In an era of diminishing faith in the integrity of mainstream media outlets, it is little wonder that so many citizens are turning to blogs run by local attorneys to read news and commentary about legal and political issues. To many members of the general public, large news outlets increasingly seem to be out of touch with the public interest; indeed, a new Gallup poll indicates that as few as 41% of Americans currently trust mass media outlets to provide them with reliable information.
For attorneys, the notion of creating a blog in the wake of public distrust in mass media reporting can often feel like a natural progression from the work of being a lawyer. Having honed their writing skills in the hothouse atmosphere of law schools and law reviews, many attorneys are discovering that a second career in self-publishing can be a rewarding activity. Already, popular blogs like Above the Law are taking advantage of micro-media trends to reach a wide audience of both attorneys and general readers.
Undoubtedly, what unites such blogs is a dedication to public service and a willingness to help individuals stay informed about complex legal issues. Public-mindedness has always been a part of the legal profession’s ethos, but the ease with which attorneys can now communicate with a wide audience has made writing for the general public a de facto part of a legal career.
For individuals who seek out unfettered access to important information regarding pressing legal issues, such blogs have been a godsend. Indeed, the benefits of free access to legal commentary have been nowhere more evident than in the recent coverage of political matters related to the Supreme Court. For example, millions of readers last year turned to independent bloggers to learn more about the confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and millions more have sought out legal commentary on the actions of President Trump from independent outlets.
Over the past several years, bloggers have provided the public with access to a wide selection of honest and forthright information that is largely free of partisan mudslinging and advertisement-driven “clickbait.” For many attorneys, this golden age of independent journalism is helping to create a new generation of an informed citizenry. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost”; truly, there can be little doubt that Jefferson would be proud of the work that these attorneys and authors are undertaking.