Has the Legal Blogosphere Stabilized?
posted by Daniel Solove
Over at the VC, Orin Kerr wonders whether the legal blogosphere has stabilized:
The major new blog was David Lat’s Above the Law, which has quickly become highly trafficked. But there were surprisingly few new blogs that took off, and many more blogs that looked bright in 2006 but became mostly or entirely dormant in 2007. Most of the major blogs have kept going, and readership on the whole has been roughly stable. But my sense is that there hasn’t been a lot of growth in overall law blog postings and readership.
Orin concludes: “Perhaps law blogging has hit a saturation point. Only so many people are interested in reading these sorts of things, and maybe that crowd is pretty stable and hard to grow.”
I think Orin is right — partially. Here’s where I think he’s right. Many blogs have very small audiences. Only a few law blogs have more than 1000 readers per day. My guess is that the number of law blogs with more than 1000 readers has not increased dramatically over the past few years. There are so many blogs that a person can read, and many folks have found their favorites now and are content. Of course, there’s always the possibility of an exciting new blog on the block that will quickly attract an audience. But in our experience at Concurring Opinions, it takes time and lots of work to build an audience.
But, I do think that in the future, we’ll see steady growth in blog readership — not the exponential growth of the past, but a decent growth. At Concurring Opinions, our readership has grown a lot over the past two years. In 2006, we were averaging about 50,000 to 60,000 visits per month; in 2007, we’re averaging 80,000 to 100,000 visits per month. That’s about an 80% increase in visits. I don’t think we’ll continue with such a steep growth, but I do hope and expect our readership to continue to grow.
Some predictions for the future:
1. The rich will get richer (or at least stay rich). The popular blogs will continue to grow their audience. There will be 10-20 blogs that have a sizable readership, and that number will remain relatively stable. Only a few new blogs might break into this club.
2. More law professors and lawyers will blog. Many will do so temporarily as guests, as several group blogs are hosting many guest bloggers (at Concurring Opinions, we’ve had over 50 guest bloggers in the past two years). There will be a number of people each year who drop out of the blogosphere, but I think that number is stabilizing — those that tried out blogging early on because it was the new cool fad but couldn’t sustain their interest have by and large dropped out. As more people try out blogging as guests, a few will be bitten by the blog bug and will stick around the blogosphere on a permanent basis.
3. In the law professor blogosphere, as new professors enter the academy each year, I expect a number of them will eventually take up blogging in order to increase their exposure or because they had blogs in law school and want to continue on blogging. So I expect growth in the number of law professor bloggers, but it will be a slower and more steady growth than the more dramatic increases of years past.
4. Blog readership will grow steadily. Many new law professors and law professor wannabes are avid blog readers, looking for the latest ideas, scholarly buzz, or career advice that is abundant in the blogosphere. This also applies to all legal blogs. Many law students in law school or just graduating from law school are blog readers. My sense is that those entering into the study of law or the legal profession are more likely to be blog readers than those retiring or departing. This means more readers each year, which as I predict above, will largely gravitate toward the existing established blogs.