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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

So You Want to Be a Foreign Law Librarian

I became a Foreign Law Librarian by accident. I didn’t plan on being one. Yet here I am. How did it happen? How did I come to specialize in foreign, comparative, and international law librarianship? What’s it like to be an FCIL librarian? What are the career paths of FCIL librarians generally? Should you become a Foreign Law Librarian?

My general plan after I decided I wanted to be a law librarian was to work as a general legal reference librarian in an academic law library. In order to do that, I needed a library science degree and a law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Unrealized Potential of Courthouse Libraries

I’ve never had anything but the highest respect, admiration and regard for my colleagues in courthouse libraries; and, if I have any regrets about my career, one of them is that I never had the opportunity to work in a courthouse or law society library. Of all librarians, it is they who, through a network of almost 200 county courthouse libraries in Canada, remain closest to the practising legal profession. Private law librarians (ie, law firm librarians) are closely attuned to the practice in their firms, often specialized in one area of law (eg, labour or criminal or business law) . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

So There’s Been Some Buzz About Legal Data Lately …

It seems that interest in legal data has reached such a level of hype that people have started asking me about it unprompted, which is an interesting development. I had assumed that when I spoke to people about this I was buttonholing them, and that they wanted to be anywhere else and talking about anything else (except of course for Tim Knight, but that’s part of the reason we’re friends). It does make sense that it’s happening now. Legal data is interesting: it describes rules and systems that affect all our lives, it is commercially valuable, and it hasn’t . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

How Are Your New Year’s Resolutions Coming Along?

In the past I have vowed not to make resolutions that just get broken. At the end of last year I polled my Facebook friends to see what they suggested. The best idea came from my Canadian cousin Blaine. “Just have more fun in 2018.” Another suggestion I found online was to ask questions instead of making direct statements. My question was “how can I bring more joy into my life and the lives of others? “

So while I’m reaching out to my Facebook friends and family, I want to include you SLAW readers. One of the pleasant and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Law Firms Thriving at the Edge of Chaos

My new year’s resolution was to make more time to read for pleasure, principally to ensure I was switching off from work in the evenings and to get away from constantly looking at screens. It’s been a qualified success. I’ve just finished Michael Crichton’s “The Lost World”, which has got me thinking about dinosaurs and their extinction. Inevitably, though, I end up relating those thoughts back to work and law firm innovation for this column.

Operating under a business model that was originally designed for the horse an cart age, law firms are popularly misconstrued as “dinosaurs”, in the sense . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The INT-LAW Email Discussion List Migrates to Google Groups

On February 9, 2018, the Int-Law International Law Librarians list was migrated from LISTSERV to Google Groups. The migration was seamless. Joe Schumacher, the Int-Law list manager, did a great job of giving us advanced notice, migrating the list, and following up on any post-migration problems. The email address for posting to the Int-Law list remains the same. It’s been about a month since the migration. Below, I review the new features of Int-Law via Google Groups.

We learned that Int-Law was going to move to a new host when Joe Schumacher posted the following message on Int-Law on February . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Valuing Legal Information

The problem with trying to value legal information is that we mostly just talk about its price instead of its value. The value of anything is subjective, and correct legal information at the perfect time is worth a great deal, general legal information that isn’t needed at a particular moment is worth much less. This is important because the people who make decisions about how to fund legal information are often not the people who use it regularly and are generally not faced with urgent legal matters at the moment of making decisions about how much to pay for it. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

New Developments in International Legal Information Resources

The New Year is a great time to re-assess old legal research tools and review new ones, so here’s a look at some of the additions to and changes in international legal information resources in the past couple of years.

New resources include the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law (MPECCOL), Elgar encyclopedias on private international law and on international economic law, and Oxford International Organizations (OXIO)(freely accessible until July 2018). Also forthcoming from Oxford is the Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law (MPEiPro).

HeinOnline’s foreign, comparative and international law (FCIL) content was enriched by the additions of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Pulling the Plug on Big Tech

One of the biggest changes the technological revolution has given rise to is the rise of the dominant business model of providing free services to people in exchange for an extraordinary wide licence to exploit their data. There is a cost to us that we don’t see, but we are starting to see that it is having a large and incremental impact on our communities, our societies, and our lives. The “Big Tech” digital gatekeepers such as Facebook, Google, Snapchat, etc. refine and exploit our data and have by now laid waste to the advertising multiverse and turned that once . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

End of Year Legal Information Update From Washington, DC

Winter has arrived here with cold (for us) temperatures and some icy snow. But there is good news coming from some U.S. government information sources. In October the Law Library of Congress, where I volunteer, announced a new chatbot service.

“We are excited to announce the release of a new chatbot that can connect you to primary sources of law, Law Library research guides and our foreign law reports. The chatbot has a clickable interface that will walk you through a basic reference interview. Just click “get started,” respond “yes” or “no” to its questions, and then click on the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Canadian Law School Libraries: A Legacy – and a Future?

It has been several months now since I was nudged into an early retirement and left my position as Chief Law Librarian of Osgoode Hall Law School after almost 10 years there. This has afforded me some time to look back on my career in law libraries and to consider not only my accomplishments, however they be measured and judged, but also to reflect on the goals I was unable to realize and the projects that were left unfinished. I look back on this unfinished business not only out of a sense of personal regret. Osgoode offered me the opportunity . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

7 Reasons to Celebrate Legal Research and the Fact That It’s There to Stay

In his book What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly (the founding executive editor of Wired magazine) writes that:

History is rife with cases of misguided technological expectations from the inventors themselves. Thomas Edison believed his phonograph would be used primarily to record the last-minute bequests of the dying. The radio was funded by early backers who believed it would be the ideal device for delivering sermons to rural farmers. Viagra was clinically tested as a drug for heart disease. The internet was invented as a disaster-proof communications backup. Very few great ideas start out headed toward the greatness they eventually . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology