Vol. 79, No. 5, May
State Bar CLE Books
More Than the Paper They're Printed On
Thoroughly researched, edited, and produced by a professional legal
publishing staff, State Bar of Wisconsin CLE books offer members value,
quality, and a choice of print and online delivery.
George C. Brown,
State Bar executive director
Several years ago, I was talking with a
member at a county bar
meeting in northern Wisconsin about some recent developments at the
State Bar, including the availability of State Bar books online through
what was then a new arrangement with LOISlaw.com. We talked about how
this was a new way to do legal research; how you could now click on the
hyperlink to go directly from the book to the source document, whether
it was a court's decision, a statute, or an administrative code
provision, even if the source documents were from another state.
The member was pleased to hear about this new product, thinking it
could dramatically shorten his research time. And then he surprised me.
He said, "I assume you can drop the price of those brown books by
at least half if not more."
He must have seen the stunned look on my face as I asked him why he
"The printing costs, of course," he stated matter of
factly. "With all those books being online, you don't have to
charge for all that printing."
"Well," I started slowly, "the cost of the printing
accounts for less than 10 percent of the cost of the book. The greatest
cost is in the editorial time."
From time to time over the years, this issue comes up. Just
recently, Judi Knight, the managing editor for State Bar CLE Books,
received a phone call from a member who was concerned because the
supplement he had just received cost more than the codebook he had
recently purchased, even though the codebook had more pages. Again, the
misconception appears to be that the majority of the cost of developing
State Bar books is in the printing.
So I thought you'd be interested to know what it takes to create a
State Bar book or one of its supplements.
First, a legal editor, who is an attorney, researches legal
developments affecting a book's content that have occurred since the
book's most recent publication. This includes researching case law,
legislative, and administrative developments. Meanwhile, Wisconsin
attorney authors are recruited to write the supplement. Most
supplements, as well as most books, are written by multiple authors.
Within a few weeks, working materials are sent to the authors, including
drafts of the publication, results of the legal editor's preliminary
research, and guidelines for drafting the update.
Authors typically have 8 to 10 weeks to submit their first drafts;
however, collecting all the necessary drafts from the various authors
often takes significantly longer. When the delays are on the author end,
editors spend time coordinating and negotiating project due dates with
Once drafts are received, they are prepared by the CLE Books'
production staff and then given to the editors. The editors thoroughly
cite-check every document: they verify the citations themselves; they
determine whether cited cases are still good law or whether subsequent
history must be added; and they verify the actual substance of the
references and quotations to ensure that author and editor are in
agreement about their understanding of holdings and statutory provisions
and that direct quotations are accurate. Occasionally, substantive
disagreements arise, and editors and authors work closely to ensure that
correct information is conveyed. In addition, the document is thoroughly
edited for substance, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Edited drafts are returned to authors for review, further changes if
necessary, and approval to publish. This process may be repeated several
times. Once an author has submitted her or his final changes, the
production coordinators finalize the format and incorporate any final
author or editor changes. Production coordinators prepare the preface,
foreword, title page, table of contents, and so on. Editors update
indexes, forms, and appendices as needed. The editor also will draft a
summary of the developments discussed in the update.
The chapters are then returned to the editors for a final review to
correct typographical errors, citation-format errors, or any other error
- including substantive - that was not previously detected. Once each
piece of the publication has been finalized, the entire publication is
compiled by the production coordinator and prepared for either digital
or camera-ready printing by a professional printer.
Creating a complete revision of a current book is substantially the
same process as the supplementation process; however, authors and
editors typically require more time to rewrite, cite-check, and edit the
revision and there are a few additional production steps associated with
complete revisions. And, as you can imagine, brand new publications
require substantially more work, taking up to two years of development
That CLE books are available online, means the Bar has responded to
members' desire to choose how they receive their publications - in print
or electronically. No matter the delivery mechanism, all of the writing
and editorial and production work still must be done. Electronic
delivery, in fact, adds a technology conversion step to the production
The cost of all this work often is spread over only a few hundred
books. But while some publishers may simply slap a cover on drafts
provided by authors, State Bar CLE Books employs a team of eight
attorney editors plus production coordinators to work closely with State
Bar authors who are recognized content experts to help ensure that you
have the highest quality practice books possible.