Lawyers may have to toss a coin to choose caffeine versus constantly updated legal news. Now, it’s easier to have both. 

New tools ease finding and digesting legal updates while sipping coffee. I recently spoke with Todd Berkowitz, an executive with Newsgator, an “enterprise RSS” company that makes software to manage and deliver information. “Enterprise RSS” sounds daunting but the concept is simple. It lets law firms centralize updates from multiple sources such as West, Lexis, and BNA to deliver updates tailored to individual practice groups.

Lawyers get their critical updates in one place – Outlook or portal – rather than as a stream of e-mail or print publications. Blackberry delivery is also an option. Newsgator and other enterprise RSS systems let lawyers customize pre-selected practice group info by adding their own “feeds” from their favorite blogs or other sources. Lawyers can also easily share updates with their colleagues, which sure beats penning names on routing slips.

Berkowitz reports that multiple AmLaw 200 firms have licensed Newsgator software or are considering it. Given that I posted about enterprise RSS in 2005, I’m glad to hear that the product category appears to have traction now.

Unlike legal technology of yore, this does something for lawyers, not to them. Plus it makes life easier for librarians and CIOs. Firms can now monitor which sources are used and what lawyers actually read. This provides data to rationalize source selection and allows further customizing content over time. Now, lawyers who yell loudest about favorite publications won’t necessarily get their way.

Although the capability exists today, Newsgator will soon release a hosted version that makes it easier for firms to feed content to clients. Firms go much deeper substantively than most law departments can, so sharing selected updates with clients can increase client satisfaction and retention.

Delivering information to clients (and even internally) hinges on dealing appropriately with copyright and license constraints. Some publishers are more flexible than others in this regard. Obtaining appropriate rights may cost a bit but will keep lawyers informed and help buy client loyalty.

With budget season at hand, BigLaw should be considering enterprise RSS solutions for 2007. And for those who do, please consider adding my feed, which is By the way, NewsGator is delivering a set of educational Webinars tomorrow and Wednesday (register here).