Up Close and Personal with Thomson West Publications

By Martha J. Church

We all know that Thomson West (West) publishes federal books on myriad topics. Didn’t we get through law school on Westlaw, the keynote system, and the various iterations of ALR? Even today, we no doubt have West books (or discs) in our offices if we do bankruptcy, tax, litigation in federal courts, trademarks, securities, labor law, environmental law, or dozens of other federal practice areas. But have you considered what West might have for you that is state specific? In Georgia, West is the publisher of the leading authorities in many practice areas.

The “bible” for Georgia family law attorneys is Georgia Divorce, Alimony and Child Custody by Dan E. McConaughey. This book was first published in 1975 by The Harrison Company and quickly became the go-to book for answers on most any question related to any aspect of family law in Georgia. West now publishes the title and continues to have McConaughey revise and update the book annually. The original 496 pages have now been expanded to well over 1,000.

Another Georgia book published by West and part of its Georgia Practice Library is the Trial Handbook for Georgia Lawyers by Ronald L. Carlson, now in its third edition. If something can be part of a trial, either civil or criminal, it is addressed in this book. And like Georgia Divorce, Alimony and Child Custody, this book is laid out in a logical way that follows the chronology of a trial. The book includes a thorough table of contents and an extensive index, making it easy for the experienced practitioner to find what he or she is looking for and providing the less experienced attorney a useful outline of topics that should be considered when preparing for a trial.

The Harrison Company, long the premier publisher of legal tomes in Georgia, is now a West brand. One of the books still published within this imprint is Georgia Civil Discovery, now written by Wayne M. Purdom, although the original edition was written by William Agnor. Now in its sixth edition, the subject matter covers the basics of discovery, such as depositions and interrogatories, but also looks at such things as appellate reviews of discovery orders and discovery of trial preparation materials from another party. As with the two books already mentioned, the table of contents is well laid out and the index is massive. In addition, Purdom has included more than 40 forms that are useful in the discovery arena.

For the civil litigator, West has yet another Georgia-specific book : Georgia Practice and Procedure. This book was originally published in 1948 by another publisher. It is now part of the West library, and Richard C. Ruskell has written the 2005 edition. Although the book includes many of the topics also included in Trial Handbook for Georgia Lawyers, Ruskell goes much further. He delves into causes of action, the court system, and the formal aspects of the judiciary (although he does not deal with subtle intangibles such as home cooking or closed-mindedness). He also incorporates topics such as enforcement of judgments, extraordinary remedies, and limitation of actions. Perhaps the most useful part of all is the eight-page timetable and checklist found at the end of the book. How convenient to have all of the time-sensitive deadlines gathered in one place! Errors and omissions insurance carriers should republish this list and distribute it to all Georgia attorney clients.

It is not the point of this article to sell you one of these particular books. Unless you happen to practice in Georgia, they will be of little or no use to you. But West publishes state-specific books in all jurisdictions, including yours. In many instances, West has acquired the rights to a book long used in a jurisdiction, found a new author when necessary to update the subject matter, and continues to publish new editions. The next time you are considering an addition to your library, check out and see what is available in your jurisdiction.

Martha J. Church is a sole practitioner in Atlanta, Georgia, whose practice is focused on wills and estate planning and who may be reached at .

Copyright 2007

Back to Top