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Earlscourt Legal Press at 20

One that got away

In my time at Carswell (now Thomson Reuters) I took a very aggressive approach to product development and was never very happy when an author signed with another publisher. Even more distressing was a decision by an author to go his or her own way and self publish a title that was originally published by Carswell. I always believed that publishing with an well established major legal publisher was the key to acceptance by the legal community and the key to commercial success. I was wrong.

One request by an author for the return of publishing rights came from Paul Ceyssens in 1997. Carswell had published “Legal Aspects of Policing” not long before, but fell short of his expectations. At the time, Carswell was undergoing the first of many reorganizations that came with its acquisition by Thomson. Serial editorial restructuring based on the latest fad weakened the company’s performance as a print publisher. In the marketing department, resources were directed from selling books to grandiose corporate branding schemes. Who can forget the money spent on dropping the Richard de Boo name and linking it’s turkey feather logo to Carswell, and the seemingly endless changes to the Carswell name that followed before it was dropped altogether in favour of Thomson Reuters. What a waste. In any event, the publishing rights were returned to the author.

The birth of Earlscourt Legal Press

When he was writing Legal Aspects of Policing, Paul’s writing mentor told him that once he had completed the first book, he would want to write a second. He did not believe him at the time. Little did he know that he would not only author other books, but become a publisher as well.

Simply put, Paul’s experience with Carswell had been a disappointment on every front. The author thought that he could do better. Setting up at home with his late wife, Laurel Bauchman, Paul proceeded to self publish and then double sales in short order. Paul used the old-fashioned way that the late Stuart Morrison believed to be the only effective way to sell a law book – describe the product in a brochure and get it in the hands of the likely buyer. Brochures describing the products were prepared and faxed directly to prospective customers with an order form. The orders poured in and Earlscourt Legal Press was born.

Smart Choices

Twenty years later Earlscourt Legal Press continues to flourish. It does so because of the smart choices it has made since, in marketing, in editorial production, and in maintaining the original vision that Paul had when he decided to publish on his own.

Keeping the marketing of the books simple was not the only smart choice made by Earlscourt Legal Press. Keeping the company small and personal was another. Expanding the publishing program with a close knit group of authors who wanted the experience of writing in a small and informal publishing environment, free of the demands for growth for the sake of growth that characterizes the major legal publishers. Updates to loose-leafs and new editions of bound titles could be published when the content needs to be updated, not merely to generate revenue. Contact with customers was and is direct.

Managing the number and size of loose-leaf updates is another factor in the company’s success. While some may discount its importance, the supplementary content of a legal publication matters. The credibility of a legal publication in print is of course based on the quality of the publication, but it is traditionally enhanced by the inclusion of Tables of Cases, Tables of Statutes, Indices, as so on. However, once a publication is established in the market, the value of these enhancements is lessened. Experimentation becomes an option. Earlscourt has innovated in this respect by making updated case tables available for free on its website, and thereby forgoing the temptation to increase the frequency, size and cost of loose-leaf updates with content of lesser value than the text itself. In this way, customers benefit in having access to the information without having to pay for it.

Going Digital

Digital is a challenge for all publishers of legal treatises and monographs, but especially for small publishers like Earlscourt Legal Press. The pressure to offer digital versions of publications is a constant in today’s environment but making the right choice in a small market is critical. What the customers say they want and what they are prepared to pay for are not the same thing. One has only to recap the history of the numerous failures by the major legal publishers to see how difficult it is to get it right.

What’s next

Although not actively looking to acquire further titles, Earlscourt Legal Press would consider an author with a promising proposal. Maintaining its character is deemed to be a priority and that is likely the key to its continued success. Twenty years on, Paul Ceyssens has shown that he did the right thing when he took things into his own hands. A coherent vision, smoothly executed, has achieved results that the major legal publishers could only envy. Bravo!

APPENDIX 1

The Authors of Earlscourt Legal Press

Paul Ceyssens is the lead author of this team of authors. Paul is a graduate of the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria and is a member of the Bar of British Columbia and Ontario. Following an eight year stint at the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General, where much of his practice involved police related legal issues, Paul entered private practice on Saltspring Island with the firm of Ceyssens & Bauchman.

Rick Libman is a graduate of the Faculty of Law of the University of Windsor (LL>B>) and Osgoode Hall (LL.M., PhD). In 1996 he was appointed a Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice where he serves as Chair of the Rules Committee.

Sheilagh Stewart retired in 2017 as a Crown Attorney with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.

Scott Childs is a graduate of the Faculty of Law of the University of Windsor, a member of the Ontario Bar, with experience as a police officer, practicing as Crown Counsel with the Department of Justice, practicing as an Assistant Crown Attorney with the Guns and Gangs Task Force, and is now Counsel with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

APPENDIX 2

The List

Legal Aspects of Policing – Paul Ceyssens
Contents:
1. Overview of the Regulatory Process and Legal Status of the Police
2. Police Duties
3. Police Civil Liability
4. Provincial Police Commissions and Municipal Police Boards
5. The Police Discipline Process
6. Police Discipline Offences and Defences and Other Offences Related to Police Conduct
7. The Police Complaint Process
8. Administration of Police Forces
9. Rights of Police Officers

The Police Law Reports – Editor-in-chief Paul Ceyssens
Traditional full-text law report series featuring court and tribunal decisions from all the major areas of the legal regulation of police.

Libman on Regulatory Offences in Canada – Justice Rick Libman

Contents
1. Introduction
2. Overview of the Regulatory Offence in Canada
3 Legislative Procedural Regimes
4. Public Welfare Offences Involving Mens Rea
5. Absolute Liability Offence
6. Strict Liability Offences
7. The Defence of Due Diligence
8. Other Defences
9. Criminal Code Licensing and Regulatory Regimes
10. Charter of Rights Implications
11. Sentencing Issues and Remedial Measures
Bibliography
Index

Provincial Offences Procedure in Ontario – Sheilagh Stewart
A thorough and comprehensive treatment of the law on provincial offences, including the Contraventions Act.

Contents
1. Commencement of Proceedings by Certificate of Offence
2. Parking Infractions
3. Commencement of Proceedings by Information
4. Trials and Other Hearings
5. Consequences of Conviction
6. Reopenings
7. Appeals and Reviews
8. Municipal Transfer Agreements
9. Contraventions and Other Federal Offences

Ontario Police Services Act – Paul Ceyssens and Scott Childs

Detailed analysis of every section of the Police Services Act
Updated case law (to February 1, 2016) from the Court of Appeal, Divisional Court, O.C.P.C., and the old Board of Inquiry
Improved, updated and fully indexed penalty table for Part V of the Act (1984 to February 1, 2016)
Regulations in force as of February 1, 2016
Full text of O.C.P.C. Rules of Practice

Criminal Trial Rules in Provincial Courts in Canada – Justice Rick Libman
Contents
Detailed annotation of the Rules by Province
Rules of Professional Conduct
Digest of relevant judgments
Cross referencing
Practice Directions
Up-to-date jurisprudence
Charts
Summaries
Checklists

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