Both the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently launched significantly redesigned Web sites, each with nods to Web 2.0 and social media. Around the same time, the Government Printing Office relaunched the Federal Register in an updated format.

The Justice Department site was launched Oct. 1 and is described as an attempt to enhance the department’s openness and transparency. In addition to a cleaner and more modern design, the site now includes a blog, The Justice Blog.

The site also integrates with popular social media sites for sharing news and information. That means that the Justice Department now has a Twitter feed and pages on Facebook, YouTube and MySpace. Links to all of these can be found on the Web site’s front page. The site also has its own photo and video galleries.

The USPTO’s new site also has a cleaner and more modern design. It features improved navigation, enhanced search capabilities, and a self-service area for quick access to information and data products.

It does not appear that there is new content on the USPTO site. Rather, the content is more intuitively arranged and easier to find. Like the Justice Department’s site, the USPTO’s has a video library. But I believe the videos were available on the site before the redesign. They include three public service ads and a 27-minute history and tour of the USPTO.

The new version of the Federal Register is part of the federal government site, The change is that issues dating back to 2000 are now available in a format known as XML, or Extensible Markup Language. XML is a simple, text-based format that makes data easier to adapt to multiple uses.

With the Federal Register available in XML format, users will now be able to more easily download, store and use it in their own applications. For lawyers, that could mean the development of new e-mail alerts and other tools to help them track topics of particular interest to their practices.

Mary Alice Baish, director of government relations for the American Association of Law Libraries, told the Washington Post that her members are delighted with the update.

“We see law libraries being able to use the data for empirical research by law professors who want to track agency activities. For being able to track trends in the regulated industries. Even for studies of semantics and language.”

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.