Pour one out for Concurring Opinions, the group law professor blog that has been kicking around since 2006.
The blog will shutter Dec. 31, though the authors hope to preserve the archives. Concurring Opinions was among the first group law professors blog to emerge in the 2000s, when the new medium offered academics a much quicker way to disseminate their ideas than traditional law review publications. But blog participation among the core group of seven authors waned over time. Gerard Magliocca, a professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, has written the vast majority of Concurring Opinions’ posts over the past year and plans to continue blogging at Balkinization. Law.com caught up with Magliocca Thursday to discuss why Concurring Opinions is closing shop and whether legal blogs of its ilk have a future in a world dominated by Twitter, Facebook and podcasts. His answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Why close now? What happened?
The members have kind of moved on to other things or other media for getting out their views. We just decided that we didn’t want to bring in a new group of people and start over from scratch. It has had a good run, and there really was no interest in continuing it.
Some of that probably relates to the existence of social media. People can get things out on Facebook and Twitter, and that’s an alternative some people prefer. That wasn’t around 10 years ago, really, or not to the extent it is now. Also, there are just other opportunities to get things out, whether it’s writing for a website or having a personal website.
Legal blogs were a game-changer when they first came on the scene, right?
The existence of these blogs changed things in that they greatly sped up critiques of opinions, or discussions of issues. Take the case that came out of the District Court on the Affordable Care Act. Years ago, the opinion would come out and a few media outlets would write about it, but there wouldn’t be any lengthy, formal analysis of it for months. Now, you get commentary about it in five seconds or as long as it takes someone to read the opinion. And you get a lot of it. You quickly get a consensus of what people think of it. That frames, I think to some degree, what an appellate court will think.
[Concurring Opinions] wasn’t the first, but we were among the first. Some of them have become really well established. You’ve got SCOTUS Blog covering the Supreme Court, and the Volokh Conspiracy giving a more conservative—or libertarian—point of view on things. I just think that it’s more to do with the preferences of our group, rather than a broader trend. The only broader trend is that there are more avenues to get your opinions out there. You can even do podcasts. You’ve seen more and more legal podcasts being done.
What reaction have you gotten since announcing the blog will close?
People have expressed gratitude for being able to read the posts. I’ve heard from people who have posted in the past as guest bloggers. There’s a certain regret that it’s going away, but it’s more in the form of, “Thanks for what you’ve done.” It has reached its natural conclusion.
Does the group law professor blog format have a future?
It does have a future, but it only really works if there is a kind of brand identity. It could be it’s about a particular subject—it’s a place to read about copyright law or something. Or it has a particular political or ideological bent. But what I don’t think you will see anymore is a collection of people blogging about general topics from different points of view. That’s much harder to sustain just because it’s harder to attract readers. You need some niche to fill in a way that a blog of generalists doesn’t do.