Around for more than thirty years and often mistakenly* called "listservs," email lists were for a long time the most productive way for groups of people to argue and exchange ideas on the internet. We've touched on them on Slaw a number of times, particularly in the writings of Lyonette Louis-Jacques, the "queen" of law lists, her most recent contribution on the subject being A Few Good (Email) Lists.
As Lyo says in that piece, we might imagine that this tired old format is "pretty much dead." But in fact, she came up with a dozen or so email lists of value (almost all of them of interest principally to law librarians). And I in fact belong to two quite lively email lists, which more about below, and which got me thinking about the continuing value, particularly for lawyers, of this kind of "forum."
For privacy and ease of use, nothing can really beat an email list, where lawyers are concerned.
As the publisher and editor of Slaw, I'm aware of every comment made by our readers, usually wishing there'd be more of this rich source of intelligence forthcoming. I realize, though, that for many if not most lawyers, "going public" with a written thought, even a fairly anodyne one, is a step made only after hesitation and careful consideration: clients, law societies, colleagues, senior partners, judges — anyone who matters might read what you've written and have a negative reaction; the risk, though slight, can make commenting publicly a game not worth the candle. Moreover, because lawyers still live in the bosom of email (in gremio . . . nubibus?), flicking the reply switch to answer an email list "posting" is easier than just about anything technically; whereas to comment on a blog post (even one received via an email subscription) means working on the web, which is still, I think, a vaguely suspect place for lawyers.
So are there good email lists out there for lawyers?
The two I belong to are active and very stimulating indeed:
- ULC_ECOMM-L A list managed by John Gregory about electronic commerce (his posts to which can be read on Slaw)
- CMLETHICS-L A list managed by Adam Dodek about legal ethics (see this CALE blog post)
Here are leads to a few others I've found, some of which will be more active than others:
- The Canadian Bar Association has five national email lists (all of which require membership)
- National Alternate Dispute Resolution Section
- National Elder Law Section
- National Privacy Law Section
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference
- The National Citizenship & Immigration Law Section is broken down into
- CBANCISM – a national list open to all CBA members, and five provincial member lists:
- There are sixteen CBA-BC email lists
- Administrative Law Section - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Business Law Section - email@example.com
- Civil Litigation Section - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Criminal Justice Section - email@example.com
- Employment Law Section - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Family Law Section - email@example.com
- Immigration Law Section - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Intellectual Property and Technology Law Section - email@example.com
- Labour Law Section firstname.lastname@example.org
- Law Practice Management Section email@example.com
- Real Property Section and Commercial-Real Estate Section - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Refugee Lawyers Group (Immigration Law Section Subgroup) - email@example.com
- Wills and Trusts Section - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Women Lawyers Forum - email@example.com
- Work Life Balance Section - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Young Lawyers Section - email@example.com
- The Criminal Lawyers Association has a national "e-mail discussion group" for members only.
- The Trial Lawyers Association of BC has a couple of general lists and seven subject-matter email lists, a few of which are for members only (but membership is a better deal than a non-member fee):
- TLABC Trial Practice (members only)
- TLABC Paralegal & Legal Assistants Network
- Criminal Defence Group (CDG)
- Commercial-Corporate Litigation Group (CCLG) (members only)
- Family Law Group (FLLG)
- Employment Law Group (EmpLG)
- Estate Litigation Group (ELG)
- Plaintiff Medical Negligence Litigation Group (PMNLG) (members only)
- Plaintiff Personal Injury Litigation Group (PPILG) (members only)
I'd appreciate any additions or corrections you might have to this list, as well as any thoughts about the usefulness of any I've mentioned. If it seems sensible, Slaw might maintain a list of lists, organized geographically and by subject matter.