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WestlaweCarswell Certification

There is a good article in the most recent issue of the CBA National for October-November starting at page 31 called the “Legal Research Roundtable”, in which SLAW is given as one of the websites.

At the same time as I was reviewing this article, which stresses the importance of legal research skills for law practice, I received notiifcation from WestlaweCarswell about their new certification programme:

I use this as a refresher for upper-year law students. I’d be interested in hearing about other experiences and uses of the ecarswell certificate.

nc . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Reported vs Unreported

Musing in the rain this morning on the nature of reported Vs unreported decisions and wondering just what the distinction means any more.
In the ‘old days’ (Simon C set me off on this train of thought with his recent posting) the distinction was very clear. Reported, print decisions were all you had access to. Finding information about recent, unreported decisions was very difficult. Doing any sort of comprehensive search was impossible. Of course we had a lot less to read! But now? When researching anything, and I’m not alone in this, I look at reported or unreported decisions, making . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Reality Check

Once in a while, one needs to be reminded of just how partial the electronic tools are, and how much we’ll continue to need old-fashioned libraries.

Let’s get away from the grand abstractions and make this very concrete.
Here was the issue. We had to consider whether a contract was binding. It had been made on April *, 200*. But we discovered that one of the parties named in the contract hadn’t been incorporated until May *, 200*. If it wasn’t yet in existence, could it validly contract?

If this were just involving Canadian parties, the answer would have been . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

What Would Microsoft Research Make of Law

A provocative interview with Microsoft’s Chairman and Chief Software Architect, William H. Gates, in the latest Information Week, in which he discusses work being undertaken by MS’s research campuses, including one in Bangalore.

What struck me was not so much the ‘we’re overtaking Google’ rhetoric, but how they were thinking about large domains of ill-connected information. The focus was on scientific information, but it was interesting that the model he discussed was pulling together astronomical data.

A couple of quotes:

We’re seeing fields of science that have so much data that without our ability to data mine and [manage]

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous

Slaw in Good Company

Thanks to our own Ted Tjaden, seen here looking distinctly suave, the CBA’s National mentioned Slaw in an article on legal research in the October/November issue [pdf].

Slaw features in a list of nine sites where readers can find more about legal research, putting us in the same company as LLRX, Access to Justice, the Great Library, and LibraryCo. Not bad for a venture that’s not yet half a year old. Thanks, Ted — and the National. Congratulations Slawyers.

. . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

What If?

What If: computing as we know it were wiped out tomorrow? As electronic legal information has become entrenched over the last several years, this question has occured to me as it relates directly to legal research. For the purpose of this mental meander let’s say that a particularly virulent piece of malware passes through the world’s computer systems, rendering them all but useless. What would legal research look like? (Let’s assume that we are ignoring the riots going on outside of our offices)

As of this point, I think the legal community could recover from such a catastrophe, legislation, journals . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Legal Research Tools That Fit You Like a Glove

Sunday’s NYT described an innovation at NCSU which permits patrons to construct personal portals that know their habits and interests and sets up personal alerts for the publication of favourite journals.

Which seems like something that we should have had for a while. Why shouldn’t my search engine on CANLII know – and remember – that I’m a lawyer, in Ontario, practising in a big national firm with interests in a number of specific subject areas? Why can’t I programme a bot or some sort of RSS feed to deliver me a sort of personalized law report.

My friends in . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Microsoft, Standards and the Way Forward

There is an old joke that goes something like this: How many Microsoft engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None. They just define darkness as an industry standard. You can find this joke in many forms on the web.

There are two news items this week of note on the Microsoft / standards front.

First, Microsoft appears to have decided to seek an endorsement from the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) for its Office XML Reference Schema (the new file format for it’s Office productivity suite). This seems to be in response to efforts by the . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Canadian Law Library Review

As Features Editor of the Canadian Law Library Review I’d like to solicit articles from readers and contributors to SLAW for next year’s issues. There are so many interesting topics developed here, many with potential for great articles and I just know that many of you love to write. I’d particularly like to see some articles on cutting edge topics like the practical uses of RSS, blogging (the whys and wherefores), but really am open to anything. Email me! . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous