Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

Canadian Judgments Need Style

As many colleagues involved in serving Canadian government’s online projects along the years, I too did my fair part of fence-sitting about web accessibility requirements. Those requirements were perceived as a set of obligations to take into account dying browsers, obsolete computers, extra narrow screens, and some other minor annoyances about coding more legible HTML. We at Lexum complied, without enthusiasm if the truth must be said, but we complied as any service provider had to in order to keep the business going.

This feet dragging cannot be continued any longer.

The new situation derives from an application that resulted . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

An Exciting Time for Legal and Professional Publishing

The recent news of PLC being acquired by Thomson Reuters is a most significant indicator of change and direction, certainly inasmuch as it affects the state of play competitively in the UK.

Finally Thomson Reuters, in its Sweet and Maxwell and Westlaw UK guises, has woken up to a world that combines a deep commitment to electronic delivery of primary and secondary content, with related workflow in the form of guidance and documentation driven by clever software. This, alongside the timely new launch of Westlaw UK Insight, seems to me to take the UK business, in one leap, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Untold Story of the Smaller Legal Publishers

I’ve enjoyed recent columns by Gary Rodrigues and Robert McKay about the history of Canadian legal publishing. I joined CLEBC in 1988, and over my career it has been fascinating to watch the changes; for instance, Lexis’ purchase of Quicklaw, Carswell’s purchase of Canada Law Book, the rise of CanLII (and its technology partner Lexum), and the development of Irwin Law

You might conclude that with all the products and services offered by publishers such as Lexis, Thomson, CCH, and so on, there would be no need for any other legal publishers in Canada. There’s no doubt that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing


Cicero (106-43 BC) the great Roman politician/philosopher considered gratitude the greatest of virtues.

Modern psychology argues that there is a correlation between gratitude and wellbeing. That is, a grateful attitude can lead to increased wellbeing.

Gratitude is not the same as being indebted to someone. Gratitude can be expressed when one is thankful for things such as fair weather or good health.

Gratitude has been the focus of several world religions but here I would like to focus on the kind of gratitude that Warren Buffet speaks of when he says that he has won the ovarian lottery. Buffett says . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Aaron’s Law

The tragic loss of Aaron Swartz on January 11, 2013 has given rise to a thoughtful swell across the blogosphere and news media on information rights as well as crime and punishment. His life has been rightly celebrated for his contributions to a more open and free exchange of knowledge, just as the federal prosecutors have been excoriated for the mishandling of the alleged charges against Aaron of illegally downloading over four million scholarly and previously published articles from JSTOR. In the aftermath of this tragedy, what comes to mind, for me, at least, is how the law contributes to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing


Was I alone ignorant of Echosign before that client dragged me into using it?

Recently, a client sent me a document for signing through Adobe’s Echosign service. At first I was surprised by this new eccentricity. However, a contract is a contract so I just signed it. I printed the signature – not out of suspicion of the technology but as material reminder to look into Echosign later on. It rested on my desk until Simon’s reminder about Lexum’s column which made me look around to retrieve the name of the signing system: Echosign. A proven leader in web contracting . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Moving Beyond the Box

The 2013 AALS Annual Meeting featured a panel discussion on Understanding Search Engine Algorithms: Can We Effectively Teach Research Without Them? From what I gathered from the tweets, the panel—which featured, among others, Ian Koenig (Chief Architect for Lexisnexis) and Ed Walters (CEO of Fastcase)—gave a peak into their “black box” search functionality, something that has been a subject of vigorous debate among researchers since WestlawNext + WestSearch was introduced three years ago. I think Sarah Glassmeyer (Director of Content Development for summarized many researchers’ feelings best when she tweeted:

Google (and google type search interfaces) infantilize people

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Publishing

More on Surviving Legal Publishing

In a recent post on Slaw, Robert McKay has offered an interesting critique of the legal and professional publishing profession as it exists today (Fun but Dangerous Work: Surviving Professional Publishing), with insights as to new hires and advice to the legal publishing companies on the risks of de-hiring talent for short-term gain on the bottom-line.

Robert’s perspective is very different from my own in that he chose professional publishing for his career, and did not simply fall into it as was the case when I first joined a legal publishing company. Nonetheless, his assessment of the current . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Old Tricks …

Firstly apologies to all of you who were waiting with bated breath for that final pre-Christmas missive from me with some incisive comments about legal publishing in 2012.

Unfortunately (and very unlike me I should add ) I had absolutely nothing to say about the state of legal publishing in 2012. It has to be said that, for me at least, it was without doubt the dullest year in the industry that I can remember.

Even now, sitting here with my thinking cap on. I can’t really remember one event from the legal publishing calendar last year that immediately springs . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Legal Publications Unbound

There’s a tendency for all of us working in legal publishing to think of printed books when we think of secondary sources. Even when we know we’ll publish online as well as in print, our choice of format (or information design) is still strongly influenced by our familiarity with print.

Over the years, we’ve certainly changed our thinking about the format of primary law. We now expect statutes and case law to be available and easily searchable in large databases, with noting up and other features added. And although some have lamented the wane of the bound law report, we . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Opening Research, Data, Minds, Hearts

Among the many things altered by the Internet is the sense of what it means to make things public. The world is simply a much more public place, in the sense of what is made visible and accessible, whether image or text, whether from your neighbour or an organization on the other side of the globe. For my part, I have been fascinated by and involved in what this means for the research and scholarship that universities produce. One element of this new public quality involves the publishing of data on new scale. The fifteenth-century emergence of the printing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Fun but Dangerous Work: Surviving Professional Publishing

When recruiting new people into legal and professional publishing, while, obviously, scrupulously complying with and respecting the requirements of the law, both in letter and spirit, it has always been of interest to observe the motivation of applicants.

Among those who present themselves with specific academic or professional backgrounds, such as a law degree, an accountancy or tax qualification or who are legally qualified, occasionally one hears that the reason that they have applied is that things haven’t worked out well in the pursuit of some other career path. Perhaps the professional examination results have not been successful. Perhaps family . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing