ALM revamps Web properties

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After relaunching the Web site for The American Lawyer and debuting the "Am Law Daily" on April 24, ALM will unveil an evolutionary redesign of the home page of its legal portal later this week.

Jill Windwer, VP-digital product development for ALM, said one obvious change to the home page will be its increased width. “Our goal is to raise more content on the page,” she said, adding that the redesign was based on feedback from recent focus groups of users. “The page is more organized, and it shows more headlines because users told us they go to the site for breaking news.” has been the destination for breaking news for ALM’s legal newspapers and magazines—driving traffic via daily morning and afternoon e-newsletters. By contrast, the site of The American Lawyer, ALM’s monthly flagship, “had a different strategy, born in the late 1990s, where it was supposed to function as a marketing site” rather than a content-rich media site, said Aric Press, editor in chief of The American Lawyer.

In conjunction with the relaunch of The American Lawyer site, the “Am Law Daily” e-newsletter reflects a major change in strategy, Press said. “We’re trying to invent—and we’re still in the process of inventing—a daily, online, instantaneous publication that’s a first cousin to a monthly, reflective, long-form journalism product,” he said.

The American Lawyer’s revamped site “is focused on the largest-grossing law firms in the nation, and the largest grossing firms in the world and the companies that compete with them,” Press said. “, our parent site, is a broad umbrella. It reports on everything from solo practitioners to the largest firms.”

While writing daily news stories is new for the editorial staff, Press said, “it has been invigorating. There’s a lot of news to cover and a lot of energy in the newsroom.” The American Lawyer staffed up with two additional reporters and an executive editor dedicated to “Am Law Daily” and the revamped site. However, “most of our reporters and several of our editors have also contributed to the Web. This is the 21st century. This is how journalists are communicating today,” he said. Alex Kam, ALM’s VP-digital strategy and business development, pointed out that one of ALM’s larger goals is to build communities. “We have been very good at pushing content out, but now we’re trying to create more of a two-way dialogue and to create more ways for our users to communicate with one another,” he said. For example, The American Lawyer site now provides tools for users to comment on articles.

Kam added that having the tools enables two-way interaction but does not create it. “We have to build the community; this is a first step,” he said. “Our job now is to offer users more reasons to interact.”

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