Simple Justice and Blogging Exhaustion

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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9 Responses

  1. Orin Kerr says:

    Wait, you mean we’re allowed to stop? That possibility had not occurred to me.

  2. Dave Hoffman says:

    Only if you want to stay on top of the hourglass.

  3. I started a sports blog in 2005 just to get in the habit of writing daily. Now it’s 2012 and I’ve written for ESPN, CBSSports and Sports Illustrated online, because people read my work on blogs. I’ve often considered stopping the free stuff, but that’s still where my personality gets full expression, something that often falls away in a corporate environment (have voice but not TOO MUCH voice, y’know?). I doubt I’ll ever fully call it quits.

  4. Gerard Magliocca says:

    Why restrict your opinions to friends and family?

  5. David Zaring says:

    Because I’m famous!

  6. shg says:

    I’ve long argued that the motivation for prawfs to blog is very different than the practitioner. Writing for recognition and peer validation is what you guys do for a living. For trench lawyers, it ranges from marketing to narcissism.

    As for me, I don’t think exhaustion was an issue. I could write all day long, every day, forever. It was more a matter of general disgust with the level of thought and gutlessness coming from the trenches, preaching to the choir and fighting the tide of sleazy lawyer marketing and puffery. I wrote for fun, and when it stopped being fun, I stopped writing.

    I was never so ambitious as to think my writing would “move the needle,” though I tried to get Kerr to see the light a few times. I was more than thrilled to know that I persuaded a few judges to rethink their views, pushed a few lawyers to conduct themselves with integrity and inspired a few new lawyers to spend their time working harder rather than market themselves deceptively.

    And maybe my tweaking prawfs on occasion gave them pause to focus their efforts on improving the law and the profession rather than writing pointless drivel. Not such a bad thing.

  7. Orin Kerr says:

    SHG Lives!

  8. Max Kennerly says:

    It’s hard to measure if you’re moving the needle or not. Consider something far larger than most blogs: having a NYTimes column. Sure, you can measure “moving the needle” by how often a column is discussed in some other column, but I don’t think that’s really a good proxy for how much something is changing society. Fact is, most of the impact of even the top tier of commentators is entirely invisible and impossible to measure.

    It’s pretty clear, however, that the wrong approach is to fret when you see someone else write something similar to what you wrote a while ago. I don’t know why you and Greenfield seem to think that means something other than (1) your thought wasn’t particularly original the first time around or (2) it’s a big world out there, and lots of people reach similar original conclusions.

    If you don’t think you’re getting enough external feedback (a common problem for writers of all stripes), go through your visitor logs some time and see how people got to your site. That’s far more feedback than even your typical newspaper columnist gets, and it’ll show you just how far your posts have reached and touched people. Publishing into the void isn’t a problem unique to blogging, but we at least have some tools to get a sense of what that void looks like and what the people wanted to know.

  9. Frank says:

    I would not worry about influence. Just keep telling the truth as you see it.

    One last reason to blog: you can start a series on the topic and leave it unfinished, as I did a few years back!:

    As Beckett would put it: “fail better.” Or “fail worse” ( Just keep at it.