How Do You Use Legal Blogs?

NOTE: I am going to keep this post at the top of the blog for a few days, probably until the end of the week. New posts will appear below this one until then, so if you see this post at the top, scroll down to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

How would you like your name up in lights? Or at least mentioned in a presentation? I can’t promise either, but you have a shot at the latter if you respond to my call for assistance at the end of this post.

I am preparing a presentation for a section of the local bar on the use of blogs in legal research. This will be something like the presentation I gave to the Los Angeles County Bar Association Appellate Courts Committee, though there I emphasized my personal experience a great deal, which I intend to downplay on this occasion.

For the upcoming presentation, I’d like to have a better feel about how my readers use blogs in their practices — for research or otherwise.

Most of my non-subscription readers — at least on those days where I am not linked to or from another blog — appear to reach this blog through Google searches. The client inquiries I’ve received through the blog tend to be self-represented litigants, but the stats occasionally show Google hits from very large (“BigLaw”) firms (only the domains of large firms show up by name, typically), which suggests to me that these searches are being conducted by lawyers for research purposes.

I’m curious how these searches are being used. For example, is the search the first legal research step, akin to opening up Witkin for general background, or is it undertaken instead after an attorney is stumped on an issue and hopes to find some recent development that hasn’t made it into print?

I suspect some of the searches are to supplement Westlaw research. For example, if I find a case on Westlaw decided in the last month or so, I might Google it to see if other bloggers or commentators are discussing its implications. That, in turn, could help my own analysis of the case. The Google search terms usually give this away by incorporating the names of the parties.

Another use I know of is to find out if anyone is talking about YOUR case. I have had litigants contact me when I posted about their cases. One did so publicly in the comments. Another contacted me by e-mail. So I know that parties are out there looking.

In any event, I would very much appreciate comments from readers about how legal blogs have influenced or aided their research or practices. Anecdotes would be great. Broader comments about your habits are fine, too. Any background information about the nature of your practice and the blogs you follow would be helpful.

I prefer you make your remarks in a comment to this post rather than by e-mailing me. That way, after the presentation, I can refer the attendees to this blog post if they want to read your comments in detail.

Please note that by submitting information in response to this request, you are granting me permission for me to use all submitted information in the course of my presentation (which shouldn’t be a big deal, since you’re posting it publicly anyway, and might even get you some small amount of publicity). But if you want to leave an anonymous comment, that’s fine, too, and I will present it as such.

UPDATE (02/14/08): Thanks to the following for getting the word out about this post on their own blogs: