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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Moving Closer to Organizations’ Core Businesses

I somewhat shamefacedly enjoy reading professional advice books (and fashion advice books, but I wrote that column already), and one of the most memorable pieces of advice I recall was that regardless of what career path one chooses, in order to have the best career prospects, one should aim to work in an organization’s main line of business. There is generally have more room to advance as an accountant in an accounting firm than in the accounting department of a company that primarily does something else. This is reflected in the different career paths and experiences of lawyers who . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Launch of New Legal Innovation Centre

On June 22, 2015, I attended the launch of what is described as an “industry cluster,” LegalX. The launch took place at, and was sponsored by, the MaRS Discovery District. Based in Toronto, MaRS “is one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs… It provides expert advice and market research, and makes connections to talent, customers, and capital.”

The official announcement of the launch states that LegalX is “dedicated to moving the legal sector forward through enterprises — whether startup or established corporates and law firms — LegalX at MaRS will connect the technologists, designers, coders, engineers and lawyers . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Asleep at the Wheel

In 1987, those roseate times before social media and Google searches, Dr. James Billington was appointed the United States’ Librarian of Congress. The appointment did not bode well. My voice was part of the outcry over the fact that at a crucial juncture for the role of libraries in the world, a person was taking the helm who was neither a librarian nor an information professional. The New York Times, which I had always viewed as the sage voice of national reason, opined that the job was too big for a librarian. It called for a scholar like Dr. Billington. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Libraries – the Value of Just in Case, Not Just in Time

I am using the column this time to explain my anxiety that society risks losing too much as the materialism of ‘value’ replaces the experience of centuries of unquantifiable practice and purpose.

It is my concern that too many libraries are under threat from the bean counters. Libraries have always existed as places for the ‘just in case’ event, providing the go-to location when you want sustenance of the mind in some way – knowledge, leisure, curiosity, information, entertainment.

However the world is in thrall to the ‘just in time’ mentality of financial wunderkinds who do not value those ‘old . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Curse of Loose­-Leaf Law Books

At the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries last May in Moncton, one of the keynote sessions was on The Future of Legal Publishing. The keynote speakers were Robert McKay and Jason Wilson, moderated by Gary Rodrigues – all fellow Slaw columnists. The opinions offered by these legal information industry experts were informed, insightful and fascinating, and the audience – a roomful of law librarians – was completely engaged. Though each of the speakers had his own vision of law publishing’s future, all were unanimous on one point in particular: there is no future for loose-leaf . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Locating Current Constitutional Texts

In 2014, Egypt, Thailand, and Tunisia adopted new constitutions. On June 1, 2015, Norway amended its constitution to codify judicial review. Recent constitutional developments and events like these generate documents that can be hard to find. The texts of proposed amendments to constitutions, draft constitutions, and recent constitutions can be published in a variety of sources. These documents might not exist in English translation, but only in the original language or vernacular. Herewith some tips for locating new constitutional texts.

The standard sources for constitutional texts are regularly or continuously updated, yet they can be at least a year out . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Summer Updates: MOOCs, Congress.gov and UELMA

Summer is just beginning and I have a little extra time to follow up on some of my earlier columns. As usual I am focusing on open access resources for the frugal learner and researcher. I wrote about massive open online courses (MOOCs) two years ago and have been taking these free courses ever since.

My favorites so far have been the University of California at Berkeley’s Science of Happiness and Harvard University’s Poetry in America series. I most recently completed Poetry in America: Emily Dickinson. Both of these courses are offered by edx and I recommend them as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

How Will We Find What’s Outside Our Walled Gardens?

I have been thinking about discoverability of legal information materials for some time and worrying that in many cases it isn’t as good as it could be. At the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Moncton last month the exhibitor hall was full of people with the goal of selling attendees information products in various forms. There were fewer people there with the goal of helping make those purchased materials accessible once they are acquired.

Legal information materials’ primary users have generally been subject experts (of various degrees), and this has meant that there has been less pressure to improve . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Copyright and Clarity

I recently took a course on copyright law. A number of the questions that came up during the course could not be answered with a simple yes or no; often the answer was “in this circumstance, you should talk to a lawyer.” The course made it clear that there are many misconceptions about copyright. For example, several people taking the course believed that you could freely use copyrighted materials if you were not profiting from your use of these materials.

The copyright questions that librarians have to wrestle with often fall into the grey areas of copyright law. As a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Losing the Past

Are you working in a firm that has gone through a merger, or been rebranded through a takeover? Have you had occasion to look on the web and try to locate the old firm by name or by its URL? In most cases if you do this, you will no longer find the websites which once displayed the proud information of the firm, its partners and its achievements.

Why has this happened? In most instances when a firm is merged or subsumed with another, or becomes part of a new network, it is thought to be bad for client relations . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Preservation Week: Pass It On!

The American Library Association has declared the week of April 26-May 2 to be Preservation Week. In recognition of this event, I thought I’d take the opportunity to present Slaw’s readers with an overview of some of the large-scale partnerships, projects and initiatives working to preserve our print heritage, particularly in law. As you’ll see, there’s lots going on, though Canada’s barely at the party.

Centre for Research Libraries, JSTOR and the JSTOR Print Archive

One of the leaders in developing and encouraging collaborative partnerships for the digitization and preservation of our print heritage is the Center for Research . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Digitization of Print Materials: A Solution in Search of a Problem?

Over the past few years “But can’t you digitize this [and throw away the original]?” has joined “but isn’t it available electronically?” as a justification for getting rid of print library materials.

While there are advantages to having materials in digital format, the digitization process should not be treated as an easy way of reducing a library’s physical holdings. University libraries have been carrying out interesting digitization projects for some while now, but smaller libraries may find digitizing material more challenging since they do not have the same resources to call upon.

Before starting a library digitization project, there are . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information