March 17, 1999
The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) today joined Nolo Press in filing a lawsuit against the Texas Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee (UPLC) in Texas state court. The lawsuit seeks a judicial declaration whether Nolo, bookstores, and libraries can continue to sell and distribute Nolo publications in the state.
The lawsuit is an outgrowth of Nolo's recent struggles with a subcommittee of the UPLC, which is investigating whether Nolo may distribute its materials under the Texas unauthorized practice of law statute. The lawsuit also follows on the heels of a recent decision in which a Texas federal district court enjoined the sale in Texas of Quicken Family Lawyer, a computer program that automates the task of preparing legal forms.
Berkeley, California-based Nolo Press has been the leading publisher of self-help law books and software in the U.S. since 1971. Nolo Press publishes more than 120 titles -- books, software, legal forms, audio and video tapes -- and has over five million copies in print.
"Every librarian who serves the public uses Nolo Press and other self-help materials to assist those who want to do their own legal research. In my experience, Nolo materials are exceptionally clear and help to answer many common questions," said Keith Ann Stiverson, a member of AALL and Deputy Law Librarian at the School of Law of the University of Texas at Austin. "These materials are an essential part of public library and law library collections in Texas, and the public would be poorly served without them."
James Heller (Director of the Law Library and Professor of Law, College of William and Mary, Marshall-Wythe Law Library, Williamsburg, Virginia), President of the American Association of Law Libraries, maintains that "this is an important issue that goes to the essence of our association: the dissemination of, and access to, information. It's most appropriate that AALL should take a strong stand."
In addition to Nolo and AALL, the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Texas Library Association and six other Texas citizens who are Nolo customers or who rely on borrowing Nolo publications from libraries.
The American Association of Law Libraries was founded in 1906 to promote and enhance the value of law libraries to the legal and public communities, to foster the profession of law librarianship, and to provide leadership in the field of legal information. Today, with over 4,800 members, and nearly 220 members in the state of Texas, the Association represents law librarians and related professionals who are affiliated with a wide range of institutions: law firms; law schools; corporate legal departments; courts; and local, state, and federal government agencies. For more information, visit AALLNET, the official AALL Web site, at www.aallnet.org and http://www.nolo.com/texas/index.html.