ago that BloombergBNA announced the
release of their new Banking Law platform. Today
they announced the release of Bloomberg Law: Bankruptcy Treatise
which is now available to all Bloomberg
Law subscribers in the Bankruptcy Practice Center. David
Perla, President of Bloomberg Legal stated in an interview that The Bloomberg Law Bankruptcy Treatise is “redefining legal treatises by using 21st Century journalism
Breaking the Treatise Paradigm or Was the Paradigm Already Broken?
what has been obvious to law librarians for years…
traditional treatise publishing
is still producing products which are
hopelessly out of date by 21st century standards. Anyone with a
smartphone lives in world of instant tweets, texts and news alerts about
breaking legal developments… so why are law firms still paying for print
supplements which contain news that was “new” six months ago? Part of the reason is that some treatises have achieved an almost talismanic status and lawyers almost fear to practice law without them… and have been willing to overlook their shortcomings.
bankruptcy treatise is authored by a an editorial team consisting of Bankruptcy
judges and practitioners. “The treatise represents thousands of hours of research and writing
by skilled bankruptcy lawyers,” said The Honorable D. Michael Lynn, U.S.
Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas and Editor-in-Chief of the
Treatise. “I believe it to be an
important and useful addition to bankruptcy literature.” The editorial
board includes 12 legal professionals including 5 Bankruptcy judges. A complete list of editors and contributors is listed below.
“contains over 600 chapters and
more than 13,000 pages of content and expert analysis from over 60 renowned
judges, law professors, and practitioners.
The Bloomberg BNA editorial team, with input from outside contributors,
will update the material as bankruptcy rules change and courts apply and react
to them, ensuring that all aspects of federal bankruptcy law and local rules
are current. For example, the latest
amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, which went into effect
on December 1, 2014, appeared in the Treatise, with their first annotations,
that same day.”
Traditional legal treatises have been historically associated with the “Herculean” efforts of a single scholar. In Bankruptcy, Matthew Bender’s Collier on Bankruptcy has been the “gold standard” for decades.Bloomberg’s 13,000 page bankruptcy treatise is tipping into Encyclopedia Britannica territory. Maybe
the law is too large to be digested by a single authority. Maybe the era of the treatise
“branded” under the name of a single scholar is at an end. A search of all
federal opinions indicates that the “Collier
on Bankruptcy” has been cited in US court
opinions over 10,000 times. The Volokh Conspiracy blog includes several posts on the nature of legal treatises.
One commentator asked if anyone really knew who Collier was and another questioned
whether any of the original scholarship written by the named authors even
survive in the present day treatises. Embarrassed that I had no idea who Collier was myself, I did some digging and located a brief entry in
The brief bio indicates that William Miller Collier didn’t
attend law school, he “read the
law” and wrote the first edition of Colliers in 1898, 6 years after he was admitted to practice in
New York State. The revered Colliers
treatise is now in it’s 16th edition and one can safely assume that Collier’s is
now an aggregation of content authored by a series of editors who over the years have edited
away a significant proportion of the contributions of William Collier.
absolute timeliness. The latest pocket part or supplement to a print treatise
is at best six months old. Supplements
to treatises often include only new citations to cases and have little
editorial revision. Ebook treatises give the impression of timeliness because
they are well …. digital. But digital does not necessarily assure access to
the latest legal precedents and commentary.
Lexis and Westlaw both allow ebook subscribers to link out to the
current versions of cited statutes or regs but they aren’t reissuing the main body of
the text on more than a quarterly or an semi-annual and sometimes annual basis.
exposing one of the more significant shortcomings of the legal ebook treatise– ebooks are not all that current.
I elaborate at length on additional shortcomings in an earlier post about ebooks.
Why are legal publishers pouring digital content into 19th century wineskins?.
I asked Perla why Bloomberg seemed to have skipped over ebook
technology completely. According to Perla the first objection to ebooks is that they will
be less current than the online treatise they are now able to offer. In
addition he sees ebook platforms as trapping publishers in the
logistical complexities of
supporting muliti-distribution platforms
on a wide variety of mobile devises. Blaw has
an app which works on all the major mobile platforms and that is all
Case analysis tab which include an algorithm generated headnote summaries the parts of the legal opinion which interpret in a bankruptcy code section. These can be sorted by date or relevance.
The most complete access to local bankruptcy rules available from any source.
Keyword searching. Blaw is “tri-lingual” You can use the search syntax for Westlaw, LexisNexis or BLaw
Statement of currency and proper citation format appear in a sidebar
Live links to all cases, statutes and court rules
- Alerts – Now this may be a first. You can set up alerts to be notified of changes to the treatise.
- Workflow enhancements include queues and folders
POSITIONING: Is Blaw aiming at the market for Thomson Reuters Practical Law and Lexis Nexis Practice Adviser?
publishing needs to go, but they are leaving
some gaps in our understanding of both authority and precedent.
Is Bankruptcy Law really a treatise? Or is it an encyclopedia? Does it matter?
Has Bloomberg invented a completely new publication form? It reads like a treatise but it is updated like a newsletter? To parody an advertising slogan… Is it “a breath mint and a candy mint?”
Has the law become too big to be mastered and digested by a single author?
Is it sufficient for a digital treatise to have a date stamp or should the citation include a time stamp?
treatises from being the long incubating child of scholarly contemplation into the treatise as hyper kinetic prodigy– spouting an endless stream of commentary drawn from the roiling river of new cases, rules and statutes which inform our understanding of the law. The stakes have never been higher and the speed of change has never been faster. Practitioners need and clients demand that lawyers have resources which can keep them informed using 21st Century technologies. Bloomberg is once again out in front pushing the envelope of change.