The inimitable A.L.R. series of law books published by West (now Thomson Reuters) turns 100 this year. Its narratives, published regularly, that analyze, classify, explain and digest American case law on very narrow legal issues has been an icon of law publishing for many years already. So many great people in law publishing have played a part in its success, quality, and prominence. Many still are.
And, of course, Corpus Juris/Corpus Juris Secundum turns 108 in 2019. American Jurisprudence, 2d is 83. All of them great Rochester, Twin Cities, and one-time Brooklyn/Westbury, N.Y. publications.
Gary Rodrigues has written a blog post on the dangers of cutting editorial staffs at the large law publishers. In essence, he argues that the large publishers’ basic advantage over free web-based services will be lost since a skilled in-house editorial staff is what built the publishers’ brands, drove the profit margins, and today, in a digital environment of free information and proliferating software and cloud-based offerings, the editorial staffs represent the only genuine “head-start” these publishers have.
“The contribution of editorial to legal publishing has always been underestimated and undervalued by corporate owners. Editorial built the business and established the standards on which the reputations of the major legal publishing houses are based.”
Later, he asserts:
“‘Editorial’ was also largely responsible for the key product development initiatives that drove growth. The loss is not restricted to primary content. New titles and new editions of secondary works require intensive editorial work that cannot be replaced by automated processes.”
In 2014, have we reached the point at which legal insight and analysis can be automated?
As I sit here having put a wrap on another print/WestlawNext release, I ponder the above question and consider how to (further) plan accordingly. A mini-revolution in legal content is currently underway.
Recent tweet on Westlaw’s Twitter account:
Just in case anyone might find 89 A.L.R.6th 565 (Criminal Liability for Street Racing) useful http://ow.ly/sUvPs #bieber