lukegilman.com : The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

Risks and Rewards of Law Student Blogging

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Fellow Houston law student and blogger “Anastasia” (she posts under a pseudonym) got me thinking about whether or not law student bloggers should expect a degree of privacy and the possible generational differences in approach, citing this article in NY Magazine. Slightly different than the typical blogger’s concern over getting fired, law student bloggers are more worried about not getting hired.

I’ve noticed lately a few bloggers who’ve expressed cold feet on their decision to blog. This seems to happen in the law blogger community several times a year. Someone gets outed by a classmate. Another worries about the effects on employment.

The concern is a legitimate one in some instances, but very much dependent on the nature of the blog. My own blog is very public. I tried to think of a pseudonym and just really really sucked at it. I realized that what I wanted to say was best said as myself. This blog, therefore, adheres to the maxim our mothers taught, or should have taught us, that you don’t say something behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t tell them to their face.

From NY Magazine: Say Everything: As younger people reveal their private lives on the Internet, the older generation looks on with alarm and misapprehension not seen since the early days of rock and roll. The future belongs to the uninhibited.

Along those lines, I think a change is coming for the professional world. The baby boomers who currently rule the roost will be retiring in the next ten years. Industry will need a workforce and they’re going to find a bunch of bloggers. There are certain things that I do believe shouldn’t be blogged – like your actual work experience. My professional life is separate from my personal. I don’t act the same way at the office as I do at home, and my personal life has no bearing on my work performance. I think eventually the ‘professional world’ will realize this. When you think about it, just about everyone has had some type of embarrassing experience in their life. Everyone has had too much to drink at some point, had a bad relationship. Why judge/punish the people who are open and honest about it? It reminds me of the attorney from a large law firm who stated at an interviewing workshop, “We’re very accepting of employees with tattoos and piercings, but we’ve never hired someone who showed either at their first interview.”

Risks

I’ve seen it backfire. In addition to the Blawgraphy, I blog intermittently at FirstMovers.org, a collaborative law student blog created by Jim Chen, now Dean at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. One of my fellow law student contributors is Anthony Ciolli, a law student at Penn, who until recently helped run AutoAdmit (wikipedia). He resigned after the furor created by comments made on the board. See the Washington Post article. I even received a few e-mails inquiring if I were one of the anonymous posters leaving obscene comments on AutoAdmit.com because of the FirstMovers.org connection. Of course I’m not prestigious enough to have any use for the AutoAdmit scene and didn’t even know about the situation until I got the e-mails, but it has a certain chilling effect to realize that something I say on my blog or on another blog may come back to haunt me.

The obvious solution, of course, is not to say anything I’m not willing to stand for. Blogging under my own name, I’m constantly reminded that I’m accountable for what I write. I’m fine with that. I should be. I certainly wouldn’t have gone to law school if I weren’t willing to have consequences attach to what I say and write.

Outweighed by Rewards

I’m constantly encouraged by the rewards of blogging – the prospective and admitted law students who e-mail me to ask what I think of law school at Houston (I love it here, for the record), the people in the administration who have become aware of the blog and it’s ability to reflect on the school, the practicing lawyers with whom I interact as a result of things I post. More than once I’ve introduced myself to someone in the local legal community only to discover they already know who I am from the blog. It’s given me a point of contact with people with whom I’d probably never interact.

More than that, however, it forces me to be an active participant in the community, to take my nose out of the books long enough to look around and see what lawyers are grappling with, the issues that are confronting the courts, the realities of legal practice. It forces me to discover what I think about things, to forge an opinion and be ready to communicate it, to promote and to defend it. If forces me to figure out who I am and whether or not I have anything to say.

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Category: advice to law students, blawging

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2 Responses

  1. I for one can entirely sympathize with this article. As someone who blogged under a pseudonym and then ‘went public’ it was both a highly liberating and daunting experience. The only thing I worry about is something that politicians, celebrities and anyone that gets quoted anywhere worries about: What you thought you said is not necessarily what the world thought you said. Particularly for someone like me that speaks and writes with an extremely convoluted methodology. So then you go around having to explain yourself and ‘apologizing’ and hoping and praying you get 10mins to ask for the mob’s forgiveness.

  2. lukegilman says:

    Quadros, I just want you to know that I’m bookmarking embarrassing things on your site as we speak….

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