Canada’s online legal magazine.

U.S. Government Uses Web 2.0 to Go Paperless

Wow! Yet another indication that social media is becoming woven into all aspects of our daily lives. In the US the Office of Management and Budget issued a memo yesterday that will make it easier for US federal government agencies to communicate with citizens and collect feedback from them by way of the Internet and social media: Social Media, Web-Based Interactive Technologies, and the Paperwork Reduction Act.

To engage the public, Federal agencies now have guidance on expanding their use of social media and web-based interactive technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networks, as a means of “publishing” solicitations . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet

DBpedia, Law, and Structured Data

In law we’re used to structured data, although, like the oft-mentioned M. Jourdain, we may not know it by its fancy name. Very roughly, it’s data that’s been labelled in some useful way, so that it can be found or otherwise manipulated using that label. So, when we tell CanLII or our favourite commercial database that we’d like to see R. v. Molière, please, we’re wielding the label “case name,” for example. Like most professions and trades, we analyze our tools and products, naming the parts and their relationships, creating various “ontologies.” It starts simply in law school, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management

Digital Ontario Reports

David Canton has been first to comment on the new digital version of the Ontario Reports that arrived in the inboxes of members of the Ontario bar this morning.

Although I take no credit for being a catalyst in this development (see my SLAW rant here from over 1 year ago), I am extremely pleased with the product and have already used it to print a nice PDF of one of the cases reported in it. The various advertisements for new publications, seminars and other material are often in color and fairly easy to scroll through.

I applaud the effort . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing

Materials on Self-Represented Litigants

Materials from a January 2010 conference held by the Self‐Represented Litigation Network of the U.S.-based National Center for State Courts were recently posted on the Webjunction website.

The conference took place in Austin, Texas.

“The Self-Represented Litigation Network is an open and growing group of organizations and working groups dedicated to fulfilling the promise of a justice system that works for all, including those who cannot afford lawyers and who go to court on their own. The Network brings together a range of organizations including courts, and access to justice organizations in support of innovations in services for the self‐represented

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information

Vancouver Law Day

From the Law Day 2010 Press Release

Access to Justice: Justice for All

Changes in legal systems, financial barriers, and language concerns can have an impact on the ability of all BC citizens to gain access to the justice system. This raises a question about whether everyone in BC has equal access to the justice system.

This concern for justice for all is the theme for this year’s BC Law week, which aims to connect BC’s citizens with members of the legal community. Simply, it means that every BC resident has a right to justice when confronted with a legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Cost of Free Google Searches

Almost exactly a year ago, Google held a gathering for “leaders of the IT industry” — the Efficient Data Center Summit — where they explored the steps the company takes to reduce resource use and energy consumption in particular. And although most of what went on is so technical as to be land law to a layman, I thought you might like to learn some of the more intelligible highlights of Google efficiency. After all, in practice or at play, we call on Google daily; and the absence of great clanking noises and bursts of steam when we do, can . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Jury Confirms Novell Owns Unix Copyrights – Linux Remains Free

We have not heard much about this lately, partly because a summary judgment in 2007 stated that Novell owned the Unix code. A jury confirmed last week that SCO had not acquired the copyright to Unix from Novell in an asset purchase agreement.

The significance of this to the world at large is that Linux was derived from Unix. SCO launched a long standing battle claiming it owned Unix, and thus had rights to certain code within Linux, and thus the right to be compensated for Linux use. 

Apparently, SCO is not yet giving up though – there is some . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology, Technology: Office Technology

Law Not Yet in Force

I happened to be looking at currency dates for a section of the Criminal Code today and saw a big bold New heading. To my glee the New heading prefaced a note about shading on the Department of Justice Laws website. The site has a new feature showing provisions that are not yet in force as shaded. Well done DOJ!

The frequently asked questions page describes it like so:

What does the shading of provisions mean?
A new feature has been added to the consolidated Laws on the Justice Laws Web site: provisions in original enactments that are not

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law: Legislation

“The Times” to Disappear Behind Paywall

Sadly, what I recently learned from Times columnist, Richard Susskind, is indeed the case: The Times, TimesOnline and the Sunday Times will begin charging for online access. Presented by the publisher as the advent of something new and better — “timesplus” — the wall will go up around the garden at some near but as yet unidentified time. In the meantime, you’re invited “register for our exclusive preview” and they’ll get in touch when it happens.

The economic plight of newspaper organizations has been in the news for years now, so this attempt to monetize internet access . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading, Technology: Internet

Nomus: A New Canadian Caselaw Search Engine

Here’s a turn-up for the books: there’s a new entry in the Canadian legal search engine market. CanLII notwithstanding, Kent Mewhort, a McGill law student and experienced software engineer, has launched Nomus, a free search engine for Canadian legal decisions.

This is no Google-based amateur effort, but rather a serious tool running with at least one interesting algorithm and one valuable additional feature. I’ve had a small exchange of emails with Mr. Mewhort, and some of the material in this post comes from that.

First the scope: the database is drawn from publicly available, i.e. governmental, sites . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Technology: Internet

The Five Dysfunctions of a Law Firm?

I just finished reading the Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, which is written as a “leadership fable” – a story of a struggling technology start up company.

The central premise of the book is that creating a strong team is one of the few remaining competitive advantages available to organizations. Functional teams make better decisions and accomplish more in less time. Talented people are less likely to leave organizations where they are part of a cohesive team.

Politics is defined as when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Practice of Law