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Lawyers Crushed by Information Overload

Information overload is crushing white-collar professionals of all ilks, but hitting lawyers particularly hard, according to a LexisNexis survey of workplace productivity published yesterday. Among professionals generally, seven in 10 feel inundated with information and two in five believe they are headed for an information "breaking point," the survey says. But among lawyers, 80 percent report being overloaded with information and 70 percent say they spend too much time sifting through irrelevant information. Common symptoms of information overload for lawyers include spending too much time conducting research, having trouble recreating research time for billing purposes, and wasting time searching for old e-mails and documents.

But while information overload is crushing us, nearly 70 percent of lawyers say that finding specific pieces of legal research or information is easier today than just two years ago, with 20 percent saying it is much easier today. Virtually all agree that having leading-edge legal technology is crucial to cutting through the clutter. For the lawyers surveyed, the most important technology tools are those that return comprehensive results, focus on the lawyer's practice area, provide analysis and expertise in addition to data, and are regularly updated. Less than half thought it was important to have a tool that offers access to online communities where they can discuss issues of law with their peers.

So where do blogs fit into this problem of information overload? For fanatics such as myself, they clearly exacerbate it. I regularly track hundreds of blogs and spend way too much time sifting for gold among the grit. But if, as the survey says, lawyers want technology tools that are focused, timely and both factual and analytical, then blogs clearly fit the bill, at least those that are devoted to specific practice areas. Yes, blogs can add to information overload, but they can also alleviate it by helping lawyers monitor and sift what is important in their fields. Like technology of all sorts, blogs can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use them.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on February 27, 2008 at 01:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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