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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

“Front Door to the Past”

One aspect of having a great affection for law publishing is that I have a tendency to search for its characteristics and qualities elsewhere. For me, it sets a general standard for non-fiction and published information provision. Perhaps not surprisingly, therefore, I find myself looking for snippets of law publishing in many unlikely places and am pleased to find it frequently. My enjoyment, not long ago, of Philip Wood’s The Fall of the Priests and the Rise of the Lawyers, in which the author stresses the centrality of law to human survival was, in part, for such reasons. Lawyers . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Using Established Legal Information Technologies to Support the Labour Sector

Some would say that in term of access to legal information, the labour sector has somehow been left behind. For sure, you can access labour codes and regulations on CanLII, as well as the latest judicial decisions addressing wrongful dismissal, but other sources are fundamental to the practice of labour lawyers. In a field where much depends on negotiation, collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) – contracts between unions and employers – are as important as any other document. Unfortunately this source of law is not as easy to locate and use online as one could hope.

Typically, the electronic version of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Canadian Open Access Publishing Cooperative Revisited

Since joining this “Canadian cooperative weblog,” as Simon Fodden identified SLAW some years ago, in 2008, I have returned to this theme of cooperation in scholarly publishing a number of times (I discovered doing a search of this well-indexed site).

In 2010, for example, I wrote about an idea that Rowly Lorimer, then director of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing, had for a Canadian scholarly publishing cooperative. This country’s academic journals would be supported by the libraries and funding councils enabling them to share their content openly and freely, without having to restrict access to subscribers. I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

My Ideal Law Publisher

It’s too easy to be negative about almost everything but for the most part it’s a lazy approach that requires little thought and analysis. Particularly when considering and discussing law publishing, the industry’s faults and downsides often come quickly to the fore. Sometimes this is justified. However, for present purposes the objective is to focus on what would be, for me, the ideal law publishing business. By “ideal”, I mean having those characteristics that make its objectives, efforts and results hugely satisfying and rewarding for customers, those working for such a business, its suppliers and in the interests . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Passing of Maritime Law Book – the End of an Era.

While not unexpected, the announcement by Eric Appleby that Maritime Law Book will be closing its doors in November 2016, is still a bit of a shock. No one has done more than Eric and his indomitable team at Maritime Law Book to transform the nature of the case law reporting in this country. Unfortunately, access to free case law online and cost cutting by customers have combined to undermine the business model for Maritime Law Book, making its demise an inevitability.

When simple access was the issue

Few will remember a time when access to case law was extremely . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Sacred Book – Maybe!

The author Naomi Baron in her book “Words Onscreen: The fate of Reading in a Digital World” includes the following quote at page 198:

“The book as such is sacred. One does not throw books away”.

Naomi Baron states that the Germans and the French “don’t throw out …. bread and books.

But consider that many law libraries are now computer rooms. And some libraries are destroying books. A professor at the UNB law school told me that their library has shredded a series of print law reports. Also an Ontario bookbinding firm told me that Queen’s University is now . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Pick Two Cards. Any Two.

It always amuses me when I see light-hearted references to the rather tedious-sounding Project Management Triangle (alternatively called the Triple Constraint or Iron Triangle). Much fun can be made of the idea that in relation to products, services or outcomes, the choice is of quality, speed or price but only any two out of three can be had. For entertainment purposes it can be applied to restaurants, plumbing services, professional advice, airline travel and the like. However, it makes me wonder about the veracity of the notion and whether or not it is applied or applicable in relation to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Cutting Through the Mysteries of Journal and Article Pricing

I’m delighted to be able to offer a guest blog from Rebecca Kennison. Rebecca is the principal of K|N Consultants and has worked extensively in scholarly publishing. What follows is a remarkably acute analysis of Elsevier’s journal pricing practices that she recently contributed to the Open Scholarship Initiative listserv. (This version has been slightly edited to provide additional clarification.) Rebecca is responding to a post by an Elsevier representative, and yet what she has written struck me as speaking to all of us interested in how the major corporate publishers are handling the shift to open access.

Rebecca is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Global Legal Publishing – a Bad Idea?

In Canada and elsewhere, we have seen a seemingly endless series of reorganizations in the multinational legal publishing houses. The pattern is one characterized by the acquisition of smaller legal publishing houses, followed by serial changes in their reporting lines, and ending with their disappearance altogether, as old established brands are dropped and replaced by the corporate brand. These changes are attempts to conceal a sad truth – that “global legal publishing” has proven to be a bit of a bust. Was it a bad business idea in the first place, or merely a good idea that was overwhelmed by . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing


Who was Confucius?

See the book Confucius: And the World he Created by Michael Schuman (2015). Many of the words and phrases below are those of Michael Schuman.

Confucius was born in China in 551 B.C. and died in 479 B.C. He was a teacher, politician and philosopher. In Asia his influence ranks with Abraham, Jesus and Buddha. He spent most of his professional life teaching – he taught the wisdom of Chinese antiquity, a timeless code of morality. He handed down the standards for human morality.

Confucianism offers a moral code to guide human behavior analogous to the Ten . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Scholarly Publishing Has Its Napster Moment

It has become widely known that scholarly publishing has been hit by its own version of Napster, with Alexandra Elbakyan’s creation of Sci-Hub, which offers up to 48 million pirated journal articles and, as we have more recently learned, hundreds of university press books through its dark-web companion site LibGen. Elbakyan’s site, which she initiated in 2011 when she was a graduate student in Kazakhstan, has since been sued for infringing and other causing “irreparable harm” to Elsevier’s copyright. The suit heard by the Southern District of New York Court has resulted in a preliminary injunction that managed to close . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

“The Fall of the Priests and the Rise of the Lawyers”

Not so long ago I had the great pleasure of being invited by the eminent lawyer, Professor Philip R. Wood, to discuss a book that he had nearly completed at that time, specifically as to which publisher might be most appropriate for what he had in mind. I was fascinated by what he described and was delighted to be able to point him in the direction of Hart Publishing, part of Bloomsbury Professional and in turn Bloomsbury Publishing. He was kind enough to include a reference to me in the book’s acknowledgements page.

Philip Wood CBE, QC (Hon) is head . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing