The CanLII user group tour came to Calgary last night. It was a great opportunity for us westerners to see what is coming down the pike from the innovators at LexUM. Simon live blogged from the TO meeting and of course CanLII is often discussed here at Slaw, but I want to revisit one part of the new services currently in beta – CanLEX.
CanLEX is a a website which hosts some open APIs (application programming interface) that give tools for, among other things, automating links to the CanLII Reflex citator within a users documents.
The Reflex-API allows you to hyperlink your documents to legal information freely published on CanLII. By automatically adding hyperlinks to case law and legislation available online, the Reflex-API provides the ability to quickly identify and access the legal sources to which your documents refer. Unlike similar products available on the market, the Reflex-API links to freely accessible content, thus its consultation requires no subscription from users.
There are many options for using the process. Pierre-Paul Lemyre demonstrated pushing up a copy of a whole document, or a piece of text, to a secure, encrypted server which runs the API then returns the linked document as a result. There is also the ability to integrate the Reflex API into your own architecture. A very nice toolbar is available for Word 2007 users. CanLII is not storing user information, but rather processing and returning it with appropriate security protocols so confidentiality of the document contents is not a concern.
Similar citation linking tools have been offered by commercial legal publishers. Carswell offers CiteLink Canada and LexisNexis offers Quickfind with Autolink. These tools offer links back to the service which provides the application for no charge, but requires an account and in a firm, might invoke a client disbursement each time a case is linked to from a document.
Congratulations to CanLII for this latest round of innovations. I am looking forward to the official release.