Building a current awareness solution that suits the legal industry

This blog takes a closer look at the three fundamental considerations that law firms should make when looking to create a highly effective current awareness solution including; sources, silos, and security.

Becoming data-driven has been on the agenda of most organizations for a while now and the role of technology in this is frequently emphasized. While it has been suggested that there has been resistance in adopting new technology by the legal sector, a recent report from Deloitte clearly acknowledges the critical role technology can play in transforming legal practices.

A recent whitepaper from Thomson Reuters identifies some of the most common bottlenecks attributed to legal current awareness as:

  • The need to avoid duplicating efforts
  • A lack of consistency between updates produced by and for different practice areas and audiences
  • Labor-intensive and repetitive processes to produce multiple updates
  • Email/information overload

In this blog, we’ve taken a closer look at the three fundamental considerations that law firms should make when looking to create a highly effective current awareness solution including; sources, silos, and security (because who doesn’t like alliteration).

Sources

Premium sources

When you look at integrating multiple premium sources there are two critical elements that you need to consider. Firstly, different premium providers will utilize different types of feeds such as RSS, API and FTP, as well as different information formats such as XML, HTML and email. The disparate information sources, therefore, need to be normalized into a standardized format so that they can be accessed from one place, and easily used across multiple applications. These information feeds then need to be monitored consistently to ensure that any changes or issues are handled effectively to ensure information flow and retrieval.

The second consideration is the type of access you have as part of your content license as this can affect the accessibility for each individual user. For example, having programmatic access typically means that integrating your information via an API and ensuring all of your end users can access the full information document is achievable. Seat-based licensing, on the other hand, may restrict some users from being able to read the full source.

Internal sources

The legal industry is one that is trailing workplace digitization norms. Whereas most industries can access their information digitally, the legal industry still relies heavily on physical documentation and manual processing. Moving these internal resources to a digital platform has been acknowledged by The Law Society as a priority for the industry as a whole, but provides a significant challenge for integrating your internal information into a digital current awareness platform.

Secondly, the nature and sensitivity of the information being processed by law firms can pose a challenge. While it’s essential to have this available across a current awareness delivery, it is often not appropriate to be accessible to all users. To combat this your current awareness solution needs to have accurate access management controls to ensure information is made available to those (and only those) for whom it is intended.

Open sources

The nature of open-source content results in a lot of irrelevant or inaccurate information noise. Integrating this into your current awareness solution, while worthwhile and often necessary to get a complete picture, can result in a lot of superfluous information. To ensure that your current awareness solution offers you both timely and accurate insights requires a combination of AI technology — sifting through the vast quantities of information, and human expertise — drawing out the insights and summarizing the true meaning of that information.

Silos

Similarly, silos often exist because of the type of content that legal firms rely on. We alluded to it above but a problem that stems from the nature and antiquity of legal information and systems means physical silos (think filing cabinets) are as prevalent in law firms as their digital successors.

Ironically, the same solution to overcoming this barrier, i.e centralizing your knowledge workflows, is also what you are trying to achieve when building a long-term current awareness solution. To be able to do this, you need to get a firm grasp of the information sources that exist across the entire organization. We’ve found that a company-wide content audit produces surprising results; often highlighting lost opportunities, underused resources, and duplicated work.

Security

Conclusion

The right solution provides an increased ROI on the content across your organization, ensures a reduction in the time taken to find the right insights, and is deployed in an environment of your choice to satisfy all of your security needs. But most importantly, it is a critical factor of success. Investing in a solution that will provide current awareness that suits your firm now and into the future should become (if it isn’t already) a priority.

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