Vol. 83, No. 2, February 2010
Years ago, when I worked at a law firm, a message would go out several times a week, “Whoever took the Civil Procedure Before Trial book from the library, please return it,” or “I’ve been looking for the second volume of the Traffic book for a couple of days and I really need to use it, so please let me know if you have it,” or “The fourth chapter of the [fill in the blank] book is missing; who has it?”
Almost invariably, the missing book was one of the State Bar’s “brown binders” and it had been left at home, was in another briefcase, or was buried on someone’s desk. These problems, as well as those of missing supplements, missing pages, or disintegrating binders, are about to become problems of the past.
This spring, in response to the growing demand for online legal information, the State Bar is transforming its brown binders into a comprehensive research tool called CLE Books UnBoundTM. This tool will be more than just an electronic version of the books. It will be a fully searchable database that will link to case law, decisions, and statutes through Fastcase, the State Bar’s free legal research tool.
Because Wisconsin lawyers told us the features they wanted to see in an online research tool, CLE Books UnBoundTM will be accessible through the State Bar’s Web site, WisBar.orgTM, rather than through separate software. Its user-friendly interface will allow you to access the information you need, and easily highlight, copy, magnify, and print the text so that you can take it with you or simply insert it into a document. The text will be searchable using keywords, and you will be able to search within one book or across multiple books. You will be able to bookmark content found in the books, for later viewing or so that you can resume your search at a later time. In addition to linking to primary law documents through Fastcase and other sources, you will be able to customize information to maximize your research findings.
And, unlike other providers of legal information and knowledge, there are no additional subscriptions or fees for these services or searches. So when you type in your keyword and find a reference to it in, say, the Wisconsin Condominium Law Handbook you own, you can click on the Wisconsin Supreme Court case referenced and go right to the case. If that case references a U.S. Supreme Court decision, you can click right to that case. And if that case references a California or Illinois statute, you can click right to that statute. And on and on. The search, no matter how far or wide you search, will cost you no more than the original cost of your book.
CLE Books UnBoundTM. Not like any “book” you are used to. Let me know what you think, at firstname.lastname@example.org.