"Blawgs on a Roll" by Dahlia Lithwick with The American Lawyer provides a good perspective on why niche law blogs are growing and filling a needed gap in legal education and providing the public with legal information. Who better to write about the law than lawyers who specialize in that particular area.
One area of my practice involves the regulatory world of health care certificate of need in West Virginia. I often notice that the media misses the mark when reporting on certificate of need issues. No disrespect to the legal reporters covering the CON Beat but as Ms. Lithwick points out its "difficult to write about the law in a way that is both technically accurate and also interesting and accessible to lay readers." Believe me, West Virginia certificate of need law can be downright boring at times -- but it impact on health care planning in West Virginia is important. This is especially true in a rural state like West Virginia where issues surrounding access and quality of health care are vitally important.
My fav quote from the article:
. . . And why are legal blogs already so much more nuanced, opinionated, and exciting than most other types of legal writing? I think it's because legal journalism has operated for so long along a fairly narrow bandwidth. Some legal writers have simply internalized the canonical rules of legal writing in general: Separate fact from opinion. Respect authority. Sedate is good, but boring is better.
Other journalists have the opposing tendency, which is to skip over the so-called boring bits and shorthand technical details. Justice Kennedy is correct in pointing out that while editorial writers are quick to express opinions about the case law, they don't always take the time to explain how or why the courts arrived at their decisions. A results-oriented analysis of a case too often suggests that the justices took a results-oriented route to get there. . .
To be sure, legal bloggers are still working through their growing pains. Debate rages among them about whether law review articles are relevant anymore, whether blogging counts as real scholarship, whether junior faculty should avoid blogging until they gain tenure, why women tend to eschew legal blogs, what counts as a legal blog, and so on.