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Selecting Cases for Print Case Law Reporters

There has been much discussion on SLAW on the state of print case law reporters in the age of online judgments (click here for some of these posts).

For other research I am conducting, I obtained a photocopy of an article by Paul Perell (now a judge) from 1991 in the Legal Research Update quarterly newsletter (circa 1986 to 1996, RIP) called “Selecting Cases for the Ontario Reports.” In that article, (the now Mr. Justice) Perell lists out the six criteria for case selection as suggested by a Butterworths editor in England:

A case will be reported if:

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Racing to Nirvana – Legal Research Edition

Will Amazon start delivering packages before you order them? They’re getting close.

Will your autonomous vehicle know your destination before you tell it? Probably, if you are sticking to a routine.

Will legal research databases give you what you need before even you know what that is? Don’t bet against it.

In Tim Knight’s recent Slaw post on the black box of artificial intelligence, he talked about the importance of understanding the “how” of the underlying algorithms as we become more reliant on both their results and their predictive capabilities. Unsaid but implied in Tim’s post was that, yes, these . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Sacred Book – Maybe!

The author Naomi Baron in her book “Words Onscreen: The fate of Reading in a Digital World” includes the following quote at page 198:

“The book as such is sacred. One does not throw books away”.

Naomi Baron states that the Germans and the French “don’t throw out …. bread and books.

But consider that many law libraries are now computer rooms. And some libraries are destroying books. A professor at the UNB law school told me that their library has shredded a series of print law reports. Also an Ontario bookbinding firm told me that Queen’s University is now . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Innovation and Case Law Reporting

 Matt Ridley wrote a book titled The Rational Optimist that was published in 2010.

Ridley is an English journalist with an education in science. In his book he is concerned with the origins of the prosperity that exists in the world, arguing that the road to prosperity began with exchanges that resulted in a benefit to both parties, including barter, a method of exchange that can be done without money. In many exchanges both parties may feel that the other is overpaying. Over time increases in exchanges resulted in specialization followed by innovation. Ridley states that the ever-increasing exchange of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

New Editions of Three Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guides — a Review

New editions of three Canadian legal research guides are coming out this summer, in time for the 2010/2011 academic year. Each is reviewed individually below, followed by some general comments. The books reviewed are:
Legal Research and Writing, 3rd edition, by Ted Tjaden
Legal Problem Solving – Reasoning, Research & Writing, 5th edition, by Maureen F. Fitzgerald
The Practical Guide to Canadian Legal Research, 3rd edition, by Nancy McCormack, John Papadopoulos, Catherine Cotter

Legal Research and Writing, 3rd edition

by Ted Tjaden
published by Irwin Law, 2010
price: $48.95
ISBN: 978-1-55221-175-2
Companion website:

"A sophisticated . . . [more]

Posted in: Book Review

Proliferation of the Citation of Unreported Judgments in Judicial Decisions

I was in an interesting discussion today with colleagues on whether there has been a proliferation of the citation of unreported judgments in judicial decisions in Canada and whether this was a good or bad thing.

The context is this: in the good old days of print case law reporters (e.g., Dominion Law Reports or Ontario Reports) when life was much simpler, qualified editors chose to publish only the significant or important decisions. As such, you knew that when lawyers and judges cited precedent to print case law reporters there was some semblance of authority or quality in the precedent. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Paper Copies for Courts

I posted on SLAW over one year ago on the issue of Copies of cases for court – official print reporters versus online versions.

I continue to hear of a “preference” for copies of cases photocopied from print case law reporters, often in terms of “the judge prefers print copies.”

Although Simon Fodden correctly pointed out in a comment to that post that the Ontario Court of Appeal formally allows electronic versions of cases, as per s. 10.5 of their Practice Direction Concerning Civil Appeals in the Court of Appeal, is there a need for the Ontario legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Canadian Legal Publishers Meet With the Toronto Area Law Library Community

The Toronto Association of Law Libraries (TALL) held an event on Thursday evening at the University of Toronto Law School called Charting Our Course: The TALL Publishers’ Forum.

The publishers panel was comprised of representatives from CCH, Irwin Law, Canada Law Book, Carswell, LexisNexis and SOQUIJ. TALL had provided them a series of questions in advance and those questions were posited at the session, covering such issues as open access, pricing, licensing, digital rights management, and customer support. To their credit, the publishers participated despite being potentially exposed to a crowd of law librarians who have been concerned over . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing

Digital Ontario Reports?

On behalf of trees everywhere I have made an initial inquiry with the powers that be asking why the weekly paper part of the Ontario Reports is not distributed only in digital format.

Although this issue may of less interest to those outside of Ontario, it does raise questions that are regularly discussed on SLAW.

Background: Members of the Law Society of Upper Canada receive a weekly paper part of the Ontario Reports as part of their membership fees. It contains (in this order): a Table of Contents with brief details of typically 5 to 7 cases per weekly . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

PDF Imaged Copies of Case Law in Online Databases

At last week’s monthly meeting of Toronto legal research lawyers we discussed the availability of online PDF’ed versions of judicial decisions that have also been published in print by the publisher.

In the States, for example, decisions from the West National Reporter Series are available online on Westlaw in a text/HTML format, and – for an extra charge – as PDF versions which are exact copies of the print version.

In the U.K., there is that provides PDF versions of the official U.K. Law Reports, in addition to HTML versions (and their HTML versions are great because they insert . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Challenges of (Combined) KM and Library Services in a Law Firm

I am currently struggling with a challenge (but it is a good one).

The challenge is in having to combine Knowledge Management duties with Library Services duties in a law firm setting. In many (if not most) firms, the positions are split and separate. For now, I am (in theory) divided 50% between each function. A colleague with a financial background put his understanding of the situation in these terms: KM is all about harnessing the “internal” information (getting and organizing law-related information that is in lawyers’ heads and in their documents) whereas Library Services is all about the “external” . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Friday Fillip – the Simpsons and Legal Research

As many SLAW readers likely know, Fox’s “ The Simpsons” includes a number of great legal references, primarily through the character called Lionel Hutz, a.k.a Miguel Sánchez, as the “law talking guy” (voiced by the late Phil Hartman). One of Lionel Hutz’s scenes even has him talking about legal research. In the episode “Flaming Moe” (where Homer accuses Moe of stealing his cocktail recipe), Homer and Marge consult Lionel Hutz for legal advice:

Marge: So, Mr. Hutz, does my husband have a case?

Hutz: I’m sorry, Mrs. Simpson, but you can’t copyright a drink.

Homer: [whines]

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous