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Archive for January, 2009

More Public Discussion on the 40th Parliament

In the form of David Bilinsky, I start this post with a lyric:

♬ power to the people, power to the people, right on ♬
John Lennon

As Connie posted this week our current parliamentary situation is facilitating a raft of public discussion.

Coming up in Edmonton on January 22, and presented by the Centre for Constitutional Studies, the Legal Resource Centre, the Department of Political Science, and the Department of History & Classics we have this:

Canada’s 40th Parliament in Crisis: What Happened, What’s Next?

Join faculty from the University of Alberta in a panel discussion addressing the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

A (Free) Book About Lawyers

Project Gutenberg has released Pleasantries of English Courts and Lawyers: A Book about Lawyers, by John Cordy Jeaffreson, originally published in London in 1875. (The book has been variously available over the years, last published by Hein in 1974.) Gutenberg makes the book available for downloading in HTML and plain text formats, in addition to Plucker format, which is new to me but makes texts suitable for reading on smart phones and the like.

This is a quaint, not to say arch, look at life at the English bar that can be amusing and may provoke thoughts about . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law, Reading, Substantive Law

Westlaw Browser Policy

According to the Law Librarian Blog there is a message from Westlaw circulating outlining a new restrictive browser policy:

Westlaw access will be blocked when using Web browsers that are no longer supported by the companies that created them. The lack of support can create problems during Westlaw development which may result in a security risk. Users attempting to access Westlaw using one of these browsers will receive an explanatory message that offers alternatives.

Westlaw access using the following browsers will be blocked:

  • Netscape (all versions)
  • Mozilla Firefox versions lower than 1.5
  • Safari versions lower than 2.0
  • Internet Explorer versions
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information, Technology

Jactitation of Marriage – the Unnecessary Legal Phrase of the Day

In a rare immersion into a point of family law for something I was researching last week, I stumbled across – by accident because I wasn’t researching it – the phrase “jactitation of marriage” as a potential cause of action and recall having stumbled across the phrase in the past, having looked up its meaning in the past, and (of course) subsequently forgetting what it meant every time I came across it.

I assume that perhaps only two of our SLAW readers know the meaning, being the two Simons, one of whom wrote a book on family law and the . . . [more]

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

Brief Comments on Susskind’s “The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services”

There have been numerous blog posts in the blogosphere on Richard Susskind’s new book, The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services, including a recent post from Adam Smith, Esq. and several SLAW posts.

I finally read the book last night and enjoyed it, although it is largely a continuation of many of the same trends in the legal profession that Susskind has previously identified, essentially being “a market pull towards commoditization and [a] pervasive development and uptake of information technology” (p. 1). However, the book remains essential reading for anyone connected to the legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Information Management

Precedent as Context, Not an Operating Manual

I made that comment as an aside in an earlier post. This thought also ties in with a couple of Simon’s posts, and another of mine.

This is true for not just legal documents, but for things like legislation, business and government policies, and processes.

The operating manual approach means being a slave to precedent documents, processes or decisions and applying or using them blindly without enough independent thought as to how it fits the current situation.

The context approach means figuring out what the facts are and what result is needed, then using precedent as a . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Anything New Under the Sun?

♫ What’s new pussycat? Woah, Woah…♫

Words and music by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, recorded by Tom Jones.

My old Law School Dean Edwards (Manitoba) used to continually say to us: “Nothing is really new under the Sun”.

I suppose he was trying to give us a sense of perspective in the law – to acquire a gently skeptical eye towards ‘new’ ideas and learn to gauge things relative to their place in the history of things. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Electronic Citations and Case Citators – Collaborative Outsourcing

Traditionally, a key indicator of the quality and the utility of any case citator is the breadth and depth of its coverage. The better citators purport to cover all of the cases reported in print. Law reports published by a competitor are included as a matter of course, both as an original reference and as a correlative or parallel citation.

Online databases and “electronic citations” have not been treated in the same manner. Initially electronic citations were not seen as “legitimate” citations and were considered to be unworthy of the same attention as print citations. Case citators ignored them. There . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

New Blog on Lawyer Addiction

A project that may seem a bit different from Stem’s usual path, this past Monday we launched a new blog to track information and issues related to lawyers facing addiction. This latest website, the Lawyer Addiction Blog, will be tracking the flow of information coming from LAP programs across North America, and increasingly, from around the world.

To provide a bit of background here, on Monday Stem also announced a new client, The Meadows Addiction Treatment Center. As I described with a bit more detail on Stem’s blog, I view this relationship as a rare opportunity; to pair . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Parliament 2009: What Kind of Country Will We Have?

Can we stand to hear about one more Toronto-based event?

Parliament 2009: What Kind of Country Will We Have?
A Forum Exploring Parliamentary Democracy in Contemporary Canada

is an evening being hosted by the The Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy

Date: Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Time: 7:30pm – 10:00pm
Location: Campbell Conference Facility, Munk Centre for International Studies
Street: University of Toronto, 1 Devonshire Place
City/Town: Toronto, ON

Please register by emailing
by January 18, 2009.


The political crisis that occurred before the Governor General prorogued the most recent legislative session on Parliament Hill caused . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law