Texas Lawyer's parent company ALM, a multimedia company that serves the legal and real estate industries, has launched a new service designed to help legal professionals access crucial news and information quickly and easily.

Effective Friday, August 23, the New York-based company will offer digital memberships to streamline professionals' access to ALM legal industry content, which includes news, commentaries, videos, analysis, podcasts, surveys, and more.

The concept is simple — readers sign up for a free membership, providing basic information (name/title/email/employer/zip code), and creating a password. Users can also sign on with LinkedIn credentials.

Once aboard, users can explore ALM's smorgasbord of offerings and access five news stories for free every 30 days from all ALM legal publications — which include Texas Lawyer, The National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, and Law Technology News magazines, as well as other regional newspapers in New York, San Francisco, Connecticut, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Florida, and Delaware.

Three ALM publications will remain free for unlimited reading online (Corporate Counsel, Law Technology News, and The Asian Lawyer). Digital members will also receive full complimentary access to ALM's news alerts and newsletters. Other benefits also include discounts to other ALM products and services.

The new offering helps readers explore the full range of ALM news offerings — which can help lawyers and other legal professionals evaluate and subscribe to the publications that can help their practices, said Jeffrey Litvack, ALM's chief digital officer. One advantage of the new program is that the "five articles within 30 days" policy includes access to all stories, including those previously only available to paid subscribers, he notes.

Another key feature: "With a digital membership, legal professionals can now sample our content and share it with colleagues and clients," said Litvack.

Individuals and organizations that have paid subscriptions to specific publications will continue to enjoy full access to those publications' content. Readers also will be able to access Law.com, however, stories viewed within Law.com count toward the "five articles in a month" allocation. The membership does not limit the amount of content readers can view via social media sites, such as links embedded in Twitter posts.

The only restrictions on the new digital membership plans are that content older than six months is not available because of ALM's archiving partnership with LexisNexis, and content from four "paid premium" publications will continue to be accessible exclusively to those publication's subscribers. These include Supreme Court Brief, Litigation Daily, New Jersey Law Journal Decision Alert, Delaware Business Court Insider, and certain reports and briefings, including the Am Law 100 report.

Customers can upgrade to paid subscriptions to gain unlimited access to specific ALM publications in addition to their digital membership benefits.

The digital membership and paid subscription options include access to content via ALM apps for iPhone and iPad, and through mobile-optimized websites and newsletters that can be accessed on any smartphone or tablet, Litvack explained.

The new system ameliorates a very annoying problem from past access — readers had to sign in for each publication they wanted to visit. With the new system, Litvack explains, users sign up only once to gain access for all publications' content.

The new offering is the latest enhancement as ALM, like almost all news media, transitions to digital first information delivery as consumers swarm to web-based devices, said Litvack.

"Digital membership establishes a simple way for us to serve today's subscribers and future subscribers with the online news content they want, when and where they want it."