Canada’s online legal magazine.

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

The Friday Fillip

Kevin Kelly is one busy guy. An editor of Wired, he’s also the man behind the Cool Tools blog — and an author of books. But, as is so often the case on Fridays, I’m going to eschew (god I love that word!) books of unremitting text and point you to Kelly’s book of photographs. Asia Grace is a collection of photos taken by Kelly during a protracted ramble through large tracts of that continent, and he’s put the beautiful results on line for our weekend delight.

What you see above is merely one cluster of thumbnails out of a . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Order and Law: Rebuilding the Trust

The RCMP Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change has recently made its Final Report (pdf) available on the web. The Introduction to the report and other information can be found here. As part of its mandate the Task Force commissioned several other reports which can be found at the URL above. These include:

* Background paper prepared for the Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP
by: Gilles Paquet

* Report to the Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Examination of Internal Management Structures of Police Forces
by: Police . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law

SLA Toronto Chapter Program on Knowledge Management

Special Libraries Association Toronto Chapter’s recent newsletter has a summary of a great presentation held in November on knowledge management. Presented by Laura Knapp, Manager, Knowledge Services at the Ontario Securities Commission, Laura Purves from L. Purves Consulting, and Heather Ritchie, Knowledge Manager at McCarthy Tetrault, the discussion focused on the following:

  • What is KM?
  • Challenges to KM successes
  • Key KM skills
  • Importance of KM sponsors
  • Suggestions to ensure success
  • Knowledge managers vs. librarians
  • Measuring the success of KM projects
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management

Laptops and Cross-Border Security

An article in today’s Washington Post addresses a number of instances in which U.S. border security personnel have invaded the privacy of traveller’s laptops, requiring them in some cases to yield their ID’s and passwords and in some cases confiscating the equipment. The people whose computers have been the subject of American interference are described by the author of the article as typical business travellers.

I believe it would make sense for other Canadian law firms to do as Blaney McMurtry LLP has done and travel across the U.S. border with completely clean, i.e. empty, laptops. Lou Brzezinski of Blaney . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology