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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

A Round of Applause for the Middle Men and Women of Culture!

There’s a tendency, and I can be more guilty than most, to moan about how awful can be the major international professional information providers. Yet, compared to so many other sectors that affect our private, community and working lives, they’re, in relative terms, harmless and not especially evil. It’s not that they’re the oil polluters, the auto industry, the military-industrial complex, the tobacco industry and the like. Law publishing causes few deaths, helps professional advisers to perform valuable work and is generally on the positive side of the balance between democracy and totalitarianism.

So, for a change, I’d like . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Remixing Legal Content: A Way Forward

Roberta Shaffer, the Law Librarian of Congress, recently gave a keynote to the American Association of Law Librarians Vendor’s Colloquium in Chicago, and during that presentation made a number of observations about socio-info, law practice, legal research, and legal publishing trends [Fn. 1], two of which I found particularly important to highlight. First, she said that legal publishers can find lawyers to update existing content, but are having problems getting lawyers to write new treatises. Second, she said our vocabulary has changed, specifically that we are using shorter sentences and shorter words to help us cope with information overload. [Fn. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

CLIC and Its Legacy – Time for a Comeback?

CLIC made a difference

In the late seventies and early eighties, the Canadian Law Information Council was the key player in the effort to create a vision for accessing legal information online. CLIC was the idealistic, innovative and somewhat eclectic creation of the federal and provincial governments, that ran out of steam well before the new order it foresaw, came to pass. In its relatively short life, however, CLIC played a valuable role as prophet, educator and motivator in preparing the legal information community for the dramatic changes that were to come.

CLIC was “right on the money” in projecting . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Zoning, Parking, Clotheslines, Alcohol Consumption and Fireworks

Although most of us may not be concerned with rules governing alcohol consumption and fireworks or a combination thereof on a daily basis, municipal law impacts our lives quite frequently. 

Unfortunately, this is one area of law where efficient, free and public access is far from secured. The presence of municipalities on the web has significantly expanded and improved over the past several years, but publication of municipal by-laws seems to remain low on the priority list. When it is made available, municipal legal information is scattered, often out-of-date and is not easily searchable.

When driving on the Montreal roads . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing


Here at House of Butter we don’t usually go in for advertorials but at the moment we are taken by a piece of software developed by a 25+ year old legal software company out of Sydney called EIS (Eurofield Information Systems) who have told us about an electronic looseleaf concept that they’ve developed out in the wilds of Chatswood (Northern Sydney suburb).

They say their software simply allows users to update a publication securely whilst keeping all past addendums in a easy to view list that also allows one to refer back to previous updates and view them . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A Salute to Law Librarians

I recently attended the mid-year meeting of ACLEA, the organization for continuing legal education professionals. This excellent group was started in 1964; it declares itself to be “a dynamic organization devoted to improving the performance of CLE professionals”. It has been a fantastic source of information and support throughout my CLE career. 

Many American CLEs have publishing departments. Some put most of their effort into publishing first-class course materials, but others, such as California (CEB), Michigan (ICLE), and Massachusetts (MCLE) are superb publishers of secondary material. I always enjoy reconnecting with my counterparts from across North America; we all . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

To Encourage Learning, Stop Including Journal Articles in Course-Packs

I recently received an email from the University of British Columbia explaining that Access Copyright had proposed to raised the annual fee charged to UBC for “copying material from scholarly journals, textbooks, and other materials” by a factor of three. The university and its students’ bill for 2011 will rise from $650,000 to two million dollars. It was encouraging to see that in its email, UBC stated it was “actively considering a range of options to mitigate the financial burden.” 

I’d like to propose a further option for UBC and other institutions to consider. It draws on a historical principle . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Professional Publishing Mergers and Acquisitions? Why Not?

Oligopolies? Reduction in healthy competition? Up go the prices. Down goes the quality. Customers in a stranglehold. 

Duopoly fear is discussed continuously. It’s a bad thing. Right?

I’m not so sure, my reason being that I want to see professional information thrive for all concerned – shareholders, employees past, present and future, customers, suppliers and society, and in the interests of the supremacy of law. My point is, what appears to exist now is hardly optimal, it’s clearly ripe for change and in this situation and for these purposes, I reckon market forces might produce a better outcome than . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Case Law Reporting – the Way It Was

Over the years I heard from librarians that case law publishing should be regulated. I heard from lawyers who suggested that governments should publish case law reports. I heard a chief justice in Saskatchewan complain about the duplicate publication of judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada.

In the 1970s decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada were published by the Government of Canada in the Supreme Court Reports but many times it took up to two years for a case to be published. In response to a need for the timely publication of Supreme Court of Canada cases our . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Are We to Live With Useless Periods Forever?

One of the skills that legal researchers and authors quickly have to master does not have anything to do with substantive law, but with how to refer to legal materials. This is true in many other areas of specialized knowledge, but citation standards in the legal realm seem to be particularly cluttered with minute details and exceptions, especially in Canada and the United States. Some of us eventually become quite skilled at knowing how to use square brackets, abbreviations and acronyms of legal authorities. The rest of us rely on proofreaders to make sure that every rule in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Sensors and Legal Publishing: Making Quick Use of “Extended” Legal Content

Imagine this: You are a busy lawyer with a multi-jurisdictional practice, and frequently find yourself in different courtrooms or offices in various counties, states, provinces, etc. At each one of these locations, you need access to relevant, location-specific information, such as local rules of the court. Now let’s assume you carry a networked mobile device that has one or more “apps” giving you access to primary and secondary source material. The portal, while very modern, is still dumb, and by that I mean it requires you to navigate—whether by search, facets, tables, or indicies—to the location where the relevant . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Enlightenment 2.0: An Open Letter on OpenAIRE

Dear Dr. Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission:

I was recently a guest at your launch in Ghent of the European Commission’s OpenAIRE initiative. You spoke eloquently and forcefully about how OpenAIRE is providing infrastructure for “open access” across the European Union, and how it represents a strong stand for both mandating and supporting open access to research funded by the European Commission. You, indeed, made it seem the only sensible way for research to progress in this new century.

It was deeply stirring to see a continent-wide embrace of open access. The Open Access Infrastructure for Research . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing