Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The Sept. 8, 1980 edition of the Pennsylvania Law Journal, the predecessor to the Pennsylvania Law Weekly, had an article in its Law Office Management section, “Opening a One-Lawyer Office: What it Costs in Pennsylvania,” by Robert I. Weil and Paul D. Roy. For that article, another law librarian, Carol C. Haas, and I recommended a list of materials for inclusion in a law library for a general practice in Pennsylvania. Today’s column will update that article, since 20 years have passed, and there has been a major revolution in the legal research world. An attorney just starting out in a solo practice will get more legal research value for the dollar by selecting a multi-format approach to accessing legal and other practice related information. We suggest using the Internet to access free and subscription sources, CD-ROM publications for materials that were traditionally in book format, and yes, books, but just a few. GETTING ONLINE You will need to connect to the Internet to have access to many of the legal resources you will need for your practice. So the first purchases we advocate to build the law library are a good computer and high-speed access to the Internet. This purchase will be the tool that is used the most in the office, and for much more than legal research. Therefore, we are not including the cost of the computer and peripherals in our estimate. Next, we recommend basic instruction on how to use the Internet effectively, which you can obtain through community college classes or even CLE classes. Upon learning the features of the Internet and how to navigate it, selecting bookmarks or favorite sites is the next step. We recommend that those just starting out use a legal Web site hosted by an area law library or similar institution. These contain numerous links to other legal sites and may also have original content. The following sites would be useful for Pennsylvania, attorneys as they contain links to both federal and Pennsylvania specific Web sites: � Duquesne University Law SchoolJenkins Law LibraryPennsylvania State University Dickinson School of LawUniversity of Pennsylvania Law SchoolUniversity of Pittsburgh School of LawVillanova University School of LawThe Virtual Chase We suggest that you spend time at each site to learn how it is organized and what it contains. All these sites are fairly comprehensive and will provide an excellent electronic library. Which one you choose to use is a matter of personal preference. Our next recommendation is to subscribe to Internet subscription services. If you can only afford to subscribe to one, we recommend law.com/pennsylvania, as your first subscription. You get 30 days free to test drive the site. It is an easy site to navigate, and it publishes articles printed in The Legal Intelligencer and the Pennsylvania Law Weekly, as well as court information, court rules and updates, court notices, trial listings and much more, including digests of opinions. It even has trial court opinions for many Pennsylvania counties from the mid-1990′s forward. You can use law.com/pa as a directory to search for expert witnesses, Pennsylvania lawyers and judges, and continuing education programs statewide. It also has links to the Pennsylvania statutes and code, as well as to state and federal courts, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s home page, and the U.S. Congress. Another nice feature is its forms library. We also recommend trying a hybrid Internet subscription service called lexisone.com. It is free and is selective in reporting cases, but you can opt to search lexis.com at reasonable rates should you want access to information not easily obtained elsewhere. Both Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw have specially priced packages for the solo attorney, and we suggest you call your local office for more information. And Loislaw presents another Internet subscription option, and although not as complete as the major two legal databases, its cost is very reasonable. PRINT PRODUCTS Books and other print publications will always be with us, and we recommend that the following reference titles be purchased in book format. � The Bible, for swearing in at a deposition. � Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th Edition (WestGroup). � “How to Manage Your Law Office” by Altman & Weil (Matthew Bender Publisher). � “A Uniform System of Citation,” 17th Edition, also known as “The Harvard Blue Book.” � Although the Pennsylvania Rules of Court are available online, we recommend that a print copy be purchased for quick reference and to carry to court. � The same applies for the Pennsylvania Legal Directory, as it is much easier to use in print format. � We also recommend that the Pennsylvania attorney purchase a subscription to the county legal newspaper and the Pennsylvania Law Weekly. � We do not recommend purchasing the Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia, as the cost is high and Internet sources and subscription databases would serve to substitute for this. � What about practice books? The Commonwealth’s publisher of note for Pennsylvania materials is George T. Bisel & Co. In our original article 20 years ago, we recommended 11 practice books for a minimum law library and suggested adding two more in the future. “Family Law” by Momjian and Perlberger has been discontinued. Today, “Pa. Divorce Code” by Perlberger for $95 and Pa. Support Guide by Hurwitz for the same price could be substituted. Mandatory continuing education is another avenue for building a print library. Courses offered through the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and other providers offer CLE credits as well as books that accompany each course. CD-ROM Another format for legal materials is CD-ROM, and most computers sold today have a drive for CD’s. Books translate well on to CD-ROM, and some publishers offer excellent deals if you bundle titles, meaning that you select a few titles in the same practice area. Bisel does this for several titles, and it can be a real cost-saver. Also, purchasing Purdon’s on CD-ROM from the WestGroup has advantages as it is updated quarterly, and there are no pocket parts to file, plus the cost is less than in paper. COST COMPARISONS Compared to the cost of materials that we recommended in 1980, the total cost today is only about $2,000 more for the solo practitioner. The Pennsylvania attorney would also be getting more than what was originally listed, for less money, thanks to the Internet subscriptions and free sites. Author’s note: I would like to thank all of the Jenkins staff who assisted me with gathering information for this article. Also, please note that by recommending a title by a certain publisher, we are not endorsing that product for any monetary gain for ourselves or the Jenkins Law Library.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.