Paul L. Caron

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Feldman: Law Profs Should Blog, Not Tweet

TBFollowing up on my previous posts:

Noah Feldman (Harvard), Twitter's Not a Great Place for Legal Advice:

We have our first confirmed federal Twitter judge, Judge Don Willett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. More than 500 legal scholars both young and old, as well as sophisticated practitioners, use Twitter to comment, analyze and argue. From a practical perspective, legal Twitter is thriving.

But is legal Twitter a good thing? The question has been bouncing aroundon (surprise) Twitter — but without (surprise) any very sustained engagement.

This matters because law professors serve a public function: They work out the meaning of the law before it goes to the courts, and they explain law to the public. If they’re doing a bad job, the legal system suffers.

As for whether that analysis should be happening on Twitter, the nature of the debate helps clarify the answer. Twitter is and remains a great way to connect people to longer forms of reasoned argument. But even the extended format of 280 characters isn’t a satisfying or enlightening way to engage in legal debate. ...

Legal Twitter is rather, a forum where you increasingly have to be in order to participate inadequately in debates that otherwise will go on without you. ...

Two decades ago, large amounts of quasi-formal expert debate over legal issues took place on message boards and listservs. Those had the advantage of allowing extensive interaction, but were of limited accessibility beyond scholars.

Then came legal blogs (horrendously dubbed blawgs), both for law professors and legal experts more generally. Those blogs were controversial among professors 15 years ago. But today I think it can be squarely said that they are a nearly unmitigated good. ...

[L]egal blogs invite discussion that can range from generally interesting to highly technical. People post and counter-post and engage in serious discussion and exchange. For the most part, the blogs supplement law reviews, where articles can run to what in other fields would be considered the length of a short book. Using the blogs effectively has become a good way to carve out policy positions on important legal issues and to gain a broader audience for academic work.

In contrast to the legal blogs, Twitter doesn’t allow for much subtlety in expressing legal ideas -- including complex ones.

Legal Education | Permalink