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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Live From DC, It’s Information Overload!

Ever since Washington, DC, shut down two months ago, I have been inundated with offers of free Zoom webinars and all sorts of interesting virtual meetings. I will attempt to point out some of the more relevant and interesting information that has come to me, with a focus on legal information sources and a bit of personal enrichment.

My friends at the Law Library of Congress have continued to update and provide legal research support through their Ask a Librarian service. The main Library of Congress webpage leads you to a treasure trove of digital resources including the World . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Building Community Online

Hosting a conference in a hotel, doing an escape room with your colleagues, inviting guest speakers to your class, joining a sports team, cooking dinner for friends, these are all great activities for building community. But how do we translate that to an online environment during a time of social distancing? What do we lose or gain?

As I write this in self-isolation, I’m reminded of the importance of community building. I’m inspired by how people are cheering outside their balconies at the same time every night in support of healthcare workers, putting drawings of rainbows on their windows for . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Get Organized! Time Investments for Better Legal Information Habits

We are living in unusual times. While some of us are battling illness, overwork, or the exuberance of nearby small children, others are finding ourselves with more self-directed time than usual. If you are seeking some direction for your work, here are some ideas for research challenges or organizational methods so that you can learn something or organize something to make your future work life easier. They’re arranged according to the approximate time they’ll take: very short tasks, tasks for an hour or so, and multi-hour tasks.

Organizational tasks for five minutes or less:

Organize your inbox. For almost everyone, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Kings, Courts, and Self-Represented Litigants

As modern states were developing in Europe during the medieval period, local feudal lords held power of governance over people living their territories. Part of the responsibility of the lord or monarch was to adjudicate disputes. For the sake of simplicity, I will use the term king here, though we should understand that there were multiple titles for people who filled this role depending on the structure of the particular territory: emperor/empress, king/queen, prince/princess, duke/duchess, knight/dame, etc. People would appear before the king at the royal court to present their cases, and the king would issue a decision about what . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Creative Commons in the Legal Space

Creative Commons licences (also commonly referred to as CC licenses) are a less-restrictive alternative to those in the traditional copyright system. Since 2001, they have been used to encourage collaboration and create a space to allow for the public sharing of information.

There are a number of different licences, each with varying levels of restrictions, but with the overall goal of allowing people to share and build upon the work of others. Permissions to use the creator’s work are granted up front and to everyone. The Creative Commons organization has created a system of open licences using plain language . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Vavilov & Dunsmuir: Looking for Signals in the Precedential Game of Thrones

As we all know, administrative law nerds (their own expression) received a nice Holiday present on December 19 when the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Vavilov. This important event in Canadian law isn’t just fun for the admin law crowd, it’s also an occasion for us, legal information geeks, to live in real time another game of “precedential game of thrones.”

I’ve been interested for a long time in finding signals that could indicate that a case is no longer good law (or at least no longer to be cited without caution). There are ways to spot . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

Thanks for All the Fish

When the late Simon Fodden (RIP) asked me to write a column for Slaw, “Canada’s online legal magazine,” I welcomed the opportunity. I could write for a Canadian and global legal audience about foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) information resources and about FCIL librarianship as a career. I could help fill in an information gap for this very special law librarian career path. I joined Slaw in 2010, its fifth year in existence, as a “Legal Information” columnist. My first column was on “The State of Digitization of United Nations Documents” (June 29, 2010), wherein I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

End of 2019 Update From Washington, DC

This has been another very interesting year in the US Capitol. The most recent excitement is about the process of impeachment. I remember the previous two attempts, which ended in a resignation and a failure to convict. I am not going to even try to predict how the process will end this time. But if you want to learn more about this, the Library of Congress has it covered.

On December 9, Andrew Winston posted that “The Library of Congress has updated the Constitution Annotated essays pertaining to impeachment and incorporated them in the annotations to Article IArticle . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

How to Publish With CanLII

In my last post, I discussed the benefits of publishing with CanLII. Today, I’d like to dive into some of the options on how you can get your work onto the largest legal information resource in Canada. 

Publish With Publishers Who Share Their Content on CanLII

CanLII’s commentary collection has prospered thanks to the incredible group of publishers, law firms, law centres, and other institutions that have partnered with us. A great way to share your work on CanLII is to publish with one these content providers. Check out this Twitter list or browse our commentary collection to learn . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing

Failure and What Comes Next

People have been talking more about failure in recent years, and they have been listing the things that haven’t worked out for them on social media or in failure resumes. I have been thinking about this too. I confess I don’t feel comfortable broadcasting a list of my failures here because we live in a judgemental world, though I assure you they happen. That said I think I am relatively comfortable with failures (presumably as a result of regular exposure), so I thought I would take this opportunity of writing a column that will be published on Christmas Eve . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

CanLII: 2019 in Review

2018 was a tough act to follow, but 2019 was, once again, a great year for CanLII, to say the least. More than ever, our successes are due to the relationships we have developed with organizations across the country that have embraced our vision for the future of free access to law. We are grateful they have agreed to share their content with us and hope to celebrate these relationships with this post, among other things.


As regular readers of this blog will have appreciated by now, we’ve been multiplying announcements over the course of the year about new . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

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