spring Break stretching into Summer Vacation. Nice lifestyle, if you can pull it off, but the blog is toast.
The Arizona DUI Lawyer had last posted on July 30, 2009. That’s a fairly long gap between posts, but the blog may still be active.
And the Antitrust Law Blog and Angiosarcoma Lawyer had both posted within the last week, so they’re still breathing.
What’s our conclusion?
Legal blogs are like small businesses: Half of ’em fail in the first year, and 90 percent of ’em fail in the next five.
Maybe that’s a little precise, given that we didn’t actually do any empirical analysis. But you get our drift. Legal blogs don’t last.
They require a ton of work; they gather readership only slowly over time; and they’re not the gold mine of new business that blogolaters say they are.
(Can you claim a copyright interest in a word? If so, we want blogolater. We just invented it, and we kind of like it. Can it be ours?)
In fact, as we slog toward the third — Egad! It hurts even to type those words! — anniversary of the Drug and Device Law Blog, we’re thinking of trading blogging for lexicography.
It would surely be easier. It would probably be more rewarding.
And, Lord knows, the two of us are harmless drudges.