We have been aware for some time that law books — those bound court reports that are displayed as background in lawyers’ photographs, are going out of style, and that you literally can’t give them away. Now comes news that even existing law libraries are being phased out, replaced with electronic data bases, and their space converted to offices. Word just reached us that this is what is happening in a large law firm with which we had been connected, which brings it all close to home.
Apart from the fact that this is sad — the passing of an era and all that — to us it means that something good is going out of the practice of law. You can be a keyboard whiz, but doing it that way somehow never replaces the feeling one gets from handling a book. To say nothing of the process of browsing — we like the idea of flipping through the pages and discovering, right next to the on-point case we just read, another seemingly unrelated case that nonetheless contains useful language that is pertinent to another matter you may be working on. We don’t know how that happens, but it does.
So it looks like from now on bookworms will be geeks. Too bad.