Before I went solo I used to get news about changes in relevant areas of law from three sources. First, the firm’s partners would often email me and the other associates about relevant case law that would affect our entire practice group or firm. Second, I’d read the Recorder or other legal newspaper that my office had subscribed to during my coffee breaks. Third, both of the firms I worked for automatically signed the attorneys in the office up for automatic emails from various news providers that would send a daily summary of relevant decisions and legislation. To be entirely honest, I very rarely read the daily summaries and only slightly more often was bored enough to pick up the legal industry newspapers. Of course, I would read anything that the partners sent around and flagged as important, but that was as far as it normally got for me.
Now that I’m a solo attorney it’s different. After all, it’s more important than ever for me to stay up-to-date on changes in the law. After all, it’s my reputation on the line. If you’ve also made a move to solo practice, you’re probably also becoming aware of the importance and difficulties of staying informed in changes to the law and your industry. For my part, I don’t subscribe to any legal newspapers, I’m not signed up for any daily email summaries (or at least not directly), and no one is going to flag important cases for me to read. Without question, it’s entirely up to me to keep myself abreast of new developments.
I’ve found that in addition to reading law blogs, LinkedIn Groups has been extremely effective for me in that regard. I’m a member of several highly active groups that discuss issues relevant to my areas of practice including groups for entertainment lawyers, California based solo practitioners, legal industry bloggers, brand licensing professionals, and intellectual property lawyers. Because these groups each have a large number of attorneys participating in the groups, I not only find posts about recent developments in those areas, but I’ll also find lively discussion evaluating the “meaning” of new case law, statutes, and other important developments in those industries. It’s pure gold as a source for informations and news.
Not only are these groups more interesting than the daily email summaries I used to receive, they are more informative since I’m able to participate in and listen in on opinionated attorneys I respect discuss these topics. Whether you are a solo practitioner or not, I highly recommend you start making use of LinkedIn’s Groups. Oh, and if you actually like those daily email summaries, you can set up LinkedIn so that you receive a summary of the most popular discussions in your groups sent to your inbox each morning.
If you haven’t ventured into LinkedIn Groups before, it’s easy. First, on the home page, the search bar on LinkedIn defaults to searches for people. It can be changed by clicking on the word “people” next to the search bar. Select groups and then use keywords to search for groups in your practice areas. I recommend joining the most active groups relevant to your practice areas. Once you visit a Group’s page you’ll find recent updates and the most popular discussions. Spending a little bit of time each day reading through and following the discussions will go a long way in keeping you up-to-date in changes in your practice groups.