CanLII Needs Our Feedback

As Slaw readers know, the Canadian Legal Information Institute – best known by its acronym CanLII – is Canada’s paramount portal for free access to Canadian legal information. It’s administered by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and funded by a levy on individual lawyers through the Barreau and the provincial and territorial law societies. As I continually tell legal audiences it’s the best bargain that lawyers get for their fees.

Now Canlii wants our help. Colin Lachance and his colleagues are engaged in a strategic planning exercise and have asked CorbinPartners Inc. to conduct an online survey to gather information about our needs and concerns as users. Our feedback is essential to CanLII’s future directions.

For purposes of obtaining statistically reliable results, invitations were sent to a scientifically chosen random sample of Canlii users.

If you weren’t picked for the survey, you can still do so. Just write a note to and you will be added to the sample group, as part of a special “additional-volunteer” segment.

The survey takes about 10 minutes and will be open to Friday of this week – July 6, 2012.

If you have any questions, please contact



  1. David Cheifetz

    I continually tell legal audiences it’s the best bargain that lawyers get for their fees.

    It must be because CanLII cites seem to vanish from the list of parallel cites in some paper journals published by commercial competitors who charge for access to their case law databases. I won’t point fingers.

    The saving grace, in the instance I have in mind, is that the publisher had the grace to not substitute its own online citation. I think substituting an obscure paper-series citation for a commonly used CanLII citation is the wrong apporach, but then I’m not in the business of trying to squeeze (soon to be extinct) pennies from stones.

  2. Colin Lachance

    Thank you, Simon, for the post drawing attention to our survey.

    Lawyers, and Quebec Notaries, interested in confirming whether they are part of the random sample are encouraged to check their email for an invitation from their home law society. You may need to check your spam filter as we have heard of some instances where the invitations have not been received.

    Law Society of British Columbia
    June 11, 2012
    June 25, 2012

    Law Society of Alberta
    June 25, 2012

    Law Society of Saskatchewan
    June 14, 2012
    June 28, 2012

    Law Society of Manitoba
    June 12, 2012
    June 25, 2012

    Law Society of Upper Canada
    June 12, 2012
    June 24, 2012

    Chambre des notaires du Québec
    June 11, 2012
    June 26, 2012

    Barreau du Québec
    June 21, 2012

    Law Society of New Brunswick
    June 11, 2012
    June 26, 2012

    Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
    June 11, 2012
    June 29, 2012

    Law Society of Prince Edward Island
    June 11, 2012
    June 25, 2012

    Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador
    June 11, 2012
    June 27, 2012

    Law Society of Yukon
    June 13, 2012
    June 25, 2012

    Law Society of the Northwest Territories
    June 12, 2012
    June 25, 2012

    Law Society of Nunavut
    June 11, 2012
    June 26, 2012

    Response rates thus far vary across the country, with the three territories leading the way and few more on the verge of our target threshold.

    As Simon notes, CanLII is funded by individual lawyers and notaries through their law societies. As such, this survey is uniquely focused on them. Last fall we conducted a two-week open survey to gather broad feedback. And plans are under development to solicit views of other legal professionals (notably, law librarians) through a subsequent effort that would be tailored to the perspectives and interests of those groups.

    Cheers and thanks to all participants.


  3. Gary P Rodrigues

    Simon, don’t you mean “marginal” rather than “paramount” in terms of use by the legal profession when compared to the commercial legal publishers competing services? If not marginal, then possibly some other more modest claim is appropriate.

  4. Hi Gary,

    We are anxious to uncover the appropriate adjective through the survey.



  5. No Gary I stand by my description Canada’s paramount portal for free access to Canadian legal information. If the commercial publishers want to enter the space of free access to Canadian legal information, bless them.

  6. Gary P Rodrigues

    That is my point. The two major commercial legal publishers provide staggering amounts of free access to judges, students and professors. Also, one cannot ignore the Raw Judgments service available from MLB.

    The percentage of total free usage on the commercial services would blow your mind. It is a key reason why CANLII has had so little impact in among legal researchers. It remains a nice to have rather than a must have source.

    The future of CANLII is in developing unique value added and secondary content as well as in dramatically expanding the scope of its primary data. Much still needs to be done.

  7. Perhaps “open” access rather than “free” access would be a satisfactory adjective.