July 9, 2007
Lawyers have never been known as a technical bunch, but more and more often you see a lawyer with a palm pilot making appointments and a blackberry for those urgent messages. Electronic gadgets are now common in the courthouses across the US. Lawyers have increased productivity by utilizing technology so it should come as no surprise that lawyers are using RSS feeds as a means to grow and manage their practices.
Lawyers are using RSS feeds a number of different ways to increase efficiency and productivity. Common RSS feed usage in the legal field include:
1. Ego Feeds
First and foremost, lawyers want to know what is being said about their firm. It is easy enough to monitor search engines and news searches using RSS. Lawyers create what is commonly referred to as “ego searches”. These are essentially keyword searches (the keyword is the firm or lawyer’s name). Each time the keyword appears in the news article or search engine a new item will appear in the feed. Lawyers can click through and view the source of the mention.
2. Current Events
Similar to ego feeds, lawyers use RSS to track current events that are related to cases in which they are involved. This might involve monitoring specific news agencies or topics.
Ego Search Tools – http://www.rss-tools.com/ego-search-feeds.htm
3. Firm Public Relations
Won a big case, what better way to convey it than sending a press release? Naturally, this release should also appear in an RSS feed.to help increase the distribution and reach of the press release. RSS can also be used by large firms to announce press conferences at the culmination of a case.
Law.com – http://www.law.com/service/rss.shtml
4. Court Cases
RSS can be used to monitor pending court cases, and rulings that might effect a specific segment of law.
5. Pending Legislation
Lawyers can use RSS to monitor legislation that relates to specific cases or topics. Lobbyists can monitor votes of politicians and follow their positions on important issues.
GovTrack – http://www.govtrack.us/
6. Client News
Ego feeds can also be used to monitor the word on the street about a client. Whether the client is facing a criminal trial or a civil case, the press can undoubtedly influence a trial. Monitoring the press for mentions help lawyers prepare the best possible defense or prosecution.
Ego Search – http://www.feedforall.com/ego-searches.htm
7. Legal Calenders
Industry events can be followed using RSS feeds. Legal conferences and events can be traced on public RSS calenders.
Law School Calender – http://www.law.uoregon.edu/cal/events/index.php?com=rss
8. Share Research Tools
Lawyers can use social bookmarking tools and RSS feeds to share web research resources with colleagues. This can reduce the amount of time spent researching issues.
del.icio.us – http://del.icio.us
9. Legal Employment
Job feeds are increasing in popularity in all industries. Lawyers in search of employment openings can subscribe to RSS feeds and learn about new employment opportunities as they become available.
4 Legal Jobs – http://www.4legaljobs.com/show_content.php?id=1144741774
10. Court Rulings
Many courts are now publishing court rulings in RSS feeds, making them available to the general public.
Court Rulings – http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/subscribe.html
11. Court of Appeals
Appeals courts are also adopting RSS feeds to allow interested parties to monitor decisions coming out of the court of appeals.
US Courts – http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/fdocs/docs.fwx?submit=rss_ops
12. Legal Organizations
The American Bar Association has an RSS feed and podcast that discusses litigation. Lawyers can use RSS feeds to stay connected to industry information.
American Bar Association – http://www.abanet.org/litigation/litigationfeed.xml
13. Continuation Education
Many legal courses have podcasts available, and lawyers interested in expanding their education on a specific segment of the law can listen to audio podcasts or subscribe to video podcast lectures.
Education Feeds – http://www.educational-feeds.com
14. Legal Blogs
Many lawyers have expanded their practices by setting up a blog offering legal advice. Often the contents of the blog are syndicated using RSS feeds.
Law Professors – http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/antitrustprof_blog/
15. Cease and Desist
There is even an RSS feed that contains Cease and Desist Letters. As cease and desist letters are added, clinical law students can annotate them with questions and answers.
Chilling Effects – http://www.chillingeffects.org/index.xml
Lawyers have begun using RSS to stay ahead and adapt to the needs of their clients. Members of the legal profession are using RSS in very specific ways. RSS is more than simply a communication medium to lawyers, it is helping them filter information that is relevant to their practice and case load. Through RSS they are able to gain access to relevant information in a timely fashion.
Author: Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com audio recording and editing software.