I’m enjoying the addition of ALM’s (American Legal Media) publications in the feeds in my news aggregator, Feedly.

Through a subscription I just bought to ALM’s Law.com I receive feeds from the entire ALM network of 15 national and regional news publications, as well as commentary from leading voices in the legal field. I bought a subscription to Law.com for about $350/year, the rate given to small law firms. LexBlog, though not a law firm, qualified.

While most of the stories are about legal issues, law firms and the business of law, there are quite a few stories of interest to me and my followers on Twitter.

Stories on digital publishing, technology, business development, social media and the like. When I say quite a few, it’s probably about 5%, but that’s a higher percentage than my other feeds from sources and subjects I monitor in my aggregator. In addition, there are stories regarding law firms, companies and people of which I am interested.

The ALM is not one central feed through the law.com url, but comes via subscribing to each of the ALM legal publications. I went through the list of ALM’s featured legal publications and added them one at a time to Feedly (see above picture).

As many of you know, I share on Twitter a fair number of stories written by others – reporters, bloggers and columnists. I read stories in my aggregator for learning and staying abreast of news and developments, just as you’d read newspapers, periodicals and blogs.

From a business development standpoint for LexBlog and I, I meet and build relationships with the people (virtually to start with) whose stories, columns and blog posts I share. Who wouldn’t be curious who it is that’s sharing their story on Twitter?

They found out their story is being shared by me because I include their Twitter handle in my tweet. I also meet the people and companies who are the subject of the stories I share as I’ll include their Twitter handles.

In addition to potentially building relationships with reporters, bloggers, business people and companies, I serve as an “intelligence agent” for my followers on Twitter. I am combing the news in my aggregator on certain subjects and sharing the stories and blog posts with my followers. Not only does this build a name for me as being on top of my game on these subjects, but people come to rely on me as a source of helpful news and information.

ALM’s news feed is a good fit for me because of it’s legal bent, the reporters and subjects of the stories who I can meet, the quality of the journalism and my sharing of news and columns which folks would not otherwise see behind a paywall. I pay for my subscription to get the feeds, but non-subscribers can read the stories when shared by a subscriber on Twitter and other social media.

Sharing others’ content on Twitter seems to have built a lot of good will for me over the years. The more I share like this, the more people who follow me on Twitter, the more people like their stories shared by me and the more people share my blog posts. ALM’s feeds can only help.

Thanks much to ALM’s Shawn Harlan in business development and their chief sales officer, Allen Milloy, who helped me get the subscription.

I’ve been a big proponent of established newspapers and periodicals running syndicated blog content onto their news websites.

Law blog syndicated contentWell it’s started in the legal journalism business with ALM’s law.com. Noticed this week that Law.com was sending traffic to my blog from their Legal Technology Section.

I’m not part of Law.com’s blog network nor affiliated with Law.com in anyway. But in the right hand navigation bar you’ll see a listing of blog posts which Law.com thought would be of interest. One of them being a post of mine.

Such syndication of law blog content has plusses all the way around.

  • Improved content for law.com. ALM and its family of legal publications have some excellent reporters and produce some great stories. But there’s always going to be niche bloggers with domain expertise going into greater detail.
  • Law.com builds relationships with bloggers. The outcome will be more bloggers referencing more law.com content in their blog posts. More traffic and resulting ad revenue to law.com.
  • Greater exposure for lawyers publishing good blogs on niche areas the law.

Stay tuned. More syndication of law blogs to come in law journals, WSJ, New York Times, BusinessWeek, Forbes, and other leading publications.

The way advertising is presented in online newspaper sites is killing them.

Per Robert Niles at USC’s Online Journalism Review:

News publishers like to point to television, free news online, English literacy rates and slew of other reasons to explain their readership losses. But the contempt that newspapers show for their readers by burying their editorial content beneath their remaining advertising surely is not helping keep readers around.

He provides examples of the garbage we’re served up.

Everyday I check the website of the Pasadena Star-News. And every day, the front section of the website’s homepage is obscured by a pop-up widget urging me to take a survey about the site’s new design. Click the red ‘X’ in the corner to close the widget window, and the op-up appears every time you return to the page. (If you click the button declining to take the survey, the window disappears for the remainder of your session.)

If I register with the LA Times website, the Times insists on spamming me with commercial e-mails for products about which I do not care. If I opt-out of the e-mails, the Times cancels my website registration. (Which is why I don’t have a Times website registration anymore

ALM LegalTechAmerica Lawyer Media’s Law.com isn’t passing out press passes to all bloggers for ALM’s LegalTech New York (LTNY). But they’re doing the next best thing by showcasing your blog posts relating to LTNY on law.com.

How’s it work?

  • Law.com, in cooperation with Law Technology News magazine, will devote Law.com’s Legal Blog Watch Web page and newsletter to LTNY coverage from Tuesday through Thursday, Feb. 5-7, offering a central clearinghouse for LTNY-related blog coverage.
  • If you’ll be blogging at LTNY, email law.com with the name of your blog and bloggers.
  • Law.com post about all blogger-participants.
  • After you post on your blog, send them the URL with an intro sentence about the post to legalblogwatch@alm.com . (Include your name, blog name, phone number, and email address in case they need to contact you)
  • The Legal Blog Watch editor will post the blog posts in a style similar to that of the EDD Update Blog.
  • ALM will highlight the LTNY Special Edition of Legal Blog Watch on Law.com, the Law Technology News website, Law.com Legal Technology and their associated blogs: EDD Update, Sean Doherty’s Law.com Legal Technology and Monica Bay’s The Common Scold.

In addition, per Per Monica Bay, Editor-in-Chief of Law Technology News,

[ALM is] offering free full confererence passes to all bloggers who are journalists, analysts or consultants, who plan to blog during LTNY. Not just journalists.

Vendor bloggers are also welcome to participate in our LegalBlogWatch three-day LTNY marathon, and join us at the Weds morning gathering, but we cannot offer vendor bloggers full conference passes.

Email requests for press pass credentials to LegalBlogWatch@alm.com by noon on Monday, Feb. 4, and pick up your credentials at LegalTech registration during the show.

Bloggers aren’t being recognized as journalists across the board by ALM, something that can get folks like me up in arms. But looking at some law blogs, I can understand why.

Finally, all bloggers are welcome to join ALM, Law.com, and Law Technology News on Wednesday, from 9-10 a.m., for an informal bloggers gathering at the Pettite Trianon Room, on the 3rd floor of the Hilton. They promise to provide lousy coffee and mediocre Danish.

Maybe I ought to be attending. I had not planned to do so. After attending in ’06, I had nightmares for 2 weeks about E-Disvovery vendors attacking me from both sides of narrow aisles. Nothing wrong with e-discovery software of course, I just have no use for it.

American Lawyer Media’s Law.com publishes articles/stories from ALM’s family of legal periodicals. Some of the stories are written by paid reporters, some are written by consultants and the like looking for exposure. Some are good, some are lacking. One thing they all have in common is that there’s no way for readers to comment on the story published at Law.com. In today’s world, that’s lame.

For example Jill Winder, vice president of ALM’s Law.com, has a story up this morning entitled ‘How to Increase Traffic to Your Web Site.’ She makes some good points and a few that are a little lacking. But how do I and others like me reach Jill and Law.com with our commentary and generate further discussion benefiting other Law.com readers? We can’t.

Last October, PR professional Stacy West Clark published an article in ALM’s Legal Intelligencer (published online at Law.com) on ‘law firms turning virtual.’

In the article Stacey was fairly critical of blogs, saying among other things, the following.

  • Are here, for now (implying just a fad).
  • Lawyer Web diaries (apparently not realizing blogs are quite a bit more).
  • Raise a host of ethics, defamation and IP issues (not commenting on how such issues are being easily managed by thousands of good lawyers who are blogging).
  • Can be huge liabilities if the lawyer takes a position unknowingly adverse to someone else in his or her firm (again not commenting on how many lawyers in the largest firms blog without causing such a problem).

I emailed Stacy asking why the harsh critique of blogs and asked whether blogs used properly could enhance a lawyer’s reputation. I got no response.

Wouldn’t ALM want its Law.com readers to get the best information possible? It’s not going to come from articles without commentary sometimes written by ‘experts’ with less than first hand experience on the subject on which they’re writing. That may have been good enough in the past but no longer. Internet readers expect more.

The Washington Post and USA Today already allow comments to stories. The New York Times has started adding reader comments to selected news stories. For trade periodicals, like Law.com, allowing comments is becoming the norm.

If Law.com wants to become more relevant in legal professional’s lives as a valuable resource for innovation and insight, commentary is required. We all learn more as a result – authors, editors, and readers.

American Lawyer Media – ALM – is now indexing all legal blogs so that such law blog content is included in search results at ALM’s Law.com website right along with legal news reported by ALM’s reporters.

Doing a search for Martindale-Hubbell this morning, the first four results displayed are from legal blogs not affiliated with ALM in anyway. It was not until the fourth result did I find an ALM published piece.

ALM Law.com blogs Incisive Media

What’s the significance?

  • ALM, a traditional legal publisher (National Law Journal and 34 other national and regional legal periodicals), is recognizing the importance of legal content published by bloggers.
  • ALM recognizing that legal blogs, other than those selected by ALM’s Law.com Blog Network, are of equal or greater importance than those in this network which the unknowing have labeled the best legal blogs.
  • Legal research of a legal index that did not include legal blogs would be incomplete.
  • Lawyers may self-publish via a blog without submitting articles to legal publications. Their content will be seen along side content published by legal periodicals.
  • ALM, and its owner Incisive Media, recognizing that user generated content may be as important as their own content in the well being of their publications.
  • Law.com could become a legal information center with more content produced by practicing lawyers, law professors, and law students than ALM’s own reporters and editors.

Still some important features missing, such as the ability to subscribe to search results by RSS, but this is a good start for blogs at ALM.