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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

The Anatomy of a Headnote

After a judicial decision is completed by a judge and filed with a court, a legal editor may add a headnote to the decision. A headnote is normally prepared by an editor employed by a publisher. 

The main purpose of a caselaw headnote is to save a searcher time in finding a point of law. A headnote should be an index to a judicial decision. For example, a headnote can serve a searcher so that only a portion of long decision has to be read.

Comment and opinion should not be part of a headnote.

What are the elements of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Curating the Legal Web?

Much to the chagrin of the museum crowd, the last few years has seen a steady degradation of the term “curate.” A recent New York Times piece noted that the term “has become a fashionable code word among the aesthetically minded, who seem to paste it onto any activity that involves culling and selecting.” In this sense, everyone perhaps is a curator. 

Now, as stimulating as an etymological debate on the word “curate” undoubtedly would be (e.g., Florida still uses the phrase “probate curator”), I’m not really interested in doing it here. I raise the issue because I am . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Staying Relevant in Legal Publishing

The two leading Canadian legal publishers, Carswell Thomson and LexisNexis Butterworths, have something in common – both face a major challenge for continuing relevance in the Canadian market. Interestingly enough, the real challenge does not come from each other, but from free services and technological advances, and increasingly from small but nimble legal publishers committed to the delivery of high quality competitively priced products. How each of them responds to this challenge will determine their ultimate role as providers of legal information in the Canadian legal market.

Meeting the challenge has been made more difficult because of the unrealistic expectations . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Independent Bookstores

In mid-June Irwin Law held a book launch to celebrate the publication of The Lunatic and the Lords by Hon. Richard Schneider. Justice Schneider, as some readers will be aware, presides over the mental health court at Old City Hall in Toronto. His book is an account of the 1843 trial of Daniel M’Naughten for the murder of Edward Drummond, secretary to Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel. The verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity was so controversial that Queen Victoria ordered the House of Lords to review the verdict. The result of this review was the ‘M’Naughten Rules’ . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Richard Susskind and Legal Publishing

Richard Susskind has been far and away the most interesting speaker I’ve heard this year. He’s been travelling around the world delivering his message of coming change for the legal profession. He spoke at a recent CLEBC course and at the BC Court of Appeal 100th anniversary course.

For those of you who haven’t yet had the Susskind experience, he predicts that the legal profession is undergoing profound changes as corporate clients are under increasing pressure to cut costs, and as private clients cannot afford the bespoke services provided by lawyers. He anticipates that over the next ten years, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Fair [And Educationally Sound] Dealing
in Canada’s Proposed Revisions to the Copyright Act

On June 2nd, 2010, the Canadian federal government introduced a new copyright bill intended to “modernize Canadian Copyright law,” as Tony Clement, Minister of Industry put it in the press release. I want to join the healthy welter of blogging around this latest attempt to “modernize” our act. Now before you read any further, let me say that the one to read in these matters is Michael Geist, especially as he is all over the most draconian aspect of this new bill, namely how the digital lock provisions trump all other rights.

For my part, I want . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Evolution of Bilingual Judgments in New Brunswick

Maritime Law Book is proud to have been part of the development of the only provincial bilingual law reporter in Canada. Namely, the New Brunswick Reports (2d).

Here is how that development took place. 

New Brunswick has a population of approx. 750,000. And approx. 35% of New Brunswickers speak French as a first language.

In 1969 New Brunswick enacted its first Official Languages Act, making it Canada’s first and only officially bilingual province.

In 1969 the province’s statutes, regulations, by-laws, etc., were in English only. In the courts, pleadings and trials, both civil and criminal, were in English only; in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Everything Old Is New Again – Legal Publishing in the Spring of 2010

Publishing trends are not working in favour of the major legal publishers and their recent financial performance confirms this to be the case – revenue is down and staff cuts and outsourcing have replaced publishing as the primary means of maintaining profit margins.

The end of growth

It is a fact that legal and regulatory information is no longer seen as an area of growth and expansion for the multinationals. All three major legal publishers have reported lower publishing revenues while still holding out the prospect of a return to growth in future years. Is it a realistic expectation? Do . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Illustrated Judgments


[An Unhappy Fisherman’s Exhibit. Picture from a Cour du Québec’s judgment illustrating that the roof bought by the plaintiff was too low for comfortable fishing. Source : 2003 CanLII 42894 (QC C.Q.) (juge Raoul P. Barbe) at para. 8.]

Earlier this year, SCC’s judges cited a CTV news video clip in Canada (Prime Minister) v. Khadr, 2010 SCC 3, (at para. 7.). In that case, the government policy — its refusal to request M. Khadr’s repatriation — was established through a reference to a press conference given by the Prime Minister and available in CTV’s archives (see at . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Content, Containers, and Change

This past March, I was fortunate to get some face time with one of the senior directors for Thomson Reuters’ new Print and Advanced Media division to talk about business. Among the many topics to be discussed was that particularly irksome one, the future of print. When we kicked off our conversation, the director acknowledged that she had had some feelings of trepidation when she signed on to help run a division that seemingly—excuse the pun—has a limited shelf life.

I understood where she was coming from, particularly since I’d just seen Thomson Reuters’ 2009 financial report released the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A Canadian Scholarly Publishing Cooperative

When a legally facilitated monopoly over the distribution of a certain economic good is judged to be operating against the interests of one substantial segment of the party on whose behalf that monopoly is granted, what recourse is there? In the case of deferential Canada, that recourse would take the form of an imaginative, slightly unrealistic, proposal for a cooperative work-around. And in this particular case, it would work like this, at least on a back-of-the-envelope or blog scale.

The segment of the party on whose behalf this monopoly has been granted is the Canadian academic community, and the monopoly . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Odd Book

A new year, a new decade, and the twenty-first century is fully underway. What has crept up on me this year is a new sense of the digital age’s full weight. There’s been enough of this sort of reflection about, surely. If my case is any different, it is because it is not about the tremulous future of the book. Sure, I am struck by the relatively frequent Kindle sightings I find myself making as I walk back up the aisle on one flight after another. But those Kindles are only leading to more reading of books, to judge . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing