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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns


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

The End of Articling for Law Students?

Recently the Law Society of Upper Canada announced a dramatic change in the admission requirements for law students.

The current 10 month articling requirement remains an option. But for students unable to find an articling position they will be able to qualify for admission by taking an eight month program composed of four months of classroom study plus four months of unpaid “co-op work” at a law firm or sole practitioner – see The Globe and Mail article, November 30, 2012, by Kirk Makin.

From the Law Society Gazette:

On November 22, 2012, Convocation approved a three-year pilot project

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Publishing

The New Juris Classeur Quebec

The Great Encyclopedias of Legal Research

This is the fourth of a series of posts on the major encyclopedias of legal research in Canada that were prepared following a presentation to a seminar on legal information at the University of Montreal.


Joining the list of Great Encyclopedias of Legal Research in Canada is the new Juris Classeur Quebec, a series of encyclopedias modelled on those in France and Monaco. By way of an explanation to the uninitiated, it can be said that a Juris Classeur encyclopedia serves much the same purpose for a legal practitioner . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A Reinvention of Paper Is Not Enough

If you are a publisher and your e-book strategy is called EPUB or any of the likes, you are still stuck in the print era.

E-book formats and reader devices came with the promise to transform the way we consume books. However, those formats did not reinvent the book but they rather reinvented paper. They do not necessarily offer the possibility for a use case that is radically different from the use cases that we know from the world of print. True, it is cool and practical to take many more books than we can actually read while on vacation. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Canlawpedia? Crowd-Sourcing and the Law

I was sorry to miss the 2012 Law via the Internet conference held earlier this month at Cornell. Happily, many sessions are available for viewing on the conference website. I was particularly interested to watch Clay Shirky’s keynote address.

Shirky is the author of the recent popular titles Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus. At LVI, he questioned why there is so little shared annotation of the law. He reported on a couple of examples that have popped up on social media. For instance, the State Code of Utah has been included on Github, a site for . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Professional Information – Expertise or Answers

There have been times, as a legal and professional publisher, when I have mused on a life without troublesome and quirky authors who take holidays, have families and sometimes put their professional work before their writing commitments. I speculated as to how it would be in an entirely automated world in which the nature of the problem was entered into one end of the over-sized computer and out the other emerged the single correct answer, as was seen in films of a bygone era. Expressed in books, perhaps each chapter or topic would end with “the answer, therefore, is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing