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Website reviews

15 August 05

Second in an occasional series of reviews of sites offering email updates on various topics

by Iain Nisbet


Personal Injury Brief Update

www.pibriefupdate.com

As with many such sites, there is not a huge amount to the website which bears the name of the email update: several invitations to subscribe, some information about the newsletter and those contributing and that’s about it. You can link though to the website of the editor, Tim Kevan (www.timkevan.com) a surfboarding barrister, which is engaging, and contains some of his cases, articles etc.

On signing up for the update, however, you receive much more useful information direct to your inbox. The (roughly) monthly update contains the latest industry news, usually with links to the relevant news media websites, plus summaries of recent cases (with just enough information for you to track the judgments down on BAILII, but no links). It ends with a list of expert witnesses in various fields and links to their websites. There are rather more adverts than you would normally wish for, but I suppose they have to make their money somewhere. Usually a newsletter format works well, but this one was not well laid out. The font face, size and spacing seemed to change, which made it a little difficult to work out where one section began and another ended – and to distinguish between adverts and articles (which may or may not be deliberate).

Employment Law (UK) List

www.danielbarnett.co.uk

On a similar theme, but with a different topic, Daniel Barnett (barrister) maintains an impressive email bulletin on employment law. The website is a little more fulsome than the previous one, mostly information on Mr Barnett and his achievements, but including a number of interesting articles and links to solicitors practising employment law. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be updated as often as the subscribers to the employment law list are.

Whereas the PI update hoards up information and presents it in a bundle at the end of each month, Mr Barnett fires off an email as often as there is something to report. In the fast moving world of employment law, that means two or three emails some weeks. The bulletins are much more clearly presented and this makes the information easier to read. The summary is usually of one recent decision with one or more hyperlinks for the reader who wishes to delve deeper. It also seems to be free of adverts for the moment, although advertisers are solicited, so this may change in time.

Law Brief Update

www.lawbriefupdate.com

From the same group of sites, this is a more generic service than the above two. It is written by no fewer than 16 barristers, each contributing from their specialist fields. It offers updates on subjects as diverse as company, commercial and insolvency; criminal; EC and public international law; intellectual property; professional negligence and insurance; property; public law; tax and others.

In form, it is almost identical to the PI update and all the comments equally apply here except, due to the massive number of different topics covered, that the email is one of the lengthiest you are ever likely to receive. There are no internal links, so the difficulties with finding your way to the one case that may be of use to you will be evident. The editors are guilty of trying to cram too much information and expertise into one email service, and the results are not pretty (nor particularly useful).

Asylum Policy Info

www.asylumpolicy.info

The Asylum Policy website bills itself as “an unparalleled digest of asylum, immigration, anti-racism and human rights issues”. It is not a specifically legal site, although there are clearly a number of legal issues surrounding the topics of asylum and immigration. The website itself is little more than an invitation to subscribe, but helpfully includes an archive of previous email updates, which helps you decide whether to accept.

The average email is a simple list of headlines on asylum issues, with links to the news website from which the article is sourced. These are grouped together under broad headings such as UK; Europe; World; Events etc. Occasionally, an important article will merit a separate mailing all to itself with the article reproduced. If you already think that you get too much email, this probably isn’t for you, since a fresh bulletin will arrive almost every day (with two on the same day not uncommon). To be fair, each bulletin comes with so many headlines that even a weekly bulletin would be far too weighty as an alternative – but unless you specialise in asylum and immigration, this is more likely to overwhelm than inform.