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Lawyers to soon have ethical obligation to use RSS reader?

Yesterday at our PLI program in San Francisco on social media for business development for lawyers one of the panelists said we’re not too far from the day when it will be an ethical requirement to use an RSS reader.

The point was that it would be malfeasance for a lawyer to not stay abreast of developments in the law and collaborate with peers via information and dialogue easily and freely available via RSS.

15 to 20 percent of Americans use an RSS reader to receive customized news and information.

The group tends to be comprised of very busy people who are required as part of what they do to stay up to speed with news, information, and insight. They don’t have time to get information the old fashioned way through print or online by search, browsing, or bookmarking websites.

The group also tends to include professionals who need to collaborate with and learn from peers in their profession as well as engage those around them in their industry.

Doesn’t matter to these folks how they get their RSS feeds – Google Reader, Zite, Flipboard, Mr. Reader, or customized feeds coming from publishers, they just have to have the right stuff in a quick, easy to use, and time saving fashion.

Who are these folks?

  1. Very busy executives who have an insatiable desire for information and who are looking to achieve more in their career and to lead their organizations to new heights.
  2. Virtually all news reporters, publishers, editors, and influential bloggers.
  3. Lawyers who leverage the Internet to grow both professionally (be a better lawyer for their clients) and business wise (get the type of clients they want based on their word of mouth reputation and relationships).

So it really should come as no surprise that a leading appellate lawyer presenting at PLI told the audience that he stays abreast of legal developments as well as insight and dialogue on case law via his RSS reader and that he basically could not live without RSS feeds.

What did take me by surprise was his comment that it may soon be a requirement that for a lawyer to use an RSS reader. How else could a lawyer monitor the sources and subjects they needed to in order to do an effective job for their clients?

I practiced for 17 years as a trial lawyer. I learned the practice and stayed up to speed by reading and attending conferences with leading trial lawyers – in my state and nationally. I didn’t need to worry about CLE credits because I had more than enough as a result of me just doing my job of being a good lawyer and growing my network of trusted colleagues I could call upon.

If I were practicing today, I’d be using an RSS reader and Twitter to do my job. To learn and to network. And you know what? Doing so I’d learn more and collaborate more with leading legal minds than I ever did the old way of reading the print and attending conferences.

I am not saying don’t read the old way. Nor am I saying don’t go to conferences.

I am asking though shouldn’t it be a requirement that lawyers stay abreast of the law and hone their skills in as good a fashion as they can? And if so, could that make an RSS reader and the use of feeds an ethical requirement for a lawyer?

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