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Justice Judith Lanzinger (Ohio Sup. Ct.): "The Future Will Belong to the Flexible"

I recently posted a collection of cases citing legal blogs. One example was State v. Foster, which was recently decided by the Ohio Supreme Court. The author of that opinion was Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger.

Justice Lanzinger graciously answered a series of questions that I sent her about legal blogs. Her replies are impressive and well-worth quoting, and I am posting them below with her permission. I would like to publicly thank Justice Lanzinger for taking the time to respond.


1. When you cited a legal blog, did you consider it unusual or unprecedented at the time?


It did not seem unusual to me at the time. I wanted readers of the opinion to have the most current information on a narrow issue (Blakely updates) and so I cited to a blog (Sentencing Law and Policy) that directs a reader to primary sources themselves.


2. How often do you read legal blogs?


Periodically, depending on time available.


3. Which are your favorite legal blogs?


I am still exploring and will pass on this one.


4. Do you consider blogs to be substantial and legitimate forms of scholarship?


Obviously, not all legal blogs are created to promote academic research. There are some, such as Professor Berman's, that do advance legal scholarship through this new forum. The legal blogger can sponsor ideas on current issues that can be reviewed immediately through the input of readers. The best serious blogs define a particular field of interest and inquiry and stay within that scope.


5. Do you think legal blogs will begin to be cited more often by the courts?


If worthwhile blogs continue to appear, and judges become aware of them, I think that citing will grow.


6. What predictions do you have about the effect of legal blogs on the profession?


Assuming that legal blogs are now in their infancy, and that they will grow to have a long and fruitful life, I think that lawyers who ignore them altogether will do so at their peril.


7. What other changes to the legal profession do you foresee because of the Internet and the online world in general?


Legal "geeks" seem outre to the quill pen practitioners of our profession, but I see that even those Luddites are being converted slowly to the hi-tech world, of necessity. The willingness to learn and relearn technology skills will be essential for mastery of new tech tools. The future will belong to the flexible.


8. Do you regularly read law reviews? If so, which are your favorites?


I don't have the time or inclination to slog through many law review articles in my spare time. When briefs refer to an article or I become aware of a piece that speaks to an issue of interest, I will try to read it.


9. What advantages and disadvantages do legal blogs have when compared to law reviews and other traditional forms of scholarship?


Because of publishing realities, law reviews may appear hide-bound while legal blogs operate with free-wheeling immediacy. The legal blog depends upon the integrity of the author rather than an institution -- no one is vetting accuracy of blog citations, for example. Editorial oversight over law reviews can bland articles down, or worse, fail to expose pedantic jargon. On the other hand, without peer review, blogs can publish anything and suppress anything –- so caveat emptor.


I believe that the serious blogs do have a time advantage in raising issues, networking primary sources, and serving as a clearinghouse for additional discussion. Law reviews have the luxury of handling an issue in depth; however the time lag can be a negative when fast-moving matters are being considered. Law reviews are permanent; one does not have to worry about a broken link or missing achival material. Nevertheless, even if (and maybe because) they are ephemeral, legal blogs are fun to read. Most cut to the chase and many have a sense of humor -- a plus in my book.


10. Do you have an opinion about whether law students, lawyers, and/or law professors should blog?


The First Amendment guarantees all of us the freedom to speak. The internet now gives us the opportunity to disseminate that speech in ways the broadside printers never dreamed. Of course I'm in favor of blogging.


11. Do you think it is appropriate for judges to blog? If you were to start one, what subject(s) would you write about?


Because I'm aware of the dramatic time commitment and the energy required, I would not start a blog as a judge. Maybe in retirement, many years from now -- since I've been a judge at every level of the court system in Ohio during the last 20 years -- I would have plenty to say.


12. (Off the subject of blogging:) If you could change one thing about the legal educational system, what would it be?


Having been an adjunct professor at the University of Toledo College of Law since 1987, I believe that law students must learn practical lawyering skills along with the ability to engage in complex legal analysis. I think legal education emphasizes the latter over the former and I would try to balance the two.

- Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger

April 18, 2006 in Judges on Legal Blogs | Permalink


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As you say, Ian, very thoughtful and interesting responses. Thanks for obtaining and posting them.

Posted by: Eh Nonymous | Apr 19, 2006 11:14:21 AM

This is great information, especially for me as I fall within Justice Lanzinger's jurisdiction. It's tremendously refreshing to see that judges are not really the stodgy representations from Perry Mason but have heart, soul, and imagination. I enjoy a good law review every now and then, but they so often seem focused on issues that affect a tiny fraction of the populus/lawyers as to be worth less than the valuable trees on which they are printed. That said, they don't often contain typos which is the biggest source of blogging frustration for me. No matter how much I review my entries, there is just nothing that compares to 25 law students working as "galley slaves" -- which is a reference to an Asimov short story for those who don't read sci-fi and now want to kill me for my insensitivity.

Posted by: E L Eversman | Apr 20, 2006 12:38:58 PM

How great that you do this and that the Judge responded. Thank you.

Posted by: Jill | Apr 22, 2006 10:28:34 PM

Your headline goes to the point. If more blogs are read, the mind is free from attachment, aversion, delusion. This liberates the person to see deeply into the nature of things, including its interconnectedness with other subjects.

Posted by: CompanyCounselor | Apr 27, 2006 3:37:46 PM

Blogs have allowed the law to be more accessible to the average Joe. This was a good post, Thank you.
-Steven G. Erickson aka blogger Vikingas

Posted by: Steven G. Erickson | Apr 29, 2006 6:33:22 AM

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