A little bit of history.
Almost 10 years ago, in September 2004 I launched a German website named JuraBlogs.com (it means LawBlogs). The site focused on showing blog posts of about 30 law-related blogs and was meant to be a promotional site for an online marketing company purely focused on clients related to the legal profession. I co-owned the company and blogs seemed to be the right way of exposing the work of our clients and bringing in new business.
A quick idea at first.
It was a quick idea at first - build in little more than a weeks time. The idea was simple. Aggregating legal blog posts on a single website to offer a simple way of reading what was going on in lawyers offices and courts. The site grew and even after we had to shut down our agency I didn't want to stop adding features. While the community of participating blogs grew to today more than 770 blogs, I added features which were requested by many bloggers. A first (and very controversal) one was the blog ranking. The idea was to look at articles which actually got the attention of readers, add a few more factors and spit out a ranking of how popular a single law blog is across all participants. Here on LawBlogs.net the ranking can be found at lawblogs.net/blogs/ranking (of course a ranking needs more data - speak active users of the site - to work). Other features are a very well working search across the articles, top articles per blog, topics and an email newsletter.
This site is not made to make money.
Until today JuraBlogs.com sent almost 18 million visitors to the participating blogs. The number of readers of single articles is shown as part of the snippet. However at no point in time was I able to even think about quitting my full time job. Yes, the German site has advertising here and there - however it's by no means the focus - more an afterthought to pay for server costs (and justify all the days in my home office while my wife ..erm.. keeps the house intact). And I never think about it as "stealing content". If someone disagrees I will be super quick with removing the specific blog. Articles are never shown in full - only as teasers pointing to the original source. My interest in building an aggregator for law blogs grew over time because I simple appreciate the hundreds of positive emails I've gotten, because I have an appreciation for the law (despite not even remotely working in the legal profession) and because it keeps my developer skills sharp.
Why the US version?
In 2009 I took a job opportunity to move from Berlin in Germany to San Francisco. And ever since this moment I asked myself why I did not think of building an US version of what I did in Germany. After all there was a whole folder of emails from US lawyers which were asking for it. But as every project which grew over many years, JuraBlogs was build in a ... non-flexible way. No way I could launch a new site without rebuilding everything. In August of 2013 I eventually took the time to rebuild JuraBlogs (the old system was simply breaking down) and I used the "lucky" circumstances to launch this US version a few weeks ago.
Where do we go from here?
I would love to start building out this community of law blogs. Right now there's barely anyone around. Visitors are coming through links from JuraBlogs.com or somehow find the site on Google. However I will keep adding features as I believe in the idea of aggregating the posts and building the "one-stop" to stay up to date. I would love to get some feedback on new features or new blogs and of course I will listed to critique as well.
Eventually my goal is to algorithmically curate the popular and trending legal posts and related articles from the main stream media. LawBlogs.net should be seen as a quick help to navigate through the vast amount of legal content published every day.
If you want to stay connected you can follow LawBlogs on Twitter, on Facebook or chose to stay in touch via my personal Twitter account. An easy way to reach out is a click on the question mark on the bottom right or simply a comment below this post.
I'm looking forward to your feedback! What can I do better? Which featues should come next?