Saturday, 21 May 2011

A tree in the forest and other important points from #lawblogs

Wow, what a week. Work has been particularly hectic and involved a fair bit of travelling, including 24 hours in Israel on Tuesday/Wednesday which was extremely interesting. Anyway it just so happened that I was in London on Thursday night and I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Lawblogs event at Chancery Lane.

This was my first event at The Law Society and I have to admit to a frisson of excitement walking through those doors for the first time. I was trying my best to look like I belonged there. Fortunately, most of the afternoon had been spent at The London International Wine Fair so I had a little bit of dutch courage. Anyway I needn't have worried, the event was attended by a wide range of legal bloggers, students, writers and keen amateurs like me. The thing they all seemed to have in common, (apart from an interest in legal blogging), was that they were friendly and inclusive no matter what level of experience you might bring to the party.

The event/workshop/discussion was compered by the charismatic @lawyercatrin who held the proceedings together  with considerable aplomb and refreshments generously provided by 1 Crown Row Chambers. The panel was made up of the notable legal writers and bloggers @adamwagner1, @joshuarozenberg, @davidallengreen, @carlgardner @siobhainb with @charonqc unfortunately unable to attend.

The theme was"The Future of Legal Blogging" and there was an informal and conversational air to the proceedings.

Siobhain kicked us off with some comments about the blurring of the boundaries of "mainstream media", whatever that might mean these days. Joshua Rozenberg made the very important point that, (with the notable exception of @gdnlaw), mainstream media seems to have forsaken law reporting and it is the bloggers and tweeters that are stepping in to fill the gaps.

David Allen Green then spent some time describing what originally motivated him to start blogging and advocated blogging as a useful way of making complicated legal proceedings more accessible to public at large. He also warned against the dangers of "trial by social media".

Adam Wagner had some interesting points to make about the differences between barristers and solicitors when it comes to being able to comment on cases using social media. There are key differences in the respective codes of conduct which at present impose more restrictions on barristers than on solicitors. Adam seemed to be suggesting that a review of these rules is overdue.

Carl Gardner also made some great contributions to the discussion, including raising the question of whether the boundaries between mainstream and social media have become so blurred as to render the word "blog" almost obsolete. I was also taken with his response to a question from the floor, that one of the powers of social media might lie in its power to disorganise people rather than organise them, an interesting concept that bears closer examination in my opinion.

Once the discussion was opened up to the audience things got really interesting. One of the highlights for me was a question from @rjwhitaker. He posed the question of whether some blogging was the equivalent of the proverbial tree falling in the forest. If no-one is reading then what is the point? This raises the important question of whether legal bloggers are really serving the wider public with understandable legal commentary are whether they are simply creating internet noise of no real interest to anyone except other legal bloggers. I personally feel that the answer is probably a bit of both but, as David Allen Green pointed out, what harm can it do?

Another highlight was the contribution of @copyrightgirl. I know I was not alone in finding her enthusiasm for her chosen area of interest and social media infectious.

Unfortunately I had to leave quite soon after the end of the formal discussion so missed meeting up with some of the tweeters I follow. I did have time for a good chat with @michaelscutt and @brianinkster and quick hello to @ashleyconnick, (who seems to be rapidly developing his own fan club), before I had to dash off.

As a law student I found the whole evening fascinating and the hour and a half allotted could easily have been doubled as far as I was concerned. I was amazed that there weren't more students attending. What a fantastic opportunity for aspiring lawyers to start building their networks whilst learning about the direction legal writing is travelling in. In my opinion it is the current crop of law students who are the future of legal blogging, it would be nice to see a few more of them stepping up to the plate.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Dylan. I was one of many who couldn't attend but, instead, looked on from the #lawblogs feed on twitter, although I suppose only so much can be shared in 140 characters.

    Glad to hear such positive views about the future of legal blogging. I do agree that today's law students will comprise a large chunk of the future of legal blogging. In that respect, I wrote a blog post about a similar topic last year here - would be good to hear your views on that.

    Looking forward to meeting up again later this year.

    Best wishes