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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

Bilingualism in New Brunswick

On June 15, 2010 I wrote a column for Slaw titled “Evolution of Bilingual Judgments in New Brunswick”. The judicial process was only a part of the struggle of New Brunswick francophones against assimilation.

Francophones, speaking French at home, account for about 30% of the New Brunswick population of 730,000.

I was a practicing lawyer in New Brunswick in the 1960s when the court process functioned only in English. A trial in French was not available. The land registry was only in English, you could not file a mortgage in French. Files maintained by lawyers were only in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Open Access for Law Book Content

It was in my role as a director of Dunedin Academic Press that recently and with some trepidation, I attended a series of workshops on open access (OA) in relation to scholarly monographs. Issues surrounding open access, as they apply to the academic journals market are now substantially rehearsed but they are less so in relation to books and the various markets for them. While most of the discussion and progress made thus far is in the academic market and primarily in such fields as humanities and social sciences, it certainly made me ponder, perhaps with a degree of anxiety, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Interested in Testing the Potential of AI on Your Own Dataset?

For the last year or so, our Lexum Lab team has been playing around with machine learning algorithms. ”Telling the fortune” of users based on their search history was one option, but this example showed us that it may not turned out according to plan. Instead our team came up with two applications promising to considerably enhance legal information retrieval. And we are currently looking for partner organizations who are interested in trying them out.

The first one is called Facts2Law. Using the latest deep learning techniques, it predicts the most relevant Canadian case law (and eventually legislation) when presented . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement: A Call for a Little Give and Take

After much Trump-inspired drama over Canada’s participation in his new North American trade accord, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was issued on September 30, 2018 (with final ratification by the three countries still pending at this point). While there is much ado about cheese, milk, and automobiles to it, intellectual property rights also figures prominently in the agreement. Its intellectual property provisions seek “the promotion of technological innovation… to the mutual advantage of producers and users… [in] a balance of rights and obligations.” While this would seem to make it all about patent regulation, it also allows for a need . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Global Perspectives

I have occasionally sought to highlight the activities and histories of legal and professional publishing businesses which, and/or whose people, I admire, or those which for one reason or another intrigue me or about which I may have some personal knowledge and opinions. Among these articles have been: Driving Mister Butterworth – 200 Years of Law Publishing; Tolley – Cento Anni!; Not All Animals Are Equal; Then There Were Two; A Most Ordinary Curriculum Vitae.

One such publisher is London-based but internationally targeted, Globe Law and Business. I am happy to declare a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The First Step Is Admitting We Have a Problem

Is there one right way to research the law?


Do most of us know the best? the most? or even a handful of useful search strategies? Almost certainly not, according to a few recent studies. As one of those studies highlight, even those who do probably aren’t sharing strategies in any event. These studies paint the picture of a profession that plops a few words into a single search engine, relies heavily on the machine to sort the results returns, and then stops looking within a few minutes having grabbed a few documents that look useful.

There are valuable . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Publishing

What the Canadian Copyright Act Fails to Recognize: The Intellectual Properties of Research and Scholarship

This post forms part of what is now a series of arguments for reforming intellectual property law in Canada (and elsewhere) to better serve researcher and public interests in the publishing of research and scholarship. Given this country’s statutory review of the Copyright Act during 2018, I have submitted a brief to the Parliamentary committee on this theme, while utilizing this series of posts to focus on particular parts of the argument, in this case, the Act’s failure to recognize changes in how research and scholarship circulate even as such works represent a major Canadian undertaking and investment.

While Canada’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Cherishing the Family Jewels

There are some who believe that the 80:20 rule applies to almost everything. Also known as the Pareto principle or the principle of factor sparsity, it suggests that approximately 20% of activity produces 80% of results. Conversely, in approximate terms we have 80% of population owning only 20% of wealth and other such examples in every sphere of activity, and so it goes on. I am inclined to agree.

As I look at law publishing businesses, particularly the smaller ones which are still engaged in print and book publishing, I’m sure that around 20% of their activity . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Reconciling Property Rights and Human Rights When It Comes to Knowledge. Part II.

In Part I of this two-part column, I examined the fate of a current California legislative initiative intended to expand access rights to state-sponsored research. While the bill continues to move through the legislature, my previous post discusses how the publishers lobby swiftly managed to amend the bill, eliminating its six-month reduction of the twelve-month embargo period (allowed publishers to delay providing open access after publication). While attesting to their support for open access, in principle, the publishers held that reducing (by six months) the public’s wait to see this research violated their property rights and threatened the future . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Human Progress

I married my wife in 1954. She confirms that over the 64 years of our marriage I have generally been an optimist about human progress. I am also an optimist about human progress in the future.

Steven Pinker in his book, Enlightenment Now (2018), argues that since the 18th century the ideas of the Enlightenment have resulted in significant human progress. The ideas are reason, science and humanism. Some areas of human progress include health, wealth, life expectancy, education, knowledge, expansion of the voting franchise, reduction of violent crimes and wars, elimination of child labor, reduction of severe punishments, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Evolution of Traditional Law Publishing Marketing Techniques

I was asked recently to express some views on a topic on which I have never claimed any significant expertise, that of how to market books published on law and related professional topics (for the expertise, see the forthcoming 6th edition of Alison Baverstock’s book, How to Market Books). The fact that it still needs to be done by many publishers makes it a relevant issue but to some observers, perhaps a little distanced from the real world or simply in different types of publishing, it might seem odd that anyone should discuss such a topic at . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

From Lexis, “Canada at 150: Building a Free and Democratic Society” and a New “Rule of Law Report”

Promoting awareness of what is being done and what can be done

My former colleague Jay Brecher has drawn my attention to the new Rule of Law Report published by Lexis Nexis. The company has long offered its support for the principle of the rule of law. More public service than corporate self promotion (although a bit of that too), Lexis has shown a genuine commitment to creating awareness of the efforts by the “little guy” to support the rule of law in Canada and elsewhere, as evidenced here by this new Rule of Law Report.

The inaugural issue reflects . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing