Imagine having an entire research team that works around the clock, scouring the internet to compile and organize a personalized newspaper — just for you — every day. Relevant information is immediately organized into a familiar, easily searchable format and there are no ads. Does that sound too good to be true? “Wait, there’s more!” It is quick and easy to set up and it’s free. Welcome to the world of RSS (Really Simple Syndication).
RSS works and looks like your email inbox, so there is a short learning curve. You control exactly what is sent to you, so you never receive spam and unsubscribing is simple. You can choose from thousands of useful, interesting feeds that will help you with your law practice, keeping you current and saving you time. It will only take you 10 minutes to get started. I have included an extensive list of recommended legal feeds, organized by practice area, to make this as easy as possible for you. First, let me tell you a little more about RSS, why Bill Gates says email and web sites are the old way of communicating and that RSS is an invaluable tool for the new, far superior, way of communicating, with blogs and newscasts.
RSS Looks and Works Like Email
RSS is a web format that sends content directly to you — as soon as it is created. It is very similar to e-mail. When you are sent an e-mail, it arrives in your inbox, waiting for you to read it. With RSS, website creators put their content in the RSS format (called a “feed,” “web feed” or “channel”) and it is automatically sent out directly to anyone who subscribes to it. Your RSS reader (also called an “aggregator” or “feed reader”) is your inbox for RSS information and it picks up information for you 24 hours a day, storing it for you to read when you need it. Google Reader is the easiest reader to set up and use.
RSS Saves You Time
RSS is vastly more efficient than browsing the internet manually. How much time have you wasted searching for obscure articles, checking for nonexistent updates, dodging popup ads and trying to locate an article you read a month or two ago online? That history button on your browser is not very helpful when you visit hundreds of sites a month. With RSS, you can quickly find those articles (and unread feeds) by searching through your RSS library with specific keywords. This does not take up space on your hard drive because Google’s servers store this information online, which means you can access it from anywhere, including your cell phone. If you want to store your information on your own hard drive, download Google Gears so you can use the reader offline.
Readers make organizing your feeds easy. You can create subject folders and flag (or star) key feeds, just as you do with email. Deleting feeds is also painless. The reader’s “subscription trends” table will display the least used feeds and all you have to do is click on the trash can icon to delete that feed. They will also recommend new feeds that may interest you, based on your viewing habits, so you do not have to search for more yourself. You can also use your reader to publicly share particularly useful articles with your invited Google “friends,” without having to email everyone.
Your Own Personalized, Constantly Updated Library
I subscribe to over 60 feeds, so I receive hundreds of articles, podcasts (audio) and video clips a day, automatically, without searching the web and manually checking for updates. I know of people who scan through thousands of headlines a day with “List View,” reading only those articles that interest them. If this sounds like an email nightmare, it’s not. You don’t waste your time with spam and you do not have to reply to any messages. In fact, you don’t have to read it at all!
I do not actually read the majority of my feeds because I only need daily updates from a few of the sites. I primarily use my reader as a library, where I store legal, technical and news feeds into folders that I can search later. Reader searches return relevant information faster than an internet search because I’ve already narrowed the scope down to my 60 source feeds. Google Reader’s search function is one of its best features. (Note that most websites do not yet offer RSS, so a reader search would make a good starting point, quickly returning relevant information, but is not comprehensive. Furthermore, you would only search the text in the feed, not necessarily the entire article). Let’s get started setting up the easiest reader, Google Reader.
Setting up Google Reader (this takes 2-5 minutes)
Create a Google account at https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount Note: If you already have a Google account (including Gmail), skip to step 5.
After clicking on the link in a verification e-mail, you’ll be taken to a page where Google confirms that your account is verified and gives you a link to manage your account profile. Click on it.
Edit your personal information (if you wish) then look to the list of features on the right. With your Google Account you have access to all of them. Scroll down to the “More” Link and you’ll see a long list of useful features Google offers.
Find the “Reader” link under the category Communicate, Show and Share. Click on it. (Skip to step 6).
For current Google Account holders: sign in to your account. Click on the “more” drop-down menu link at the top of the screen and select “Reader.”
You’ll see your blank reader and have the option to watch a short video (less than a minute) introducing you to Google Reader. Click on the triangle to watch it or click “Take a tour” to read a more informative, yet brief, overview. There is a more in-depth guide to using Google Reader in this article. It’s quick and easy to get started because the reader works and looks like your email inbox.
There is no content to view because you haven’t subscribed to any feeds yet, but your reader is ready to start receiving them. To import Google bundles on news, sports and many other topics click on “Get started by adding subscriptions.” If you are not interested in these bundles, click the “Home” link in the top left side bar of your reader and we’ll start adding legal feeds to your reader.
Let’s Start Subscribing
Subscribing with the RSS Icon
This is the fun part of RSS: subscribing to feeds from your favorite websites. There are many ways to subscribe to a feed, but the easiest way is to click on the RSS icon , and let Google reader subscribe to the feed for you. Feed links are also displayed as (and other colors besides orange and red), , and .
To practice this way of subscribing we’ll use a general legal news site, http://www.cnn.com/LAW . I’ve set this link to open in a new window when you click on it. (You can also right click on a link “Open in New Window.”) You can toggle between the CNN window, this one and your reader by simultaneously pressing the “Alt” and “Tab” keys on your keyboard.
In the middle of the CNN page you’ll see a box entitled “All About…” with a list of topics and red RSS icons (). Find a topic that interests you and click on the associated button. You’ll probably open a new page with the name of the feed and a list of the latest articles. (If you are directed to a page with html code, read the next section “Subscribing Manually to Google Reader.”)
Scan through the list of articles to make sure you want to subscribe to this feed. If you decide to try it out, your reader will pick them up for you once you subscribe. At the top of the screen you’ll see the words “Subscribe to this feed using” following by a drop down box. If Google isn’t already selected using the drop down box, select “Google.” Click the “Subscribe Now” button and click the blue button “Add to Google Reader.” You’ve just subscribed to your first feed and it will immediately appear in your reader.
Subscribing Manually to Google Reader
If you click on the icon and see a page filled with html code you can easily enter the feed manually into your Google Reader. We’ll practice this with another popular legal news site, http://www.law.com. Links to feeds are often located on the right side of the screen, near the top. This is where you will see on law.com’s website. Click on it to open a page filled with descriptions and links to the different feeds their website offers. You’ll notice that some of their feeds, such as IP Law and Employment Law have subscription fees. You can see abstracts in your reader but you will not be able to view the entire article until you sign up for their 30-day trial. For now, pick one that is free, such as Legal Blog Watch or Newswire, by right-clicking on and selecting “Copy Link Location” if you have Mozilla Firefox or Netscape or “Copy Shortcut” if you have Internet Explorer.
Go back to Google Reader and on the left sidebar find the Add subscription link and click on it. In the blank box, right click and select paste (which should paste the link location you copied) and click “Add.” Voila! You’ve added another feed.
If you do not want these feeds, click the link entitled “Manage subscriptions >>” underneath your list of subscriptions at the bottom of the left sidebar. Locate the subscription you want to delete and click the trash can to its right. Click “Ok.” Then click on “<< Back to Google Reader” in the orange menu bar to return to your home page.
For more help with subscribing see the Finding RSS Feeds and Troubleshooting sections at the end of this article.
Useful Feeds for Lawyers
General Legal News
Find Law A good site for legal news. Choose your reader from the list on the right sidebar or click on the RSS icon in your browser’s address bar.
ABA Daily News American Bar Association’s feed
Jurist: US Legal News University of Pittsburgh School of Law publication
Newswire Daily summaries of top legal news (already entered above)
The Wall Street Journal Law (requires a paid subscription to view full articles, but even if you don’t subscribe, the headlines and short descriptions are worth reading.)
Best Web Sites to Browse for Quality, Focused Feeds
Blawg 100 The ABA Journal Blawg 100 (2007) ABA’s recommendations of the top legal blogs (blawgs).
LexMonitor Offers the most comprehensive feeds on blawgs and journal articles. Select feeds from the 30 practice areas listed on the left, or subscribe to their more narrowly focused tag feeds.
Mealey’s News Feeds and Litigation Reports Free headlines and short description, subscription fee.
Harris Martin does not yet have a feed, but as soon as it is available, I will post them to my “New Legal Feeds” feed.
Blawgs (Blogs for Lawyers) and Legal News
Legal Blog Watch Compilation of the top legal blogs into one RSS feed.
Wall Street Journal Law Blog Full blog in feed, with links to interesting reader comments.
The Legal Underground Subscribe to this site’s RSS feed or use it to search for relevant blawgs with RSS feeds.
How Appealing Interesting appellate blawg.
LexMonitor: AmLaw 200 Blogs This site offers the most comprehensive legal blogs and news feeds with legal subcategories on the web.
Trial Consulting Articles
Deliberations Anne Reed’s website is an incredible resource and this feed is listed in the ABA’s top 100 blawgs.
JuriSense Jury selection, scientific evidence and communication articles written by yours, truly.
New Legal Feeds This is my feed on feeds. I will post new feeds into my JuriSense website’s copy of this paper. To save you from looking through that list, you can subsribe to receive just the new, quality legal feeds.
The Jury Expert This feed gives you access to all articles in the new digital Jury Expert.
American Bar Association (ABA)
Daily News (already listed under general legal news)
American Bar Association Useful websites and technical news for lawyers
Law Practice Today Online ABA webzine articles.
American Association for Justice (AAJ, formerly ATLA) The AAJ site did not have an RSS feed, but it linked to the Consumer Union feeds, which are listed below. As soon as the AAJ feeds are available, I will post them (as well as other updated feeds) into my online copy of this paper at my JuriSense website. You can also subscribe to my “New Legal Feeds” feed for those updates.
Recommended Legal Sites by Practice Area:
Admiralty & Maritime Law
Alternative Dispute Resolution Law
Civil Rights and Privacy Law
Class Action Defense Blog Up-to-date information on class actions
Corporate & Commercial Litigation Law
Crime & Consequence One of the few, quality criminal law sites discussing the prosecutors’ perspectives. Listed on ABA’s top 100 blawgs of 2007.
Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog An interesting blog about the art and science of criminal defense trial lawyering by Matt Bennett.
Divorce & Family Law
Election Law & Political Commentary Law
Electronic Discovery Law
Employment & Labor Law
General Counsel Blogs
Declarations and Exclusions California insurance law blog
Intellectual Property Law
Media, Entertainment & Sports Law
Law Firm Management & Legal Marketing
Personal Injury & Medical Law
Probate & Estate Planning Law
Product Liability Law 360 The newswire on product liability law.
Real Estate & Construction Law
Tax & Financial Law
Day On Torts Law Blog Published by John A. Day. Great articles, not just relevant to Tennessee, but elsewhere. There are also links to many other blawgs (legal blogs). Type in a keyword in the search box on the right sidebar and search the website for links that interest you.
Metzger Law Group Blog Information on benzene, leukemia and other public health issues.
Mesothelioma Watch A comprehensive consumer resource concerning abestos & Mesothelioma.
The Pop Tort Plaintiffs’ tort news “so civil justice isn’t toast.”
LexBlog Trial Lawyer Resource Center Trial tips from great trial attorneys.
The [non]Billable Hour Useful practice information.
More Recommended Legal Feeds:
Legal Technology for Law Firms
Legal Technology Technological information that pertains to a legal practice, such as e-mail security and electronic discovery.
Robert Ambrogi's LawSites a blog that keeps abreast of new legal resources on the internet.
SCOTUS U.S. Supreme Court blog
Monitor bills via RSS as they move through Congress at GovTrac.us.
Trackers are available for every person, bill, subject term or committee in Congress. Find the Add Tracker box on the appropriate page. A picture of a tracker box is shown to the right. Click the Add Tracker button to subscribe to events that are relevant to that page. Your tracked events page also includes a link to an RSS or Atom news feed customized to the trackers you've chosen.
There is a list of subject feeds on GovTrac.us. The site gives you a choice of 3 feed formats. Google reader can handle any of them, but RSS 2 is probably best. The most popular subjects are:
DC Dicta Great site that features legal news in Washington DC
California Legal News and Blogs
Legal Pad California Law blog
Legal Pad LA National Law Journal, focusing on the Los Angeles area
California Punitive Damages Horvitz & Levy
Cal Biz Lit Business litigation in California
Daily Journal Corporation Headlines. This is a fee-based subscription.
Science, Technology and the Law
Oxford Journals: Law, Probability and Risk Collection of British articles on Law, Probability and Risk but with relevant information on Daubert for American cases.
SKAPP (Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy). This group examines how science is used and misused in government decision-making and legal proceedings.
Law Firm Marketing
ALM Research Online Legal Marketing website
Home Office Lawyer
The (New) Legal Writer Great resources here.
Wayne Scheiss’s legal writing blog
Legalethics Focusing on the ethical issues associated with the use of technology by legal professionals. Includes a list or RSS feeds on 40 topics, including:
Legal podcasts (audio that can be downloaded onto your computer, an iPod or other MP3 player)
Blawgs.fm searchable directory of law blogs and podcasts
Journals and Academic News
WorldCat is useful for legal research. It is a comprehensive list of 1370 law journals, each has its own RSS feed that lists the titles of current articles. What’s really handy is the link to the closest libraries that subscribe to that journal. You can also select multiple journals to combine into one feed.
Law Professor Blogs There are over 50 subject areas, written by and for law professors, and most have RSS feeds. You may need a new web browser that detects RSS feeds to subscribe to these sites since the icon does not always work properly.
Other Useful Sites:
Medicine.net Health news.
There are also specific feeds on medical topics such as cancer.
Cancer You will have to search your reader for more specific terms, such as leukemia.
SpringerLink 1,954 Journal publications on Science, technology and medicine, including subject collections on Chemistry and Materials Science, Biomedical and Life Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Some titles link to abstracts. This is a fee to read the entire article.
Ingenta Connect Comprehensive collection of scholarly research materials, including Springer publications; good search capabilities of archived articles. For example, they list 1,788 journals regarding medicine, including 56 regarding toxicology that all have RSS feeds of article titles in the latest issues.
Informaworld Source for specialist information for the academic and business community. Includes journals, eBooks, abstract databases and reference works published by Taylor & Francis, Routledge, Psychology Press and Informa Health care. For example, you can subscribe to feeds that send you article titles from Psychology, Crime & Law and the Journal of the American Planning Association. You can search key words to find specific journal articles.
Psychology Articles and Abstracts
APA PsycNet Issues on psychology, public policy and law
Psychology Today Blog Insightful blog dealing with psychological issues from a personal to a professional perspective
APA Journal: Emotion (abstracts only)
APA Journal: Group Dynamics (abstracts only)
American Psychology Association journal feeds (list of 50 journals, abstracts only)
Consumer Union – Nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports
Product Safety includes recalls
Scribbler A consumers union open discussion forum where anyone can post their thoughts and opinions on consumer union issues.
Health Consumers union feed focusing on relevant health issues that informed consumers need to know.
Cover America Tour Blog aimed at unveiling the problems with our nation's health care system through strikingly personal stories and cases.
Daily Dose for Reform Prescription drug blog
Get the Lead Out! Toy safety blog
Topix allows you to tailor your own individual online newspaper. It collects news stories from 60,000 sources. Many readers post comments after the news articles so if your case (or a similar issue) is in the news, you can read what people think about it. This is not a substitute for quality pre-trial research, but it is interesting and will help you generate ideas.
CNN “The most trusted name in news.”
The Onion Fancies itself as “America’s Finest News Source.” Visit this page, pick which RSS topic interests you and subscribe. You’ll agree with their slogan in no time.
YouTube Blog Great for YouTube related news and developments. Visit this page and click the RSS icon to subscribe. Find out what YouTube is up to besides showing you how bulldogs ride skateboards.
The Daily Show Videos A wonderful collection of everything hilarious in the news world caught on camera and spun with John Stewart’s clever commentary. Visit this page and directly subscribe.
Slate Witty daily online magazine.
This list may contain all the feeds and links to feeds that you want. But if you want to learn more about finding specific feeds, see the Finding RSS Feeds section of this paper; however, this can be time-consuming. For your convenience, I will post new quality legal feeds into my online copy of this paper at my JuriSense website. You can also subscribe to my “New Legal Feeds” feed for those updates.
Using Google Reader
Google Reader offers an enormous amount of storage space and gives you several ways to read, organize and share your information. It is a web based RSS reading service that you can access from any computer with internet access. You can also download Google Gears to store your information on your own hard drive, for offline use.
Searching Articles in Your Reader
Google is known for its search capabilities so of course Google Reader also has a great search feature. This is handy if you use your reader as a library. Your Reader you can search all your articles (old and new) using keywords to find specific content. On the top, center area of your reader you’ll see a blank search box and a drop down box next to it saying “All items.” If you want to search your CNN subscription for articles pertaining to environmental exposure, just enter ‘environmental exposure’ into the search bar and click the arrow of the drop down next to the search bar and select your CNN subscription. You’ll get results for every article that matches your inquiry within CNN. If you want to search all your subscriptions, don’t touch the drop down box and it will search all items.
Getting Google Reader to work Offline (Google Gears)
Google gears is a new program that allows its users to use Google services (including Google Reader) offline. It installs a database that stores data locally so you don’t need an internet connection to receive your Google Reader content. Gears periodically synchronizes data on the internet with data in your database, storing content that is as updated as possible at every moment. Once your internet connection is severed and then reconnected, Gears will synchronize new information immediately. If you want articles from your Google Reader to be available offline, you can download Google Gears here.
Downloading Content into Your Cell Phone is Easy
2. Enter your phone number in the blue box (ex. 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX) 3. Google will send your phone a text message containing a link that connects you to your reader via your phone. 4. Using your phone, visit the link Google provided you in the text message. Sign in to your Gmail account (enter in your e-mail address and password) and you'll receive your reader's content.
Finding RSS Feeds
Finding specific feeds can be time-consuming, which is why I listed so many in this article and will continue to publish updates as I discover quality legal feeds. So you may want to skip this section. Read on if you want to learn a few more methods for finding RSS feeds that interest you. It’s not difficult; it just takes time to find them.
There is not yet a standard that all web creators follow, so a page with a feed may not have an RSS icon and pasting the website’s homepage web address into your reader manually may not work. Sometimes you will have to hunt around to find the feed’s address (the link location, the URL that is visible in your browser’s address bar, e.g., http://www.jurisense.com/blog/?feed=rss2).
Using your browser to find feeds
Like subscribing, there are many ways to identify if a site offers RSS feeds of their content. The easiest way is to let your internet browser detect feeds on pages for you. To do this, you’ll need either the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE7) or the latest version of Mozilla Firefox (Firefox 3.0). (Note that you should have these newer browsers for security reasons, to avoid Web-based attacks by criminal hackers. If you use IE7 you still need monthly automatic updates to reduce your risk. The current IE7 browser displays a green address bar when you are visiting a verified business site.)
We’ll subscribe to a feed using one of these browsers by visiting http://jurylaw.typepad.com/ as an example. This blog features great information on law, news and thoughts, juries and jury trials by Anne Reed. Visit http://jurylaw.typepad.com/ using one of the browsers and take a look at the address bar. You’ll see the site’s URL, but to the far right you’ll see the orange RSS icon . If you click on that icon, you’ll be directed to the page allowing you to select Google Reader and subscribe to the feed. Click Subscribe Now.
Manually finding feeds on websites
If your browser doesn’t detect a feed right away, but you’re not ready to give up on finding a feed, you can search manually for a feed by scanning the homepage of the site and looking for two things: the icon (which can be other colors besides orange) or a link saying RSS. If you find one of those, click on it and you’ll be able to subscribe.
Locating these things on the homepage is sometimes difficult, but if there are any feeds associated with a site, the web designer will probably link to it on their homepage. For example, there is no RSS icon in the address bar at http://www.jurisense.com because the feed does not originate from the home page, but you’ll clearly see the RSS icon to the right side of the screen.
Searching the Web for RSS feeds
Searching the web for RSS feeds in not simple. Without getting into the technicalities of how web crawlers find sites and how web designers register their sites, I’ll just recommend that you use http://blawgsearch.justia.com/, http://www.abajournal.com/blawgs/, http://www.blawg.com/ or http://www.theblogsoflaw.com/ for law-related feeds or Google searches without typing in “RSS” as a search term. For Google searches, you’ll have to look through the top hits for your search terms and check to see if these top sites have RSS feeds. This is time consuming, which is why I listed so many RSS feeds to get you started. Good general RSS search engines are http://www.feeds4all.com, http://www.rssfeeds.com and http://blogsearch.google.com/ but these are less likely to return legal feeds than those listed above.
Subscribing Manually to Google Reader (links to prior discussion)
Scenario: You click on the RSS icon and are taken to a page filled with html code.
Solution: Ignore the code. Copy the URL of the page and paste it into the “Add Subscription” bar of your reader.
Scenario: You click on the RSS icon in your browser and are given a drop down selection of different versions of RSS (usually RSS 1 or RSS 2 or Atom).
Solution: These versions matter mostly for the feed creators and for certain, picky types of RSS Readers. Google can read all these versions but just select RSS 2 and it’ll work fine.
Scenario: You click on an RSS link or icon and are taken to a page filled with a lot of icons for different readers.
Solution: Find the Google Reader icon () and click on it. Hit Add to Google Reader ()
Scenario: You click on an RSS link or icon and nothing happens.
Reason: The link is bad and either the feed is inaccessible or you’ll have to find another link to the feed that works.
Scenario: You click on the RSS icon in your browser and your Reader is flooded with too much general information.
Solution: Your browser probably subscribed you to all the feeds on the site. Navigate the site page to find their specific options for RSS feeds and subscribe to the one(s) that interest you.
Other RSS Readers and Mac User Information
Google is the dominant name in most free, web based services today, but Google Reader is not the only RSS reader out there. My Yahoo Reader is also popular as well as Bloglines reader. Web based readers such as these, are accessible to PC and Mac users, but if you want a desktop based reader, you’ll want to find one that is compatible with your operating system. NewsGator is a popular desktop based reader for both PC and Mac users that can even sync with your Outlook e-mail in windows.
Citation for this article: The Jury Expert, 2008, 20(2), p 58-72.
Tammy Metzger (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the principal of JuriSense, a trial consulting firm based in Long Beach, California. She primarily works on environmental, toxic tort and products liability cases, specializing in pre-trial research, jury selection and communication skills. She speaks at legal conferences and workshops, teaching attorneys how to conduct voir dire, explain scientific evidence to laypersons and overcome bias. You can read more online articles, subscribe to RSS feeds and learn more about JuriSense trial consulting services at www.jurisense.com