Would you buy a Black’s Law Dictionary for $84.95? Or $41.95 for the Pocket Edition? Or $150 for the Deluxe Edition?

West Publishing, now part of Thomson Reuters, has been publishing Blacks Law Dictionary since 1890. One hundred and thirty-two years.

For only fifteen of those years have we had an Internet with enough legal information for lawyers to turn to the net for much of what they are looking for.

Talking to a group of lawyers yesterday in a blog consultation, one of the partners was genuinely excited to be contributing to to the state’s law in his niche. He said he turns to the net regularly and finds what he is looking for on legal blogs.

The law is becoming open source. Lawyers contribute openly through blogging. They turn to the net to find what they are looking for. And often further advance the law by blogging on what they found.

I bought a Black’s Law Dictionary the first day of law school. I wanted it for research and because I thought I needed one to become part of the legal profession.

Would I buy one today as a law student? Probably not.

I’d have grown up in a world without a lot of books. I’d grown up in a world where I turned to Google for everything.

As a lawyer, I wouldn’t buy one. I’d have learned that Wikipedia is a heck of a resource – probably better than Blacks – and that Google is the first place to look.

Extraordinary change in a little over a decade.