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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Artificial Intelligence and Bias: Social Impacts of a Technical Solution

One of the substantial concerns about the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal space is about bias, and evidence has shown that this concern is warranted. Given the urgency of this topic as these systems are being sold and deployed, I was happy to be able to speak about it at the Canadian Association of Law Libraries Conference in May and the American Association of Law Libraries in July. Here are some of my thoughts on AI that may not have made it into the presentations.

First some discussion of AI itself — while it’s fun to talk . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Picturing the Law, Part Two: Collecting Illustrated French Law Codes

Recently, Becky Beaupre Gillespie, the University of Chicago Law School Director of Content, published a story on the collection I’m building titled “The Cartoonists’ Guide to Law: D’Angelo Law Library’s New Collection of Illustrated Legal Codes Offers Insight into Statutes and Society” (July 8, 2019)(also published at the University of Chicago Library News site, July 18, 2019). It is the culmination of several years of trying to hunt down and acquire hard to find copies of foreign law codes illustrated by Joseph Hémard and others.

So, how did I go about identifying and acquiring these illustrated law codes? . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Not Your Grandparents’ Civil Law: Decisions Are Getting Longer. Why and What Does It Mean in France and Québec?

(I’m very pleased to welcome Antoine Dusséaux from Doctrine as a guest contributor on this post. You can read more about and from Antoine below.)

Given my job (CEO at CanLII – saved you a click ) and law degree from a civil law program, I often get to talk about the differences between legal information in Québec compared to the rest of Canada.

I was an intellectual property (IP) lawyer before joining CanLII and although I wasn’t a litigator per se, I was routinely involved in IP cases before the Federal Court. Before that, I did a bit of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

The Death of the Reference Collection

It was a slow death. I should have seen it coming. First, the reference collection was right across from the reference desk – visible, in plain sight, and easy to get to. There were all these reference tools right there, in physical form. And then we weeded the reference collection. Moved some books to the regular stacks, and the remaining collection away into the main reading room area, so it took multiple, intentional steps to consult the books therein. And so it came to pass. The collection gathered dust as we forgot them or found other ways to obtain the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

It’s Springtime in Washington, DC

The cherry blossoms are finished this season, but new information continues to come out from U.S. government sources. I may have been hibernating over the winter, but my colleagues at the Law Library of Congress have been very active. Their November posts included many updates to Congress.gov and in December they celebrated the sixth anniversary of Congress.gov with an annual over view update.

Their January post featured the “Unified Congressional Committee Calendar, where you can quickly view all of the House and Senate committee meetings and hearings scheduled for a given week or day”. February’s post includes . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Pricing of Legal Information

In some sense, much of the practice of law, legal publishing, law libraries, and related organizations are the selling or exchange of information. Lawyers take elements of existing documents and other sources of information, whether primary law or commentary, and analyze them in light of their knowledge and expertise to create advice and work products like contracts, and services like navigation of the court system. In turn, legal publishers and libraries produce and present these documents in a way that is designed to facilitate finding the information in the most efficient way possible.

Information is known to be an interesting . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Law Firm Publications: Moving From Marketing Tool to Legal Information Product

The law firm newsletter has long been a mainstay of client engagement and business development at law firms. As firms moved from paper brochures to electronic communications, readership statistics became increasingly accessible, but the news was not always good.

Whenever there is a significant case or legislative amendment, law firms race to send out an update, but we hear an increasingly common lament, “nobody reads our legal updates”. According to Mailchimp benchmarks, the legal industry is slightly above average with a 21.14% open rate and 2.71% click through rate. While not the worst statistics – there are industries which fair . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Marketing

Ask an International Law Librarian

Have you ever had a difficult foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) question and didn’t know who to ask for help, where to begin to look, what resources to use? After consulting local resources first, including your nearest FCIL librarian, you can check GlobaLex legal research guides, contact FCIL specialists on the INT-LAW listserv, or consult with country/subject experts listed in the AALL FCIL-SIS Jumpstart directory and guide. And you can use “Ask a Librarian” services for reaching international legal information specialists such as Ask DAG, Ask a Law Librarian (of Congress) – and Chatbot?!, and Ask a (Peace Palace) . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Leaks to Media May Decrease After Vice Media Decision

The two biggest political scandals in the news right now – the Mark Norman trial, and the Trudeau/SNC-Lavalin controversy – were exposed by a reliable source who secretly shared information with a journalist. Increasingly this is only viable way that scandals are brought to the public’s attention in this country.

More traditional methods of uncovering corruption – access to information laws, and whistleblower protections that are supposed to encourage employees to disclose wrongdoing – are increasingly irrelevant. As to the former, we know that much information is categorically off limits, delayed, destroyed, not recorded, or access . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Ethics, Legal Information

The Right to Be Forgotten – Insights From Germany

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have set the basic framework for the right to be forgotten. Recent case law from Germany offers an insight into its application on the ground.

The right to be forgotten as initially created in the Google Spain case (C-131/12) and now further developed in art. 17 GDPR provides data subjects with the right to have their personal data erased by a data processing controller (most prominently search engines) under specific circumstances. For search engines, though, balancing the diverging rights and interests of publishers and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

TORY the Robot and Other Highlights From the IALL Conference in Luxembourg

The IALL conference is one of my favorite meetings to attend. The International Association of Law Libraries’ 37th Annual Course on International Law and Legal Information took place in Luxembourg, from Sunday, September 30, to Wednesday, October 3. I’d never been to Luxembourg before, but will make up any excuse to go again! The theme was “Law in Luxembourg – Where Local Tradition Meets European and International Innovation.” The programme for the 2018 IALL meeting was wonderful as usual – educational, enlightening, and entertaining. I met a robot, TORY! I encourage everyone, even though you do not specialize in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

CanLII’s Future as a Canadian Primary Law Cooperative

“[T]here is a need to unbundle CanLII’s data if the full potential of innovation in legal information is to be realized.”

“[T]hrough 13 [now 19] years (from concept to today) and over $20M [now $40M] of investment from Canadian law societies through the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, [CanLII] has built up a solid lead and in the “free access to law” business and its central position may now be having a negative effect on innovation in legal information.”

Nearly 6 years ago, as President and CEO of CanLII, I wrote those words here on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology