Law Blog Post Formats: Roundup Posts
The seventh in a series about useful law blog post formats.
On Jan. 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a case in which the court held that the First Amendment rights of corporations and unions were infringed by federal election laws that prohibited independent expenditures in support of political candidates.
Within three hours, the Washington Post published Reactions to the Supreme Court reversing limits on corporate spending in political campaigns, a roundup article collecting over a dozen rapid reactions from other newspapers, broadcast news outlets, and legal experts.
The WashPost article provided clear value to its readers, placing numerous perspectives on the same page and saving time readers might have spent searching the net for additional information.
Unfortunately, this sort of generosity is rarely seen on law firm blogs.
Lawyers view blogs primarily as marketing vehicles, not news publications. Serving the reader is a strategy not a mission.
Roundup posts are thus problematic for law firms. Few if any law firm bloggers are willing to publicize insights/reactions from competing firms, no matter how compelling they might be.
Collect Material From Noncompetitors
The solution is for law firm bloggers to build roundups from alternative materials. For example:
- a collection of prior posts by the author on a particular topic (UNC Votes To Block Law School Civil Rights Clinic From Taking On New Clients, TaxProf Blog, Aug. 2, 2017);
- a collection of cases interpreting a major law or U.S. Supreme Court ruling (e.g., Spokeo and Wheel – Rolling Thru Recent Circuit Court Cases, Consumer Law Roundup, Oct. 24, 2016);
- a roundup of articles written by non-competing entities, such as news organizations, law professors, industry bloggers, and advocacy groups (More SCOTUSBlog Posts on Wisconsin Partisan Gerrymandering Case, Election Law Blog, Aug. 1, 2017);
- a run-down of state laws on a particular topic (Summary of U.S. State Data Breach Notification Statutes, Davis Wright Tremaine, visited Aug. 28, 2017);
- a timeline of significant events, past and present (Single Security Timeline, Federal Housing Finance Agency, visited Aug. 28, 2017);
Roundups can be occasional, part of a regular feature (Friday round-up, SCOTUSBlog, Aug. 25, 2017), or the entirety of a blog’s output as in the case of curation blogs (Computer and Internet Weekly Updates, Barry Sookman’s Copyright, Intellectual Property, Computer, Internet, e-Commerce Law Blog, Aug. 26, 2017; and Vincent Polley’s Miscellaneous IT-Related Legal News (MIRLN)).
A plump, well-managed RSS feed reader is an essential tool for quickly creating timely roundup posts.
Pros: Roundup posts supply high-value content that serves researching readers and demonstrates the firm’s subject-matter expertise.
Cons: Roundups have a tendency to morph into research projects that soak up considerable time. Curation-style blogs require time or investment investment in news-collection capacity; this type of blog must be continually updated in order to attract readership.