Writers can be paranoid. Those who are fear reusing a clever phrase or substantial content in another piece. I share in this paranoia a bit in that I worry that one of the websites I share in an article will be a repeat of one I shared in an earlier article. I think I have a tracking system that prevents this, but I will only know if it works when it fails to catch one. If you notice a retread in an article, please let me know so I can promptly thwack my tracking system.
Like many attorneys, my first introduction to electronic legal research took place in law school when we were sent over to a local office that had terminals hardwired into Lexis or Westlaw. Today, we have electronic legal research apps from Lexis and Westlaw (among other services) available on our iPads and Android devices. There is one free service, however, that often gets overlooked: Google Scholar. Here, you can search case law using keywords, specific terms, or even by plugging in an official citation. One of the reasons I like Google Scholar is that it lacks the value-added editorial enhancements like headnotes. There are times when I don’t want to be distracted by headnotes, core terms, or key number references. Attorneys who teach law-related courses can also find this site to be useful because you can plug in a direct link to a case in your syllabus for your students to use. (You are distributing your syllabus as a PDF file, aren’t you?)
Now that I have my most-likely-to-be-a-repeat out of the way, let’s move onto some other sites. One is BufferApp. Day after day, experts (both recognized and self-appointed) are telling us that we need to be active on social media services like Twitter in order to improve our reputations as the go-to attorneys in a given field. The experts also tell us that we need to send Twitter tweets throughout the day because our followers are online at different times. Because very few of us have the luxury of being online all day, a service like BufferApp can be a huge help. BufferApp basically lets you load up a stack of tweets (in your Buffer) that will be tweeted throughout the day. The free version lets you load up to ten tweets, so there is little risk in trying it out. The service has web browser plugins that can let you add a site to your buffer with a single click of the mouse.
Speaking of BufferApp, do not fail to check out its blog. The articles there go way beyond the world of Twitter (aka the Twitterverse) into productivity and more. The articles are smartly written, at times enlightening, and always worth perusing. They contain a ton of useful ideas to implement in your business day.
If you’re looking for more ideas about improving your productivity, try Productivityist. Besides articles about different productivity strategies, the site’s author offers up some tools, like the 1Password Emergency Kit to help your heirs access your online accounts after your death.
While we’re on the topic of productivity, if you use paper-based workflows (or you’re thinking about it) you should check out Dave’s Productivity Tools. Dave Seah is a graphic designer who is self-employed. Over the years he has developed a number of paper planning tools to help him manage his projects and tasks. The tools look great, and they work. Dave is kind enough to make the tools available for free as PDF downloads, but he also sells properly printed ones in pads via Amazon. (Count me among the tech junkies who firmly believe that paper has its place in our modern life.)
This next site is a bit of an odd duck for a column like this, but it deserves consideration by everyone, regardless of gender. The Art of Manliness is written by a husband-and-wife team and features articles on, well, how to be “manly” in a classic sense. Unsure about this site’s usefulness? Here are a few sample recent article titles to help you better understand its content (and why I think it’s one both genders can use). Creating a Positive Family Culture: How to Plan and Lead a Weekly Family Meeting. How to Be a Good Neighbor: 9 Old Fashioned Tips for Getting to Know the Folks Next Door. How to Build a Secret Backyard Fire Pit. One of the nice things about this site is that it offers articles that explain why it’s important to be a positive individual and role model. Parents can find lots of good advice here as well. And besides, who wouldn’t want to learn how to make a drinking glass from a beer bottle?
Finally, in the category of parenting, there are GeekDad and GeekMom. These sites are for geeks who have to be parents. If you’re unsure about what a geek is, I suppose if these sites appeal to you, then you are one. Being a geek isn’t bad, however. It generally means someone who has good social skills but also a passion and enthusiasm in a particular field. Bill Nye the Science Guy is a good example. (Please note, however: geeks are not required to wear bow ties.) Carl Sagan might be another good example. In any event, GeekDad and GeekMom are sites aimed at helping parents engage with their children in positive, often technology-based ways. Articles might discuss cool games to play with your kids (board games, of course) or science projects like using a weather balloon to launch a smartphone to near the edge of space, shooting video all the way—and recover the smartphone after its return to Earth. (Admit it: you’d be willing to borrow the neighbor’s kids in order to try something like that.)