Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Listen up: Isn't it time for Legal Publishers to Offer Audio News Playlists? Modio Legal Is Open and Ready For Business

I am a shameless audiophile. Not the "woofer and tweeter" variety…but  the  working mother, multitasker, "infomaniac" variety. I try to have at least one source of news material handy at all times so that I can harvest precious reading time in a doctor’s waiting room or on a train ride.  I am the person in the grocery line reading a  newsletter which i pulled from my bag instead of "The Enquirer". Several years ago I discovered the joy and convenience of audio books. I have easily "read" 50 audio books in the past two years without having to sit still in a chair – I "read" audio books while "on the go" in a car or at the gym.

I would love to be able to consume other professional reading materials through my headphones, but I can’t think of one legal publisher* that offers an audio option for their newsletters or journals. Isn’t the  legal newsletter audio playlist overdue?. Every morning I  receive a variety of custom alerts. I scan several hundred headlines on key law firm, legal  and business issues. I occasionally open up a few links – but how many more would I like to save and "read" later using an audio-playlist when I am at the gym or driving?

Lawyers are the ultimate time sensitive, multi-tasking over-achievers who would gladly read a newsletter on a bike ride if it didn’t endanger their lives. Why are virtually all of the major legal publishers ignoring the opportunity to transform their print newsletters to audio format and allow them to be consumed in whole or in part from an audio playlist? They don’t even need to invent the technology --- someone has done that.

Modio Legal to the Rescue
Modio Legal’s Website Describes the Product this way:
  "Using its patent-pending system, ModioLegal partners with legal publishers to convert news and current awareness content to a same-day, word-for-word, article-specific, human-narrated audio format that subscribers can access through their smart phones. By placing content in a smart phone enabled audio format, attorneys no longer need to forgo desk time that they could otherwise bill in order to stay informed; rather they can access this information away from their desk during multi-tasking activities such as commuting, exercising or riding a bike. The end result is that attorneys using ModioLegal stabilize and enhance their access to the critical information they need for conducting their practice, while also increasing their billing capacity at their desk."

The founder and CEO of Modio Legal is Kevin Mitchell, a New York lawyer who was seeking audio news options for his own personal use. He recognized that news consumers have to choose between convenience and depth of coverage. Newspapers and magazines offer depth of coverage while TV and radio offer superficial coverage but permit multi-tasking. Mitchell believed that lawyers are the ideal market for a new technology which could offer both multi-tasking and in-depth coverage. Modio Legal launched in May 2014.
Convenience vs Depth The explosion of smartphones suggested to Mitchell that the market was ready for an  audio delivery platform for legal news.  However Mitchell also recognized that the legal news system he was developing had some significant differences with two common audio delivery models: music playlists and podcasts. Music playlists assume that the list owner will want to listen to the same songs repeatedly. Legal news consumption for the most part involves single use consumption. Podcasts are delivered as an indivisible unit. Lawyers don’t have the ability to select and focus on the parts of special interest. Legal newsletters are born with an index which Modio Legal uses to enable a lawyer to create a playlist of content based on the time he or she will be at the gym or driving.
 
Is the Legal Publishing Industry Listening to the Market?
The American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) is the first publisher to take the Modio plunge. Their subscribers can access an audio version of  ABI Journal. I have also narrated  a popular post from Dewey B Strategic on Modio so you can try it out. ModioLegal's proprietary interface is accessible through your web browser rather than an app or software.

Key features of Modio Legal
  • An entire publication or selected content can be added to your playlist.
  • Modio defaults to display the most recent content at the top of the list and displays earlier issues in reverse chronological order.
  • A "Star" feature allows you to select all the content you want to listen to for the desired length of time.
  • Modio provides visual cues showing which articles are new and which articles you have already listened to.
  • All the articles are available for both reading or audio on the Modio website.
  • You retain access to prior issues.
  • The audio readings are performed by law students.

Legal Publishers Listen Up: Does anyone know a lawyer without a smartphone?
The Market is Ready for Audio!


Lawyer and Legal Tech guru Bob Ambrogi recently wrote a post  "The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Legal Podcasts"  in which he describes the recent resurgence of legal podcasts. He cites a Columbia Journalism Review article which recognizes the need for "on-demand in-car" technology. According to the article audio content creates deeper personal connections between the audio producer and the subscribers who spend more time with audio content. Contrast the deeper audio experience with the quick scanning of legal newsletter headlines--- lawyers barely interact with legal newsletters. Why not deliver you content in a format which your subscribers can more easily consume at the time of their choosing?

The major legal publishers Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis  have invested a lot in ebook platforms which have failed to capture a large share of the legal market I elaborated on the shortcomings of eBooks in an earlier post. I understand why publishers might be skittish about investing in yet another alternative delivery system. My personal observation is that eBooks have failed because they are inferior to online databases. In addition ebooks work better on ipads but are not optimal on a smartphone. Ipads are not nearly as ubiquitous as smartphones … in fact smartphones are now practically an extension of the human body… so why not put your content into a smartphone compatible format and  make it available at those times when a lawyer is away from the office but ready to stream a playlist of legal content?  I can identify newsletter and journal titles from all the key publishers: Thomson Reuters, Lexis Nexis, American Lawyer Media, The American Bar Association and BloombergBNA as being suitable for delivery in a playlist format. In January Wolters Kluwer  launched an audio option in the app for their Daily Reporting Suite , but these audios can't be consolidated into a playlist of stories from combined WK titles for convenient listenting at a different time.

The Modio Legal platform offers legal publishers an opportunity to take their daily newsletter content and enhance the user experience while extending the value and reach of their intellectual assets. Why not leverage the wild popularity and ubiquitous presence of  the  smartphones? This audiophile is ready and waiting!

Go to the Modio Legal website http://modiolegal.com/user so you can experience some audio newsletters and blog posts.

You can access content using Username: DeweyB and Password: modiolegal

Modio Legal is also offering a one month free trial.


* I was notified this morning that Wolters Kluwer actually had released an app which includes audio back in January.




















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    3 comments:

    1. I have seen the Modio Legal product live with Kevin Mitchell and I believe there is a niche in the legal space for this service. I was however, disappointed that there was no mention of the Wolters Kluwer/CCH mobile applications that have had this functionality for several years. Thank you for your insight regardless.

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      1. Ben Thanks for your insight. I honestly can't recall WK ever saying that they were offering audio. I need to investigate this.

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    2. I just recieved this fact filled comment from Liza MacMorris, Manager of Library and Research Services at Wilson, Sonsini...who appears to have a wildly superior memory compared to my own:

      "I agree, audio delivery of legal news is a great idea, and something that Vox Juris (now defunct) offered long ago-- up to date legal news content, first on audio cassettes, then later on CD’s—we subscribed to their Computer & Internet Lawcast and their Intellectual Property Lawcast. Problems abounded, with cassettes occasionally being destroyed either by a car’s cassette player, or by heat stroke when a cassette sat and broiled all day in the player. CD’s would occasionally break or get scratched. People lower on the route lists often never got their chance to listen while the news was still fresh. Having this type of information downloadable to MP3 players would be ideal, and a great way to use commuting time to full advantage. "

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