Knowledge management and the email tsunami

If your role as a knowledge professional entails ‘current awareness’ there is a strong possibility that you may be drowning in emails.

In my role I am expected to take leadership in being aware of all relevant developments. After all, I wouldn’t be much of a ‘knowledge’ professional if I were the last to know about developments affecting the practice of the lawyers I support!

In the world of litigation this means monitoring:

  • significant case-law from State Supreme and Appeal Courts and the Federal and High Courts;
  • changes to practice rules, notes and the approved forms in the various Courts;
  • relevant legislative developments at both the State and Commonwealth level;
  • announcements of interest by the various regulatory bodies;
  • industry news and news affecting significant clients;
  • developments in particular areas of interest, from discovery issues to privilege, from issues affecting in-house counsel and company directors to new technology affecting day-to-day legal practice; and
  • international developments,

among other things.

So how do I manage the flow of information on a daily basis without exploding my Outlook inbox?!

There was a time a couple of years ago when I would receive hundreds of emails a day! Updates and alerts from the various Courts, regulatory bodies, government agencies, legal support companies … and so on. My inbox was an absolute disaster zone and I was getting weekly alerts about my inbox exceeding capacity … usually just as I was trying to send something time-critical.

Fortunately, while technology itself is responsible for the information overload, it also provided me with the solution, in the form of the iPhone/iPad and using RSS feeds and Twitter. Consequently, I cleared up my inbox for essential communications and cut my email traffic down to well under a hundred a day, reducing the time I spend processing emails and increasing my productivity significantly.

For example, I use the Tweetbot App on both my iPhone and iPad and follow the Twitter feeds of:

  • a range of top-tier Australian and UK law firms;
  • BRR Media;
  • Harvard Business Review;
  • Lawyers Weekly;
  • Thomson Reuters;
  • LexisNexis Australia;
  • The Australian Financial Review;
  • The Financial Times;
  • The Wall Street Journal;
  • The New Lawyer;
  • CCH Australia;
  • TimeBase;
  • Legal Current (Thomson Reuters);
  • Australian Law Reform Commission;
  • Kluwer Arbitration;
  • Mashable,

just to mention a few.

Twitter allows me to scroll through the most significant news stories quickly and efficiently, selecting and viewing only those that are relevant to my role.

Another tool I use daily is the RSS feed aggregator, Google Reader. I have set up my Google Reader to direct RSS feeds into appropriately named folders such as:

  • Arbitration;
  • Business;
  • Class Actions;
  • Contract Law;
  • Courts and Litigation;
  • eLitigation;
  • General Legal Updates;
  • Insolvency;
  • Insurance;
  • Knowledge Management;
  • Legislation;
  • News;
  • Product Liability;
  • Regulatory;
  • Trade Practices; and
  • Workplace and OH&S.

Of course the possibilities are endless when it comes to the topics you may want to set up and monitor.

Then all I have to do is monitor the scrolling updates to my Google Reader, as it pushes through all the latest RSS updates from the close to 100 feeds I set up so far, including:

  • ACCC news releases;
  • Alert24 news feeds from Thomson Reuters for bankruptcy and insolvency, competition and trade practices, contract law, court practice and litigation, insurance, discrimination, financial services regulation, general practice and workplace and employment law;
  • CCH news;
  • Commonwealth Bills Digest;
  • Commonwealth Parliamentary Library updates;
  • Digital Media;
  • Global Arbitration Review News;
  • Google Alerts on arbitration, class actions and social media;
  • Green Chameleon;
  • Lawyer KM;
  • NSW KM Forum;
  • Queensland Legal Updater;
  • Queensland Judgments;
  • Queensland UCPR Bulletin;
  • The Sydney Morning Herald;
  • The New York Times;
  • The Washington Post;
  • Western Australia Supreme Court Judgments … and more.

To make things even more convenient, I installed the Reeder App for iPhone and iPad to keep up to date with my Google Reader RSS feeds.

This excellent App syncs with Google Reader and provides a mobile and tablet device friendly interface which also enables me to direct articles of interest to Twitter (and even Evernote).

These Apps enable me to complete many of my daily current awareness tasks while I’m commuting to and from work!

So, if current awareness has become an information overload nightmare, you are not doing it right and I recommend that you explore the solutions technology and social media can offer!

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