John Shafer alluded (some time ago) on USF’s Law Library blog to Justice Kennedy stating, during an oral argument, that he would “look in Corpus Juris Secundum or ALR or something” to investigate a licensing issue.
Jason Wilson has written that the major publishers, having created and written some of the great common law and practice treatises, essentially abandoned (or were divested of?) their role as advisers to the bench and bar.
Are these publications still being written with the judiciary in mind or is Wilson correct?
This is suggested in the comments (usually quite knowledgeable comments) to this post on Slaw.com.
One fundamental frustration in using almost any treatise, practice guide, court rules handbook, or other legal source, is that they often contain little if any localized information. All politics is local supposedly. If that is true, it must be even more so that all legal practice is local (even when it isn’t truly local). Despite this, an attorney in unfamiliar practice territory, either in terms of location or practice area, finds little practical guidance on what to expect in certain jurisdictions, counties, and courts both in terms of procedural and substantive law as well as any unwritten rules of local practice which won’t be accessible anywhere-even among a court website’s PDFs.
Is this a case where some degree of Wiki-style (but editor-directed) crowdsourcing would need to be employed to create these treatise/practice guides? Should publishers be exploring them (to the extent that many of them probably aren’t currently) as a source of possible revenue growth in a declining market? How difficult would it be to find attorneys willing to write for them and comment on the practices of particular courts (and by implication, judges)?
According to a recent survey of lawyers, especially young lawyers, digital-age attorneys have little interest in so-called classification systems (and the results are consistent with my own preferences and experience).
As reported by Steven A. Lastres:
The lawyers surveyed use a variety of case law and statutory research processes. The majority report that they rarely or never begin case law research with a legal classification system using a digest or jurisprudence. There is limited use of the classification system on the Headnote as well, and then it is used only as a later step in the research process for finding related content. Even with that, a third of respondents admit typically not accessing a legal classification system at all when conducting case law research.
Has the natural language search (e.g. Google) along with innumerable free online resources, rendered digests and other proprietary classifications obsolete?