Law prof blogs

By Nick Holmes on February 23, 2008
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Filed under Blogging, Law blogs

I’ve been meaning for some time to investigate the US law prof blog network as it’s a phenomenon that is not apparent in the UK. Carolyn Elefant on Law Blog Watch has prompted me to do so, pointing to Paul Caron’s study of law prof blog traffic for the period Feb 2007-Jan 2008. Here’s the top 10 from Paul’s 35 – with all blogs and bloggers linked for your convenience.

Rank Blog Blogger Page views Visitors (rank)
1 InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds 75,868,173 70,748,231 (1)
2 Hugh Hewitt Hugh Hewitt 16,604,852 13,392,343 (2)
3 Volokh Conspiracy Sasha Volokh 12,403,944 8,647,368 (3)
4 Althouse Ann Althouse 8,062,853 4,429,672 (4)
5 Patently-O Dennis Crouch 3,015,706 1,532,860 (6)
6 Leiter Reports Brian Leiter 2,706,134 1,629,699 (5)
7 Jack Bog’s Blog Jack Bogdanski 1,974,956 776,272 (12)
8 Balkinization Jack Balkin 1,961,379 1,294,363 (8)
9 TaxProf Blog Paul Caron 1,946,062 1,358,016 (7)
10 Concurring Opinions Daniel Solove 1,751,358 1,125,512 (9)
11 Sentencing Law & Policy Douglas Berman 1,666,960 907,141 (10)

In the comments that follow, numbers in brackets refer to the page view ranks above. Paul Caron writes TaxProf Blog (#9).

The blogs in Paul’s study were “drawn from” Dan Solove’s comprehensive census of law prof blogs on Concurring Opinions (#10) and used the actual traffic statistics of those blogs with publicly available SiteMeters.

Jack Balkin of Balkinization (#8) reviews the results. Although, of course, he has a vested interest, his post and all the comments are well worth reading, giving a good picture of the practice and politics of law prof blogging.

I have a healthy disregard for traffic stats when quoted by individuals: there are so many unsaids, like, for example, do they ever tell you that a substantial proportion of their page views are from automatons – bots like Google that frequently read and index pages or RSS readers that fetch pages several times a day? However, stats comparing like with like and using the same source are always going to be useful.

The stats for the top law prof blogs are impressive – millions of page views (per annum) or even the 6-figures achieved lower down the rankings is a readership to die for. As Jack notes:

Even the least trafficked of these expert blogs probably gain more readers in six months than most law professors could hope for in a career.

But “law prof blogs” are simply blogs written by law professors; they are not necessarily primarily about law. That’s particularly true of the more popular ones, as Brian Leiter of the Leiter Reports (#6) notes:

four of the top five have almost nothing to do with law; four of the top five are right-wing blogs; and three of the top five have almost no intellectual content.

So, if you want a popular blog, don’t write about substantive law!

Ann Althouse (#4) sees an ulterior motive in Paul’s study:

Paul Caron has the top 30, ranked. And you know how we lawprofs love rankings. In the spirit of a US News report that heavily weights LSAT scores, Paul ranks by traffic. In the spirit of a law school that admits more students on LSAT strength, his post will get him more traffic and help him in future rankings.

And I rather liked this comment on Ann’s post about Paul’s pic (judge for yourself):

Every time I see his picture on that blog I find myself wishing he was one half step to the left (his right).