The “Real-Time” Digital Law Encyclopedia

Bloomberg announced a new, online bankruptcy law treatise featuring frequent updates and revisions and shepherded by an editorial board, expert bankruptcy judges and attorneys, and in-house Bloomberg staff. It appears to be more interactive than other such sources and has at least the beginnings of a litigation drafting service. See Jean O’Grady’s comments (“Toss the Pocket Parts..”, December 4) for a full discussion from a librarian’s perspective. What remains to be seen: overlapping questions as to the quality of this gigantic tome and whether an “expert” work crowdsourced to this extent is particularly helpful or internally consistent.

Rodrigues: Downsizing Editorial Will Endanger Legal Publishers

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.

Writes Rodrigues:

“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?

The Legal Researcher’s Short Attention Span: The Need for “One-Stop” Information Shopping

Despite my employment’s general focus on traditional legal encyclopedias and legal writing, it is increasingly difficult to ignore the reality of current research methods. The easy access to digital information on the web has molded most of us into impatient information consumers who do not take kindly to “waiting” on information and results. I sometimes wonder if some researchers have even tired of reading altogether considering that we are all trained to look for keywords, phrases, and numbers. What type of product would (or does) provide a one-stop answer to a legal research question? “Current awareness” products? Journals? Blogs with footnoted cites to statutes and cases (along with a case citator service)?