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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

The Answer Is Blowing in the Wind

The front page of the New York Times for Monday, February 2, 2015 carried a story titled, “Fire at Brooklyn Warehouse Puts Lives’ Detritus on Display.” The article caught my eye for several reasons. A huge, aged warehouse on the Brooklyn waterfront that had been used as a site to store paper files belonging to a variety of local and regional governmental agencies that included courts and hospitals, burned in a mighty conflagration. Pieces of paper, bits of records, were blown into the sky by the fire and littered the surrounding neighborhood and shoreline. At first authorities were not overly . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

How to Find Cases in English Translation, Revisited

Back in 2012, I wrote a Slaw blog post on “Tracking Down the Brazilian Anencephalic Abortion Case, in English.” I thought I’d revisit this frequently-asked foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) legal research question and highlight key resources for English translations of case-law.

Generally, it’s difficult to find English versions of cases, but here are some standard tools for locating them by country and topic, as well as general strategies to use.

Research Strategies

Check if someone has already located an English translation of the case. Look for citations in full-text law journal and book databases, as well . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Value of Library Resources

The end of the year is budget season. For librarians, part of the budgetary process is looking at our collections, calculating how much it will cost to keep each service, print or electronic, and then deciding if the cost of the service reflects the value we get from that service.

When I look at what the value of an item is for my library, I consider a number of variables:

  • Current usage. Circulation statistics do not tell the whole story. Some lawyers use books in the library rather than checking them out. Other lawyers may take a book out
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information

Too Much Information; Can LibGuides Provide a Freely Available Filter?

Is there too much choice out there? Do we need 35 varieties of coffee? 46 cereal options? 17 brands of garbage bags? Over half a dozen sites to find US caselaw? At least the same number for cases from England and Wales? Did we ask for all this choice? And do we need it?

The longer I teach legal research, the more complex it becomes. Not the content, that’s pretty much as it always was. But getting to the right answer in a timely fashion depends on so many variables that it is no wonder eyes roll and heads shake . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Law Libraries, Data, Value, and Story Telling

Among the discussions about transforming the legal industry many librarians are considering ways to express the value of what they do and to explore ways to contribute. One of the elements that has been discussed is to provide more data to libraries’ parent organizations to quantify impacts of various interventions. This is a worthy goal, but it has been my observation that people often respond better to stories than they do to data, and that data, even when presented in a visually compelling way, doesn’t always generate the best stories.

Improved data collection is an excellent tool to accomplish many . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Legal Citation: Beyond the McGill Guide

This past summer, the Canadian legal profession was presented with yet another edition of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation/Manuel canadien de la référence juridique, aka the McGill Guide. This new edition, the 8th in 28 years (an average of one edition every 4 years since its first publication in 1986) was expected, though not anticipated with any enthusiasm. Fellow Slaw columnist Susannah Treadwell has recently posted a review of the work. It seems to me that the changes to the previous edition are few, inconsistent, and not obviously necessary (Another colleague has told me that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The McGill Guide and Electronic Resources

The eighth edition of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (“McGill Guide”) was published in May. The new edition does not make any changes quite as dramatic as in the previous edition; if you were reading SLAW four years ago, you may remember there was a strong reaction to the removal of periods from citations.

A welcome element in the eighth edition is a greater focus on citing digital resources. The two sections of the McGill Guide that primarily deal with electronic resources are section 1.6 (“Online resources”) and section 6.22 (“Electronic sources”). Other information on citing electronic resources . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Markers Along the Way

Looking at events with a long-term perspective has been a primary strength of library professionals from time immemorial. Preserve the intellectual heritage of the past, protect the information of the future: that has been one of the profession’s purposes. It is a perspective that is seldom fashionable. Change, constant change, is now part of our daily expectations. As former United States President Dwight D. Eishhower supposedly once said, things today are more like they are now than ever. (Someone else said if first, but the image of President Eisenhower pontificating is a pleasant one.) The pace of change in 2014 . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

A National Holiday, a Sports Team’s Name, and Researching Native American Law

In the United States we recently celebrated Columbus Day on October 13th. The day was established in 1934, as a national holiday to celebrate the Italian-American heritage of exploration; then was moved to the second Monday in October in 1968. Its celebration has become controversial, however, because Columbus did not in fact discover America and his arrival unleashed genocide against the indigenous people already living in the Americas.

This year both Seattle and Minneapolis celebrated the day as “Indigenous People’s Day”. Since 1990 the state of South Dakota has called this second Monday in October “Native . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Cape Town Convention

In September the third conference on the Cape Town Convention took place at the Law Faculty in Oxford. This treaty deals with international interests in mobile equipment, and was adopted in late 2001. There are three protocols, dealing with aircraft and aircraft engines; rail and space. The details of dates and entry into force can be located on the Unidroit site. The CTC is one of the most successful commercial treaties, having been ratified by 60 countries already.

My interest in the Convention comes about from the project that is associated with it – the Cape Town Convention Academic . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Some Thoughts on Legal Technology and the Amish

For my vacation this summer I traveled to Amish country in Ohio where we were given a tour of an Amish furniture manufacturing business and welcomed into an Amish home for a meal. It was a thought provoking and humbling experience to see a community that has so successfully and for so long decided how it wants to live and refused to accept the idea that the way the rest of society lives is inevitable. It made me think about the ways the legal community approaches technology and how technological change can be handled.

I had never had exposure to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Parlez-Vous Français? How to Practice Your French, and Other Foreign Language Immersion Tips

I’ve been trying to prepare for the IFLA conference in Lyon, France for months. IFLA is the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and I don’t recall ever attending one of their meetings. But I thought this year, it’s in France, and in Lyon. My first name is Lyonette – it’s fate! And the IFLA Law Libraries Section has been offering great sessions on authentication of and access to digital legal information (such as official gazettes) in various regions of the world. I could look forward to immersing myself in French culture, speaking French, and learning about new developments . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information