Image Credit: @xilophotography on Unsplash
Image Credit: @xilophotography on Unsplash

Publishing law review articles is just one step in getting legal scholarship out into the world. For that content to have wide-reaching impacts, it also needs to be promoted.

Thankfully for law review editors and authors, there have never been more opportunities to raise the profile of new research. From blogging to podcasting to posting on social media, there are countless ways to attract readers and maximize content engagement online.

This blog post overviews four examples of how law reviews and authors are leveraging different digital publishing and promotion outlets to boost the overall influence of legal writing.

1. Publishing online supplements

Responding to pressures to rapidly publish timely legal scholarship — on topics ranging from COVID-19 to recent climate crises — some law reviews have been weighing the pros and cons of moving towards a more rolling publication schedule.

Online supplements have proven a popular option for realizing a more continuous release of legal content. Numerous law reviews now have online-only components where they publish shorter pieces of legal scholarship and commentaries. With online supplements, law reviews can effectively make new scholarship available as soon as it’s ready, giving authors the opportunity to keep scholarly conversation alive between regular volume and issue releases.

Among some great examples of online supplements to check out are Discourse from the UCLA Law Review, Postscript from Southern California Law Review, and Forum from Florida Law Review.

It’s worth noting that there are also some law reviews moving towards publishing exclusively online so they can make all content — articles and otherwise — available on a more rolling basis. Benefits of online-only publishing reported by law reviews that have adopted this approach include lower production costs, fewer content length restrictions, shorter turn-around times, and freedom to showcase a broader range of both traditional legal writing and other innovative types of content.

For law review editors and authors seeking a text-based promotion channel, blogging is a great way to publish timely short written pieces highlighting recent legal scholarship. Editors can encourage discussion of existing or upcoming articles, and authors can have their say via interviews, guest posts, and commentaries. In addition to creating new forums for students and practitioners to weigh in on the latest research, law review blogs also present a more accessible medium for anyone with a general interest in legal topics to find and get involved in the conversation in real time.

Blogs are highly accessible to legal scholars, practitioners, and general readers alike, in the sense that they usually don’t have a subscription fee. And, even with limited search optimization, they can rank well with search engines that favor sites regularly publishing new content — particularly when editors use social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to boost their reach.

A great illustration of how blogs can help surface relevant legal commentary is the Harvard Law Review Blog post “Can Colleges and Universities Require Student Covid-19 Vaccination?“ by I. Glenn Cohen and Dorit Rubinstein Reiss. The post was published in March 2021 when the issue of student vaccinations was a red-hot topic.

Another example of an innovative legal scholarship blogging platform is SCOCAblog. It’s a joint venture between the Berkeley Law California Constitution Center and Hastings Law Journal that spotlights cases and issues currently before the courts through pieces authored by academics and practitioners. SCOCAblog’s regular flow of topical content demonstrates how organizations teaming up can help blogs grow quickly and ease individual burdens in terms of maintenance.

Whether you’re looking to set up, build on, or contribute to a blog to promote your legal scholarship, here are a few key practical points to keep in mind:

  • Customize keywords for search-engine optimization to attract readers
  • Ensure continued relevancy and quality of content to keep your audience engaged
  • Post or contribute content/interviews frequently and consider having a regular schedule, so followers know when to check in to see your latest material
  • Experiment with alternate content formats such as polls, quizzes, audio, and visuals
  • Explore further pushing your content via an eNewsletter

When done right, both audio and video channels can be highly engaging, informal, and instructive ways for authors and editors to broadcast easily digestible legal commentary online. These outlets can be used to promote existing law review articles and give a heads-up to what’s coming down the pike.

For relatively easy audio promotion, podcasts are pretty much leading the way and can effectively be streamed anytime and anywhere. Growing numbers of law reviews are committing to putting out regular podcasts, as exemplified by the Yale Law Journal podcast and the “Off the Page“ podcast from Vanderbilt Law Review. To get a revealing insight into the practicalities of making this medium work, check out “Podcasting the Law“ published by The University of Chicago Law Review Online.

YouTube is also an option for law review editors and authors considering expanding into video promotion of legal scholarship. The “Emphasis Added“ podcast by Houston Law Review is a great example of how video can be used side-by-side with audio channels. It’s now well into its third season of offering up-to-date audio commentary on current legal issues and has recently started to release supplemental video material that further enhances its content via the Emphasis Added YouTube channel. The channel’s September 2021 piece, “Winter Storm Uri and the Future of Texas Electricity Reliability,” with James Coleman, touches on legal matters surrounding global energy sustainability — which ranks up there among the most topical issues right now.

Some tips if you’re considering trying YouTube:

  • YouTube’s search function focuses on the title, description, and tags of posted videos, so be sure to include your keywords in all three to boost visibility
  • Consider exploring whether tools like TubeBuddy might help focus and target the audience for your videos
  • To optimize reach, share your YouTube videos on other social media channels

4. Twitter and social media promotion

Social media channels are among the most cost-effective and easy to use online promotion options for legal scholarship, either on their own or as a complement to the aforementioned strategies, allowing access to vast potential audiences. Twitter is a case-in-point. Tweeting frequently and making active connections are a couple of routes to enhancing your Twitter presence. For a comprehensive round up of targeted strategies to get the most out of Twitter, check out Law Technology Today’s article “Twitter 101 for Lawyers.”

The poignant Tweets by New England Law Review marking the 20th anniversary of September 11th and pointing readers to a thought-provoking piece on how 9/11 changed US national security law education — “Teaching national security law, then and now“ by Lawrence Friedman — demonstrate the power of Twitter to broadcast timely content.

Some great recent examples of how law review editors and authors have been sharing content and provoking discussion on Twitter include:

  • Editors highlighting relevant articles from existing print volumes — such as the Washington Law Review tweet earlier this month spotlighting the published article “Talking back in court“ by Eve Hanan from its June 2021 issue, which considers how the move to online court during COVID-19 has impacted dynamics
  • Authors joining the conversation — such as the recent Columbia Law Review tweet by Matiangai Sirleaf pointing to her piece “Disposable Lives: COVID-19, Vaccines and the Uprising
  • Promotion of special collections of relevant pieces on a particular topic — such as the UCLA Law Review Twitter thread signposting a series of pieces on “Jailhouse Lawyering“ from May this year featuring articles from individuals who have fought for their rights and those of others from behind bars

Summing it up

All in all, exploring online article promotion is fast becoming an essential consideration for editors of law reviews wanting to attract and keep readers and for authors of cutting-edge legal scholarship committed to raising awareness of their work and maximizing its overall impact. Maintaining an active online presence and leveraging relevant social media channels are great starting strategies.

The range of options for publicizing the latest ideas and discourse in legal scholarship has never been more varied. Editors and authors have unparalleled access to an ever-growing choice of innovative online media outlets that can supplement and boost the impact of law reviews and maximize the chances of legal writing being seen. These channels make it possible to spark discussions on relevant issues and rapidly publish response pieces and commentary to keep legal debates going in a way that’s just not practical using print alone.

Note: Reaching out to online audiences who can comment on content in real-time carries risks, including misinterpretation, personal criticism of authors, and trolling, so it’s important to have strategies in place ahead of time to counter these. Managing and promoting print and online submission channels simultaneously can also require juggling resources and priorities to be sure that all content is being seen and heard.

Victoria Kitchener
This post was written by Victoria Kitchener Freelance scholarly publishing writer
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