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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Legal Information’s New Coke Moment

One of the high points of the history of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries – L’Association canadienne des bibliothèques de droit (CALL-ACBD) was the “Quebec Riot” of 1989. Carswell had changed the Canadian Abridgment over the prior years, and law librarians intervened to ensure the major reference source in Canadian law continued to work for researchers and libraries, which were the primary customers for the service

Part of this change was the result of a drive toward comprehensiveness and the resulting increase in volume of the books themselves, which no longer fit on libraries’ shelves, and the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Notes From Washington, DC

First I want to share the good news with you. The new Law Librarian of Congress, Jane Sanchez, started her new position the second week in February. You can find out more about her stellar qualifications here. And the weather in DC continues to be moderate with spring flowers emerging very early.

The bad news just keeps on coming, so I will share only some with you. The new administration has posted inaccurate texts of the President’s orders on their website. And much scientific and other information is disappearing from US agency websites. But even more disturbing is the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

If Only Law Firms Knew What Law Firms Know…

I was recently honoured with an invitation from Dave Bilinsky and Tom Spraggs to present at the Law Firm Knowledge Management webcast as part of the recent CLE TV Solo and Small Firm Seminar Series hosted by CLEBC. Having moved from running the Knowledge Management program at one of BC’s largest firms to practising law at an IP boutique this year, I possibly had a unique perspective to bring to the table.

I started the webcast with Lew Platt’s famous lament while CEO of Hewlett Packard, which is a kind of touchstone in Knowledge Management, and one I often hear . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Legal Research’s Easy Button Moment

I have been thinking of this blog post by Jean P. O’Grady from last September: “Lex Machina Launches New ‘Easy Button’ Analytics Apps to Compare Judges, Courts and Law Firms”. To my knowledge Lex Machina doesn’t literally call their system improvements an “easy button”, but the site developments and O’Grady’s description are symptomatic of this moment in how we discuss legal research: there is a desire to make legal research easier, and as technology improves this is becoming a reality.

In many cases this will be a great help to people who want to navigate the legal system . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Building and Maintaining a Precedents Collection – Part III

Creating a bank of precedents, whether for a law firm or an in-house department, is a significant challenge. In my previous posts (Part I – Getting Started and Part II – Crucial Elements), I addressed the major challenges involved in building a precedents collection. Maintaining your collection is an even more important, and daunting, task. That is the focus of this last one of the series.

Reasons for keeping your collection up-to-date. Your precedents will only be useful if those who might make use of them are confident that they are current. Once the text (of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Will Your New Year’s Resolution Be to Be More Organized and Productive?

I usually pledge to be more organized, but that goal gets lost quickly in the paperwork surrounding my desk and the messages clogging my email. Very recently I participated in an American Association of Law Libraries webinar on getting control of email. I was one of the many participants who had to confess to having over 1,000 emails in my inbox. And I was told by the presenter Randall Dean that the average person spends about two hours a day dealing with email and checks email up to 20 times per day. Dean is the author of a 2009 book, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Reports of the Death of American Law Firms Are Greatly Exaggerated

Data are recorded about much that we do these days. We all leave a digital trail. The resulting data are a rich source of insight, but in their raw form, they don’t tell us much. We need to analyze data properly and methodically to make sense of it.

The recent poor performance of opinion polls in both the UK’s referendum on remaining in the European Union (“Brexit”) and the US Presidential election left me wondering what they tell us about our dependence on data analytics? Sometimes the models, and the assumptions underpinning them, need to be questioned.

In the case . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Building and Maintaining a Precedents Collection – Part II: Crucial Elements

In my previous column, Building and Maintaining a Precedents Collection – Part 1: Getting Started, I reviewed the benefits and challenges of creating such a collection and noted several threshold issues. In this column, I will address certain elements that you will need to keep in mind as you attack this problem.

Contract maturity model. Kingsley Martin, in a three-part series of blog postings on the Thomson Reuters site (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), develops the concept of a “contract maturity model,” based on Richard Susskind’s analysis in his book The End . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The KF Modification: A Canadian Approach to Organizing and Understanding Law

Anyone who has studied law will have used a library at some point in their studies. If you studied at an American or Canadian university, it is likely that the library’s print collections were physically organized on the shelves using the Library of Congress Classification system (LCC), a subject-based classification scheme using a letter or combination of letters to represent a broad subject (eg, D for History, DA for British history, DC for French history) and a number between 1 and 9999 to represent a narrower topic within that subject (eg, DA 445 for the Stuart Restoration, 1660-1688, or . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Fall Information Update From Washington, DC

I’m back in DC after a lovely summer in Wisconsin and am catching up on the latest developments here. Our amazing U.S. election is finally over. Last spring I described the election as a circus. Actually it was not fun at all, but always surprising and often appalling to watch.

I have returned to my post as a volunteer at the Library of Congress, which has changed a lot over the summer. On September 14th Dr. Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress. On October 21st she removed Maria Pallante from her position . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Researching the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

I’ve been meaning to write about how to research the rights of indigenous peoples in Canada for Slaw for the longest time because it seemed like a hot issue and I thought a guide to legal information resources might be useful. However, I was thwarted first by what was the right terminology to use. Indigenous peoples? Native peoples? Aboriginal peoples? Indians? First Nations? Would I offend by using the wrong words? And who am I, a non-Canadian, non-indigenous person to write a research guide anyway? Maybe someone else in Canada has already written a guide? (The answer is yes.). But . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Data Visualization in Law Libraries

Data visualization is one of those phrases that is frequently heard these days. It’s a very interesting field; done properly, data visualization allows you to use charts, graphs or other visuals to put statistics into context far more easily than if they were in tabular format. The flip side is that if not done properly, data visualizations can be confusing or, even worse, misleading (as illustrated by this chart).

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Scott Berinato on “Visualizations that Really Work” talks about how visualizations enable us to use data to make . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information