The nonstop tide of regulatory change can be overwhelming for lawyers. Here are three practical ways to keep up with regulation changes in your practice area.
The pace, volume and nuance of regulatory change is staggering. One moment, you’re up to date on the latest laws and rules in your areas of expertise. But the next moment, everything becomes uprooted by a newly approved or amended regulation. (Hopefully, you heard of the change before a client informs you of something you should have been aware of!)
Finding ways to stay on top of these updates is crucial to ensure you are working with the latest information.
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To take the finance industry as an example, the average number of yearly global regulatory changes is 56,000. Most of these updates can be found on the internet, buried in the deep pages of websites belonging to regulatory agencies, government agencies, courts and every other sort of authority. The internet is rich with information but tricky to keep up with.
Of course, there’s plenty you’re already doing to stay current in your practice area. Maybe you’ve joined a professional association that hosts seminars, courses and educational events. You certainly talk to colleagues about the latest developments. Your firm likely has some expensive legal content software that promises to keep you current on certain important regulatory changes.
But monitoring regulatory changes requires more than just working your network and paying a legal information broker. What are you to do when your client or your team needs you to know the very latest in a very specific area or application of legal practice?
Leverage Asynchronous Techniques to Keep Pace with Regulatory Changes
Thankfully, there are a few thrifty and clever solutions that can keep you up to date whenever a change occurs, rather than forcing you to seek out the latest changes on the grapevine, by consulting an expensive database, or by attending a seminar.
With a little know-how, you can use the internet’s power to make it easier to stay in the know – even when it comes to information from a hard-to-find web source that only you know to track.
Three Practical Ways to Keep Up with Regulatory Change in Your Focus Area
1. Website Change Monitoring Services
“Website change monitoring” describes a category of tools that scan the web for changes you care about by automatically checking certain webpages. When an update is detected by the system, you receive an email alerting you to the change.
Visualping is one particularly useful tool for staying on top of the specific regulatory information you care about, regardless of where it is on the internet. Visualping allows you to track any webpage; it can even track changes to PDFs.
Instead of manually refreshing webpages that contain regulatory information yourself, website change detection services do the checking for you. Just set up the page, and the tool will start watching for changes on your behalf. When an update is detected, the alert includes a screenshot or text snippet of the change for you to view. There’s also a link at the bottom of the email that takes you straight to the page you’re monitoring, so you can view the changes in the context of the source itself.
Here are some examples of the most common pages monitored by legal knowledge professionals with Visualping. No matter your legal practice area, there is surely a page or two (or perhaps a few dozen) that you could monitor to stay up to date:
- State Court Opinions and Orders
- Regional Court Daily Law Lists
- Federal Department of Health News
- District Court Standing Orders
- Federal Immigration Program Delivery Updates
- Federal Reserve Board Interpretations
- State Government Business Permits
- Federal Government Bills Progress
- Class Action Law Firm Case List
- EPA Requests for Public Comment
- Government Task Force “What’s New?” Page
- GDPR Enforcement Tracker
By allowing you to monitor primary information sources, web change monitoring services are an accessible alternative for staying up to date with all of that valuable legal information that lives in a specific corner of the internet. As an added bonus, Visualping offers a keyword alert feature, so you can only get alerted when certain words or phrases are added or removed.
2. Social Media Accounts
Hundreds of millions of people log on to social media every day. But beyond mainstream memes and the latest hashtags, social media is also a powerful tool for staying on top of regulatory changes.
Most regulatory agencies, for example, actively post and maintain a social media account. They use social media to share information about their activities, and important policy updates.
If you’re already scrolling through social media feeds on a regular basis, following these pages is an easy way to stay on top of regulatory changes.
To start you off, below is a list of some agency accounts you may want to follow:
Another good source of Twitter accounts with regulatory news and updates is the JD Supra family of accounts. Whatever your niche, seek out the experts on Twitter!
After following these accounts, be sure to click the “notify” button on specific pages you really care about. That way, whenever they make a new post, you’ll get a special alert. Allow Twitter to send you notifications on your phone, and you’ve got regulatory alerts streaming straight to your phone.
3. Newsletters, Blogs and RSS Feeds
Blogs and feeds are still a good source of regulatory intelligence. Just as you might seek out the agencies and experts on Twitter, see what is offered by these folks on their own websites — you might be surprised!
For example, some regulatory agencies publish their own journals, newsletters and blogs, such as OSHA Quicktakes. As well as briefing you on important industry trends, many of these resources include important legislative changes and regulatory news.
Once you’ve identified all the sites you want to follow, you have a few options for staying up to date with their postings. Your chosen approach will depend on whether you want to get alerts in your email inbox, or in a separate location.
If you’re fine with getting updates in your inbox, simply look for a newsletter sign-up option on the blog. If one isn’t offered, Visualping (mentioned above) can fill in and provide you with email updates when any blogroll is updated.
If you’d rather not add clutter to your email, RSS feeds are a super handy way to stay up to date with blogs. I suggest using Feedly to subscribe to any number of feeds. In cases where an RSS feed isn’t available, try a service like Kill the Newsletter. Otherwise, Visualping can generate an RSS feed for any page you monitor with the service.
Whatever your approach, signing up for these resources is another great way to keep regulatory updates coming your way. You’ll know when there’s a new regulation, whether it concerns you, and its requirements. With some strong curation, regularly glancing through a stack of subject lines in your inbox or your Feedly will help you stay attuned to valuable information that you might not have known to look for.
Regulatory Change Is Nonstop, but Manageable
Every regulatory environment is continuously evolving. Especially in today’s most highly-regulated industries, staying one step ahead of requirements is one of the legal profession’s biggest hurdles. With the help of these online strategies, keeping pace with the constant change is more manageable.