6/6/11

Integrating Legal Analysis in a Legal Blog - Westlaw Insider's Jeremy Byellin


[Please Welcome Guest Blogger Jeremy Byellin from Westlaw Insider Blog]


Recently, Greg asked me to write a guest post in his 3 Geeks and a Law Blog about my approach to blogging on Westlaw Insider.

Specifically, he wanted me to talk about my process and methods for the blogs I write, which tend to include more legal opinion and analysis than other posts on Westlaw Insider.
So, here goes.
I started writing for the blog back in February of this year.
At the time, the only regular posts were the “Hot Docs” post on Thursdays, which is about recent legal filings found on the Thomson Reuters News & Insight page, and the “Today in Legal History” post on Fridays, which discusses a legal event that occurred on that same date sometime in the past.
Up until I started writing them, the posts more resembled a factual narrative, and didn’t typically include any legal analysis or opinion.
The blog’s Managing Editor, Larisa Tehven, wanted me to take a different approach to the posts.
Namely, she wanted me to integrate more legal analysis (after all, it is a legal blog), and more opinion into them.
In addition to making the posts more interesting to the reader, some sprinkled-in opinion was intended to encourage dialogue with the blog’s readers, and make a shift away from a one-way communication channel.
I was happy to oblige, since I enjoy writing, legal issues, and giving my thoughts and predictions on them.
A few weeks into my writing tenure, Larisa encouraged me to expand to additional topics, and, again, I was happy to oblige.
In addition to posts about hot legal topics and fresh lawsuits, I started doing monthly theme posts, which are a series of weekly posts that share the same theme throughout the month.
In regards to my approach on writing individual posts, there are several important points that I keep in mind while writing.
First, while these are typically posts geared toward a legal audience, the subject matter may not be something that is particularly well-known to many readers, and there are still many readers without any legal background whatsoever.
As such, I include pertinent legal concepts as much as possible and try to simplify those concepts while not doing it so much as to insult the reader’s intelligence.
Next, I try to make anything I write about as pertinent to the reader as possible. 
While I can’t know exactly how every individual reader will find it significant, I do know that the reader is engaged in the contemporary world, at least to some extent. 
Thus, I always try to tie in whatever I write about to something relevant today.  This is harder for some posts than others (i.e. the Today in Legal History posts), but applying this principle to every post also steers me away from going too deeply into legal theories.
Lastly, understanding that readers would attend class if they wanted a lecture, I try to make it as enjoyable a read as possible. 
This translates into making discussion and analysis of the issues the central point of any post, and making these portions, in addition to the facts and law portions, as interesting and easy a read as I can.

And that about sums it up.  
Thanks to Greg for asking me to write this post!"


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