The Importance of Treatises

I feel a little like I’m giving away a trade secret or exposing myself for a fraud with this one.

Recently a patron asked me to identify a property owner’s liability when an invited guest causes injury to another invited guest and to provide several recent cases as examples. 15 minutes later she had exactly what she needed and was completely blown away by my impressive researching prowess and acumen. But here’s the thing: I really didn’t do very much at all.

I went to our treatise on Ohio Personal Injury Practice, looked up “third parties” in the index, turned to the correct page and read. Everything this patron needed was right there in plain English. Listed at the bottom of the section was the seminal case on the topic and several other citing cases. I ran a quick search in Westlaw for the listed cases and any others from the last 3 years and sent them on, then sat back to bask in the accolades of an admiring public.

Treatises. Are. Amazing.

Need to know how your previous DUI will impact your current DUI charge? There’s a treatise for that.

Not sure how your new child support payments will be calculated since you already pay child support for another child? There’s a treatise for that.

Curious if a receiver in a foreclosure case can file a motion to compel? There’s a treatise for that.

Treatises are books like Ohio and American Jurisprudence, Baldwin’s Practice Series, Anderson’s Guides and Handbooks, Hornbooks, NOLOs, Corpus Jurus Secundum, Pattern’s and so much more. They cover a vast array of topics so thoroughly that they really do a large chunk of the work for you. Statutes and code sections, seminal cases, Court rules and regulations, all tied up with a clear and concise explanation.

As librarians, we LOVE treatises. I cannot tell you how many times we’ve embarked with some trepidation on what seemed an immensely complicated and convoluted research question only to discover a nice little OJUR section that discusses each point thoroughly and succinctly with further resources and citations included. Research done. Thank you very much.

As I began working with new attorneys and law students, I was surprised at how undervalued the treatise was. It’s possible that treatises are not taught in law schools as much because the professors (admirably) want the students to do the research for themselves. But this isn’t law school. Why reinvent the wheel? If someone else has done the research ahead of you, why not take advantage of it?

In summation, treatises are awesome. We love them, we use them, we highly recommend them.