Law School Reputation and Blogging

Professor Jay Brown (Denver College of Law) has posted on SSRN a paper entitled, Blogs, Law School Rankings, and the Race to the Bottom. According to the abstract:

Blogs can enhance reputation by allowing faculty to route around some of the biases in law review placements and SSRN rankings that favor those at the top tier schools. Blogs also represent a cost effective mechanism for advertising scholarly activity.

From the article:

The top 20 law schools had 22 faculty writing on the top 37 blogs or 20% of the total, compared with about 70% of the US faculty in the SSRN top 100. Moreover, the number probably overstated the influence of these schools in the blogosphere. Law schools ranked 21-50 contributed another 32 bloggers. The top 50 schools, therefore, were responsible for 49%, or less than half of the law faculty listed as contributors on the top blogs in Justia. This compares with about 87% of the US faculty in the top 100 of SSRN rankings.

The second tier contributed 35 faculty bloggers, the third tier eight, the fourth tier twelve, with one from an unranked law school, for a total of 56. These schools represented over half of all law faculty listed as contributors on the top blogs. This compares with about 13% in the top 100 of SSRN rankings, a number that overstates the success of these schools.

In other words, compared with SSRN downloads, the top 20 schools have at best a modest presence on the highest ranked blogs. In fact, it was the group aspiring to be in the top 20 that proportionately provided the most number of faculty bloggers. At the same time, law schools outside the top 50 have a strong presence.

Blogs can certainly enhance reputation, but a key issue is what constitutes reputation. If we are speaking of reputation in the sense of being well-known, then blogs certainly help. But if we are speaking of reputation in terms of being a quality scholar, the results are more mixed. Sometimes blogging can enhance a professor’s reputation; sometimes, it can detract. It all depends upon how a professor blogs.

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