Books are great. There’s no legal decision ever written or law passed that hasn’t been printed somewhere.

This week is National Library Week. I’ve been a library rat since high school, when I worked behind the desk. In law school when I was way too deep in student government, my "constituents" knew exactly which table, under the staircase, where they could find me to air their grievances. So, here’s my recent book story.

The Internet is fantastic. One can sit at the airport, the coffee shop, the couch, with the laptop and access pretty much any law, any decision instantly.

Law schools have a first-year legal research class teaching all the books from the indexes to the case books, and finally the update books that make it all current. Back when I learned it, a legal research project took from 20 minutes to an hour and a half depending on its complexity. Now, with computers, the process takes 30 seconds to five minutes. I’d like to tell you I’ve gotten better. I think I have to tell you it’s the online research tools.

When I graduated from law school, my father wanted to buy me books to mark the occasion. I thanked him and pointed out that even by then, we were using the computer. Books weren’t big on my needs list. He, a research and development engineer, teaching computer science in his retirement years, understood.

Several years ago, a client called. His friend, a building developer, was about to throw an office full of lawbooks in the Dumpster. Apparently, an attorney in his 60s was suddenly disabled. There were no children, partners, or anyone else to clean out the law office. The office space was now being "rehabbed" and the books, thrown in piles and boxes, were in the way as the construction crew was gutting the place and preparing to upgrade.

The developer knows a number of attorneys. He called them all. No one wanted the books. It seems no one wants books anymore.

He called libraries. There was no interest.

Like I said, my phone rang. Did I want to look at the books? I went. Some of the books were in huge cardboard moving crates. Others were piled on the floor. The developer said that after calling all the lawyers he knew, no one wanted the books. That’s when he ordered the books thrown in the Dumpster.

Enter the developer’s wife, who dropped by the job site for some reason, stopping the trash run and ordering hubby to make more calls. That’s when he called his friend, my client, and I ended up there.

It only took one look to know that I had to save the collection. We needed more boxes. I bought boxes at the office store. When that wasn’t enough, I went to the liquor store. For boxes.

I ended up with a treasure trove. This guy had kept the books in immaculate condition. I have books more than 200 years old in perfect condition. I have seen the same books in Boston libraries with crumbling pages.

I’ve lined the walls of my offices with the books.

This was the second time I inherited books from retiring attorneys. The other story, less dramatic, was more of a, “Hey, you want these? Take 'em.”

I like the printed page. I place bookmarks where the big cases are. No question, computers are fast. You would need a library the size of the Grand Canyon to hold the material accessible in an instant with a good legal search engine. But, there’s something about the feel of a book in your hands as you read a landmark case.

Like I said, I have books over 200 years old in great condition spelling out law applicable in court today. Someone try and tell me that any computer here now will work in 200 years. Or even 200 weeks.



Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover, Mass. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to andrew@attorney-myers.com.

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