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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Legal Research Without Official Diplomatic Relations: Venezuela, Iran and North Korea

Once a country has been officially declared as sanctioned, trying to locate, evaluate and access reliable sources of information becomes a struggle. Depending on the levels of sanctions enacted, research of all kinds can be severely curtailed or completely cut. This lack of most, if not all official channels of communication has a severe impact when you are trying to secure pivotal materials or sources, either physical or online; accessing websites and evaluating online information; and contacting vendors, universities, experts, research centers based in these countries.

When it comes to legal research, these impediments and challenges are maximized regardless of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Washington Update: Déjà Vu All Over Again

The United States just endured a second impeachment trial. The outcome was foreseen, but the procedure was necessary. On January 6th both branches of Congress convened for a ceremonial act to tally the states’ certified results. This began at 2pm, but when they got to the votes from Arizona, objections were raised by Republican Representatives and Senators. At the same time, a mob spurred on by President Trump to march to the Capitol, began to break into the building. I was watching online and could hardly believe what I was seeing.

The Capitol Police were overwhelmed and violent people . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Measuring the Impact of Legal Research

The title of this post might sound straightforward, but discussions on measuring impact in research can be confounding. 

Much of what is already written about research impact, and many of the tools that are developed to measure it, focus on the STEM and social science disciplines. These tools have been more widely developed and used for scientific research due to the significant pressure in the sciences to provide measures of impact in grant evaluations, hiring, tenure and promotion, and reputation. Measurements of impact can also be used at the institutional level too for university rankings, to support program funding, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Columns, Legal Information

Shoe Shopping as an Entry Point to Teach Legal Research

Another teacher once told me to begin teaching legal research by asking students to find a pair of black dress shoes online.[1] Students can be very intimidated by the beginnings of legal research, particularly post-search filtering, but many of these same students are quite adept at post-search filtering while shopping online. After giving students a few minutes to perform their shoe-shopping research, the teacher can analogize their just-displayed skills to the skills they’ll need for legal research.

First, ask the room who was shopping for men’s dress shoes and who was shopping for women’s shoes. Likely many people will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Q&A on Access and Preservation of Legal Information in Canadian Territories

Territories all over the world come in different shapes, sizes and with a diverse range of government power as well as statutory and constitutional constraints. Despite the usage of the same term, territories vary tremendously from country to country. They may be considered integral constituents of the countries they belong to or an unincorporated, detached or loosely linked separate jurisdiction.

Born in a territory myself, I have always been interested in the legal frameworks in which territories are created, and how they (d)evolve over time especially in times of crises. To that end, I had the opportunity to coordinate a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Managing a Publication Project During a Pandemic

Project managers have the responsibility of organizing and directing the completion of projects. In normal times, this might mean making sure the project stays within scope, doesn’t go over budget, and is completed on time. However, this year brought about a change none of us expected, adding an extra layer of challenge and forcing project managers into unchartered territory.

Over the past year, CanLII worked with over 30 volunteers to compile an open BC litigation practice manual. Looking back on this experience, there are a few things I’ve learned about managing a project during a pandemic that I’d like to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Amnesiac Law Reviews; How to Build Institutional Memory in Student-Run Journals

Alisa Lazear’s excellent column on peer-reviewed publishing made me think about another model of legal publishing, student-reviewed law journals. From my personal experience as a student member of one of these journals, and my current role offering support to law journals in my position as an academic law librarian, one of the most frustrating aspects of a student law journal is the lack of institutional memory. The journals find themselves doomed to repeat mistakes, the members are frustrated, and the experience is less pleasant than it could be. One of my former colleagues refers to the student-run law journals as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

This US Election May Finally Be Over and Other Year End News From Washington, DC

I have good news from DC about the US election. On Monday, December 14 the United States Electoral College met virtually and certified that Joe Biden is the President-elect and Kamala Harris as Vice-President-elect. The drama continues to drag on due to the machinations of a very sore loser, but many Republicans are finally acknowledging the fact. I think that the Electoral College is an outdated institution that violates the principle of “one person, one vote”. Its state winner-take-all approach can result in the winner of the popular vote losing the election as has happened twice in this century. However . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Legal Responses to COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean: From Argentina to México, From Barbados to Guatemala, From the Bahamas to Chile

Since March 2020, a group of law librarians have been monitoring and reporting on the legal responses to COVID-19 throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The main idea behind this project is to provide the most pertinent and precise amount of information concerning a situation in a particular country or a comparative report on various countries. Unfortunately, the rapidly evolving and tragic situation in the region has given us numerous topics and angles to pursue, learn from and write about. The more the health crisis becomes multiple crises: political, social, educational, humanitarian, financial and so on, the more we must . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Finding the “COVID Boundary” in CanLII Usage Statistics 🦖

I’m no palaeontologist, but being the father of a 7-year-old boy, I talk about dinosaurs more than the average human. My son doesn’t necessarily have that of a great interest in our prehistoric friends themselves, but his thirst for knowledge about the circumstances of their disappearance is seemingly insatiable.

Those father-son discussions about the extinction of dinosaurs led me down a Wikipedia rabbit hole only to discover the existence of such a thing as the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary. This boundary is a line of dark dust with high concentrations of iridium, which, according to the leading hypothesis, came from the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

Do You Believe in Peer-Review?

Peer-review is a widely accepted process in scholarly publishing. It’s seen as a sign of quality and a way to establish legitimacy. There are, however, drawbacks to this process too. It takes time and doesn’t always give consistent results. What benefits do we get from the peer-review process and is it worth the costs? Are the benefits the same for legal information as they are for other disciplines?

Many journals, whether scientific or legal, open access or behind a paywall, use peer-review because it provides status that can help writers with tenure promotion or securing grants and scholarships. There are . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Bar Exam Babies and Other Bar Exam Stories

When I was in law school I remember my aunt, a trailblazing female lawyer who was born in 1948, telling me about her bar exam. She told me she took the New York subway to the exam location in the pre-dawn hours and sat on the steps outside the building waiting for it to open, just so that she could not be late. At the time, secure in my knowledge that my bar exam was years away, her caution seemed extreme. But she told me she wasn’t alone on those steps; she shared her silent vigil with a small group . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information