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80% of Legal Professionals Suffer from Information Overload, But You Don't Have to be One of Them

A new study by LexisNexis reveals that 70% of American white collar workers suffer from information overload. That number rises to 80% among legal professionals.

Other findings for legal professionals include:

  • 90% of legal professionals agree that not being able to access the right information at the right time is a huge time-waster
  • 70% say they spend a lot of time sifting through irrelevant information.
  • Nearly 50% say that research takes up so much of their time that they occasionally omit billing clients for this work.

This survey has generated some comment around the blawgosphere.

  • Robert Ambrogi considers the effect of blogs:
    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.

  • Jason the Content Librarian suggests that law librarians can help lawyers cope:
    Law librarians are ideally suited to help individuals and organizations deal with information overload. Training attorneys in personal information management, participating in knowledge management programs, and participating on intranet teams are natural roles for librarians. These areas can greatly alleviate information overload and influence the bottom line of their firms.

    I wholeheartedly agree with both Robert and Jason. Technology is both a blessing and a curse for information overload. In recent years, the growth of new Web content has been practically exponential. A 2007 estimate put the size of the Web at 15 to 30 billion pages. The blogosphere alone is estimated at 70 million blogs. Taken as a whole, that's enough to overwhelm anyone.

    But, fortunately, technology also gives us the tools to selectively choose which information we receive. Through RSS, you can subscribe to only those sources which interest you, be they blogs, newspapers, court documents, SEC filings, etc. With tools such as FeedRinse, you can even limit your RSS feeds further by filtering by keyword. Or if RSS isn't for you, you can have RSS feeds delivered via email with tools like RSSFWD.

    While, yes, the amount of available information is indeed staggering, it need not be overwhelming if you're smart about locating it. Librarians know this - and like Jason said, we can work with you to develop smarter information gathering techniques. Just ask us.

    So, am I suffering from information overload? No way. Bring it on - the more the better.