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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Some Musings on Software in the Legal Field

During a recent presentation on developments in knowledge management, I found myself at a loss about what generalized recommendations for technological solutions to give, because I have observed ongoing and growing divides among organizations in their adoption of technology. These divides combine with differing organizational goals to create an environment where that there are fewer applications that are sufficiently generalizable to be recommended to a group, which aren’t already in widespread use. Word processors, web browsers, library systems, file management systems, and others are easy to recommend to most organizations of a certain type and size, and there was a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Free European Sources Online

Free resources can be great – the revamped Eur-lex in operation
When we use e-resources in the law, there has been a tendency to value the paid resources over the free ones. Sometimes the free resources are not seen as truly comprehensive collections, whereas the purchased ones are; sometimes the linking and cross referencing is more sophisticated in the commercial databases; often the value-added editorial content of headnotes prepared by legal editors has been enough to justify the outlay for these reports and legislation online.

However as more and more bodies such as governments make their resources freely available online, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Is KluwerArbitration the Best?

Every year I re-evaluate existing e-resources for researching international commercial arbitration law. Every year, I’m not entirely satisfied. KluwerArbtration seems to provide the best, most comprehensive accesss to resources, and students, faculty, librarians, and practitioners mention it most. But every year, I double-check. Does KluwerArbitration pass the Vis Moot test?

The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot is an annual competition open to law students worldwide. Over 250 law schools participate. “The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot is a competition for law students. Students from all countries are eligible. The Moot involves a dispute arising out of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

2013: A Retrospective With No Top Ten List

As I write this column, 2013 is winding toward its close. Like most years in the 21st Century, it was filled with innovations in information. The changes accelerate as time passes. Current undergraduates view the world before the coming of WiFi, iPhones and social media like for those born after electricity was brought to the masses. How did people live before the change? Who cares? Much is being gained, much is being lost. As Charles Dickens put it, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I will recap the year with one gray story, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Unreported Decisions: A New Challenge

It used to be that either a decision was “reported” (i.e. published in a print reporter) or it wasn’t (an unreported decision). Unreported decisions were hard to find; generally, you needed to get a copy from the court or from one of the parties involved. The situation started to change as publishers began to offer summaries of cases:

The WLP Decisions, along with the All-Canada Weekly Summaries led to the rise of ‘unreported decisions’ being readily available for lawyers to use in their research. The heyday of print law reports as the only official record of legal decisions had peaked,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information

Another Valuable Virtual Conference

During two weeks in mid-December the U. S. Government Printing Office (GPO) held a virtual meeting, “Expanding the Forecast Framework: Engage & Discuss,” which focused on ways to map the future of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). GPO has been distributing federal documents to a variety of libraries, including law libraries, since the program was established by the Depository Library Act of 1962. Currently there are over 1,200 libraries participating in the program. 

Over the years the FDLP has shifted from distributing only print publications to some microfiche and finally to digital formats. Now print distribution is limited to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Where Will Old, Expensive, or Unexpected Legal Information Come From When Libraries All Downsize Together?

I am interested by recent discussions I have had with librarians at various law libraries about how they make decisions about what materials to keep, cancel, or discard. Many are looking at the holdings of other libraries and relying on them to provide access to less commonly used materials rather than maintaining them locally. This is understandable, but it is only a viable decision if the lending libraries continue to maintain their collections. Instead, this appears to be done without formal agreements among the libraries about retention of materials, consideration of whether it is within the supplying libraries’ mandates to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

One Way to Get More Organized……

As you may recall, I promised to report back on my efforts to get organized and deal with all that information overload. I would like to say that I can report a near 100% success rate. My system is working pretty well, but I feel I am not there just yet. Going through this process though, I have been reminded of a couple of pretty simple lessons, and I hope you will not mind my repeating them.

You have probably heard the old adage, give a job to a busy person if you want to get it done. I don’t . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Was It Worth It? Outlining the Legal Education and Training Review in England and Wales

There is endless discussion on how we go about preparing the lawyers of tomorrow to be well armed for the expectations their clients will have of them. Many law schools in all countries are trying varied approaches to achieve the best for their students, as well as for the working world with which they will have to engage. The downturn in the legal market, the decline in enrolments in the law schools, and the questioning of the value and relevance of an expensive law degree are issues faced by law firms, educators and regulators.

Now and then there is the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Homebrewing Laws Worldwide

 [I]l est l’heure de s’enivrer! Pour n’être pas les esclaves martyrisés du temps, enivrez-vous sans cesse! - Charles Baudelaire

[T]his is a case about beer and a case of beer is a serious matter.San Miguel Brewing International Limited v. Molson Canada 2005, 2013 FC 156, Phelan J, February 14, 2013.

People are really serious about their beer. In ancient days, you were flogged in the public square if you sold bad-tasting beer. Bad beer was considered to be “a fraud and a hazard to health”. In Germany in the 15th & 16th centuries, those . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Something to Hold Onto:[1] Where Paper Makes a Stand

A refuge remains for the printed page. Herewith the tale:

Ross Davies, one of my culture heroes, has published a fascinating article which goes by the salubrious title “The Increasingly Lengthy Long Run of the Law Reviews: Law Review Business 2012—Circulation and Production” in Volume 3, No. 2 of the Journal of Legal Metrics (2013). Professor Davies is an accomplished scholar at George Mason Law School who produces excellent scholarship in the usual mode for a legal scholar. But it does not stop there. He also has an endearing fixation on the mechanics of legal information and a love of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Problem With Discovery Tools and Law Firm Libraries

Most legal libraries subscribe to a number of online services, so library users frequently have to search multiple electronic resources as part of their legal research, and trust that they have not inadvertently missed any relevant resources. Researchers need to know what electronic products they have access to, what materials these products contain, and how to best to search them. Other challenges related to online research include the duplication of resources (some materials can be found in multiple online services) and cost containment.

University libraries have been dealing with precisely this problem for a while now. Discovery tools (such as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information