If you are interested in keeping abreast of the ever-changing laws without emptying your pocketbook, Google Alerts can give you the peace of mind which comes with knowing you are up-to-speed and able to monitor the changing laws, while ensuring your practice is fully covered. Do you ever wonder what others are saying about your firm, or you personally? Using Google Alerts in a savvy and intelligent way can keep you on the professional cutting edge.
Google Alerts are basically set up to monitor content, automatically notifying you when any new content from the Internet matches the pre-set terms you have selected. Google Alerts can be used to find out what others are saying (on the Internet) about you and your firm, to monitor the latest legal news, to monitor the status of a bill, and even to stay informed as to what your competition is up to.
How Are Notifications Received?
There are several ways you can receive Google Alerts, the most common one being through your e-mail. You can also receive Google Alerts as a web feed, or even have them prominently displayed on your iGoogle page. There are essentially six types of alerts to receive when content on the Internet matches your particular search terms and the alerts you have created. You can set your Google Alerts to the default, which is everything, or the entire web, through the Google search engine. Secondly, you can set your settings to News, meaning you will only receive updates when matching content makes it into the top ten results of a Google News Search. Third down the line is the “web” setting, which allows you to receive updates only when new web pages appear in the top twenty results for a Google Web search, and fourth is the blog setting-you will only get updates when content which matches your search terms appears in a blog which resides in the top ten results of a Google Blog Search. The video setting will allow you to receive updates only when matching content appears in the top ten results of a Google video search, and finally, you can set your alters to “groups” which will only send updates whenever matching content appears in the top fifty results of a Google Groups search.
Next, you can choose the frequency of your Google Alerts, meaning you can have Alerts sent to you once a day, once a week, or in real time (or close to it), as things happen. For many subjects or issues, onece a day or once a week will be plenty, most especially if you have chosen a top which receives tons of hits. If you are setting an Alert for something which happens rarely, but you want to know as soon as it does happen, set your Google Alert to “as it happens.” Don’t get too overwhelmed with the different settings; after you play with them a bit you will easily find the one which works best for you and your specific needs.
How Complicated is Setting Up Google Alerts?
Don’t panic, setting up Google Alerts is fairly simple. You must first go to http://google.com/alerts. From here you will pick your search terms; for instance, you might choose Texas DWI Law, then you will use the drop down boxes to select the type of alert, frequency, length, and where to have them sent. Although it may take a little trial and error to get Google Alerts set up exactly like you want them to be, it will definitely be worth it once you have everything just like you want it.
Why Should I Bother?
Google Alerts can be an incredibly powerful tool for lawyers–Google travels around the web literally sucking up insanely huge amounts of data from across the globe, while you work and sleep, then analyzes those sites for relevant information according to you search terms, and sends you an e-mail with the results.
Where Do I Start?
If you are unsure which search terms to use to begin with, first of all put in your own name/firm’s name as a keyword so you will always be up to speed on what the rest of the world is saying about you. If you want to know what your competition is up to, put in their names next. You can easily monitor news about legislation or regulation in specific practice and business areas by setting keywords for those subjects. You can set your Google Alerts to look for proprietary data of your most significant clients—you might be surprised at how often such data shows up in blogs across the Internet. So, if one of your clients sells a highly-recognized product, you can keep up with what’s being said about it, or even watch for knockoffs. You could enter a search term such as “electronic evidence,” which would allow you and your firm to keep up with developments which are highly relevant to your practice. Think of terms which might render some surprising information regarding a pending litigation your law firm is handling, think of a place you want to monitor, such as an office you might have in another state or country.
While it’s true that your Google Alerts can be somewhat erratic at times, meaning you may not get everything you should—or thing you should—and sometimes there may seem to be absolutely no rhyme or reason to why you receive what you receive. Even so, Google Alerts is the best thing going for tracking news specific to your firm and your practice areas.
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