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Archive for September, 2012

The Causality Game

When I use a word, said a famous literary character, it means exactly what I say it means, nothing more and nothing less.

The same principle applies to statements of the Supreme Court of Canada. The Court made that abundantly clear in the intervener’s failed attempt to get a rehearing of the Court’s decision in R. v. Marshall, [1999] 3 S.C.R. 456, 1999 CanLII 665 in R. v. Marshall, [1999] 3 SCR 533,  1999 CanLII 666.

But, as Marshall shows, if there’s a dispute about what the Court meant, we don’t get to find out the Supreme . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Legal Research Gone Viral

If a brilliant legal treatise is composed by an academic but nobody reads it, does it really matter?

A study last year by Mark Bauerlein looked at books and essays in English literature at several public American universities, and found the vast majority attracted very little attention from other academics. Other research suggests that up to half of university library holdings are never used. There’s no reason to believe that these patterns in library use are any different in the legal field.

Of course despite my initial premise I do believe in the inherent worth of even obscure legal research . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Legal Information: Publishing

A Picture = 1K Words

The old saying goes that a picture is worth 1000 words, so if your amicus brief was limited to five pages at roughly 250 words a page you would have 1250 words to state your position (after previously submitting a 25 page brief -6250 words). For an in-depth legal position such as an ebook price fixing case, 1250 words is very little so if you have the ability why not harness the power of a picture being worth 1000 words and submit the equivalent of a 11250 word brief?

That is exactly what Bob Kohn did in submitting his brief . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law

Collaboration Without Coordination

In this Clay Shirky talk at TED Global, he describes how democratic principles of freedom of expression and engaged citizenship can be enabled online by the use of “distributed version control”, or software that allows “collaboration without coordination.” This is a funny and thought provoking talk, urging people to seek, as he puts it, not only a dashboard from their governments, but also a steering wheel.

The main barrier to this development is expressed concisely in this image:

. . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Technology: Internet

The Friday Fillip: Hip, Hip, Hooray?

Are you now or have you ever been a hipster?

Hard to tell, perhaps. And maybe, too, a label you’d like to avoid, because there’s a bit of social opprobrium out there aimed at hipsters. Not of the McCarthyite kind, of course; more of a wave of disdain and ridicule.

I’m clearly ok. Although, at first I was worried because a pork-pie hat seems to be part of the uniform and I do own one of those. And thick-rimmed glasses very like my own are in with that crowd. But then I learned that plaid is big with hipsters, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

You Might Like … a Moment Alone With Clouds, Emma, Quartz, Yourselves, Testudines, LEGO and More

This is a post in a series appearing each Friday, setting out some articles, videos, podcasts and the like that contributors at Slaw are enjoying and that you might find interesting. The articles tend to be longer than blog posts and shorter than books, just right for that stolen half hour on the weekend. It’s also likely that most of them won’t be about law — just right for etc.

Please let us have your recommendations for what we and our readers might like.

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous, Reading: You might like...

Too Much Focus on Goals Can Get You Into Trouble

Juliet is a new partner with a corporate finance and securities practice. Over the past seven years she has honed her legal skills and has developed the trust of her partners and clients. She is a perfectionist at heart and has a killer eye for detail. She will do whatever it takes to get the deal done and still regularly pulls all nighters.

She has tried working with juniors but the delegation hasn’t worked well. The work product she gets back is not up to her standards and it seems like it takes more time to fix the mistakes than . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Wikipedia, Inspiration, and Secondary Sources

I enjoyed reading Philip Roth’s “Open Letter to Wikipedia,” published earlier this month in The New Yorker‘s Page Turner blog, from which flowed amendments to a Wikipedia entry.

In quick summary, as I understand events: Mr. Roth read a Wikipedia entry on his The Human Stain. He noticed “a serious misstatement” about the inspiration of the story. He petitioned Wikipedia for correction of the entry on his novel. Correction was not immediately granted. The New Yorker published Mr. Roth’s Open Letter. This letter recounted Wikipedia’s explanation that Mr. Roth, the author, “was not a credible source: . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Reading: Recommended, Technology: Internet

Interview With Congress.gov Information Architect Meg Peters

Last week, fellow Slawyer Kim Nayyer wrote about the launch of the new Congress.gov in Washington. It will eventually incorporate the well-known THOMAS federal legislative information website.

Earlier this week, In Custodia Legis, the blog of the Law Library of Congress, ran an interview with Meg Peters, an Information Architect in its Office of Strategic Initiatives. She is part of the team that designed the new site.

Since October 2010, In Custodia Legis has been running an interview series featuring members of the library staff. There are over 80 interviews in the series so far. The Law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Law Students – Stay Calm and Carry-On

This week, it was (on campus interview) OCI week at Western University Law School with law firms recruiting for summer jobs in 2013. For those who don’t know, students who don’t get a summer job are less likely to get an articling position, and those who don’t get an articling job are unable to practice. Not to put too fine a point on it but, 13% of students in Ontario last year did not get articling jobs. So the pressure on students can be immense.

Some students missed my class due to this time-honoured rite of passage that was only . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: Law Schools, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Supreme Court Strikes Blow Against Cyberbullying

The Supreme Court of Canada has just released the decision in A.B. v. Bragg Communications Inc. 2012 SCC 46 permitting a 15-year-old girl to get the identity of her persecutor from a Nova Scotia service provider and yet remain anonymous.

An unknown person created a fake Facebook profile of the girl that was unflattering and contained explicit sexual references. Facebook eventually removed the profile and rendered up the IP address associated with the account. The local N.S. service provider agreed to give information about the holder of the account if authorized to do so by a court. The girl, through . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions