Technology in Law Firms : Predictions for 2008

The December/January 2008 edition of Computers & Law (The magazine of the Society for Computer and Laws) contains some predictions for Technology developments within Law Firms during 2008. The predictions are from leading experts in the legal technology field, including Delia Venables, Charles Christian and many others.

The major topics discussed are;


Worth a quick read if you have a subscription.

Are Thomson serious about Social Networking?

The House of Butter Blog is reporting that Thomson/Westlaw have made their first tentative steps into the Social Networking market with the purchase of U.S. based Contact Networks. Contact Networks main product is an application called ContactNet

"ContactNet, the first and most powerful social networking application built specifically for corporate environments, automatically uncovers, aggregates and prioritizes a firm’s internal relationships with external business contacts. Now, determining “who knows whom” is as simple as doing a Google-like search, with no data entry or ongoing database maintenance."

It will be interesting to see what plans Thomson/Westlaw have for the products ContactNetworks provide and at what point we might see the first implementation in the UK. House of Butter seem generally excited about this acquisition or rather the ramifications;

"We imagine that any other networking companies with software that suit the legal market will be rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of this purchase by Thomson / Westlaw. It means that not far behind will be Lexis Nexis with their bulging pockets of cash ready to snap up somebody who can keep them in the game."

I guess we will just have to wait and see!

Second life...the Second coming?

Last night I was lucky enough to attend "Working in a virtual world; why companies, law firms and libraries are doing business in Second Life" which was organised by the City Information Group and hosted by TFPL. This was a very well attended event with delegates from Law Firms, Banks and other institutions so there it was apparent that there is some interest in how Second Life can be used both by businesses and by the information teams working within those businesses.

I have to say I was slightly disappointed at the end of the night, not by the Speakers who both delivered very good presentations about how they currently use Second Life and how they see Second Life developing, but because there was very little focus on how Libraries can actually use Second Life in "real life".

Of course there are some excellent examples of Libraries and Librarians that are using Second Life, so it was unfortunate that Kate Fitx from Sacramento County Public Law Library wasn't able to join the seminar. I would have been very interested to hear how she created and developed their presence on Second Life. Having said that I think Second Life is definitely worth taking a look at, especially in relation to Training and Conferences, these were some of the uses of Second Life that David Naylor from Field Fisher Waterhouse talked about.

User-generated content Guides

I've just discovered that the Out-Law.com site has a useful looking set of guides which discuss the legal risks associated with creating and using Social Networking sites and other Web 2.0 applications like Blogs and Wikis.

Do Librarians belong in Facebook?

This was one of the question asked of 300+ college students in the U.S. the answer to whether they would contact a Librarian via Facebook was rather depressingly a resounding NO. Most students prefer existing communication methods.

The WISBlawg has the full story.

Bella is bewildered about Blogs

This is a bit silly but still a quite useful introduction to Blogs for anyone in the Legal Profession who has yet to dive in and start using RSS to read Blogs, Law Librarians also get a mention!

Originally posted here.

RSS Readers...for free!

Not much is free in this life but Newsgator have announced that they are making their Desktop and Web based News Readers free for personal use, Knowledge Thoughts has the full story. Naturally as soon as I saw something was free, I was there faster than a pig running towards a field full of turnips!

FeedDemon is certainly a lot different from my existing RSS Reader so the next few days are going to be interesting.

All that glisters is not Gold

This is the title of the editorial section of the latest edition of the Journal of Librainship and Information Science. In it the editor outlines 6 ideas which he believes are driving the development of Web 2.0 and Web 2.0 applications. They are;

  • Individual production and user generated content e.g. Blogs, Wikis, photo sharing sites.
  • Harnessing the power of the crowd
  • Data on an epic scale
  • Architecture of participation, in its most basic terms this means that when a service is designed it is designed so that it encourages mass collaboration and participation.
  • Network effects
  • Openness

There are some quite subtle concepts explained here, which even I found quite hard to grasp initally. There is also some interesting terminology used like "Digital rain", this is a description of the amount of data that is currenlty being produced which Web 2.0 companies are reusing and as the editor puts it "fishing".

New year...new list

So were only 9 days into the New Year and I'm already making a list. Not a good sign surely, but this is a list with a different, this is my will, wont and want list for 2008...let's begin...


  • So first off I'm going to write more narrative Blog posts, starting with this one.
  • I'm going to use Facebook more, but not to plunder deserted Islands for gold or to throw objects at people but as a tool to communicate and collaborate with my friends and colleagues.
  • I'm going to continue writing articles for as long as they are accepted.
  • I'm going to use Twitter more as a medium for communicating with my friends and posting interesting resources.
  • I'm definitely going to do some more talks and have already pencilled in a talk for Spring. Having said that I'm not going to talk about things I know nothing about.
  • I'm going to look at using a Wiki to create a toolkit for BIALL members.
  • I will arrange a UK Law Librarians who blog meeting.
  • I won't be trying to use too many new Web 2.0 applications during 2008. You could spend your whole year doing this.
  • I'm going to look at custom domain names for this Blog and whilst I'm there I may even change the template...again.

...but most importantly I'm going to have fun.

Turn HTML into RSS in five minutes

That's right five minutes, sounds too good to be true doesn't it? Well the Knowledge Thoughts blog has very kindly reported on a new site called Dapper. I know it has a funny name but what it produces and the speed at which it can produce results are amazing. What are you waiting for, go...now.

Tech Tips for every Librarian

This is an excellent post on the Tame The Web Blog. In the post which is a series of links to other posts the authors write about how to use some of the technologies that have become very well known over the last couple of years, the full lists of posts included in the article are:

"January 2006: Welcome to our World
February 2006 : How and Why to Try a Blog for Staff Communication
April 2006: FASTER IM: Virtual Reference on the Cheap
May 2006: Ten Tips for Technology Training
October 2006: Getting Started with Flickr
February 2007: Putting Wikis Into Play
April 2007: Creating a Librarian’s Info-Portal with NetVibes & RSS
September 2007: Embedding a Librarian in your Web Site using meebo"

Falling in love...

...with tagging. That's right Tagging, Read Write Web has an excellent post on the different ways you can use Tagging to share information and resources you have found with your immediate colleaugues and with the wider web community.