Lawyers and other professionals who work in information-intensive environments know that knowledge is power. But how to keep up with the constant deluge of legal news without drowning in information?
For many of us, technology is only heightening the FOMO (fear of missing out) and creating more potential distractions, like those anxiety-inducing alerts that pop up on your mobile device and distract you from your task at hand. Not to mention the allure of Twitter, where you can virtually watch the news breaking in real time but risk falling into a time-wasting rabbit hole.
Fortunately, technology also provides some tools to help you manage the onslaught. Used effectively, these apps make sure you receive the news you need to stay current in your practice and be fully informed — without succumbing to information overload.
The challenge is figuring out what digital solutions will work best for you. I asked some lawyers what tools they use for their own news consumption. I’ll also give a brief overview of some of the more popular apps to help you manage your digital life.
The Conventional News Consumer
If you’re like most people, you’re an active consumer of news, seeking it out several times a day, according to the American Press Institute’s Media Insight Project.
Along these lines, Ireneo A. Reus III, a Los Angeles solo practitioner, uses Apple News on his iPhone, which generates headlines from leading media outlets including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and Bloomberg. Unlike many tech companies, Apple’s news app uses humans to curate stories instead of relying solely on algorithms. It also recommends stories based on your reading history and gives you the ability to save articles for later.
Reus also consumes news through social media. “I don’t use Twitter, but I do see the breaking news that friends’ post on Facebook and LinkedIn,” he said.
Despite concerns about the accuracy of news shared on social media, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that about two-thirds of us still turn to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for news.
Because lawyers have a reputation — well-earned or not — for being slow to adopt new technologies, I reached out to an attorney and law professor who is on the cutting edge. Caitlin “Cat” Moon teaches technology to law students and practicing attorneys at Vanderbilt Law’s Program in Law and Innovation. She is also the program’s director of innovation design.
I sent her a direct message on Twitter to ask how she manages her content flow. As it turns out, Moon said she uses Twitter as a primary news source.
“In a nutshell, I’ve finely pruned who and what I follow on Twitter,” she replied.
Moon also follows a handful of online publications. She uses Pocket to save articles for reading later. The free version of the app is like Pinterest for online content and can be integrated with Twitter and other apps. For those who need more robust organizational features, Pocket has a premium version for $5 a month or $44.99 a year.
Moon uses Evernote to organize and store articles she might want to refer back to later. “I’m an Evernote junkie,” she said.
“I’ve really cut down on the content I consume, primarily because I just don’t have time. Also, I’m a content hoarder so it’s probably for the best,” she said, adding a smiley face emoji.
The News Junkie
Next, I reached out to San Francisco appellate lawyer Ben Feuer, who consumes a voracious amount of online news through a variety of sources, including social media, websites and email digests. (Full disclosure, Feuer is also a friend.)
Feuer set up two RSS news feeds — one for legal news and one for general interest news. He uses Feedly to collect these articles from the web.
“I funnel that into a couple of RSS apps which display the feeds as widgets on my Android phone. Then I can simply slide screens left or right to be in either of my news lists,” he said.
On the legal front, he monitors Above the Law as well as several blogs devoted to practice-specific news related to California and 9th Circuit appellate decisions. He receives daily emails from legal publications such as ALM, FindLaw, and Law360.
For general interest news, Feuer relies on morning and afternoon updates from The Daily Beast. “They seem to do a good job of getting interesting stories on my radar,” he said. For local news, he subscribes to daily emails from SFist and San Francisco Business Times.
He also gets a daily email from Flipboard, a free app that allows users to curate and share news articles, which claims to have “more than 100 million monthly active and highly-engaged users from all corners of the globe.”
More Productivity Apps
The apps mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg of what’s available. Here’s a look at a couple of others that market themselves as helping lawyers and other busy professionals cut through the clutter.
Nuzzel connects with your social media accounts to deliver the most popular stories being shared by your contacts. If you find that you’re spending too much time on Twitter or Facebook, it can help you monitor what’s going on without logging in. Nuzzel also lets you create your own email newsletters or sign up for newsletters curated by your contacts.
For those who can’t be bothered to download and configure a news aggregation tool, but are willing to spend money on data gathering and intelligence, there are technical solutions that claim to help you avoid what some call “data triaging” — sorting through multiple news feeds to find the information most valuable for thought leadership, competitive intelligence and lead generation.
Larger law firms such as Perkins Coie, Foley & Lardner and K&L Gates have given testimonials in favor of Manzama’s content aggregation tool. Manzama Base claims to analyze more than 80,000 sources and feeds against your specified topics and interests.
Whether you opt for a sophisticated subscription application or one of the many free news aggregators out there, you can streamline your news consumption to make sure you don’t miss out.
What are your favorite news aggregation tools? Let us know.