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Law firms are recognizing that information is a strategic asset not only in the practice of law but also in developing business and enhancing their competitive position. The 21st century librarian is working alongside the marketing department and the practice groups in analyzing strategic business needs and then seeking out products and services that will meet the growing demand for highly targeted intelligence. Besides breaking news, business intelligence provides clues about business and legal developments that will have an impact on clients and point to opportunities for business development or strengthening client relations. Online service vendors are changing their focus from archives of historical material to providing highly targeted breaking news, as well as analytical data mining. Many new products offer personalization, allowing searches to be tailored to the specific interests of groups or individuals. Both Lexis and Westlaw have developed sophisticated news monitoring products that can be integrated into a firm’s intranet or external Web site. A number of smaller players are offering interesting products and services for monitoring traditional news sources, Securities and Exchange Commission filings, company Web sites, and even chat rooms and message boards. There is increasing competition among vendors to provide products to help lawyers monitor key events affecting existing clients, as well as identify new marketing opportunities: Factiva— A joint venture between Dow Jones and Reuters offers two products for tracking news: Factiva.comand Tracker. Factiva draws from 8,000 local and global sources from 118 countries in 22 languages. Factiva’s greatest strength is leveraging its sophisticated business taxonomy, which it refers to as “Factiva Intelligent Indexing.” Since Factiva provides extensive indexing for every story, including industry, event (e.g., IPO, bankruptcy), named person, language, and geographic coding, a higher level of precision is possible than with “free text” searching. This taxonomy allows the searcher to develop very precise or focused searches based on either “free text keyword” or index terms, or a combination of the two. One of the most delightful features is the “no junk” command, which automatically eliminates stories that produce the most “false hits,” such as obituaries, stock quotes, and sports news. Although users have an option to eliminate “republished” stories, this feature is still not perfected to eliminate all duplicates. But librarians should rejoice that even one publisher is making a serious effort to tackle this issue. The results can be further refined by restricting the search to a specific language, to publications in a specific region, or to company or industry news for a specific region. The results can be delivered to an intranet page or via e-mail on a continuous or periodical basis (several times a day, daily, weekly, etc.). A separate editorial product can provide additional quality control by allowing a librarian to further refine the results before they are posted to the intranet or delivered to the interested attorney. NewsWatch— On a smaller scale, a product from www.newsware.comis an interesting lower-cost alternative. The content is focused on major business resources, and the service offers continuous monitoring of about 50 named sources such as PR Newswire, Businesswire, and Vickers. One interesting category of sources, called “upgrades, downgrades and rumors,” monitors sources with intriguing names such as “Flyonthewall.” The NewsWare site also indicates that they pick up news from 3,000 additional Web sites. The service provides for targeted monitoring using a number of data elements, including keyword, ticker symbol, and source. The NewsWatch API allows you to customize and integrate content into your intranet. Bloomberg— Bloomberg terminals are becoming more common in law firm libraries in the post-Enron world, where there is an need for detailed corporate and securities data. Bloomberg terminals offer continuous scrolling news and sophisticated news monitoring and data mining capabilities, but deployment in law firms has been slowed by the complexity of the system and the cost for each desktop installation. Most firms have opted for one terminal located in the library. The problem with using Bloomberg for news monitoring is that it cannot deliver the results directly to an e-mail address, thereby defeating a large part of the value one expects from a clipping service: speed and ease of use. The searcher must repeatedly return to the terminal, log in, and check for any updates. Nevertheless, Bloomberg is a unique and valuable resource, and we can only hope they will hire an experienced law librarian to help them tailor their product for the legal market. Burelles— A pioneer in the print news-clipping arena, Burelles monitors 18,000 publications from more than 60 countries. Burelles has introduced a suite of Web monitoring services: NewsAlert, CyberTalk, and Webclips. They also provide sophisticated search and monitoring of traditional news sources. Cybertalk, a more unique service, allows you to monitor what is being said about clients in chat rooms or posted to message boards. Ozmosys( www.ozmosys.com) — Here’s a small company offering another unique niche product: monitoring Web sites for changes in content. This can be particularly helpful in monitoring news from federal agencies or events at a client’s Web site. The search can be set up to monitor all changes, or to pick up only items containing specific words. The results can be posted to a Web site or delivered via e-mail. They recently released a feature called “myinbox,” which allows lawyers to consolidate updates from a variety of publishers into one daily e-mail alert. LivEdgar( www.gsionline.com) — This provider allows you to monitor an array of securities-related filings targeted to your needs. A track can be set up to monitor for EDGAR, mergers and acquisitions, registration and prospectuses, foreign filings, and no-action letter information. GSI can deliver EDGAR data in its entirety or as select elements. An experienced searcher can also conduct data mining searches that can identify relationships between companies or between companies and law firms or accounting firms, which can be used for competitive analysis and business development purposes. Bureau of National Affairs Newsletters— Over the past few years, BNA has transitioned all of its print newsletters on statutory, regulatory, and case law developments to an electronic platform. Customers can now opt for digital access for the print newsletters. This allows subscribers to receive newsletters via e-mail and to have access to a searchable archive. One logical outgrowth was the development of numerous daily electronic newsletters that supplement the traditional weekly publication. These provide faster access to breaking developments and may include news that does not appear in the weekly publication. Electronic newsletters are a blessing to both librarians and lawyers because they allow for simultaneous distribution to all authorized recipients and eliminate the dreaded task of managing routing lists. A service like BNA’s loses its value when a print copy has to travel from in-basket to in-basket. SELECTING AND EVALUATING Colleagues are often the best source of information on new products because they may have tested, negotiated for, or actually implemented a product. If you need to find out whether a service is worthwhile, national or local listservs such as law-lib usually provide immediate feedback. The exhibit halls at annual conventions of the American Association of Law Libraries and the Special Libraries Association also offer great opportunities to touch and feel new products. Vendors are often willing to provide trial subscriptions to allow you to “test drive” the product in your own environment. It is also a good idea to ask for the names of existing customers in organizations comparable to your own. Existing customers often not only have valuable experience with the product that will help you decide whether to purchase the product, but also may provide insights into points of negotiation with the vendor. Ultimately, the success or failure of a current-awareness product does not depend on the technology or functionality of the product, but more on the willingness of lawyers to provide insight and feedback necessary to get the desired level of precision and recall. When rolling out a new monitoring product, it is critical for librarians to manage expectations. These are not normally “plug and play products.” It is vital to make the lawyers understand that setting up personalized monitoring is an iterative process that requires testing and user feedback. The first round of results will probably be unsatisfactory; success depends on the willingness of each user to help refine the search criteria several times until a satisfactory result is achieved. In a world where the amount of available data is overwhelming and time is increasingly scarce, getting targeted information is well worth the small investment of time upfront. Jean O’Grady, director of information services at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, is a frequent author and speaker on library management, digital libraries, and licensing electronic products. She may be contacted at [email protected].

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