'White Book' on disc

Helen Sage reports

The contents of the three volume 'White Book' – 'The Supreme Court Practice 1995', have been transferred to a single CD-ROM disc.

Publishers Sweet & Maxwell commissioned Cascade Systems to produce a version of its Media Sphere software specifically for the digital version of the publication.

The disc can be accessed by anyone with a networked PC and CD-ROM drive and will allow quick reference to information on up-to-date rules, practice directions, statutes, forms and case materials.

The system enables users to look up and browse material on screen; provide immediate cross-referencing between all the parts of the work via full use of hypertext links and offer intuitive searching facilities, as well as being a portable alternative to the printed version.

Publisher Dick Greener says: "The appeal of CD-ROM is across the profession. Our research shows many lawyers are already taking advantage of the speed and flexibility offered by CD-ROM technology – the digital edition of the 'White Book' is a natural for them. And of course the role of information technology is under review."

Gary Kay, the IT manager for litigation at Linklaters who tested out the 'White Book' CD-ROM in its final stages of production, says: "I think the idea is a useful start towards creating books on screen. However, there are still a few loopholes – the searches give too many results and it doesn't look like the actual book when it's on the screen. I don't think it will replace the book in its present format and it may be difficult to get people to use it."

Jonathan Isted, Freshfields' litigation manager, says: "Of the litigators' standard texts the 'White Book' is the most useful to be put onto CD-ROM. The big test is whether it can deliver real improvement in efficiency in legal research as well as the obvious convenience of an electronic version.

"The crux of its success will be the efficiency of the hypertext linking. If they get that right then the hard copy could become a thing of the past."