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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

Post-Graduate Degrees for Professional Publishing: A Way Forward?

One of the most stimulating and pleasing roles I have, is to be involved with very small numbers of students on Kingston University’s Publishing Masters’ degree, as a supervisor of dissertations and on the advisory board for the course. There are a number of such courses in the UK, including those at City University and University College, both in London, where I have informal links to academics running the courses. I speak to them frequently about their developments.

Over the past several years, such courses have grown, drawing in students from around the world in order for them . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Plain English Please!

The plain English movement has been going on for a long time. The first law reports in England, The Year Books (1260 to 1535), were all in the French language. Legal texts were published in England in the French language in the 16th century. But French was not the language of the people and it took a long time to get the courts to use English rather than French or Latin.

“After 1704 all reports are in English” – see The Language of the Law by David Mellinkoff, page 130.

David Mellinkoff’s book, published in 1963, is credited with starting . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Odds & Ends

As I’ve been mentioning in Law Librarians News it really is rather dull at the moment in the world of legal publishing — from the outside anyway. 

You will all know Lexis have dumped Matthew Bender and that’s really the only big story of the last month. Both Lexis and Westlaw have done their usual slew of Joint Ventures, Mergers and Buyouts in the world of legal technology to boost ever decreasing revenues and as late as mid March press departments at both companies were in silent mode as the number crunchers and management run around furiously creating end of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Murky Waters of Case Law Databases

CANLII and the Quest for Comprehensive Case Law Databases

CanLII now appears to be wallowing in the murky waters of determining what constitutes a “comprehensive” case law database. This question has plagued commercial legal publishers for more than two decades without anyone offering a clear answer. Welcome to the world of legal publishing.

An independent study

According to its press releases, CanLII has made the comprehensiveness of its court collections a priority. But what does that really mean? In an attempt to figure it out, CanLII’s Board of Directors has “approved the commissioning of an independent study to support its . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

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