Legal Indexing

In the world of legal research, we often take indexes for granted. Alice JanischThanked by David Mullan for a great index to his adminstrative law text. taught me years ago at CLIC that the contribution an intelligent indexer can make to improving the accessibility of legal information is extraordinary.

My single favourite case research tool is the Index to the All England Law Reports, a topical index with multiple cross-references that permits me to see in less than five minutes just how English law has evolved on a particular topic. Much faster than Halsbury’s Laws, even in its electronic iteration.

Surprisingly, there isn’t much non-specialist literature on legal indexing. A general overview will tell you how its done, and why it’s such a specialist area, even among professional indexers.

In comparison with English indexes, Canadian doctrine is only occasionally well idexed. Though we do have the extraordinary joke references in Bruce Welling’s indexSee the earlier Slaw posting.

And despite what technology fans may think, full-text searching does not remove the need for a good professional index.

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