Will vlawging catch on?

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By Jessy Howard on

Some students are making decent money out of vlogging, so why are only a handful of wannabe lawyers dabbling in the medium?


Vlogging has been a thing for a while — but it only properly caught on relatively recently, with the medium’s popularity illustrated earlier this month when more than 8,500 people turned up to the Summer in the City YouTube convention at Alexandra Palace, north London.

In case you aren’t in the know, vlogging — or video blogging — is when someone talks directly into a camera about his or her life or a specific theme. It’s kind of like the ultimate reality TV show look into how other people live and think.

After Google bought YouTube in 2006 a mini-revolution happened in the world of vlogging. Hoping to cash in on the number of views these content creators were receiving, Google changed the format into something resembling TV channels, improving the layout and monetising videos by allowing independent advertisers.

As a result, most of the vloggers who are very big today started around this time and managed to make enough money to continue and improve their output. This means that a lot of the very popular ones in the UK are in their mid-twenties, having started vlogging at university and turned it into a proper job. The most well-known is probably Brighton-based fashion vlogger Zoella, who was recently profiled in the Financial Times.

Alongside fashion, other popular vlogging themes are video games and funny stunts. But law vlogs remain rare — despite there being a pretty vibrant legal blogging scene. Talking about this with friends, many commented on the time consuming nature of the law and suggested that potential law vloggers may not have the spare hours for a hobby job on the side. There are, however, a few pioneers.

Fashion blogger Elle Florence — who graduated in law from Durham University in 2010 — has vlogged about her experience on the LLB in a clip (below) that has had almost 5,000 views. A big fan of equity & trusts, Canadian-born Florence reflects on her favourite modules and the pros and cons of studying in the UK.

Having returned to Canada to do an LLM, Florence’s most recent law-related post is a video about what she had to wear when she was called to the bar of British Columbia.

But largely Florence — who has over 7,000 YouTube followers — sticks to discussing make-up, clothes and bags.

The only vlogger who covers exclusively law-related themes is Shawnee732. The San Francisco-based recent law graduate has recorded almost 40 videos about her experiences at law school and her search for a job — something thousands of students in the UK would sympathise with. She is now continuing to vlog her experience of embarking upon a legal career at an unspecified firm. Her videos are personal, honest and have gained her 2,300 followers.

Elsewhere on YouTube there is the occasional video that tries to explain the lighter side of the legal profession, such as this not-quite-funny barristers vs baristas video by tomtotheawesome.

Some practising lawyers have also dabbled in vlogging, without racking up many views.

And that’s about it. With YouTube most popular among teenagers and people in their 20s, there could be an opportunity out there for a British law student to corner the market in legal vlogging — or vlawging. If they make it big, they could earn some serious money, with Zoella reported to be making £400,000 a year from YouTube.

But before quitting their training contract ambitions they should consider some of the difficulties in making money on YouTube via ads. Contrary to popular myth, view count has little to do with revenue. What matters are ad engagement rates. So viewers would have to be very interested in the products or services which any vlawger chose to promote.

Law students might of course be worried about deterring future employers by appearing to have opinions. Indeed, that has been an issue for Shawnee732, who has removed several of her clips. But I’d like to think that firms and chambers don’t just want bland individuals with nothing to say for themselves.