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Google for Lawyers

Various people on this blog and in our class have commented on google and its different features and programs, like Google scholar.  With the internet being such a prevalent part of our lives the topic of using Google, or any internet research engine, as a essential tool for lawyers is growing.

A book called “Google for Lawyers: Essential Search Tips and Productivity Tools” claims to teach lawyers various things in order to facilitate and improve their practice.  The book was released on August 1, 2010 but sadly there have not been many reviews about it either professionally or by customers.  When buying the book in Amazon, for example, no customer review appears, while Barnes and Noble will only sell the one that will come out in April 2011.  Both of these book retailers also include the same flimsy one sentence description, “This step-by-step guide explores Google’s most popular features plus its newest and least-known features, productivity tools, and services.”One of the few reviews I could find was from ABA Now called “New Guide Helps Lawyers Maximize Google’s Search Capabilities and Productivity Tools“.  No surprise that the ABA is reviewing this book because the publisher is the ABA Law Practice management Section.  The review states that the book provides guidance to help lawyers access the full power of Google using its free and low cost tools.  One of the guides focus is to unlock access to various free Google services like Google Voice, Google Scholar and Google Translate.  But it also explains about Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calender.  The Blog “Google for Lawyers” in Baron CLE also explains that the book talks about Google Sites, which  is a collaboration tool to post and share information online, and shows how to get free management tools.  The ABA review also claims the book will give you tips to:

  • learn Google search shortcuts;
  • use Google’s advanced features for research
  • search for federal government-related resources using Google’s Uncle Sam Search;
  • Teach you the most effective way to utilize the various Google tools and databases  to access free case law, find newspaper and magazine articles, as well as set up Alerts and locate information about expert witnesses, the opposition, jurors, existing and potential clients and missing witnesses;
  • understand Google Analytics to track website statistics;
  • advertise and market a firm using Google Advertising Services.

In terms of general themes, the ABA review states the book also discusses important issues such as running Google searches as part of a lawyer’s due diligence, as we have discussed in class before.  The blog “Google for Lawyers” also states that the book discusses Google privacy and security issues throughout the book.  As for the authors the ABA review of the book states that both of them are also speakers and they focus on Internet research and social networking for lawyers.  They both also teach CLE classes on the subject.

I believe the book could be very helpful for lawyers because it could provide a way to make Google, a search engine we use several times a day, into a even better search engine and even vastly improve a lawyer’s job.  The book has the potential to be a huge benefit because it explains how different Google tools can be helpful for the lawyer or how it can apply to a lawyer.  This is extremely helpful for lawyers because although the tools are already free and available many lawyers don’t get the implication of having these tools at their disposal.  I, for example, never knew about Google scholar or its use in case law until I read the blog on this website.  The drawback, however, is that you don’t really know if it is money well spent because of the lack of in depth reviews of the book or customer feedback.  Reviews of the book are especially important when the Cornell library and even the New York Public Library doesn’t have a copy of the book available.  I suppose one solution to getting a real feel about the book before buying it is perhaps physically going to Barnes and Noble to read it, but even this option comes with a drawback because the book they will sell (which is the second edition) will come out in April 2011.  If the book were perhaps $10 or $20 then my concern about a lack of reviews would be a bit exaggerated but the price tag in Barnes and Noble for the future edition is $42 (the original list price being $80), while the current one available in Amazon is $121.  Perhaps for lawyers working in law firms this is not a huge impediment but for a law student like me or even a solo practitioner such a price tag could be discouraging unless you have a good idea of what you are getting.  For non lawyers or the public this would also not be a very useful book because it is obviously targeted for lawyers and their practice but perhaps it could provide a good way to use google programs and access legal information.  If anyone has read “Google for Lawyers” please feel free to comment on your opinions about the book.

As a side note a useful tool to research on Google that many might not know about is the proximity search word AROUND (n) in which you type a word put around (n, n being the number of words in between) and then another word to search for the different versions of the phrase in your result.  To learn more about this subject click here.

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Categories: Uncategorized

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