Friday, April 18, 2014

Berring on West's Digests and Legal Thought

Richard A. Danner, Duke University School of Law, has posted Influences of the Digest Classification System: What Can We Know?, which also appears in Legal Reference Services Quarterly 33 (2014).  Here is the abstract:    
Robert C. Berring has called West Publishing Company’s American Digest System “the key aspect of the new form of legal literature” that West and other publishers developed in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Berring argued that West’s digests provided practicing lawyers not only the means for locating precedential cases, but a “paradigm for thinking about the law itself” that influenced American lawyers until the development of online legal research systems in the 1970s. This article discusses questions raised by Berring’s scholarship, and examines the late nineteenth and early twentieth century legal environment in which the West digests were created and became essential research tools for American lawyers.

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