Only Legal Scholars Could Have A Debate About Legal Blogging

I have just finished reading Jean d’Aspremont’s latest post over at EJIL: Talk! on the value of legal blogging and, feeling particularly conflicted on the matter, I cannot resist the temptation to put in my two cents.

Jean d’Aspremont’s post, titled ‘In Defense of the Hazardous Tool of Legal Blogging’, is a very well-written piece on the limits and the value of legal blogging, with an emphasis on the latter. It would appear that there is an ongoing debate in legal scholar circles about the purpose, effect, and merit of legal blogging, in particular over at the Yale Law Journal website (see this post in particular).

Dr. d’Aspremont makes very interesting points, and juggles certain ideas and purposes of legal blogging that I have toyed with since I created The International Jurist now more than six months ago, although admittedly in a far more eloquent and thought-out manner than I ever did.

I particularly appreciate certain arguments he puts forward, such as the usefulness of blogs to share and experiment with certain ideas at an earlier stage than possible with peer-reviewed publications, to inform each other of developments in each blogger’s area of expertise, and all in all, create a place for informal discussion and debate among ourselves and whomever wishes to join us that is not limited to the coffee breaks of a conference on international law at the Peace Palace or elsewhere (I sometimes get the impression that lawyers and academics come to such conferences more for the coffee break to meet colleagues than for the conferences themselves).

And yet, on the other hand, I have a deep feeling of irritation that certain legal scholars take themselves so seriously and yet are so insecure to feel that legal blogging threatens their realm of scholarship that they need to debate and criticize the value of legal blogging. (I am obviously not talking about Dr. d’Aspremont here.) There is no rational reason why this debate is having place, and I have a feeling that only legal scholars could entertain such a thing. As Jean d’Aspremont very rightly quotes and supports another participant in this surprising debate, Ann Althouse, let the law journal be the law journal and the blog be the blog. End of story.

Speaking for myself, I have no pretension of any sorts writing this blog. When I created it, I was a modest Public International Law LLM student in Leicester a little too enthusiastic about the issues and challenges of the subject-matter of my studies. Today, I am a humble legal intern working in the International Criminal Justice system. I write this blog because I encounter in my readings and work thought-provoking items and events that I enjoy sharing and discussing. I enjoy writing. I test different styles. I think about different themes. I experiment with ideas – yes, even half-baked ones. The International Jurist has no aspiration to compete with expert blogs such as EJIL: Talk! or Opinio Juris or any other similar websites, let alone legal journals, and I’m sure most other legal bloggers feel the same way.

So why are we having this debate?

And honestly, is it a problem if I put out a half-baked idea once in a while? Because after all, when that happens, I trust fellow legal blogger, regular commenter, and altogether far more knowledgeable jurist Dov Jacobs will be there to call me out on it. Right, Dov?

  1. #1 by Dov jacobs on 7 January 2011 - 16:31

    Hi Xavier, I don’t see why you should be so humble! Why should you not compete with expert blogs if your ideas are good enough (which they are)?
    I wrote a short answer to Jean’s post:

    PS: you’ve actually called me on my mistakes quite often yourself…

  2. #2 by Xavier Rauscher on 7 January 2011 - 17:09

    Great, I was hoping I’d see you get involved in this “debate,” for what it’s worth.

    I’ll answer the rest on your blog.

  3. #3 by Nathalie Meurens on 8 January 2011 - 11:44

    I totally agree with your points. I would add that legal blogging has the value to make discussions on legal issues much more accessible to everyone. The point of law is not to be confined in the expertise of some elite scholars, but to be open to the society in general. Everyone is supposed to know the law, and therefore is entitled in forming an opinion on its development.
    In addition, in a world increasingly interdependent, the blogging platform allows for a more flexible format for exchange of ideas and interdisciplinary crossroads that are so critically needed, in particular in the international legal scholarship.

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