The Internet killed my law library

30 Aug 15

I started my own law practice in October of 2006. I left my GC job hoping my contacts at that time would be sufficient to ensure a steady flow of work.
 
Before taking this leap, I was in-house counsel for nearly 9 years at two different companies. Before that, I was a law firm associate for two-and-a-half years (following a two-year federal judicial clerkship). So, at the time I launched my solo practice, my understanding of what a private firm practice should be was quite dated – particularly with respect to legal research.

One of my first acts as founding partner of Sean Hogle PC was to commence a law treatise buying spree, convinced that I absolutely had to have a full and robust law library like the firm had. I needed to bulk up! Examples: "Proskauer on Privacy"; "Financing and Protecting California Businesses"; and "Goldstein on Copyright". I bought dozens of titles, each of which was actually a subscription. Typical cost would be $500 to $1200 for the initial volume(s), and then each subsequent supplement would cost $400 to $600 each, issued 2 or 3 times per year. If you rejected the supplement, your treatise became out of date. It was a rat race.

On top of that, I had to manually insert the supplement pages into the volumes. This would take hours of tedious work, a soul-crushing waste of my time. 
 
As time went on and I became busier, and the realization dawned on me that the Internet contained more valuable and more timely information, the dust started collecting on these books. Eventually I terminated every subscription I ever had.
 
The books are still up there on the shelf, missing years' worth of supplements and updates, collecting ever more dust. Maybe someday the books will have value as collectibles, like vinyl records, but I doubt it. 

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