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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

So I Spend a Lot of Time Thinking About Clothes . . .

When I taught a course on legal information last summer appropriate dress in a legal environment was a topic of some interest to those starting their careers. And as I find recent conversations about feminism and clothes to be quite interesting, I thought I would write out my thoughts in more detail.

There is reasonable concern about the different ways women and men are discussed and judged in relation to what they wear, and there are certainly biases observed in the ways they are treated. While I have observed that men do get a certain amount of the benefit of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Link Rot: the Problem Is Getting Bigger, but Solutions Are Being Developed

Wikipedia defines link rot as “the process by which hyperlinks on individual websites or the Internet in general point to web pages, servers or other resources that have become permanently unavailable.” Link rot is common throughout the online world. It is particularly troubling, however, when it occurs in legal materials where researchers seek to find important items that are no longer at the cited URL.

One early project to combat this problem began in 2007. The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group “features government, policy, and legal information archived from the Web through a partnership between state and academic law libraries.” This . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Summer Student Training: How Much Is Too Much?

The beginning of May marks the arrival of summer students in law firms. My firm, like many others, includes library training as part of the first week’s summer student orientation. Summering is often the first real exposure that law students have to legal research in a real world context, so it is important to ensure that the students have access to the information and the library tools they need to make the summer a success.

What do they already know?

Library training is a delicate balance between providing too much information and not enough. When designing training, we need to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Some Musings on Knowledge Management

Lately I have been thinking about knowledge management (KM) and how difficult it seems to be to implement effectively. From my perspective looking in (unless you count CanLII Connects as a national KM initiative), it seems there are many issues with the way KM is conceptualized that make it more difficult to implement successfully than it has to be. Generally in legal settings the main goal is to improve practice, which can be achieved in many ways, some of which involve knowledge. Starting with framing practice issues generally as knowledge problems can put too much emphasis on certain activities and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

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