"Information in context" is the simplest way to describe our firm's new portal. There are a variety of contexts – personal pages, practice areas, library services, a learning centre, firm services and departments and clients and matters. Our portal is highly integrated with a number of firm applications, including our document management system and our accounting system. Users access all of their applications and all on-line services from the portal (the portal is the new firm desktop – on the screen 24/7).
I was particularly interested in figuring out how to integrate "external" information into our portal pages. Before tackling RSS, we implemented Lexis Publisher – this allows us to deliver the search results from a particular Lexis/Nexis search to a specific location on a portal page. A number of practice areas have already implemented searches based on specific industries and clients. Lexis Publisher is a great way to deliver this premium content to target locations (premium content can also be something as simple as a recent newspaper or magazine article or a recent case).
One of our current challenges is figuring out how best to integrate the power of RSS feeds into these various contexts. Lexis Publisher can deliver its search results using RSS, which opens up some intriguing potential for our enterprise wide RSS aggregator from Newsgator. Newsgator allows us to set up firm groups (eg practice areas seems like an obvious place to start). We are planning to find a few RSS feeds of particular relevance to each practice area, along with a few feeds of interest to the firm as a whole.
We are able to subscribe users automatically to the RSS feeds based on their practice area (this is set in Microsoft Active Directory). Users are free to set up their own feeds too. Newsgator also allows a firm to set up its own taxonomy of feeds (we have a firm wide taxonomy of practice areas and legal services that we will use) so that users can easily pick from "pre-cateogorized" feeds.
If anyone else is embarking on this sort of exercise and wants to compare notes on practice area specific feeds, please feel free to comment.