White Paper: Legal Authority Created Equal—Print Online and eBooks

White Paper: Legal Authority Created Equal—Print Online and eBooks

There’s no question about it … sound authority is fundamental to your work. And today you can access that authority using many types of media. Both law students and professionals now conduct research in books, as well as online tools and eBooks—from study guides and statutes to deskbooks, treatises and more. But how can you be sure the media you use is authoritative enough to cite in court documents?

Viewpoints vary. At one end of the spectrum, some courts have even accepted sources like Wikipedia®, at least for explanatory background information.1 Even so, some individuals and groups still prefer that documents cite to printed materials. At the same time, many lawyers have been citing online sources provided by trusted legal publishers, and many courts accept documents with those citations. In recent years, legal eBooks have been gaining popularity based on their convenience, portability and reduced library space requirements.

With that in mind, should you be concerned about possible content discrepancies between different media with the same title? For example, are eBooks as authoritative as online and print versions of the same title? Knowing the answer can help you research and draft documents with confidence.

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1 “Commentary: Wikipedia’s influence, convenience spills over into courts,” Liisa R. Speaker, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, April 7, 2008.