Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.

CourtListener, Onit, and – Things Can’t Get More Exciting Than This

I’ve had time during the last week or so to play with some of the new web apps I’ve learned about.  Suffice it to say, I’m about as excited as a Scandinavian Lutheran can be.  So, what has me so excited? alpha – Thanks to Steve Lastres for pointing this one out to me. allows you to set up news that is drawn from Tweets with links in a newspaper format.  It provides a few different ways for pulling the content together including by Twitter Username, Twitter hashtags, or Twitter Lists.  I tried each one, finding that the one I liked the best was by Twitter Username, although I need to explore the Twitter list more. 

Using the create custom newspaper function, I created the Strategic Librarian Daily.  The news is drawn from my tweets and the tweets of the individuals I follow.  I follow individuals who have interests in knowledge management, competitive intelligence, intranets, libraries, etc.  I have to refine it a bit but I’m happy with the results so far.  Even if no one else subcribes, which I am hoping you do, it is a great way to read the substantive tweets from those I follow.

I went with the custom username newspaper as I was able to edit the title – hence the Strategic Librarian name.  Yes, there are ads but the format is so good, in my opinion, that I don’t really notice unless it is an ad for a product or services for the legal market.  Overall, I would give this web application an A+.

Onit beta – I received an email from the developers asking me to check this web application out.  Since I’m always looking for new tools for project management, I was very interested in how this worked.  I started out using the previous version to the one they just released during the last week and found it useful, but the new version of the product makes it really useful. 

At first I thought the new interface was a bit clunky but the more I’ve used it, the more I understand the developers vision.  Onit is a simple, intuitive tool that provides the ability to create multiple projects with multiple project teams, tasks, notes, documents, alerts and more.  The dashboard interface allows for customized views of the projects by user.  The beta is free so I may or may not be using it in the future depending on price but for now, it has been great to use. 

CourtListener – According to the About page on the CourtListener site, it was

created by Michael Lissner as part of a masters thesis at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information. Michael was advised by Assistant Professor, Brian Carver. The goal of the site is to create a free and competitive real time alert tool for the U.S. judicial system.

I’m passionate about current awareness, whether it is court information, news or other sources that can be sent to individuals to keep them up to date and am always on the lookout for new products.   In this case, CourtListener reports on all precedential opinions issued by the 13 federal circuit courts and the Supreme Court of the United States. They also report on the non-precedential opinions from all of the Circuit courts except the D.C. Circuit. 

The alerts are easy to set up – create a search and save it to an alert.  I started by creating an alert for the 8th Circuit Court prescedential opinions.  After my trial and error attempt didn’t give me the results I wanted, I contacted Michael, suggesting that being able to create alerts by court was needed.  Both he and Brian responded with tips on how to do just what I wanted.  If I had read the help on search sytax, I would have learned that the powerful search capabilities the system has allows for very custom alerts. 

Here’s a screenprint of the alert I have been receiving.  Nice, clean and easy to read.  The links allow you to download the pdf from the court or from the backup created by CourtListener.

Like the alpha and beta products listed above, this web application is a work in progress with the developers looking for feedback and suggestions.

One endearing factor these products have in common are that they are free – at least for now.

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