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BLAWGS MAKE LEAP FROM CHATTER TO STUFF OF CITATIONS If anyone still scoffs at the growing importance and influence of law blogs, maybe this will convince you that it’s time to finally start your own. Ian Best, a recent graduate of Ohio State University’s Michael E. Moritz College of Law, did an independent study observing and recording recent case rulings that cited blogs. And he found 32 citations of legal blogs in 27 cases. Best, who claims to be the first law student in the country to receive academic credit for blogging, started his study as part of a class project that looked into the growing phenomenon of legal blogs. His interest was piqued while working as a research assistant to Douglas Berman, Moritz College of Law’s most prolific blogger. The professor has been posting about advancements in federal sentencing on his blog, Sentencing Law and Policy, since 2004. His blog is one of the eight legal blogs cited by judges in the 27 cases Best compiled. “I started the study because I wanted to show how blogs are becoming more sophisticated and respectable within the legal profession,” Best said in an e-mail. To prove his point, he chose to conduct his study and present his research via a blog of his own, 3L Epiphany. His compilation of cases is also backed by e-mail interviews with three judges who wrote some of the decisions citing blogs. And the judges’ responses were as “illuminating” as the result itself, according to Best. Based on his interviews, he said, judges increasingly accept blogs as legitimate forms of scholarship. Justice Judith Lanzinger of the Ohio Supreme Court told Best that she expects citations to grow as “worthwhile” blogs continue to appear and judges become aware of them. She added that lawyers who ignore blogs altogether do so at their peril. U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf in Nebraska told Best that he reads legal blogs every day, and that his two favorite blogs are Berman’s Sentencing Law and Policy and Howard Bashman’s How Appealing. “Blogs provide a unique opportunity for law teachers to directly influence the development of the law in near-real time,” Kopf told Best. “I am particularly hopeful that law professors who are interested in the everyday problems confronted by lawyers and judges will do more blogging. I find those efforts very useful.” But it is not just judges who are turning to blogs for guidance. Best’s study also showed that blog posts are frequently cited in traditional scholarship. He found 489 citations of legal blogs in law review articles. Best, who is still doing temporary work for his law school as a research fellow, has not yet decided whether to choose a traditional legal career, or an alternative one that includes legal blog scholarship. Anyone interested in hiring a new law school graduate with blogging experience?

Xenia P. Kobylarz

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