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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Finding Point-in-Time-Legislation

Sometimes you need to know how an act (or a specific section of an act) read at an earlier point in time. It may be to confirm that the relevant portions of the legislation have not changed, to determine how a contract should be interpreted, or for some other reason.

Finding a point-in-time version of an act can be a challenge. Fortunately a number of electronic services offer point-in-time versions of legislation, although few of these services go back more than ten years. There are three main sources for point-in-time legislation: government websites, Quicklaw and CanLII.

The federal government provides . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Trend Spotting or Why I Hired a CI Librarian: Part 2

Co-authored by Anh Huynh, the Competitive Intelligence Manager at Davis LLP

To recap from Part 1, you are asked by a lawyer to get everything about a company. We have pretty much decided that this approach is not the most effective. The requestor will simply have too much information and will not know how to proceed. See Part 1 of this article, to get the reasoning for such a statement.

On the other hand, given the same scenario (a lawyer asks: “Find out everything you can on company x), what would you do if you were a CI pro? . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Globalisation, Publishers and Some Unanswered Questions

We all agree that the publishing world is at a crossroads, and that it faces multiple challenges. The challenges come not only from the increase in digital formats, the preferences of a majority of Amazon customers for e-books over real books, or the decline in (real) newspaper purchasing. It also comes from people who have so many alternative forms of entertainment and activities that they no longer read much anymore.

For legal publishers there are added difficulties. After growing on the profits of a captive market through the publication of serial resources such as law reports and looseleaf titles, both . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Apples, Oranges and Legal Citation Practice

I have been prompted to write this column by several recent posts on Slaw: Gary Rodrigues’s column “Reality Check: Fact, Fiction and Case Citations”, and more recently, Susan Munro’s “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Neutral Citation”. With the new fall term just beginning, and thousands of first-year law students across the country entering upon legal studies; and with the student editors of the McGill Law Journal preparing yet another new edition of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (incredibly, the 8th since its first appearance in 1986), I thought it an . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Finding the Law, R.I. P.

When I went to work for Professor Morris Cohen at Harvard Law School in 1978 to serve as Deputy Director of the Library, he talked with me about joining him as co-author of How to Find the Law, the West Hornbook on legal bibliography and legal research that had already passed through seven editions. It was a standard work. Edition seven had a variety of authors writing individual chapters, with Morris both writing and serving as general editor. Now he wished a more cohesive approach, with the two of us as principal authors, relying on others to check us,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information

A Few Good (Email) Lists

I thought electronic discussion groups or listservs were pretty much dead back in August 15, 2005 when I retired my “Law Lists” guide. Sure, a few good email lists were still thriving, but so many more had disappeared or become virtually useless. I became interested again in the state of listservs when Greg Lambert questioned their 21st century relevance in his June 2009 AALL Spectrum article: Where Do Listservs Fit in a Social Media World? The networking tool of the 90s is starting to show its age. Greg concluded that we shouldn’t retire listservs yet because, while they have . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Future of Cost Recovery

For most law libraries, the percentage of the library budget representing subscriptions to online databases has been increasing. Many of these subscriptions represent multi-year contracts and there is little flexibility in the contracts to accommodate budget cuts.

For law firm libraries, one way of alleviating the effect of the increasing cost of these databases is to pass some of it on to clients. How this is done varies amongst law firms; some pass on all online costs to clients, some charge back a percentage of costs, and some just treat them as overhead. My 2011 survey of Vancouver-area law firm . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Three Global Resources

The UK summer of sport was to be my topic this month, but Michel-Adrien has done a far better job than me recently in SLAW, so I take this opportunity instead to shamelessly promote three resources our staff provide for the use of the global legal community. The services are indexes to legal information which may be difficult to locate in other ways. The first is an index to the title, author and subject of legal dissertations written around the late 19th / early 20th centuries, which we call our Foreign Dissertations Database.

The second is an . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Trend Spotting or Why I Hired a CI Librarian

Co-authored by Anh Huynh, the Competitive Intelligence Manager at Davis LLP

There are fads and good ideas: distinguishing between the two is not easy, but that does not mean we should not be willing to try something new. By informing ourselves, reading the pulse of our institution and using our own good judgement, we are more than prepared to identify an unmet need in our information services and how to fill it.

A number of years ago I kept hearing about CI (Competitive Intelligence). I read articles, went to sessions at conferences and was generally finding that CI was moving . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Rise (And Fall?) of Class Actions: Comparative Law Resources

Some Slaw readers may soon become members of a class that is suing one of the leading sources of online legal information in Canada. In 2010, Lorne Waldman, a Canadian attorney, filed a statement of claim against Thomson Reuters Corporation for infringing Waldman’s moral right to control the reuse of his writings included in Thomson’s “Court Documents Collection” (CDC) database (available via Carswell Litigator). CDC permits subscribers to download documents Thomson copied from court files in Canadian cases. The court files include briefs and other documents written by Canadian lawyers, including Waldman. Thomson does not ask the authoring lawyers for . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Appreciating a Good Thing and the Profession That Protects It

When certain aspects of life become accepted practice, part of the texture of everyday life, one tends to forget that they are there at all. They become part of the wallpaper. One forgets that putting them in place involved massive effort, and that things may not always be the same. To stretch my metaphor to the breaking point, someone might come in and paint over the wallpaper. It is important not to take for granted those things which we should cherish. Access to information is just such a phenomenon. The point was brought home to me this year.

Each spring . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Digital Library: Why Aren’t We There Yet?

Last week I was asked why my library wasn’t physically smaller.

“Isn’t everything online?” No. “Did we really need all these old books?” Yes. “Wouldn’t it be more convenient for lawyers to be able to access library materials regardless of their physical location?” Definitely.

Although we are moving towards the reality of a digital library, we have not arrived there yet.

What is available?
The most considerable barrier to the fully digital library is that many legal resources do not exist online. Legal publishers have digitized and made available online many Canadian primary legal resources such as case law and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information