Slaw is Canadian, co-operative, and about any and all things legal.
Since 2005, Slaw.ca has been Canada’s online legal magazine, written by and for the Canadian law community: lawyers, librarians, technologists, marketers, students, educators and everyone in between.
With perspectives from academia, law firms, non-profits, regulatory bodies and beyond, Slaw explores how law is practised, how it’s taught, how the industry is changing, and what the future might hold.
Slaw is considered essential daily reading by many in Canadian legal circles. With more than 2 million visits per year, our readers make up a loyal, curious, and engaged community.
Who is Slaw?
Simply put, Slaw is both its writers and its readers. It’s a community. Our model as a legal publisher is a bit unconventional, but it works.
Our contributors are recruited from across Canada (and around the globe) because of their expertise and interest in writing about the law. Over the course of the last thirteen years, we’ve steadily grown, both in our range of topics and number of contributors. As of early 2018, we routinely operate with a crew of twenty-one weekly bloggers and sixty bi-monthly columnists.
While many of our core writers remain Canadian, we have also strategically recruited expert contributors from beyond our borders. Mostly from other common law countries, of course, but our authorship also reflects a few ex-pat Canadians and a various subject experts willing to share their insights on the practice of law.
Slaw’s audience primarily consists of lawyers, law librarians, and those working in or studying law. Our aim has always been consistent: to share knowledge, to offer advice and instruction, and to provoke “smart conversations.” The proof is in the numbers: readers have posted nearly nearly 20,000 approved comments on more than 15,000 entries. All told, Slaw draws a million page views every month.
In short, we do our best to honour Simon Fodden’s original vision of a “grassroots web-publication for the legal industry”.
(If you’re interested in a deeper dive on our numbers, we invite you to check out our readership survey.)
The Genesis of Slaw: “It’s Slaw, You’ll See”
The overwhelming success of Slaw is something that none of us really predicted — though, given the heart and soul that we poured into it, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Here’s a look back at the origins of this remarkable website we’re proud to be the stewards of.
It was June of 2005 when Simon Fodden first issued his invitation to a small group of early Canadian law bloggers, exploring to see if there was any interest in starting a co-operative weblog. With the help of Simon Chester, Connie Crosby and myself, we began sharing resources and ideas on using the internet and technology for legal research and knowledge management, though our scope quickly grew to encompass most things that someone working in law would find interesting.
Within a few months we had more than a dozen contributors. Looking back at the posts published in that first year, you get the sense that nothing and everything has changed. The internet of things, linkrot, whether wikipedia is reliable, anonymity on the web (or what to do if you spill pop on your keyboard!) … at the time these topics were somewhat novel, and though the conversations have changed, they are perhaps just as relevant today.
Our name was Simon Fodden’s doing. When asked “Why Slaw?”, Simon would often respond “Because law.ca was already taken.” Or sometimes he’d say that the name “Slaw” fit perfectly into the crop of popular news websites whose names started with “s” (Salon, Slate, etc.). Or because our members’ contributions were a unique jumble of small pieces, just like a salad. But of all of Simon’s responses, my favourite was simply this: “It’s Slaw, you’ll see. That’s why.”
And Slaw it is. Many of the bloggers who wrote for Slaw in its earliest days continue to be connected to Slaw in some capacity. After nine years of creative building, “Simon F.” retired in 2014, and my company, Stem Legal, assumed the role of Slaw publisher.
Our dear friend, clever colleague, and wise leader Simon passed away in February 2018. The loss leaves a huge hole in our collective, but we are honoured to continue Simon’s vision of facilitating smart, informed discussions about the law.
And looking back now, the final words of Simon’s invitation seem auspicious:
“I think there’s a gap in the Internet here that we should fill in a typically Canadian way — by group cooperation. And, who knows, it might be fun.”
I am honoured to continue in the role of Publisher, and hope to carry on the expansion of our engaging writers and to make Slaw’s voice even stronger!
— Steve Matthews, Publisher