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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Let There Be Light – the Primary Function of AI in Legal Research

Imagine a library that tried to save money by relying on candles instead of electricity. Any dollars saved come at the expense of knowledge lost. Without adequate light, the contents of a library are as inaccessible as if the doors were closed.

In the world of legal information, light comes to the “library” through indices, key number systems, topic digests, abridgments, and more. Digitization, electronic access, multi-field search, hyperlinks and boolean logic add more light, but are still merely candles.

Candles are discrete tools designed to provide light only within a limited range of where the candle is placed. Compare . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

How the Florida Supreme Court Prevents “Link Rot” in URLs Cited in Its Opinions

On Sept. 23, 2013, the New York Times published an article with the headline, “In Supreme Court Opinions, Web Links to Nowhere,” by Adam Liptak. The article stated that a recent study had found that 49 percent of the hyperlinks cited in US Supreme Court decisions no longer worked.

The article cited the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as a potential model for other courts. That court maintained an archive of .pdf versions of all websites and documents cited in its opinions, at https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/library/webcites/. (These are now available via PACER since Jan. 1, 2016.) The article also . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Why Publish With CanLII?

Publishing can sometimes feel like a daunting prospect. Today, we have the ability to make information available to the world easier than ever before, bringing the process of publishing closer to it’s authors. At CanLII, we want to make sure our process is visible, approachable, and maintains a high standard, so that authors can be excited to use our platform, participate in our programs, and feel proud to share their work.

We’re ready

Over the past year, CanLII has gone through some changes. Internally, our team has grown, with a focus on publishing and increasing awareness of our collection and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Who Should Be in the International Law Librarians Hall of Fame?

In 2010, when the American Association of Law Libraries inducted 78 law librarians in its inaugural Hall of Fame, I noted in a Slaw article that eight of them had made major contributions to the profession of foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) librarianship. And I wondered what criteria could there be for induction into an International Law Librarians Hall of Fame, and who would be initial inductees. Jolande Goldberg was on that list, and she was inducted into the 2019 AALL Hall of Fame this past July. It’s been almost 10 years, so I thought I’d revisit my list. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Summer Update From Washington DC

I’m spending this summer by the shore of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But I did go back to Washington, DC for the 112th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), held from July 13 to 16. Despite the usual hot and humid weather, the meeting was well attended and quite stimulating.

I spent a considerable amount of time in the Exhibit Hall, meeting vendor friends and colleagues and catching up on the latest updates. The news that might be of the most interest to you is that access to the Indigenous Law Portal, which was . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Artificial Intelligence and Bias: Social Impacts of a Technical Solution

One of the substantial concerns about the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal space is about bias, and evidence has shown that this concern is warranted. Given the urgency of this topic as these systems are being sold and deployed, I was happy to be able to speak about it at the Canadian Association of Law Libraries Conference in May and the American Association of Law Libraries in July. Here are some of my thoughts on AI that may not have made it into the presentations.

First some discussion of AI itself — while it’s fun to talk . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Picturing the Law, Part Two: Collecting Illustrated French Law Codes

Recently, Becky Beaupre Gillespie, the University of Chicago Law School Director of Content, published a story on the collection I’m building titled “The Cartoonists’ Guide to Law: D’Angelo Law Library’s New Collection of Illustrated Legal Codes Offers Insight into Statutes and Society” (July 8, 2019)(also published at the University of Chicago Library News site, July 18, 2019). It is the culmination of several years of trying to hunt down and acquire hard to find copies of foreign law codes illustrated by Joseph Hémard and others.

So, how did I go about identifying and acquiring these illustrated law codes? . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Not Your Grandparents’ Civil Law: Decisions Are Getting Longer. Why and What Does It Mean in France and Québec?

(I’m very pleased to welcome Antoine Dusséaux from Doctrine as a guest contributor on this post. You can read more about and from Antoine below.)

Given my job (CEO at CanLII – saved you a click ) and law degree from a civil law program, I often get to talk about the differences between legal information in Québec compared to the rest of Canada.

I was an intellectual property (IP) lawyer before joining CanLII and although I wasn’t a litigator per se, I was routinely involved in IP cases before the Federal Court. Before that, I did a bit of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

The Death of the Reference Collection

It was a slow death. I should have seen it coming. First, the reference collection was right across from the reference desk – visible, in plain sight, and easy to get to. There were all these reference tools right there, in physical form. And then we weeded the reference collection. Moved some books to the regular stacks, and the remaining collection away into the main reading room area, so it took multiple, intentional steps to consult the books therein. And so it came to pass. The collection gathered dust as we forgot them or found other ways to obtain the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

It’s Springtime in Washington, DC

The cherry blossoms are finished this season, but new information continues to come out from U.S. government sources. I may have been hibernating over the winter, but my colleagues at the Law Library of Congress have been very active. Their November posts included many updates to Congress.gov and in December they celebrated the sixth anniversary of Congress.gov with an annual over view update.

Their January post featured the “Unified Congressional Committee Calendar, where you can quickly view all of the House and Senate committee meetings and hearings scheduled for a given week or day”. February’s post includes . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

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