San Francisco Law Library’s law practice management collection

Here’s a wealth of information on starting and maintaining a plaintiff’s law practice

Marcia Bell
2009 March

One of the San Francisco Law Library’s special collections is the law practice management (LPM) collection, available for in-library use or for check out by attorneys who live or have an office in San Francisco. The LPM collection is a joint project between the San Francisco Law Library and the Bar Association of San Francisco Law Practice Management Section.

What’s in the collection?

This very specific collection of texts and CD-ROMs addresses the challenges of opening and running a solo, small or midsize law practice. Materials cover many practical topics, such as law firm finances, client development, attorney fees, billing, marketing your practice, rainmaking and issues related to life and work balance.

Benefits to plaintiff’s lawyers

The main function of the LPM collection is to provide important resources to support the substantive work of lawyering – legal analysis, advocacy and the many other issues associated with representing clients – along with the day-to-day and long-term management issues of running a viable law practice. As these issues change with the development of technology, the ups and down in the economy and various legal trends, the Law Library and Bar Association update the LPM collection to reflect these shifts in style and focus.

Specific resources

One of the most indispensible resources in this LPM collection is The Essential Formbook: comprehensive Management Tools for Lawyers. It is a four-volume set with accompanying CD-ROMs. The bland title conceals a wealth of practical information and forms; such as model partnership and organizational agreements, client intake forms, diverse fee agreements and engagement letters along with coverage of hiring, billing, collections and the very useful disaster planning strategies.

Other outstanding resources in the LPM collection include Flying Solo: A Survival Guide for the Solo and Small Firm Lawyer, 4th edition by William Gibson; How To Start and Build a Law Practice, 5th edition by Jay Foonberg; How To Get and Keep Good Clients, 3rd edition, by Jay Foonberg; and the Law Office Procedures Manual for Solos and Small Firms, 3rd edition by Demetrios Dimitriou. Another popular publication is How to Build and Manage a Personal Injury Practice, 2nd   edition by K. William Gibson. There are also materials on building client relationships, such as Through the Client’s Eyes: New Approaches to Get Clients to Hire You Again and Again, 3rd edition by Henry W. Ewalt and Andrew W. Ewalt.

The San Francisco Law Library always welcomes suggestions and proposals for the LPM collection, housed in the Financial District Branch location of the San Francisco Law Library, located in the Monadnock Building at 685 Market Street, Suite 420, San Francisco, CA 94105. To accommodate trial lawyers, the Financial District Branch Library is open nights and weekends. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

San Francisco Law Library

Brief summary of collection, database and Interlibrary Loan Retrieval program

The collection of the San Francisco Law Library may be searched through our online catalog at by title, author or keyword. When you find the item you need, the computer will display the location and the availability of the materials, as well as listing the date that the materials were last updated or the date that last volume was received.  You can export your search results by e-mail and renew materials online. The Law Library maintains an extensive and circulating print collection of state codes, professional practice sets, restatements and other core legal resources such as law reviews, texts and materials on a wide range of subject areas in American law.

If there is a resource that you need that the San Francisco Law Library does not have, the library staff can arrange for loans from other libraries, locally from the Hastings Law Library, and farther afield from such other collections as the Los Angeles County Law Library.

Free electronic databases

The San Francisco Law Library provides patrons with FREE access to Westlaw, Lexis, Shepard’s, CEB’s OnLaw (an online version of all of the CEB practice guides), HeinOnline, PACER, Fastcase, Martin Dean’s Essential Forms and Dissomaster.

HeinOnline is an enormous online database of law reviews, historical Federal Registers, the Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Agency decisions and other resources.  All of the materials are in PDF format, making them easy to e-mail and save electronically.

The CEB OnLaw database provides online access to all CEB practice materials, forms and action guides. OnLaw has a search capability across all materials, making searching for what you need quite simple. Members of the San Francisco Law Library’s Inter-Library Loan Retrieval Service (ILL) can telephone the Law Library and request a librarian to search the CEB OnLaw database to determine which CEB texts will best address the issues needing to be researched. (Information about the ILL service is described below.)

Archive Collection

The San Francisco Law Library collection also includes an archive of earlier editions of materials, including codes, regulations and a historical collection of California Chapter Statutes, California Administrative Registers, the Uniform Building Code and related codes, the Code of Federal Regulations and San Francisco municipal codes. The archive also includes earlier editions of works now reorganized, such as Witkin or Corbin on Contracts, to assist where the old citation given in relevant cases no longer corresponds to the newer edition. As a privilege of ILL membership, reference staff will e-mail or fax selections from these non-circulating archived materials.

How ILL will help

The program is formally called our Interlibrary Loan Retrieval program, or ILL, for short. By becoming an ILL member, you will receive a range of services, including reference assistance and the timesaving ability to call in requests for materials and have them packed up ready for pick up.

When someone from an ILL member firm calls the Law Library with a request, the library staff checks if the material is on the shelf, pulls the materials from the shelf, checks them out to the attorney and packages them for pick up by the attorney’s messenger or courier service. For larger practice sets, or for more complex research issues, the reference staff can also assist in selecting the particular volume for the subject at issue, or e-mail or fax the tables of contents or relevant index pages for the attorney to review.

All law firms that have an office in San Francisco are welcome to participate in the Law Library ILL program. The fee schedule for membership is based on the number of attorneys in the San Francisco office of the firm and is renewable each year. Sole practitioners and smaller law firms (firms with fewer than nine attorneys in San Francisco) may join by simply contacting the library and completing an application.

The Law Library’s ILL services are provided FREE to sole practitioners and small law firms as a courtesy and without charge.  Taking advantage of the San Francisco Law Library’s vast resources through this fabulous program will certainly benefit plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Marcia Bell Marcia Bell

Bio as of March 2009:

Marcia R. Bell is a licensed California attorney and serves as the Director of the San Francisco Law Library. The library is a
private non-profit corporation that provides services to the City and County of San Francisco and is open to the public. As is the case
for all California law libraries, the San Francisco Law Library is not part of the public library system and obtains its funding
from a small percentage of filing fees.
For more information, e-mail at To find out more about the Law Library’s resources, visit the
Web site at

Copyright © 2023 by the author.
For reprint permission, contact the publisher: