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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Seeing Red: The McGill Guide, 10th Edition

Disclaimer: I am required to teach legal citation to keen 1Ls that are learning about snails in bottles, individuals masturbating in windows, cannibalism at sea, and cricket games. I am never surprised that they do not find legal citation particularly exciting. However, unexciting does not mean unimportant. I understand and value proper citation and appreciate the efforts that McGill Law students and faculty have put into the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation since 1986. Please note that my comments address only the English content.

Slaw is no stranger to posts about the Canadian Guide . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Advocating for Open Access to Legal Information

Librarians and information professionals often play a role in advocating for the open access (OA) to information. I consider myself one of those advocates and will discuss what I think that means.

My OA journey began in an academic environment with the open sharing of research and educational materials, and the enthusiastic promotion of Creative Commons (CC) licences. Later experience outside of an academic institution showed me that “open access” can be applied to all types of materials, incorporate different kinds of open licences while respecting copyright law, use intricate business models, and involve competing ideologies.

If we look back . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Fall Update on Legal Information From Washington, DC

The U.S. Congress may not be getting much done, but the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Law Library of Congress continue to work on making U.S. legal information more accessible. On September 15th the GPO announced that it had “digitized the Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, a historical list of publications the Federal Government produced from 1895 to 2004, as well as other historic government publication indexes. Librarians, scholars, students, and the general public can use these indexes to find historic publications of the U.S. Government. These indexes have been digitized and published for the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Being on-Time for a Student-Teacher Meeting Is an Important Skill

Each semester my students must meet with me to discuss their research, and each semester I put a great deal of thought into how to arrange these meetings. I love the individual attention I can give each student in these meetings, and yet, scheduling these meetings always feels like a nightmare. Sometimes I think I have not properly explained the parameters of our scheduling system, but more often it is their lack of attention to detail that leads to my students showing up late, scheduling meetings when they are already scheduled to be in other classes, or otherwise failing to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

How Data Analytics Can Change the Way Law Firms Do Business

This submission is part of a column swap with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) bimonthly member magazine, AALL Spectrum. Published six times a year, AALL Spectrum is designed to further professional development and education within the legal information industry. Slaw and the AALL Spectrum board have agreed to hand-select several columns each year as part of this exchange. 

A recent Law.com article by Dan Clark highlighted a startling finding: “General counsel are increasingly looking for law firms that can collect and deliver data so corporations can improve their decision-making about risks and spending. But they are often . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Open Legal Publishing and the Time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to how essential many things that we generally take for granted are. I don’t think we’ve ever spoken so much about what we actually need and what we don’t, and it begs the question: what do we all do that is genuinely needed?

In March 2020, we started an internal conversation about what CanLII could do to help ensure that Canadians could access the resources they needed, and how we should respond to the crisis. In the end, we came to the conclusion that while there were particular things we could do, generally we . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Tracking International Current Events: Social Media Focus on Nicaragua and Haiti

Information on social media platforms can be an incredible source to keep track of rapidly evolving situations throughout the world. Particularly, when national governments control and manipulate all sources of information, social media can truly become the only unbiased and trustworthy source, especially for those of us following a situation from the outside. As a law librarian, I must also warn of the pitfalls of not properly vetting and evaluating both the source and information found on social media platforms. Making sure that the information you read and the sources you follow on social media are both reliable and legitimate . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Do Law Students Understand Jurisdiction, or Do We Just Assume They Do?

One of the biggest gaps in the first year law student’s ability to find a legal answer is the professor’s assumption that the average citizen (or beginning law student) understands the court system and the hierarchy of jurisdiction. Perhaps I am particularly ignorant, or perhaps the paucity of lawyers in my family left me prone to mistakes on this topic. Now that I teach research, I think about the mistakes I made in my first and second year and wonder how many of my students are suffering under similar misapprehensions.

This is a common danger for a teacher; as you . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

My Last Virtual Conference?

From Friday July 17 through Friday July 23 I participated in the second virtual American Association of Law Libraries annual conference. I watched a number of excellent programs on a variety of subjects. What was missing however were the chances to catch up with friends and colleagues in the exhibit halls, the corridors, and the meeting rooms. Also missing were the receptions and happy hours and the chance to see a slice of the convention city. Last year we missed meeting in New Orleans and this year in Cleveland. Right now the plan is to meet in person in Denver . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Using Social Media for Government Research

Government information is ubiquitous in social media platforms. Government agencies at every level (federal, state/province, country, city) share a significant amount of information and data on social media. Some agencies even have several different social media accounts where they disseminate different types of information depending on the nature of the institution or department. Elected officials speaking on behalf of the government or the public office they represent behave no differently. Some of these government officials and lawmakers have had multiple social media accounts, each for the previous elected positions they have occupied. It has become increasingly difficult to differentiate information . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Could You Build a Law Library From Nothing?

I have worked in several law libraries, and I can remember the way each one felt when I first saw them; full of beauty and potential, but completely overwhelming. With each new library I would take a tour while someone knowledgeable about the collection explained where various things could be found, and each time I tried to take it all in, knowing full well that it would be months before I would feel confident that I could find anything. A new collection feels like a massive challenge to learn, and while I’m finally feeling more confident in my current position, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

PRIDE in the Courts: Judge Deborah A. Batts

Let me tell you about someone I met a couple of years ago. Her name was Judge Deborah A. Batts. In 1994, the Honorable Judge Batts became the first openly gay person to be appointed as an Article III federal judge in the United States. She held this position for over 25 years in the Southern District of New York. As part of the library team in my previous position, we commemorated her 25 years of service with a candid interview during the 2019 Pride month with her fellow openly gay judges also at the U.S. Courts for the Second . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information