Books a weighty issue for law schools


A typical law student lugs around 28 pounds of books worth about $1,000 per semester. In creating cutting-edge future lawyers, some legal professors say, paper is a problem. Are electronic books the future? Could companies like and Sony have the answer to heavy book bags?

"There's a growing movement now in legal education to include serious skills training at a more intensive level than what the academy has done for a century now," Skover said. "Many of us see the print book as a major constraint on any change."


The rest of the law, with the exception of some areas of research, is a largely paper-based affair. Why not have them learn in the manner in which they will practice?

>The rest of the law, with the exception of some areas of research, is a >largely paper-based affair.

A large proportion of legal materials are available in electronic format and everyday the electronic proportion is growing larger. Almost all American case law is available in electronic format, the U.S. Code and statutes for all 50 states are available in electronic format, and most law reviews are available in electronic format.

Most law librarians that teach legal research present both the electronic and the print materials because they expect students to be operating in a hybrid world. Textbooks and casebooks in electronic format could be useful to students. As a librarian I have some concerns about DRM issues in regards to these electronic formats. I would also like to see fair pricing of electronic textbooks.

That explains a lot. I wondered why everyone else was lugging all the junk back and forth to class.

You know what they call the guy that graduates last in his law school class? (no not mdoneil)

Your Honor

Research. But the practice of it is still a dead tree affair. You can't e-mail a PDF of a motion to suppress to the judge and the DA. You can't schedule trials online using a shared schedule.

Well actually almost every Federal Court accepts, and encourages electronic filings.

You can certainly schedule trials online, not in shared schedule groupware sort of way, but if you and opposing counsel have checked the Court's calendar you have advise the Court of mutually agreeable dates. The Court still maintains its own calendar, and always must.

Some of the states need to get less dead tree.

Do you have anything to back up your assertions?

Many courts now require electronic submission of documents. There are courts that are scheduling online. The number is growing everyday. As I pulled these examples almost all of them happened from 2002-2005 so they have being operating electronic for several years.

Some examples:

1) Supreme Court of the United States you can submit briefs as a PDF

2) Supreme Court of Texas: Submission of Electronic Briefing

3) Federal Appeals: The Scoop on Electronic Submission and Filing
Excerpt from article:
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is currently operating under an Emergency General Order filed October 20, 2004, made effective December 1 of that year. The Order provides generally that in addition to the paper filings required by the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and local Tenth Circuit Rules, certain documents must also be transmitted to the court in electronic form. The Order is accessible from the court's website at by clicking on "Electronic Submissions."

4) As of 2002 Supreme Court of Florida requires everything to be submitted electronically. See:

5) Arkansas Judiciary
Electronic Brief Submission Project

6) North Dakota
Parties may electronically file documents with the supreme court. Documents filed electronically must be submitted by email to [email protected].

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which is the jurisdiction I'm familiar with, is a paper-based court system. Could be just my town (former town.)

Gosh, you get to use all them computers and whatnot? FancEE!

With a little resistance, federal e-filing becomes routine.(New Jersey).
New Jersey Law Journal (June 22, 2007)(714 words)

Excerpt from article: Two-and-a-half years after electronic filing became mandatory in New Jersey's federal courts, one statistic still bothers court officials: Each week lawyers send in about 250 paper documents that should have been filed online.

But that number is diminishing.

So far, 11,500 lawyers have registered for electronic filing, says James Murphy, chief deputy clerk for the U.S. District Court. "We're closing in on that gap each month" by offering training, he adds.

E-filing became mandatory in January 2005 for all documents except initial pleadings and in May 2006 for initial pleadings, such as complaints, notices of removal and notices of appeal.

It is not just states like California and New York:

Digital details: don't get tripped up by new electronic filing rules.
Tennessee Bar Journal 42.11 (Nov 2006): p14(9).

Judge talking about being wired. Doesn't sound like a paper based system.

Life as a wired judge: reflections on the use of technology by courts.(Special Issue: Technology and Courts).
The Justice System Journal 27.3 (Fall 2006): p243-247.

Electronic filing of patent documents at the USPTO.(United States Patent and Trademark Office).
Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society 88.8 (August 2006): p727-734.

Protecting personal information in court records in the age of e-filing.Mary Anne Decaria. Nevada Lawyer 14.6 (June 2006): p34(2).

Chuck, we are in the "age of e-filing".

Assessing the electronic case filing experience in the District of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire Bar Journal 47.1 (Spring 2006): p12-17.

Are you ready for e-filing.Joseph H. Firestone and James Horsh. Michigan Bar Journal 84.10 (Oct 2005): p22(4).

Court ethics panel gives green light to paperless files.(New Jersey).Mary P. Gallagher. New Jersey Law Journal (April 10, 2006)(1278 words)

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