Current Awareness Services for Canadian Lawyers

To SLAW [cross-posted to TALL-L and CALL-L]:

I would like to compile a fairly complete list of both “fee” and “free” current awareness services available for Canadian lawyers. I realize efforts to compile such lists have been done in the past (see below for partial acknowledgements), but I thought I would update such efforts and seek feedback from colleagues on new services. In addition, although I have been off most law-related listservs for awhile, I made some effort to search the listservs for recent posts on current awareness but fear I may have missed some of the content so would ask people to re-post if I have overlooked any recent postings and I apologize in advance if I have duplicated recent efforts in this regard.

My guess is that most people, if anything, think they are getting too much information. As such, I am sensitive to the issue of promoting current awareness services in an age of information overload. At this stage, however, I thought the first step would be to create a fairly exhaustive “menu” of options and then worry later on how best to serve items on the menu.

If you have time, please review my initial compilation below and reply to the listserv if you think you have comments or additional services to share with the group, or, more likely, reply to me offline, especially if you want to mention specific products in confidence. I am happy to share with this listserv the final results of any compilation and to even archive the list on SLAW or the TALL or CALL Member’s pages, as appropriate.

For now, I have divided current awareness services into three broad categories:

(i) Commercial services (where a fee-based subscription is required);
(ii) Free current awareness services; and,
(iii) Blogs and RSS Feeds.

[I realize (ii) and (iii) are largely similar categories]

My focus for now is Canadian and is on current awareness services for practicing lawyers and not necessarily current awareness services for academics or for law librarians, although there will be an overlap in many situations. My lists below are most likely not even close to being exhaustive, so please let me know what I am missing.

1. Commercial Current Awareness Services (in alphabetical order):

The services below assume you have a subscription and are appropriately licensed to use these databases for delivery of current awareness services. If I have omitted any particular current awareness service “within” a particular database, I apologize in advance and invite any “vendors” on the listserv to let us know of additional services they would like to promote; omissions were not intentional.

1) Canada Law Book: Canada Law Book has a number of online publications
(http://www.canadalawbook.ca/OnlinePublications.html). Their “caseAlert” subscription provides for weekly/monthly emails of case digests on a variety of topics that are clickable to launch a PDF version of the court’s (full-text) judgment. Then there are “e-notes” email updates available with subscriptions to the Ontario Annual Practice and the British Columbia Annual Practice. Full-service subscribers to Canada Law Book’s law reports (Dominion Law Reports, Canadian Criminal Cases, Labour Arbitration Cases, Canadian Patent Reporter, Ontario Municipal Board Reports, Land Compensation Reports) are eligible to receive “e-Reports”, an electronic version of the weekly or monthly paper parts. A number of their other products also offer “current awareness” features (e.g., the “Weekly Bulletin” features of the Canada Statute Service, etc.).

2) CCH Online (http://online.cch.ca/welcome.htm): Subscribers can set up individualized profiles which can then be customized to send a number of email alerts on a variety of topics within the topical coverage of the various CCH titles included in CCH Online (including, I believe, news alerts relating to commercial law, corporate law, estate administration, federal and provincial tax, employment and labour law, benefits and pensions, real estate law and securities law). CCH also continues to support both Tax Protos and Securities Protos, alert services for CD-ROM subscribers.

3) CCH Legislative Pulse (http://pulse.cch.ca): There are powerful alerts available within this legislative product, including the ability to be notified of any updates or changes to specific federal or provincial bills. The newest email alert service allows you to receive notifications whenever a new Bill is introduced that amends an Act matching your pre-saved criteria (or whenever that Bill is amended on a subsequent reading). Useful if you are monitoring a particular piece of legislation and need to know if there are new Bills that could affect it.

4) Lexis Publisher (http://www.lexisnexis.com/publisher/): Lexis Publisher provides searching of news and other LexisNexis content (including case law and journals, for example) with the feature of built in licensing and technology to “push” these stories to firm members by email and to have the stories posted for limited periods of times on the firm’s intranet.

5) LexisNexis Canada (http://www.lexisnexis.ca): It is possible to save and schedule automated searches to run in any LexisNexis databases.

6) LexisNexis Quicklaw (http://www.lexisnexis.ca/ql/index.php): Netletters on a large number of law-related topics are available on Quicklaw (e.g., “LexisNexis Construction Law NetLetter”). I am told that the “New Quicklaw” will have the capacity both to save searches and have them run automatically with emailed results as an alert service, and also to select pre-canned subject areas and have new caselaw in those areas sent automatically.

7) Thomson Carswell / WestlaweCARSWELL (http://www.westlawecarswell.com): Like LexisNexis, you can set up automated “alert” searches on any WestlaweCARSWELL database with “WestClips”. In addition, the company promotes various newsletters within its topical “source” databases (e.g., Houlden & Morawetz Newsletter in “Insolvency Source”) that act as current awareness tools. WestlaweCARSWELL also offers to subscribers weekly email delivery of Abridgment Case eDigests.
Thomson Carswell also offers a Law Reports eDigests service for subscribers to Thomson Carswell print case law reporters.

8) WestlawWatch (http://west.thomson.com/westlawwatch/): Thomson offers a service called WestlawWatch similar to Lexis Publisher. WestlawWatch “is a tool you can use to deliver selected Westlaw content to individuals via email or your organization’s intranet or portal.”
Note: I am not a user of the SOQUIJ database or other online services that focus on the Quebec market. If applicable, perhaps colleagues from Quebec could enlighten me (and others) on current awareness services in Quebec.

_________________________

In addition to the foregoing, several “American” commercial services that some Canadian law firms may subscribe to offer “current awareness” alert services, including:

1) BNA: http://www.bna.com

2) LiveEDGAR Alerts: http://www.gsionline.com/livedgar/alerts.html

2. Free Current Awareness Services

Set out below in no particular order is a listing of a variety of free web-based current awareness services involving law-related information. The emphasis remains on content of most interest to Canadian lawyers.

1) Supreme Court of Canada decisions: http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/subscribe.html

2) Federal Court of Canada Bulletins: http://www.fct-cf.gc.ca/bulletins/whatsnew/whatsnew_e.shtml

3) House of Lords decisions: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldjudgmt.htm

4) BAR/eX: http://www.bar-ex.com. A variety of services are offered (free registration required), including “a weekly e-mail update that keeps members up-to-date on legislative changes, recent caselaw and other legal developments in your practice area.”

5) Law Society and Courthouse Libraries:
LSUC: http://library.lsuc.on.ca/GL/stay_informed.htm

6) Legal Scholarship Network: http://www.ssrn.com/lsn/index.html

7) Law.com: http://www.law.com

8) Finance Canada: http://www.fin.gc.ca/scripts/register_e.asp

9) Parliamentary Information and Research Service Publications:
http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/library_prb.asp?Language=E

10) CBA Newsfeeds: Various options for CBA members, including EPIIgram email alerts (http://www.cba.org/CBA/advocacy/epii/Default.aspx)

11) Journal routing/TOC services:
Washington & Lee Law School http://law.wlu.edu/library/CLJC/index.asp

12) LLRX.com: http://www.llrx.com/subscribe.htm

13) Gazettes: With the availability now of the federal Canada Gazette (http://canadagazette.gc.ca/index-e.html), the provincial Ontario Gazette (http://www.ontariogazette.gov.on.ca) (and other provincial gazettes), I wonder if there are some opportunities for the weekly “issue” or “publication” of these gazettes to be announced with links sent to interested subscribers. For now, I assume it is up to each individual to remember to check each weekly issue (if desired).

3. Blogs and RSS Feeds

There are a growing number of blogs written by lawyers and law librarians. Many of these blogs tend to focus on the information management or technology industry but a few are related to substantive areas of law. For an overview, see: http://www.blawg.org or Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites: http://www.legaline.com/lawsites.html.

TALL member Connie Crosby of course has her own active blog at http://conniecrosby.blogspot.com (with contributions by Kay Samuels) and a number of people are involved with SLAW at http://www.slaw.ca (and of course SLAW’s own Steve Matthews’ Vancouver Law Librarian Blog (http://vancouverlawlib.blogspot.com/). If I have left off other blog initiatives being done by TALL members, it was not intentional; please reply to the listserv to promote your blog.

Other more substantive law-related blogs include:

Canadian Privacy Law Blog: http://www.privacylawyer.ca/blog/
Conflict of Laws: http://www.conflictoflaws.net
Copyright/IP (Michael Geist): http://www.michaelgeist.ca
Freivogel on Conflicts: http://www.freivogelonconflicts.com

Increasingly, legal publishers are adding RSS feeds on their sites which allow individuals to subscribe to receive updates or alerts:

CCH Canadian: http://www.cch.ca/Support/Feeds.aspx
Irwin Law: http://www.irwinlaw.com/RSSFAQ.aspx
LexisNexis: http://www.lexisnexis.ca/about/rssupdates.php

Selected Bibliography/Sources

BIALL. “Current Awareness for Legal Information Managers”. Discussed in David Gee and Steven Whittle, “caLIM: Current Awareness for Legal Information Managers Web Database” in LLRX.com (June 17, 2002): http://www.llrx.com/features/calim.htm.

Chester, Simon. “Conflict of Law Blog” (September 12, 2006) (http://www.slaw.ca/2006/09/12/conflict-of-laws-blog/)

Chester, Simon. “My Take on Blogging – And SLAW” (December 19, 2005)
(http://www.slaw.ca/2005/12/19/my-take-on-blogging-and-slaw/)

Crosby, Connie. “Canadian Legal Publishers – RSS Feed Update” (October 6, 2006) (http://www.slaw.ca/2006/10/06/canadian-legal-publishers-rss-feed-update/)

Cosby, Connie. “Desperately Seeking RSS Feeds From Legal Publishers” (February 17, 2006) (http://www.slaw.ca/2006/02/17/desperately-seeking-rss-from-legal-publishers/)

Crysler, Susan. “The Push and Pull of Current Awareness” (2001) 26 Can. L. Libraries 69.

Demers, Annette. “Current Awareness: The Next Generation” (2006) 31 Can. L. Libraries 67.

Gilliland, Kris. “Keeping Up With The World: Tips on Current Awareness” (February 1, 2000). Available on LLRX.com: http://www.llrx.com/features/current.htm.

Comments

  1. Hi Ted

    Awhile ago, I compiled a list for our law library users which include some more
    government documents RSS sources that may be of interest:

    http://www.uwindsor.ca/law/library/rss-feeds-on-law

    Thanks, I will bookmark your comments.