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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

The KF Modification: A Canadian Approach to Organizing and Understanding Law

Anyone who has studied law will have used a library at some point in their studies. If you studied at an American or Canadian university, it is likely that the library’s print collections were physically organized on the shelves using the Library of Congress Classification system (LCC), a subject-based classification scheme using a letter or combination of letters to represent a broad subject (eg, D for History, DA for British history, DC for French history) and a number between 1 and 9999 to represent a narrower topic within that subject (eg, DA 445 for the Stuart Restoration, 1660-1688, or . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Fall Information Update From Washington, DC

I’m back in DC after a lovely summer in Wisconsin and am catching up on the latest developments here. Our amazing U.S. election is finally over. Last spring I described the election as a circus. Actually it was not fun at all, but always surprising and often appalling to watch.

I have returned to my post as a volunteer at the Library of Congress, which has changed a lot over the summer. On September 14th Dr. Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress. On October 21st she removed Maria Pallante from her position . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Researching the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

I’ve been meaning to write about how to research the rights of indigenous peoples in Canada for Slaw for the longest time because it seemed like a hot issue and I thought a guide to legal information resources might be useful. However, I was thwarted first by what was the right terminology to use. Indigenous peoples? Native peoples? Aboriginal peoples? Indians? First Nations? Would I offend by using the wrong words? And who am I, a non-Canadian, non-indigenous person to write a research guide anyway? Maybe someone else in Canada has already written a guide? (The answer is yes.). But . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Data Visualization in Law Libraries

Data visualization is one of those phrases that is frequently heard these days. It’s a very interesting field; done properly, data visualization allows you to use charts, graphs or other visuals to put statistics into context far more easily than if they were in tabular format. The flip side is that if not done properly, data visualizations can be confusing or, even worse, misleading (as illustrated by this chart).

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Scott Berinato on “Visualizations that Really Work” talks about how visualizations enable us to use data to make . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Like Moneyball for Lawyers?

There is a growing trend to bring the tools of data analysis into legal practice, and much of the media coverage references Michael Lewis’ 2003 book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game*, or perhaps the movie based on the book:

With so many things being described as being “like moneyball”, I started to wonder what Moneyball actually said. It also made me wonder what analytics can best be used to illuminate legal information, and where the data could come from, so I read the book:

Lewis discusses the development of the statistics required to adequately measure baseball . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Building and Maintaining a Precedents Collection – Part 1: Getting Started

Building and maintaining a precedents collection presents many challenges but the benefits of success are multiple. In my posting from last June, the architect of the Gowlings precedent collection, Graeme Coffin, outlined what the process is at his firm. But undertaking this initiative is one of the biggest challenges that any practitioner, whether practising solo or in a firm or working in-house, faces. I therefore propose to treat this topic in a series of postings so as to discuss the issues in some depth and offer some suggestions.

Benefits. The benefits of creating a good quality, comprehensive precedents collection . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Typography and Legal Information

You may have noticed that, as of January 2016, the online federal statutes look quite different. According to the announcement, these changes were made to improve the readability of the legislation:

Different styles and sizes of fonts are used to give greater prominence to certain elements and to help direct readers’ eyes more easily through the text. The structure of the legislative text (headings, sections, subsections, paragraphs, etc.) has been made more evident in order to improve readability.

Because headings and sub-headings are larger, they are more noticeable, helping readers to find the information they are looking for, and

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information

Rationality Triumphant

On July 12, 2016, the United States Senate confirmed Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland, as the 14th Librarian of Congress. It was a good day for the country, for librarians and for those who remain committed to rationality in the universe.

The confirmation by the Senate was no simple matter. President Barack Obama nominated Ms. Hayden for the position in February of this year. The Senate held a Hearing on the nomination in April. Ms. Hayden, a woman festooned with accomplishment, sailed through the process. But the enthusiasm of the Senate Rules . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Best “People” Resources

Do you have people you can rely to help you when you have an FCIL research question? If yes, great! If no, or even if yes, read on because I’m about to drop some knowledge about which “people resources” are the best and what they are. These resources are helpful if you are a foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) librarian or legal information professional or specialist or someone who works with FCIL materials or a generalist who gets FCIL-related questions re from time to time. You can start out small (one-on-one) or go big (listservs, conferences, twitchats, associations, interest . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

HeinOnline and LLMC-Digital: Friends When We Need Them

I’ve written often about the preservation of and access to Canada’s print legal heritage, most recently last December here, and bemoaned the fact that we in Canada are doing so little – in fact, as good as nothing – to advance the matter. Fortunately, we have friends who are stepping up to the plate to do something about it for us, even without our having to ask. At the recent annual conferences of CALL (Canadian Association of Law Libraries, in Vancouver last May) and AALL (American Association of Law Libraries, in Chicago last July), there . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

When Justice Doesn’t Scale: Some Thoughts on the First Nations Court

I was recently lucky to attend the Law Courts Center‘s Truth and Reconciliation Dialogues – “A View from the Bench” with Judge Marion Buller. Judge Buller talked about having a crisis of conscience in adjudicating cases with Aboriginal defendants and approaching the Chief Justice with the idea of a First Nations court, which was founded almost ten years ago.

The court is run out of the courthouse in New Westminster, British Columbia, with duty counsel and elders who get honoraria, but it has been unfunded until recently. It is a sentencing court that is open to people who self . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Locating Foreign Civil Codes

[from https://www.senat.fr/ – on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Code Napoléon in 2004]

One of the frequently asked foreign and comparative law research questions is how to find a country’s civil code. A researcher might not know they need a civil code, but they often do. A civil code is the key to accessing all types of private law for many civil law jurisdictions. Modeled after the Code Napoléon or Code civil des Français (1804), a civil code usually contains laws relating to personal status, contracts, torts, “delict”, “obligations”, real and personal property, inheritance and succession, marriage, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information