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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    May 01, 2006

    Inside the Bar

    horoughly 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 Brown

    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 79, No. 5, May 2006

    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.

    by George C. Brown,
    State Bar executive director

    George   BrownSeveral 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 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 thought that.

    "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 authors.

    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 time.

    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 process.

    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.

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