What the internet has to offer the lawyer who loves a good podcast

Podcast? The word was coined at some point in 2004 and is a portmanteau of “iPod” and “broadcast”. It is a method of distributing multi-media files (usually audio or video) over the internet using syndication formats for users to download onto an MP3 player or personal computer. The user can subscribe to a particular series of podcasts using software which will automatically detect and download the latest offering.

Guardian Unlimited Political Podcasts


I decided to begin with this collection of podcasts from the excellent Guardian Unlimited website (www.guardianunlimited.com), just to make the point that not everything at the cutting edge of law and technology comes from the United States (though obviously much of it does). Flying the flag for UK legal podcasts may be quite a responsibility, but it is one which the Guardian handles admirably (assuming that you accept that politics and law are sufficiently similar).

There are three political podcasts available:

  • Westminster Weekly, which is a political discussion show on the subject of whatever happens to be the hot political topic of the moment, with a Member of Parliament and a Guardian journalist joining the discussion.
  • Political interviews, available on an occasional basis. This is trailed as “Guardian journalists putting difficult questions to political figures”. Recent interviews include Menzies Campbell on tax and Tony Blair answering questions from the public.
  • Prime Minister’s Questions, which is available to download (according to the site) shortly after Mr Blair sits down on Wednesdays at 12.30pm.

Key to keeping up-to-date with political developments as they occur or, alternatively, if you prefer to have your PMQs early on a Friday morning.



To find this, you’ll probably need iTunes (download from www.apple.com/itunes). Open it and then type “Westcast” into the search box. Westcast is a series of podcasts by Thomson West, who are the creators of Westlaw. I listened to a sample of their recent download on bankruptcy reform. Obviously, it deals with the American Bankruptcy Reform Act, which may be of limited relevance to many Scottish legal practitioners, and many of these podcasts have similar jurisdiction issues. Nonetheless, there are a number of different topics and each is covered at some length in a sort of legal chat-show style. This is probably not worth subscribing to unless you do a lot of work with US companies, but you could keep an eye on it to watch for any downloads which were of particular interest.

Tech Legal


Two methods of subscribing here, either through iTunes or via the Pod Tech website. The current offering on iTunes is a series of only two episodes on legal issues related to open source material (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source). This is delivered in less of a chat-show style and more of a radio interview format, where the interviewee is none other than open source “guru” Mark Radcliffe of DLA Piper (www.dlapiper.com). It is both fitting and laudable that a discussion of open source software ought to be offered free of charge, and it is to be hoped that further episodes may be added in due course. This is a must-listen podcast for anyone advising clients in this specialist area.

Xtalk Executive Podcasts


It may already have occurred to you, but one possible use for podcasting is remote access to conferences. But what would one call a seminar accessed over the world wide web? Why, a “webinar” of course! This is where Xtalks come in. Its webinars are aimed at a wide ranging business audience, but a significant number have substantial legal content. For example, I trawled through an interesting podcast on the subject of e-discovery, learning in great detail how a large banking company was hauled through the coals by a judge who was annoyed at its inability (refusal?) to produce all emails relevant to a particular case. This led to adverse inferences being drawn and a ridiculously large judgment being returned against it. The webinar lasts well over an hour, which is a long time to sit though anyone speaking, but the website listed above allows you to download the accompanying notes and PowerPoint slides to watch at the same time. This is a really good feature (particularly for those whose MP3 players won’t stretch to video downloads) and one which retained my interest much longer, enlivening the presentation. Listen on your own on the bus to work, or with colleagues in the office followed by a group discussion and – hey presto – instant CPD on your iPod or desktop.

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