Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

And Now the Driverless Keyboard

We appear to have crossed another great divide in artificial intelligence. It is not just the constant shuffle of driverless cars in my Silicon Valley neighborhood on their endless driving lessons. Nor is it the machine learning gains in diagnostic accuracy that exceed those so expertly trained in radiology and dermatology. Those are visual advances in machine learning. This time it’s language.

Steven Johnson, in a marvelously well-done article in the New York Times Magazine, sets out what machine learning is making of writing. It is the driverless car equivalent of the keyboard. Just feed in your destination and it . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

Loose-Leaf Legal Publications: A Dialogue

[What follows is an imagined dialogue between a lawyer and a librarian, regarding a fictional loose-leaf publication]

Lawyer: I’d like to see what you have in the library on the crime of jabberwock-slaying, please.

Librarian (without consulting the catalog): Yes, the seminal treatise on the topic is Carroll on Jabberwocks, shelved under call number… you know what, I’ll just grab it off the shelf for you.

Lawyer: Thanks, I’ve never really understood what call numbers are, anyway.

[Librarian returns carrying four heavy, ugly binders]

Lawyer: So, which one should I use?

Librarian: Well, you just . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

You Say You Want an Evolution

I understand that, despite the incessant reports about the amount of investment money being directed at legal technology, it is difficult to sell it to lawyers and their firms. No doubt, there are as many reasons and opinions as there are lawyers, though Hugh Logue, author of Automating Legal Services: Justice through Technology, suggests that fresh strategies are desperately needed as outdated market assumptions, inflexible sales structures, and sledgehammer products prevent the legal solution market leaders from reaching the lucrative small law market”; some might question just how lucrative that market is. Equally, it is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Lexum’s Approach to Automatic Classification of Case Law: From Statistics to Machine Learning

Lexum focus has always been on using the latest technology to automate legal publishing with the goal of improving the cost/benefit ratio of accessing legal information. For this reason, we historically favoured full text search engines over classification systems based on a thesaurus. The manual labelling of judicial and administrative decisions is a labour-intensive process that has traditionally contributed to the high costs of legal publishing. Where large volumes of decisions are rendered, it also makes exhaustive publishing difficult to achieve, justifying the selection of a limited number of “reported decisions.” Lexum has always headed straight in the opposite direction. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Time for Canadian Leadership on the TRIPS Waiver

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is continuing to hold discussions on a proposal for a waiver of intellectual property rights clauses in its Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement that bear on Covid-19 patents, such as medications and vaccinations. India and South Africa first proposed the waiver on October 2, 2020. It was a time within that first year of the pandemic amid great anticipation of Covid vaccinations on the horizon. The waiver represented a hope for a more equitable roll out of preventative treatments for fighting this scourge, without the usual access barriers posed by intellectual property . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Truth to Power

It was some years ago that I first came across the “House of Butter” blog, set up and run by Sean Hocking and forming part of Australia-based www.practicesource.com. Sean has made many Slaw contributions, so the origins of and thinking behind House of Butter are recorded in several articles, particularly in the period 2010-2014. Prior to Practice Source, he had established and published the regular PDF alerting service, Law Librarians News.

Our first exchange may have been after I read a piece from him which, I thought at the time, may have been a little dismissive or disrespectful . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Some Thoughts on Algorithmic and Data Literacy

Last year I was interviewed by Dominique Garingan for her dissertation on algorithmic literacy, and thought I would share my thoughts that arose in relation to that conversation with you here too. She also published an article about her dissertation findings in the most recent issue of Canadian Law Library Review: “Advanced Technologies and Algorithmic Literacy: Exploring Insights from the Legal Information Profession“.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “algorithm” as “a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end“. Algorithmic literacy, in turn, is the understanding of how computer systems apply algorithms so that users . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

Pivoting From Print to Digital: Insights From the Canadian Law Library Review

While access to legal journals in printed form is still desired, many have transitioned to a purely digital format. But what exactly does moving from print to digital entail? To better understand this process, I asked Susan Barker, retired law librarian from the University of Toronto and current acting editor of the Canadian Law Library Review (CLLR), about her experience when the publication took the leap to online-only in 2015.

1. What were the motivations for CLLR to go purely digital?

When I came on board as editor in 2013, the decision to go digital had been tentatively made . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Open Science? France Has an Impressive Second Plan

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining a half-dozen Canadian and U.S. open science advocates in an online meeting with Senator Laure Darcos of the French Parliament. In advance, we were provided with the Second French Plan for Open Science: Generalizing Open Science in France, 2021-2024, published in July 2021 (with the first French plan launched in 2018). During our meeting, more than one of us commented on how the Plan set a far more advanced and progressive national agenda than anything we could point to in our countries. At the conclusion Senator Darcos expressed surprise at this, saying . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Hooked on and Quitting Legal Information

Simultaneously and in conjunction, Wolters Kluwer and Thomson Reuters have agreed to sell, in the case of the former, its legal information businesses in France and Spain, and in the latter, its Spanish legal information business, both to Karnov Group. There is change everywhere, as 2022 budget disciplines demand taking out the trash, and little is left in Europe in the hands of the giants.

Conversely, the news that Wolters Kluwer had sold its US academic publishing assets was hardly a surprise. For several years it has been withdrawing from the provision of legal information content. Long gone, in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A Tale of Two Copyright Inquiries

I wish to consider two copyright initiatives currently underway in Canada and the United States, as they bear on changes in intellectual property law, and hold lessons for my efforts to increase public access to research and scholarship. Researchers are identified as a concerned party in the Canadian instance, while the American example, if tangential to scholarly publishing, still raises questions about copyright today that only serve to encourage my own thinking about copyright reform.

On July 16th, 2021, the Government of Canada issued A Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things on . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

The Deschênes Vision

Soquij and Slaw continue the vision of Jules Deschênes

Legal Separatism in Canada

In 1979 I was introduced by Simon Chester to Jules Deschênes, Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Quebec, who wished to discuss the role that English language legal publishers such as Carswell could play in addressing what he called “legal separatism in Canada”.

His thesis was that “Quebec has shown the willingness and the ability to contribute to the building of […] a national scheme of federal law, but the legal community of the rest of Canada has, by and large, closed itself off and away . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing