Single-Source Repository Streamlines Composition, Lowers Costs of Content Delivery


Composition Platform Integrates PDF and HTML


Since its inception in 1933, Practising Law Institute (PLI) has served professionals in law and related fields with the up-to-date information they need to maintain a professional edge. It publishes about 75 treatises and 200 course handbooks totaling about 250,000 pages each year. Besides printed material, content is distributed through the institute’s Web site and by third-party content aggregators. Adding to the demand are the increasing number of states that require lawyers to maintain minimum continuing education requirements.

With the volume of its publications growing by up to 10 percent each year, the institute librarians sought to keep pace with developing legal precedents without the risk and expense of developing new procedures and technologies internally.

How and why a precedent evolved over time can be crucial in determining its relevance to other legal matters. A method of sorting these data so the latest developments could be viewed in historic perspective would greatly ease legal research. The institute has a goldmine of data with its materials covering more than 70 years of legal practice. However, this library was comprised of hundreds of thousands of electronic documents, in several unrelated formats or as hard copy in print form. To mine its data, the institute needed to get all of its material into one standardized format that could be tagged, sorted and reused.


The institute turned to Innodata Isogen for its expertise in XML data conversion and for its XML-based publishing system, which utilizes the Hosted Composition Platform System. The system can provide composition design style sheets for publishing the institute’s treatises and books, while also integrating PDF and HTML material into the hosted platform, using the XSLT or extensible style sheet language transformation. This enabled them to be fully integrated with the printed data and tagged and sorted with XML.


Innodata Isogen worked directly with the institute to establish complementary teams of legal editors and content specialists. This enabled the data to be delivered for conversion to XML and returned to the institute, its accuracy verified with each exchange. Innodata Isogen also helped determine hardware requirements and modified its software as needed to meet the institute’s needs. Institute personnel were trained so future documents would seamlessly comply with the institute’s on-going publishing and content repurposing projects.

In phase one of the project, PDF and other documents were transferred to Innodata Isogen for tagging and conversion to HTML and then delivered to the institute’s Web site. Deploying the material through the Hosted Composition Platform provided the institute’s staff with a simple Web interface to submit data for conversion and composition on an on-going basis, and to get proofs and job status information on-line. The same Hosted Composition System is used for distributing their content to multiple third-party vendors. The vendors also benefit because the XML-based content delivered by Innodata Isogen can be easily integrated into their content system for further distribution.

Having phase one in place, with current treatises and handbooks tagged in XML, set the stage for meeting the institute’s goals to reuse its content through a single-source publishing initiative. By using a template-based approach that included a library of multiple formats, Innodata Isogen gave PLI a choice of choosing appropriate designs for individual products. The more robust Web-hosted service could be expanded with the conversion of legacy documents and the latest developments in legal arenas could be readily added to the already vast library of precedents. The flexibility offered through sorting and retrieving data for transformation and delivery supported its reuse in other electronic and print products as needed.


The institute is now providing lawyers and related professionals with the latest information on developments in their fields and simplifying research in the historic context of these developments. Cutting edge legal news and its analysis is readily incorporated into the minimum continuing legal education courses that lawyers must pass to retain their licenses. The institute can develop new products from the trove of legal data in its own vast library. And all of these improvements in service are accomplished in less time with lower production costs. Moreover, PLI has also increased the distribution of their content through third parties, an important goal for the organization.



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