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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

On Bubbles and Magic Words….

As law librarians many of us teach our users the best approaches to using the internet, which includes how to best construct a search. It may seem pedantic to talk about operators and specificity, but it does sometimes help to narrow the results to a manageable number. We know that most people do not look beyond the arbitrary 10 results on the first page of a Google result screen, so it is pretty important that those ten are the right ones. We teach this stuff on the assumption that we are working on a level playing field with the various . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Hockey and Law Librarianship

I’m a bit of a sports nut. I love watching all types of sports on TV. And I get ridiculous when I go see any sport live. Roller derby is the bomb! The only sport I just don’t get is cricket. Maybe one day. Anyway, when I found out that the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) was meeting in Toronto, I just had to go. It’s the home of the Hockey Hall of Fame!

The Hockey Hall of Fame was all I had imagined and more. There’s a shrine to Wayne Gretzky, uniforms from players for all over the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Law via the Internet Conference 2012

I have been retired for one year, but still continue to work on one of my favorite causes – access to legal information as a basic societal right. Many years ago, when I was a documents librarian, the rallying cry of law librarians was “Documents to the People.” Now we have a much less catchy, but more accurate American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) policy statement that “Federal, state and local authorities must ensure government legal information is permanently available to the public at low or no cost, in an easily accessible and professionally maintained environment.” This policy does not . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

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