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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

Legal Publishing: The Next Generation

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently considering the next generation of legal publication. Louis Mirando’s excellent column about the future of print reporters identified the future storage and delivery of primary law; in a nutshell, bound volumes of the law reports are soon to be just a memory. 

One comment in Mirando’s column that particularly caught my attention concerned the importance of headnotes and report collections generally. What this says to me is that even though there may be comprehensive databases of case law available to us, there is still value in providing summaries of lengthy decisions and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Language of Law Reports

In the United Kingdom and in Canada the history of the language of law reports is as much about the influence of the French language as it is about the use of English. To a lessor extent such history is also about the influence of Latin.

Consider that the first English law reports were in the French language for over 300 years, specifically:

– the first English law reports are found in the Year Books that run from 1260 to 1535 and they were written 100% in the French language. See page 99, The Language of the Law by David . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

More Speculation on Mergers and Acquisitions in Legal Publishing

Acquisitions and mergers are expected to continue as the major legal publishers explore ways to increase their profitability, achieve growth and increase market share. When organic growth fails to achieve corporate expectations, acquisitions and mergers are the next best thing.

The acquisition of Canada Law Book by Carswell Thomson is simply the most recent acquisition of note in the Canadian market. There have been many others of far greater significance in recent years, including the acquisition of Yvon Blais by Carswell, the acquisition of Quicklaw by Lexis Nexis and the re-acquisition of Irwin Law from Quicklaw by its founders.

Long . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Metadata Revisited

In 1910, an Englishman by the name of Percy T. Carden [Fn. 1] published an interesting proposal arguing for the creation of loose leaf law reports, which, at the time, generated considerable debate concerning the merits of ditching bound volumes in favor of publishing cases as single-issue slip opinions to be filed away in drawers. See Carden, Loose Leaf Law Reports, 26 L. Q. Rev. 75 (1910); see also Loose Leaf Law Reports, 30 Can. L. Times 244 (1910) (doubting that debris of littered “loose leaves” would ever find their way back to their proper places); Hawley, Law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Are Marginal Notes Trivial?

Last October, Les Publications du Québec — the official printer for Acts and regulations in that province — started to remove marginal notes from its newly updated consolidated legislation collection called “Compilation of Québec Laws and Regulations”. When an Act or regulation gets amended, all its marginal notes are now removed from the text. Marginal notes in Quebec legislation will therefore progressively fade out as consolidated texts are being updated.

Marginal notes are words and small phrases that were traditionally displayed in the margin of printed statutes, providing hints about the content of specific provisions. Modern typesetting conventions . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The World Is Opening Shop in China: Legal Publishers Activities – Can We Learn What They’re Up to ?

China China China. 

It’s the mantra of global business & finance and following their lead comes the legal industry.

The flood of international law firms into the Asian region to service the new opportunities in an ever expanding legal market over the last decade has been phenomenal and in 2010 there’s a new gold rush for law firms with china connections for this year’s huge IPO boom

Where the law firms go, so go the feeders, all of them desperately hoping for a piece of the pie.

The region’s two leading locations with a rule of law based on the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

More on the Future of Looseleaf Publications

Two very good columns were posted here recently on the topic of looseleaf legal publications—one by Susannah Tredwell; the other by Ruth Bird. Ruth in particular painted a very negative picture of the looseleaf—basically the care and feeding is too onerous—and predicted its demise within the next 10 years.

Susannah referred to an article in BoingBoing; the comments on the article are most entertaining—mostly cries of woe from people who had been forced as part of their job duties to file looseleafs. From the tone of some of the comments you would think that looseleaf filing is a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Future of Headnotes

I believe that a book without an index is not as useful as a book with a good index. 

A case headnote can provide a complete index to a judicial decision.

Headnotes are at risk because the full text of legal decisions without headnotes are now available free on the Internet from multiple sources. This free access has resulted in a dramatic reduction of print subscriptions to law reports.

Is there a need for headnotes? Headnotes tend to save time for a searcher by providing an index to a decision and by providing index material for digests. When a judicial . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A Student-Led Movement for a University Open Access Policy

Having been a supporter of open access to research and scholarship for a dozen years now, I sometimes think that I have seen it all, from brilliant strategies to collegial indifference. Thus my surprise and delight, when I recently had the chance to meet Goldis Chami and Gordana Panic at the University of British Columbia to talk about their efforts, as students, to bring about open access to the work published by faculty and graduate students at UBC. Goldis, a second-year medical student, and Gordana, a recent graduate in Biology and Psychology, explained to me that they were determined to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Upgrading to Elegant

In conjunction with the release of his latest autobiography, The Fry Chronicles, Stephen Fry has produced a rather unique interactive iPhone app titled myFry. What really catches your attention about it is the app’s navigation system:

When I first saw it, I was immediately struck by its beauty. Its functionality, however, remained something of a mystery to me. The designer of the app, Stefanie Posavec, writes:

The app functions as a ‘visual index’ of key theme tags within the book, which have been divided into 4 major groups: People, Subjects, Emotions, and Fryisms (metaphors, similes, word play,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Publishing

Legal “Publishing” Companies & People: That’s What We Need

It has occurred to House of Butter that in 2010 there now appears to be a singular lack of imagination at senior management levels at the major legal publishers.

Plenty of the usual tinkering and re-imagining of existing content and products and more of the we’ve bought this and look at the our latest JV with one or other technology based company to help “streamline” content management and flow at law firms. Woop de doo.

HOB wonders if this lack of imagination has its roots in fact that both Lexis and West currently see themselves as “content” database storage and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Authors and Acquisitions

What does the acquisition of one publishing house by another mean for an author? Since the announcement of the acquisition of Canada Law Book by Carswell Thomson, I have received a number of calls from authors and editors asking me questions relating to the acquisition and what it will mean to them.

Is one legal publisher better than another?

Needless to say, it can be a bit disconcerting for an author to learn that his or her publisher has been sold to a competitor. In persuading an author to sign with Publisher A, as much effort would have been spent . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing