The Law Prof Twitter Network

Following recent discussions about the importance of blogging/tweeting to contemporary academia (see: LSE via TaxProf), and Bridget Crawford’s Law Prof Twitter Census (version 3.0) over at TheFacultyLounge, I thought I’d do some number crunching and network building.

I wrote a short script to read all of the law prof twitter handles included in the census and query the twitter API to get the follower lists and statistics for each user. This allowed me to both rank law prof twitterers (because we all know how much people like to rank things) and project them onto an interactive network so we can see how they relate to one another.

To view the network, click through the image below. The law prof network (consisting of following relationships amongst law profs in the census) has 535 nodes and 16354 edges (directed density = 0.057). The entire network (including all of the followers of all of the law profs) is much larger. In total there are 741,385 unique twitter users who follow law profs. You’ll note that almost half of these follow Professor Lessig, who has an order of magnitude more followers than any other law prof.

Colors in the network correspond to communities detected using the Louvain method. Modularity in the network is 0.273, with 5 decently-sized communities and a few solo nodes/pairs. I haven’t delved much into the meaning of the clusters, but I’d be interested to hear any theories about what they might represent.



As with most social networks there’s a skewed distribution of followers. The below plots the degree distribution for the law prof only network (probability of k degree x degree).


There’s a similar skew in the all follower relationships. The table below lists the top twenty profs by number of followers:

Handle Name School Followers
lessig Lawrence Lessig Harvard 324336
SportsLawGuy Gabe Feldman Tulane 33728
zittrain Jonathan Zittrain Harvard 30787
McCannSportsLaw Michael McCann New Hampshire 29771
ZephyrTeachout Zephyr Teachout Fordham 25328
CassSunstein Cass Sunstein Harvard 21333
gregorymcneal Greg McNeal Pepperdine 17440
scrawford Susan Crawford Cardozo 15641
superwuster Tim Wu Columbia 11804
JonathanTurley Jonathan Turley George Washington 11715
bethnoveck Beth Simone Noveck NYLS 10422
patentlyo Dennis Crouch Missouri 9889
PrivacyLaw Michael Scott Southwestern 9024
garylfrancione Gary Francione Rutgers-Newark 8844
adamwinkler Adam Winkler UCLA 8706
ericgoldman Eric Goldman Santa Clara 8350
rickhasen Rick Hasen Irvine 7857
ProfHolloway Kara Holloway Duke 7848
rcalo Ryan Calo Univ. Washington 7738
marycheh Mary Cheh George Washington 7596


Limiting our rankings to those professors who have the most followers amongst other law professors on twitter, changes the results quite a bit:


Handle Name School prof_followers
DeanDBRodriguez Daniel B. Rodriguez Northwestern 193
lessig Lawrence Lessig Harvard 187
nancyleong Nancy Leong Denver 167
orinkerr Orin Kerr George Washington 166
CassSunstein Cass Sunstein Harvard 149
profbcrawford Bridget Crawford Pace 143
zittrain Jonathan Zittrain Harvard 140
steve_vladeck Steve Vladeck American 136
CharlotteGarden Charlotte Garden Seattle 136
FrankPasquale Frank Pasquale Maryland 133
lsolum Larry Solum Georgetown 133
DanielSolove Dan Solove George Washington 130
daniellecitron Danielle Citron Maryland 130
SoCalTaxProf Paul Caron Pepperdine 127
profabartow Ann Bartow Pace 120
JoshMBlackman Joshua Blackman South Texas 117
marklemley Mark Lemley Stanford 116
MargotKaminski Margot Kaminski Ohio State 110
OrlyLobel Orly Lobel San Diego 109
ericgoldman Eric Goldman Santa Clara 105


If we group profs by school and rank them by followers, the top twenty look as below. Obviously having a twitter superstar on the faculty really boosts the ranking.


School Followers
Harvard 383145
George Washington 40905
Tulane 33880
New Hampshire 30421
Fordham 29133
Pepperdine 23539
NYU 18245
Univ College Dublin Sutherland 16093
Cardozo 16000
Georgetown 15823
Duke 13111
Chicago 12716
Maryland 12235
Columbia 11804
NYLS 11591
Santa Clara 11159
UCLA 11111
Missouri 9889
Stanford 9779


Again, if we do the same as above but focus only on prof followers the results change quite a bit:

School Prof Followers
NYU 730
George Washington 640
Harvard 626
Pace 412
Georgetown 411
Chicago 411
Maryland 366
Univ College Dublin Sutherland 319
Stanford 310
Pepperdine 281
Denver 256
Duke 249
Santa Clara 236
Ohio State 235
Northwestern 227
Drexel 221
Colorado 211
SUNY Buffalo 210
Toledo 203
Boston University 179



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