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Over the past few months, the two major legal publishers have announced the availability of some of their legal materials in electronic formats compatible with either handheld PDAs (personal digital assistants), such as Palm devices, or “e-books” such as the Rocket eBook. Although attorneys have been able to access electronic material on laptop computers for a number of years, these recent announcements mean that legal material is more portable and ubiquitous than ever. WESTLAW WIRELESS Those who happen to have Palms in their pockets (or palms) can now use parts of Westlaw wherever a wireless Internet service provider delivers access. In September, West Group announced the launch of the first phase of “Westlaw Wireless”, an umbrella name for two very different services. By the time you read this, West Group will have launched the second phase of Westlaw Wireless: wireless access using Pocket PCs and BlackBerry devices. Westlaw Wireless is aimed at wireless PDA, wireless handheld PC, and wireless pager users. Specifically, one must use a Palm V or VII with a wireless service provider, such as Omnisky Service or Palm.Net; a RIM device (makers of the popular BlackBerry pager) with GoWeb; or a Windows CE Pocket PC device (Compac iPac). Westlaw Wireless allows users to retrieve case material via the “Find” function. If you’re worried about how that 96-page Supreme Court opinion looks on the “small screen,” fear not. Your “Find” will deliver only case headnotes and synopses. West claims that this is because wireless users typically pay for bytes transferred, and the case in full-text may be too expensive (and time-consuming) to download. Nevertheless, one wonders just how versatile Westlaw Wireless will be without full-text searchability or deliverability, especially after unlimited service plans gain popularity. The ability to e-mail fulltext cases to a user’s e-mail account was available as of Jan. 24, 2001. In addition, full-text searchability will be available by Spring 2001. Fortunately, Westlaw Wireless also provides KeyCite results and entries in the West Legal Directory. The KeyCite function is less limited than “Find.” Users can review the full history, negative history, or citations to the case in question. West Group’s second service is aimed at e-book users, at least those using Rocket eBook, Microsoft Reader, or AportisDoc Reader platforms — eBooks by West Group. The first two are for the prototypical book-sized e-books, but the latter platform enables Palm users to view e-book material, even if it is scrunched onto a tiny screen. Right now West Group offers five titles (at only $12.50 each), all of which seem to be targeted at litigators — a wise marketing move on West’s part. The downloadable works include The Federal Rules of Evidence, The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, The Federal Bankruptcy Rules, and The Federal Bankruptcy Code. No one should be surprised if the list has grown by the time you read this. LEXIS-NEXIS WIRELESS Lexis is offering wireless access at a more leisurely pace. It currently has an initial pilot program open to a select group of 500 participants (see http://www.lexis.com/wireless). Although the Lexis offerings are limited only to PDA users and not e-book readers, PDA users will have more material available to them through Lexis than they do from Westlaw Wireless. For starters, the Lexis-Nexis Wireless Pilot features “Get a Case,” “Get a Statute,” Shepard’s, and free lexisOne case searching. The “Daily Opinion Service,” which will feed users new judicial decisions based on their preferences, will become available soon. All of this is full-text, which is, as mentioned above, both a blessing and a curse. Participants in the Pilot may use a Palm V or VII or RIM 850, 950, or 957 pagers. The Palms, of course, need to have wireless access via Omnisky or Palm.Net, while the RIMs use Go.Web service from GoAmerica. It will indeed be interesting to see what types of access Lexis will offer upon completion of its Pilot. The Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Locator is already Palm VII-accessible, using a PQA from xNow. xNow claims that its LegalNow Desktop, from which the Lawyer Locator is offered, will likely expand in the near future to include Versuslaw and other legal software. OTHER LEGAL OFFERINGS PDA users in the legal profession have a few additional sources of material and information. One of the most useful Web sites, dedicated to software targeted to attorneys, is PDAJD.com. Those interested in legal information for their PDAs might want to check out MemoWareand search its holding in the “Law” category. Material here runs the gamut from this year’s California Penal Code to Monica Lewinsky’s testimony, and the sources don’t seem to be quite as reputable as that from more mainstream legal publishers. Still, some material may prove useful. As of press time, peanutpress.com, a division of netLibrary, offered 10 legal titles for Palm users, including a few state constitutions and rules. The site netLibraryis quickly becoming the premier distribution site for e-books. Although few offerings are law-oriented, e-book aficionados in the legal world would do well to watch this one closely. THE BOTTOM LINE FOR LIBRARIANS At this point some of you may be asking, “Why should librarians care what attorneys do in their cab rides with their Palm Pilots?” It is a good question, and I think librarians can look at the history of our profession for a good answer. For the past 100 years, librarians have led legal professionals to information. We have taken them from books to looseleaf services to now-archaic text-based caselaw databases to CD-ROMs to the Web. Why should we let go of that history just because attorneys can now take along digital information just as easily as they can check out a library book? It is our job to recommend sources of legal information, purchase them, and train people to use them properly. This means that we have to “take it with us,” too. The learning curve may be steep, but our professional payoff will be great. Steven P. Anderson is librarian at Gordon Feinblatt Rothman Hoffberger and Hollander in Baltimore. His e-mail address is [email protected].

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