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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

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

Working Toward a Random Sample in Law

As more scholars are looking at doing statistical of case law, I wanted to give some advice on how to do that given the way court decisions are written and published.

The first thing to understand about a dataset of case law is that it is not representative of a sample of all the matters that appear before the courts. Jury verdicts and many oral reasons in various areas of law are never written down, so they are not distributed to CanLII and other publishers. This is particularly common for routine issues in areas law like criminal, family, or small . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

We Built This City (Library)

Civic pride has been riding a bit of a high in Calgary recently, and it has naught to do with any professional sports franchise, annual rodeo or the swell of nostalgia roused when considering a possible Olympic bid. The cause for such a recent surge was actually the opening of the new Central Library on November 1. Winning further accolades from some was the fact that the project ultimately came in $10M under budget. While one must admit that the new central library is not perfect in all ways, it is fair to say that in a word, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Fall 2018 Information Update From Washington, DC

I got back to DC in time for the 2018 Federal Depository Library Conference, held October 22 through 23 in Arlington, Virginia. This was an opportunity to learn about the latest enhancements to the Government Publishing Office’s U.S. government information platform, govinfo.gov . This platform has replaced their FDSys.gov which will be offline by the end of this year. There will be redirects from the PURL’s to the new location of the content.

Their new content includes statute compilations for major legislation, eight new courts added in the U.S. Courts collection, and the Congressional Directories for the 115 . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

New Book: The Fundamentals of Statutory Interpretation

Below is an excerpt from the introduction of my new book that will be published by LexisNexis on November 30. More information about this book can be found here.

There are times when judges interpret statutes in ways that defy common sense. A notorious example was raised during the Senate confirmation hearings of eventual U.S. Supreme Court appointee Neil Gorsuch in which he was pressed by Democratic members to defend his dissent in Trans Am Trucking. In what is known as the “frozen trucker case”, he denied a trucker the benefit of protective legislation permitting an employee to . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information

The First Step Is Admitting We Have a Problem

Is there one right way to research the law?

No.

Do most of us know the best? the most? or even a handful of useful search strategies? Almost certainly not, according to a few recent studies. As one of those studies highlight, even those who do probably aren’t sharing strategies in any event. These studies paint the picture of a profession that plops a few words into a single search engine, relies heavily on the machine to sort the results returns, and then stops looking within a few minutes having grabbed a few documents that look useful.

There are valuable . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Publishing