BigLaw: Google Custom Search

If searching on Google is too broad and searching on one site is too narrow, Google’s custom search may be the perfect fit.

Google allows you to build your own search engine, limiting results to certain domains, web pages, or portions of websites. Kind of a mashup between Google alerts and Google reader, this tool is great to keep tabs on an industry.1

I decided to give it a try and created an easy tool to keep tabs on the top 100 global law firms (“BigLaw,” as defined here).

For example, we’ve heard of the BigLaw layoffs but are any BigLaw firms hiring?2 - Let’s take a look!

Perhaps you’d like to compare knowledge management initiatives or other cost-saving programs at BigLaw offices across the world (say, if you’re a potential BigLaw client).

Or, how about a search to find (interesting) BigLaw-sponsored CLEs in your city?

Like any other web project, building a custom search takes some time (you have to manually type or copy and paste the urls to create the search engine). Nevertheless, for certain projects, the filtered search results are well worth it. - Plus, if you think your search engine is useful, you can list your custom search engine in Google’s directory with a link to your website to promote your expertise. You can also allow volunteers to help build the search engine by contributing relevant urls to search. Volunteers can be limited to people you invite (trusted colleagues) or you can open it up like a Wikipedia page.

Here are a few other potential uses for lawyers, law firms, and legal professionals:

  • Create a search engine of your favorite free researching sites for a low-cost alternative to LexisNexis and WestLaw.
  • Create a search engine of the leading trade publications from your client’s industry. Next time you meet with clients, read a few issues and name drop appropriately.
  • Create a search engine of favorite legal news sites. You can search for keywords that are relevant to your practice area even if you fall behind on the headlines.

Tell us about any search engines you create in the comments!

1 Dawn Foster, one of my favorite social media experts, introduced me to the idea when she created her own custom searches of industry analysts (here) and online community thought leaders (here).

2 Some BigLaw websites list their openings on specialized recruiting portals. Because this search engine is created by url, if a BigLaw site redirects visitors to another website, chances are the job openings will not be included.

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