Electronic research has become well entrenched now. Most of us use the book reporters less and less, if at all.
So, has anyone taken the next step and stopped taking the SouthWestern books altogether?
Our office still maintains the bound copies of the Southwest Reporters, the Supreme Court Reporter, Vernon's Black statutes, and the USCS. We dropped our subscription to the Federal Reporter and Federal Supplement along with Tex Jur 3d and the Texas and Federal Digests. The bound copies are really for the non-lawyer types who come look up cases and statutes. For the most part, the office's attorneys rely on Lexis.
DPS Office of General Counsel
We have a main library for the DA's office that still retains the Soutwestern Reporters, Vernon's, Texas Digest, and some secondary sources. Our courts used to have mini-libraries containing Southwestern Reporters, but I believe those have been cancelled.
Our county law library still receives the bound versions of the Southwestern Reporter, the other regional reporters and the federal reporters (S.Ct., F.3d and F.Supp.2d). That's because the Court of Appeals resides on the same floor. However, our office has discontinued receiving bound versions of any regular reporter service, since we have access to all of it on Westlaw. We do, however, continue to receive the black statutes (Vernon's) in bound form, as well as Dorsaneo's Texas Litigation Guide.
We have saved thousands of dollars a year by dropping most of the hardbound stuff that used to be in our law library. Only keep SW reporters (and starting to wonder why). Definitely dropped Texas Digest. Using the search engine on Lexis makes those books pointless.
Do have a set of Blacks Statutes because the annotations to a particular statute can be helpful. But current statutes are also available for free on the internet.
Williamson County, Texas
Our West contract will soon expire. I'm exploring various options. This thread is now more than 5 years old, so I'm curious to know everyone's stance on the topic now. We still have lots of bound books, including the SW reporters, plus online access.
Although I always will prefer reading in books rather than on a computer screen, I now work with access to the reporters and statutes only through Lexis. Given the expense of the reporters and the enhancements to Lexis over the last few years (once adapted to), I no longer believe hard copies are essential.
Given the choice, I think most folks prefer the book format. (Although that's probably changing with the Kindle and Nook generation). I certainly do. But the cost is hard to justify.
I spent a day doing some legal research at the SMU law library recently--looking at hornbooks. The other books were still there, as they were 20 years ago when I attended, but of the students at the desks that I saw, not one was using a book off the shelves. They were heads down over their laptops. I wonder how much longer anyone but a law school will be able to justify reporters and statutes in hard copy.
My biggest worry on losing some of the books is losing some good editorial content. The original prints of the Vernon's penal code contain commentary that are very useful today in deciphering the penal code. That content is not on Westlaw, or even in the modern print of the book. Another issue is that if I lose my books, I won't be getting another large monitor or two on which I can leave a Westlaw page open. Thus, I lose the current ability to have two or three books open on the desk plus a case on the screen. I'm sure I will adapt.
Now you are talking!! For those spending most of their time researching and writing, a larger-than-standard monitor would really assist. Multiple windows are diminutive on regular screens. Employing an extra laptop would work just as well--something I have resorted to on occasion.
I just have the different cases all up on different tabs of my browser. Going from one to the other is no more difficult than looking from one book to the other. Plus you can copy and paste the quote instead of retyping the entire thing.
I guess I'm a child of my generation. I'd much rather read the case on-screen than in the book, assuming decent formatting.
I really like the ability to save a particular case in a PDF format. If I am putting together a training or brief, I tend to locate the relevant cases, download them as PDF's into a folder. Then, I can go back and read them and pull out what I need away from the internet (like on a long plane ride).
It also makes it easy to distribute the cases for attendees to a training. We don't print out papers anymore. Just a Powerpoint (or better yet, a Keynote) presentation and associated cases. It all goes on a disk, jump drive or web site.
I've gone to two monitors and a kindle. It works nicely.
As far as I'm concerned, the only books I think we need are vernon's, the general session laws, and Baker's. The rest of it is easily on westlaw.
My records are in PDF (or I scan them). I read them on the kindle.
We currently are in the process of dropping all of our printed subscriptions in order to afford a more complete new package from Westlaw. The county is also going to set up a free terminal in our courthouse's old library. I suspect it will be the most abused computer account in the county.
I honestly am not concerned about the change because Vernons was getting to be the only printed materials I ever used. I have gotten pretty comfortable with finding those materials on Westlaw also.
I have been a two-monitor guy for forever. I even use two at home. The cost is negligible, and the benefits are huge. I have one monitor that I use exclusively for Westlaw, which is always open. That frees up the other monitor for Word, other Explorer windows, or whatever. I never have to minimize anything to switch between research and writing. Once you try it for appellate work, you will never go back.
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