Bloomberg is on an innovation roll. It was only two weeks
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?

The “streaming treatise” (my terminology not Bloomberg’s)  will  be forcing everyone to acknowledge
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hopelessly out of date by 21st century standards.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.

According to the press release the treatise
“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.” 

 Can the Bloomberg Treatise Compete with the Collier Brand From Matthew Bender?

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.

 Will the” Real Time” Treatise Kill the Ebook Treatise?

Lawyers who rely on print treatises are not looking for
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.

Bloomberg’s “streaming treatise” is raising the ante and
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
they need.

Bankruptcy Law -Features and Functions include:
  • 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?

There are certain features in the Bankruptcy treatise that look like the beginnings of a workflow and drafting tool. If Bloomberg is going to target the “process improvement” and drafting component of lawyers’ work, they  will enjoy one major advantage over their competitors.  LexisNexis and Westlaw are hampered by their bifurcated approach to research and workflow platforms. Both vendors have maintained their “cost recovery ” model for their online research products and developed separate platforms based on the “unlimited use” model for their drafting and workflow products. Out of the gate, Bloomberg has been building a totally integrated system,  everything is available on a single platform.  One has to assume that when they build out their workflow tools these will be fully integrated and available within the research environment.

Some Questions to Consider on the Future of Legal Treatises

 Bloomberg is going where legal
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?
I suspect  we are witnessing the transformation of
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.

List of Bankruptcy Law Editors and Authors





HON. JEFFERY P. HOPKINS, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of
, Chief Judge


PROF. DAVID A. SKEEL, University of Pennsylvania Law School, S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law

PROF. CHARLES J. TABB, University of Illinois, Mildred Van Voorhis Jones Chair in Law

STEPHEN YOUNGMAN, Weil Goschal & Manges

Contributing Authors

OMAR ALANIZ, Baker Botts

RACHEL EHRLICH ALBANESE, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer &
Feld LLP

Case, LLP

CLAUDE R. ‘CHIP’ BOWLES, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP

JASON S. BROOKNER, Gray Reed & McGraw, P.C.

CANDACE M. CARSON, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona

RYAN COPELAND, Kirkland & Ellis LLP




Case, LLP

MATTHEW L. HARTE, Term Law Clerk to the Hon.
Jeffery P. Hopkins, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio

MARGARET HOWARD, Washington & Lee University

Seismic, LLC

TOBIAS S. KELLER, Keller & Benvenutti LLP


ANDREW M. LEBLANC, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley &


Patton Boggs

KEVIN LEWIS, Law Clerk to the Hon. Kathleen
Cardone, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas

PAUL LOPEZ, Law Clerk to the Hon. D. Michael
Lynn, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas

PROF. STEPHEN J. LUBBEN, Seton Hall University School of

DOUG MAGNUSON, Law Clerk to the Hon. Brenda
Martin, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona

Rudnick LLP



SAMIR D. PARIKH, Lewis & Clark Law School

ANDREW PARLEN, O’Melveny & Myers LLP

IAN T. PECK, Haynes and
Boone, LLP

CHARLES M. PERSONS, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Hedges LLP

Rudnick LLP

Case, LLP

FREDRIC SOSNICK, Shearman & Sterling LLP

JEFF VAN NIEL, Law Clerk to the Hon. August B.
Landis, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada