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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

Surprising Survey Results

Last November, Lexum proceeded to survey the users of its Supreme Court of Canada decisions web site ( The results of such surveys are rarely shared; they can indeed have high commercial value or simply be embarrassing. The ones communicated here are not embarrassing and they are, at times, surprising. At least, they were not the ones Lexum was expecting. For instance, respondents are less eager to access legal content on mobile platforms than Lexum had initially assumed and their appetite for social web-related services appears much more limited than anticipated. In a more foreseeable way, respondents confirmed how the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Another year gone and in the world of legal content / publishing I’d like to suggest it’s been one of the most important we’ve had since the mid 90’s and the advent of the CD Rom.

Although most of 2011 has been fairly quiet with the usual round of product developments, upgrades and rejigs. The last quarter of the year has more than hinted that the upheavals of 2008 / 2009 have now filtered through to the core modus operandi of the companies whose job it is to distribute legal content through to the professions, business, government and the wider . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Attawapiskat and Social Media

You can’t have missed the recent coverage of the housing and governance crisis in Attawapiskat. The story certainly captured my attention. I’ve been watching news of the situation travel over the Internet.

Social media played a key role in the coverage of this story. What particularly interests me is that the quality of some material published about Attawapiskat through social media is as good as or better than high quality legal information available through traditional legal publishing channels. And this caused me to consider again: what is the role of social media in legal publishing?

I first became aware of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Show Us the Numbers: Occupational Results

The tents are gone. The communal food kitchen, the library, the media center, the mic checks, too. Occupy Wall Street has been swept away, from Zucotti Park, off Wall Street, to the Vancouver Art Gallery. The incipient movement is now a matter of sporadic occupations, port blockades, and a media campaign. It may just be me, but the mainstream media attention that has followed in the aftermath seems to reflect a sense of wanting to hold on to this moment.

Certainly, I felt myself wanting to believe that here was a social movement that was showing some promise of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Law and the Cultural Commons

What is the Cultural Commons?

The cultural commons is a vast store of ideas, inventions, and works of art that we have inherited from the past. A commons is a kind of property in which more than one person has rights. A commons is a social regime for managing a collectively owned resource.

In writing about art and ideas, Lewis Hyde, in his book titled, Common as Air (2010) states at page 214 “art and ideas, unlike land and houses, belong by nature to a cultural commons, open to all”.

In Imperial China, 900 to 1800, to copy the work . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Reaching and Retaining Customers

There was a time, not too long ago, when some in legal and professional publishing would refer to their sector as offering “a license to print money”. The highest quality publishers were renowned for the wonderful reputations of their products and services, their market knowledge and intimacy, their relationships and engagement with their customers and, even though prices were high, compared to other forms of information publishing, they were trusted and supported by their markets. Obviously, customer service was always pretty terrible but that was a quaint characteristic which was recognised and accommodated, partly on grounds that true value . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Whether You “like” It or Not…

Lexum has recently conducted an analysis of the underlying technology behind Facebook Like, Twitter Tweet and other “social” buttons. The analysis revealed that, if used in the way prescribed by Facebook, Google, Twitter et al., these buttons create some significant privacy issues for Webmasters and their users.

Before we get to the privacy issues however, it is appropriate to explain how these buttons work. Adding a Facebook Like, Twitter Tweet, Google +1, LinkedIn Share or any other sharing button to one’s Web site is a relatively easy affair. The companies that distribute them have dedicated pages . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Canadian Encyclopedic Digests

The “Great Encyclopedias” of Legal Research – Part III

This is the third of a series of posts that were prepared following a request by Professor Daniel Poulin to explain the nature and purpose of “Halsburys” and the “C.E.D.” to his seminar on legal information at the University of Montreal. The views expressed are the personal opinion of the writer.


The Fourth Western and Ontario Editions of the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest are the newest publications to follow the Halsburys Model in Canada. While essentially simple revisions of Titles published in previous editions, the Fourth Editions . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Never Ending Search for New Markets & Alliances

As the world’s economy heads inexorably for another meltdown it’s instructive to see where the management teams of the larger legal publishers are looking in order to try and keep shareholders and boards happy in the final quarter of 2011.

Two immediate examples come to mind and make us wonder where they can go next.

Option 1 : New International Markets

Now the press releases about China have died down as the publishers (like the rest of us) have realized it’s actually much harder to make money in the PRC than initially thought. Especially so when you have to spend . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Bloomsbury Professional Launches New Online Tax Law Service With Market-Beating Price.

October 21 saw a most interesting and perhaps game-changing development in professional publishing with the launch in the UK of Bloomsbury Professional’s new online tax law service,

What makes the new service worth noting is not rocket science technology or really cutting-edge functionality but price and simplicity, combined with an unashamed resemblance to the book idiom in its presentation – a smart move, it might be suggested, in an e-book era.

The publisher, formerly Tottel Publishing, itself and, by implication, its content having roots and established credibility derived from LexisNexis origins, boasts that the key features of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Creating Authoritative Content

Readers of this column over the past year or so will know that I’m rather preoccupied with the quality of legal material. When I compare free to paid legal resources, I often find the free resources wanting, usually because I don’t believe that enough checks and controls are used when the material is created.

We are proud of the work we’ve done here at CLEBC to create authoritative practice manuals for BC lawyers. But how does that material become authoritative; that is, what do we actually do to ensure that BC lawyers can confidently rely on these resources in their . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Lure of the Other IP, Intellectual Philanthropy

It’s funny how you can work in a field for a good number of years and completely miss an extremely pertinent term for that field. Then, suddenly it strikes you as particularly apt, and leaves you wondering how you had missed it. I have been working on questions of open access to research and scholarship for a little more than a decade, and last week I ran into intellectual philanthropy in a 2011 book by Taylor Walsh entitled Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities Are Opening Up Access to Their Courses. Intellectual philanthropy struck me as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing