Practice Tip: Create a Big Book of [Law]
Posted on January 12th, 2011
Have you noticed that lawyers just love to organize paper? We have tabs you can write on, little colored numbered tabs for exhibits, multi-color highlighters. Some of us have favorite highlighter colors: mine were orange and blue in law school. Then I discovered the most excellent antique pink color that doesn’t xerox. It’s wonderful. And oh, when I discovered Bindertek, I was in heaven.
But I love to organize things – especially the areas of the law that I consult all the time. I put everything in a binder. I know, you’re thinking: it’s the 21st century. Do this without paper. And I say: screw you. I still love dealing with paper. I print those Westlaw cases and then I donate to some Arbor Day charity to assuage my conscience (not really, but I do recycle).
So every area of the law that I deal with goes in the binder. It might be the “Big Book of Sexual Harassment” or the “Big Book of Vicarious Liability” or something along those lines. Sadly, I have a “Big Book of Child Sex Abuse” and a “Big Book of Priest-Penitent Privilege,” too.
Into the binders go:
- Any paper CLEs.
- The operative statutes, rules, etc.
- Federal cases.
- State cases.
- Law Review Articles.
Even if you have great secretaries and paralegals, take the time to assemble the notebook yourself. Just organizing the material helps you feel like you have the beginning of an understanding of the materials (even if just from reading headnotes). Once you’ve written the brief/motion/memo that you need to, keep the binder around and take it with you to oral argument. Use it to study from. You can give it to the great paralegal and say, “Please shepardize all the cases” every so often, too.
Extra Bonus Practice Tip: Tab the thing to death. Highlight once, twice, three times! There’s nothing more amusing than plunking down a huge binder that reads in huge letters, “THE BIG BOOK OF COMPELLING DISCOVERY” – with its heavily tabbed and highlighted portions – down on a counsel table right before oral argument. (Well. Yes, there are more amusing things. But this is a fun one, honest.)