Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Top 10 Uses for RSS in Law Firms

I've haven't posted a top-10 style list before, but there's a first for everything, right? :-) So... (drum roll, please) ... here are my top 10 uses for RSS Feeds in a law firm setting.

Top 10 Uses for RSS in Law Firms

1) Current Awareness - Surfing your favourite websites, newspapers & blogs is a waste of time. Smart firms & lawyers need to automate web content to come to them via RSS. These personalized collections can then be customized (through mixing and filtering) to only deliver the content that matches a lawyers' interests.

2) RSS for Firm Marketing - From blogs, to press releases, to firm newsletters and publications -- adding an additional delivery channel using RSS feeds is not a huge investment. And speaking from experience, those clients that do use it, will tell you how much they love it!

3) Vanity Feeds - Every time one of your lawyers, or the firm, gets mentioned in the news media or blogosphere, someone should be notified by RSS. Your firm's ability to use RSS could be the difference between finding out immediately or days later.

4) Internal Research Collections - Your library catalogue should offer an RSS feed for newly added materials that match your Lawyer's research interests. Same thing goes for internal KM & research collections. In the future, I expect Internal RSS will be as important to law firms as RSS is to bloggers today.

5) Client Press - Do your clients have their press releases RSS-enabled? Are you tracking your clients in the news media? What do you know about their latest products, disputes, and business initiatives? Knowing more about your client's business is always good for firm business.

6) Feeding on Marketing Content for KM - Do your firm members have blogs? contribute to an industry discussion forum? wikis? Are you feeding those public internet contributions back into your internal KM repositories? Something to think about.

7) Case Law & Legislative Changes - The importance of RSS notification for new & changing legislation cannot be underestimated. Nor can receiving the newest judgement just minutes after it has been published on a Court's website. In the future, searches on those websites will, via RSS, enable us to receive exactly the legislation and topical cases we desire. I also expect these applications may be coming sooner than most firms are anticipating.

8) Aggregated Tagging - Do your lawyers tag with a tool like Del.icio.us or Furl? (If they don't now, they might in the future, read on...) Tagging is the new 'favourites' or 'bookmarking' for online reading. Rather than creating a browser-based bookmark, these 'gems' are classified & kept in an online web collection, which just happens to be RSS-enabled! Does it not make sense to take those feeds, from multiple firm members, and aggregate them behind the firewall into a searchable repository? The line between public web-vs-behind the firewall collections is blurring. In the future, your KM efforts should be capturing firm members' public web contributions, and RSS technology will be right in the middle of that.

9) RSS Republishing - RSS helps to move web content to where it needs to be. We can automate the republication of any firm content -- from story headlines to full-text of publications -- to anywhere on a law firm's Intranet or public website. RSS is a very powerful website maintenance tool.

10) Feed Mixing & Filtering for Subject Collections - RSS should be easy for the end user, and starting from scratch building a personal feed collection doesn't always make sense. One new task I see for Law Librarians will be to create, remix and filter groups of feeds for different subjects. Creating & offering these pre-fab feed widgets that your lawyers can plug into their Aggregator could be a very valuable tool.


Blogger test-test-test said...

Steve, this is really good: concise and persuasive. I'll see if I can't bludgeon some of my colleagues into seeing the light with this.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Very timely Steve - the Edmonton Law Librarians Association just had a panel discussion on this and your toop ten list rounds out our discussions nicely. THANKS - Shaunna Mireau

7:52 AM  
Blogger mitsugomi said...

Excellent list -- I've tagged it in del.icio.us for future reference. Thank you!

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am interested to know how your firm's lawyers would rank the list.

Perhaps they would use a Must vs Want [time-, compliance-, or other-sensitive] approach. Would "Case Law and Legislative Changes" rise to the top of the list because keeping on top of this information is a Must?

The "Tag lawyers online reading" might be a valuable cost reduction tool. In a [sub]practice focused on say IP or family law, it could serve as a "valuable read" notion that could save other lawyers in the practice from also reading the same material.

In terms of promoting your firm, what activities has/does the firm conduct that are clearly differentiating it from other practices in the same field. These differentials could help you improve penetration into existing clients or expand your client base.

To me it's important to rank the list 1 to 10 across the spectrum of must to want, and revenue increase/cost reduction resulting in profit improvement.



1:05 PM  
Blogger Steve Matthews said...

Good comments Robert, and I'm all about quantifying things, but I think if we asked 10 lawyers your prioritization question, we might get 10 different answers.

A 'rainmaker' will certainly have different priorities than the lawyer that grinds out thousands of hours each year. Both are important to the makeup of the firm's culture and profitability, and both (should be) rewarded for bringing different things to the table. Short story: I think the must/want pendulum will vary widely, depending on the individual.

Your thoughts on quantification and establishing value for RSS initiatives are very good. You've given me some things to think about.

2:11 PM  

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