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Lawyers becoming proficient bloggers

05 May 2017 - By Nick Butcher

But what’s in it for the reader?

Lawyers and legal academics blogging on legal ramifications buried in some of the biggest national or international developments has become a growing trend.

One such blogger is Andrew Geddis, a Professor at the University of Otago Faculty of Law and a regular writer on the Pundit blog. One of his more recent pieces provides some legal analysis in relation to the Labour Party’s freshened party list for this year’s general election.

“I’m a public and constitutional lawyer, so I tend to blog on topics in that area which have caught my attention in the media. Some weeks, I might blog up to three times and then I’ll do nothing for a few weeks if there isn’t anything I feel the need to comment on,” he says.

Mr Geddis says if the topic is of interest to him, there’s a good chance it will also catch the attention of his law students or other legally trained people, or perhaps even lay people who are interested in public issues.

When writing, Mr Geddis is conscious of not being bogged down with legal speak.

“I’m writing in a language where I’m assuming not every reader is going to be a lawyer or a law student. I’m trying to explain an issue as much as possible to reasonably educated lay people. That’s partly because I get a little bored just writing for academic audiences and its challenging to put a blog together in a different way,” he says.

Mr Geddis points out that his blog is simply his educated take on an issue.

“It’s the particular point of view of a liberal-left academic lawyer living in Dunedin,” he says.

Arguably, legal blogs from both ends of the political spectrum should help enrich and compel a person to come to their own conclusion on an issue that has legal fallout.

Constitutional lawyer spotted an opening

Leonid Sirota is a lecturer at AUT Law School in Auckland. The Russian-born Canadian constitutional lawyer blogs on Double Aspect and has been in New Zealand for about six months.

His writing is centred on developments in Canadian law, but he says he will eventually blog on New Zealand law once he is more settled in his adopted country.

“Blogging can be quite influential. It certainly was in the United States when I was studying at NYU School of Law, such as when there was a challenge on the constitutionality of Obamacare,” he says.

Dr Sirota was an avid follower of developments through the blog Volokh Conspiracy which is now hosted through the Washington Post.

He says that led him to start reading the work of several other American legal bloggers which got him wondering whether there was a Canadian equivalent blog on public and constitutional law matters.

“There wasn’t so that was the opening for me. I’d say most of my readers are lawyers but there are definitely lay people too, including journalists who have quoted from my blog from time to time in articles.”

He says part of the aim of a legal blog is to have some influence on legal decisions made at various levels in society.

“Maybe there would be some benefit to judges looking at what legal academic bloggers are saying about an issue. When they do, they tend to refer to them as legal scholars, not bloggers though,” he says.

Other lawyers who regularly blog in New Zealand include Graeme Edgeler at Legal Beagle and former politician Stephen Franks. Many law firms also now include a blog on their website.

Some New Zealand lawyer blogs

Blogs come and go. Some have one glorious opening post, and that’s it. Others are busily and efficiently maintained. To qualify for our list, the blog must have had at least one post in 2017, be about New Zealand and be operated by a lawyer, legal academic or former member of the legal profession. Our apologies to any blogs which have been missed.

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Last updated on the 27th March 2019