Bob Ambrogi, now publisher and editor-in-chief at LexBlog, recently announced that LexBlog will allow any law blogger into its content network for free, whether the blog is hosted by LexBlog or not.
LexBlog makes money by licensing its software. But to become a global news and commentary network, it has to open its doors. Too many great blogs exist outside the current LexBlog network.
“The long-term vision is that we want to create the ultimate, leading legal news and commentary network based on blogs,” says Ambrogi. This move is not about making money. It’s about the company’s belief in law blogs and the importance of “citizen journalism.”
Ambrogi and Kevin O’Keefe, LexBlog’s founder, stress the benefits of joining: increasing your blog’s exposure through their global network and integration with Fastcase. They also want to create value for readers by offering a wide range of content curated to individual interests.
I’m interested to see where this goes. Others have tried free blog networks, and failed. Casetext springs to mind. But LexBlog isn’t in this for the money, and if anyone can make it work surely it’s Kevin O’Keefe and Bob Ambrogi. Their strategy includes profiling good bloggers and using AI, apparently.
The challenges, however, are immense. Though it sounds nice to have an “open network,” when you collect everything you collect a lot of garbage. Law blogging is not what it once was. Hence all the talk of curating.
I wonder whether casting a wider net is the best strategy. I hope LexBlog has a plan for improving the quality of posts in its network, not just the quantity. At the least, I’m starting to think most blogs need editorial support to be truly good. Writing is hard.
I also wonder if a global network of legal blogs is valuable. Few law blogs can be interesting to a global audience; a limited number can attract a national audience. Most lawyers practice state and local law. If they blog about it, they won’t be interesting or useful to anyone outside their state. Even if their blog is really good.
LexBlog is starting a good experiment. I don’t believe we should squash big ideas just because they face big challenges. So I’ll watch to see how this experiment turns out, and wish them the best—even if I have my doubts.
For more on the thinking behind this experiment, see this post by O’Keefe. It’s a great example of LexBlog being open as an organization.