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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

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 – 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

The Product Life Cycle of Knowledge Management

I recently taught “Legal Information Sources and Services” at the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia. One of the topics that gave rise to a particularly interesting conversation was knowledge management. I was informed (very politely and gently) that at the school knowledge management is mainly discussed in the context of the archival program, but that as a term of art it is now considered old fashioned in information studies, as it is difficult to define and measure among other problems. Instead other terms like information management are taking its place.

This is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Artificial Intelligence in Law: What Are the Consequences for Law Librarians?

Several Slaw contributors have written recently about the use of artificial intelligence in law (Tim Knight here, Nate Russell here) with particular reference to the program on “Computers in Legal Research” at the conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries held in Vancouver this past May, moderated by Slaw’s Steve Matthews. I attended the program. I was disappointed though not surprised that none of the speakers was a librarian; and, while there was much discussion of the potential and possible consequences of artificial intelligence (AI) in legal practice, there was, aside from the moderator’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

License to ILL

Inter-library loan (ILL) is one of the oldest forms of sharing collections in libraries. Cooperative collection development arrangements have existed since time immemorial. As each library has focused on building collections to meet the needs of their primary patrons, they have relied on other libraries for the ad hoc, out-of-scope user requests for books and journal articles.They either initiate ILLs formally via OCLC or another network or informally by calling, emailing, or otherwise contacting librarians at other institutions who own or have access to the needed item. Everyone ILLs. It is expected and needed. Librarians have a license to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Spring Update From Washington, DC

No, I am not going to comment on the amazing circus our U.S. presidential election has become. I want to bring you up to date on the Law Library of Congress’s latest news and their continuing progress in providing free U.S. government information to the world.

David Mao, former Law Librarian of Congress, is still the Acting Librarian of Congress. But Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore Maryland, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to become the first African American and first woman to hold this position. I hope that the U.S. Senate will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information