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Archive for November, 2007

CANLII Tops Up Ontario Based SCC Decisions

Today’s press release:

Dear users,

The Law Foundation of Ontario has funded a large project to extend the historical coverage of CanLII’s case law databases. This project’s first results are already available to our users. All Supreme Court of Canada decisions originating from Ontario back to 1876 are now published on CanLII in searchable HTML and PDF-image format.

The project’s next phase will bring you all Court of Appeal for Ontario decisions that were appealed at the Supreme Court of Canada. In a third phase, CanLII will publish all reported Ontario Superior Court of Justice cases back to 1994.

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing

The Friday Fillip

Astute readers of this feature (and some of the rest of you, too) will have noticed that I tend towards non-verbal Friday Fillips, seeking, I guess, relief from the “jaw-jaw” that is law. Graphics, music — these are the stuff of nolaw. Well today I bring you a wondrous combination of these two. Kenji Kojima has created a small application (that runs on both Windows and Mac) called the RGB Music Lab. (The RGB stands for red, green, blue, the channels of instruction given to graphics programs to produce all colours.) The simple notion is this: you drop a . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Another Research Lawyer in the Courts

We were discussing the role of the research lawyer in law firms the other day. In his post, Ted mentioned the oft-cited example of Bertha Wilson, the former research lawyer who, as we all know, went on to be a highly respected Court of Appeal and Supreme Court Justice. Today the federal Minister of Justice appointed Jo’Anne Strekaf to the Alberta Bench. Jo’Anne Justice Strekaf is (or was?) a leading competition lawyer, but also a longtime member of Bennett Jones’s research practice group. I am enjoying my perception that there is some significance in the announcement‘s express mention of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Loose Laptops Cause Flops


Perhaps encryption isn’t so easy after all, and some people could use a little primer. This is how I protect my laptop….

Wired – “How Does Bruce Schneier Protect His Laptop Data? With His Fists — and PGP

After a discussion among academics about the perils of crossing the U.S. border with your laptop full of research data, I began to wonder how diligent law firms are in ensuring that nothing leaves the office on a laptop that is unsecured. The shocking incident in which Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs lost a couple of disks containing private . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Practice of Law, Substantive Law, Technology

Ads in PDFs

Sadly there’s one more niche for advertising to ply its charms. Yahoo and Adobe have signed a deal for Adobe to provide space in PDFs for Yahoo-pushed advertising. The joint communiqué — an ad-free PDF — can be found here. A publisher of information (U.S. only — for the time being?) registers with Adobe and uploads content; Adobe’s algorithm then pairs that content with ads; the distributed registered PDF comes to you adorned with ads. As the articley on ZDNet says, perhaps it won’t be so bad: who reads publishers’ PDFs anyway? . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology

The Troubles of Flying

In Eugene Meehan’s Supreme Court letter today he states the facts of a proposed class action:

“The Applicants alleged that their flight back to Quebec City was delayed because of technical problems. Then, after takeoff, a loud banging noise was heard, the aircraft lost 10,000 feet in altitude, and the pilot had to return to the airport in Varadero, Cuba. An officer carried out a visual inspection of the aircraft and informed the pilot that part of the aircraft’s rudder (tail fin) was missing, and that the coffee was cold…”.

I’m not sure that, if I were a passenger I . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Farewell to the Right Honorable Antonio Lamer, Former Chief Justice of Canada

The Right Honorable Antonio Lamer, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court between 1990 and 2000 who passed away on the weekend, lay in repose earlier today in the Main Hall in the lobby of the Supreme Court building.

His flag-draped casket had an honour guard of 5 soldiers from the Governor General’s Foot Guards and a Mountie in ceremonial red serge uniform. Lamer was Honorary Colonel of the Foot Guards.

Numerous members of the public and the legal profession came to pay their last respects and were filing by all afternoon long. When I left my office . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

CanLII Currency Warnings

I’ve only just noticed that CanLII has warnings that alert you if you wind up at a version of a statute that predates the last update of the collection. See, for example, this version of the Family Law Act. How might you get into an older version on CanLII anyway? Via Google. A Google search for “Ontario family property” gives a link to a 2004 version within the first 20 hits — and, alas, no more current link. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing

PDF Imaged Copies of Case Law in Online Databases

At last week’s monthly meeting of Toronto legal research lawyers we discussed the availability of online PDF’ed versions of judicial decisions that have also been published in print by the publisher.

In the States, for example, decisions from the West National Reporter Series are available online on Westlaw in a text/HTML format, and – for an extra charge – as PDF versions which are exact copies of the print version.

In the U.K., there is that provides PDF versions of the official U.K. Law Reports, in addition to HTML versions (and their HTML versions are great because they insert . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Bilingual Canadian Federal Statutes in PDF at Justice Canada

The Department of Justice Canada appears to have recently started to offer PDF, bilingual versions of key federal statutes on their site here.

An example is the Divorce Act current to about 2 weeks ago, available in HTML (English only or French only) and PDF (containing side by side English and French).

The PDF versions are current to the same date as the HTML version.

However, one criticism – if I may – is that the PDF version does not have the currency date on its face. As such, once printed, the reader does not necessarily know how current . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Best Practices for Internal Research Work Product Databases

As a follow up to my prior post on full-text keyword searching versus controlled vocabularies, I am wondering what law firms are doing regarding harvesting and re-using their internal research work product (research memos, client bulletins and newsletters, reasoned opinions and the like).

I know of some firms that actually catalog them in a separate database using a simplified legal taxonomy. I assume the other extreme is doing nothing but making them available on a document management system (DMS) to be searched full-text by keyword.

For those that do some level of profiling or cataloging:

1) What taxonomy works best . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Information Management