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Australian Government Apology

The recently elected Australian Government yesterday made a long awaited apology to the Stolen Generation of the Australian Aboriginal people. The broadcast can be heard here

By way of background, the apology was recommended by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families in 1997, also known as ‘Bringing them Home’, which can be found on Austlii. For many Australians this apology is long overdue. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

OA to US Case Law for Developers

Creative Commons and Public.Resource.Org have announced that they have made available the equivalent of 1,858 volumes of US Supreme Court and appeals courts decisions. The release is the first of a series to be made over the next few months, and there will also be an initial Requests for Comments period, when the technical suitability of the download will be discussed. More coverage at OA News. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Law Library Leadership Institute, Help and Ideas Wanted

2008 Canadian Association of Law Libraries Conference

The Academic SIG Chairs are very pleased to report that all three proposals designed by the SIG for the 2008 Conference have been approved!

We had prepared two proposals for sessions for the 2008 Annual Conference, and one proposal for a preconference workshop.

The first session is:

“Military Law in Canada, What it Is and How to Find It.” We are pleased to announce that Brigadier General Ken Watkin, Canada’s Judge Advocate General, and Andrea Belanger, Library Manager, Office of the Judge Advocate General, will be presenting this session.

The second is: . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Legal Information

Copyright Reform in Britain

There’s been some action and a lot of debate recently on copyright reform in Canada. Of course, other countries are also reviewing their own legislation. And here’s an example of something that seems like a particularly bad idea – one that I hope Canada is not thinking of adopting.

The NY Times reports that the British Department of Media, Culture and Sport is floating a plan (in the very early stages) requiring ISPs to cut off subscribers believed by content owners to be sharing files illegally. The ISP would be responsible for monitoring transfers.

I’m not sure this is practical, . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Blackberrys – the Debate Continues

Yesterday’s brief (approx. 3 hours) Blackberry outage prompted a lot of email traffic on a listserv I read. The debate seemed to be between those who thought that notwithstanding the occasional system-wide failure, Blackberrys were still the preferred mobile device for the legal community, and those who favoured some of the newer devices that have more features and functions. Interestingly, there wasn’t much traffic blaming RIM for the service disruption.

Blackberrys have been in the news a lot lately. There have been news stories about employers cuttting back on employee off-hour use. There was even a story about a hotel . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Wikis in Law Firms – an Alternative View?

A number of colleagues I respect remain excited about “wikis in law firms” (see Connie Crosby here and Doug Cornelius here as two examples).

I remain contrarian and cynical. Aren’t all major law firms with mature document management systems (DMSs) “wikified” to the max already? If everyone in the firm has online access to the “Smith file” or the “Jones file” and can edit documents, view calendars or other lists of information, access research memos, and post comments, isn’t this “wiki” personified?

This raises the question: what makes “wikis” different than DMSs? Is it simply ease-of-use and the fact that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management

Slashdot Does Law

There’s an interesting (and long) post on Slashdot that’s essentially a riff by a non-lawyer on vagueness and interpretation in law. What attracted me was the title, which is taken from the opening thought (by another Slashdot contributor): Next Year’s Laws, Now Out in Beta!, the thought being, essentially, that if laws were produced like software, there’d be a trial period where beta testers attempted to break it, confound it or expose ambiguities in it.

I seem to recall that it’s suggested from time to time that the legislature deliberately float draft bills through law schools to let the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

Law Courses on iTunes U

One of the richest sources of podcasts is the iTunes Store and particularly its iTunes U, where universities can make their audio and video materials available generally. ((The user guide is available in PDF format here.)) Yale is here, MIT, Stanford and a couple of dozen more — and from Canada there’s Concordia and Queen’s, with at least York to follow, I believe. Until recently this was great for a history lesson or that shot of engineering you found yourself craving after a hard day in court. But now New York Law School is on the board. There are more . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: CLE/PD, Legal Information: Publishing

Lawyers and Wikis

I have been talking wikis with Doug Cornelius, KM and law blogger, senior attorney at Goodwin Procter and also part of their knowledge management team. He has been asked to put together a panel about wikis inside the law firm for the ILTA conference in August. He is looking for examples as well as panelists.

Tomorrow night I will be talking to my regular group, Toronto Wiki Tuesdays, about the same topic–the use of wikis (and other social networking tools) by lawyers. I, too, would love to hear examples. Or better yet, if you are in Toronto . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Legal Information: Information Management, Technology

Proposed Earlier Day for Ontario Legislature

According to news reports this morning, the Ontario Liberal Party (currently in power) have contacted the opposition parties with a proposal to change the hours of the Ontario Legislative Assembly. The proposal is to start daily sitting of the Assembly at 9:30 a.m. rather than 1:30 p.m. This would mean holding Question Period in the morning rather than the afternoon, therefore allowing for more attendance in the afternoon rather than sparse attendance in the evenings which sometimes went until midnight. They also hope this effort will allow for the passing of more private legislation.

From today’s Globe and . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Proof Enough – the SCRs Online

As some of you know, I have another life in which I occasionally crank out more words (spill ink and post pixels, if you will) than people who are formally academic lawyers. One aspect involves writing about what “cause” means in Canadian tort law. (OK, so I’ve weird hobbies, but then it beats allowing people to shoot hard rubber objects at your body, on the understanding that, more often than not, you’ll try to make the object hit you rather than getting out of the way.) 

Anyway, the point is that I knew, anecdotally and from coincidental serendipity when looking . . . [more]

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

Closed Networks & the Problem With Facebook

This month’s edition of Web Law Connected could be seen as a bit of a rant, but the honest intent here is to explore the underlying marketing value offered to lawyers by what has become the 800-pound gorilla of social networks – Facebook.

It’s difficult to refute the fact that Facebook is the fastest growing entity on the web today, and the adoption rate within the legal community has been no different than that of any other group within the Facebook walls – it’s expanding, and fast. While some law firms are guarding business productivity by blocking access, we’ve also . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing