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Archive for September, 2009

The Law Of. . . Pond Scum?

Just when you thought every niche had been filled, up comes an area of practice to remind you that this is a more wrinkled world than we are typically aware and the practice of law is a force second only to life itself, perhaps, when it comes to occupying all imaginable spaces: there is a law of algae.

It occupies a website, too, of course, which, appropriately is, a.k.a. Stoel Rives LLP, a Minneapolis firm specializing in renewable energy. Which is where algae comes in. Evidently it is an up-and-coming source of biomass from which to make . . . [more]

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

Copyright Reform in Canada Couldn’t Wait for the Government

The Canadian government has been holding this summer a public “copyright consultation” on proposed legislative changes to the country’s copyright act, with the consultation period, featuring town hall meetings and online submissions and comments, now drawing to a close on September 13, 2009. For the most sensible of approaches to copyright reform, many of us simply turn to Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. He is currently running, as a public service, a Speak Out on Copyright site. A recent posting cites Industry Minister Tony Clement’s announcement that, following . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

LCO: Extending Our Reach

I’ve talked before about how important outreach and consultation are to the Law Commission of Ontario. We try to reach professional organizations and groups (lawyers, of course, but others, too, such as engineers, architects and accountants so far) and community-based groups (the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, and the Council on Aging Frontenac-Kingston, to name two of many), as well as legal clinics which are a bit of a hybrid. Now we’ve allocated additional resources to this commitment. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Whelan on Cost-Effective Legal Research

The August 2009 issue [pdf] of the Ontario Bar Association’s magazine Briefly Speaking/EnBref has an article by David Whelan, Manager, Legal Information for the Law Society of Upper Canada on using free and inexpensive legal research tools called “Right Size Your Research”–see pages 24 and 25 [pdf]. I like that he emphasizes texts as a starting point, and of course endorses use of law libraries as a helpful resource. This is a nice round-up of resources for those looking to economize, especially for legal researchers who do not already have flat rate subscriptions to major online legal research . . . [more]

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

Is It Too Late for Opera?

If I had to guess, I think that most Slaw readers use Mozilla Firefox as their primary personal browser, even if their workplaces may well mandate Internet Explorer as the browser on their work desktop. Three years back Simon (the other) reminded us of the benefits of an old favourite Opera – which I recall was my own browser of choice a long time back, when Netscape finally gave up the ghost. . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Features of the Modern Law of Contract – Required Reading

Angela Swan makes a number of thought provoking comments regarding the features of the modern law of contract in her treatise on “Canadian Contract Law”. If anything, the comments should be required reading for the followers of legal print and online publishing in Canada.

Among other things, Angela asserts that recent developments in legal publishing have had a significant impact on substantive law. Specifically she says that the established “principles” of the law of contract have been undermined by two connected developments in the world of legal publishing:

first, by the proliferation of specialized law reports; and,

second, through the . . . [more]

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

New E-Reader Planned

Thus far I’ve successfully resisted the charms of Kindles 1 and 2, such as they are, and of the Sony Reader as well. Though I’m someone who reads a whole lot of text on a screen, I’m still a committed bookist when it comes to, well, books.

It is possible that the promised Eee Reader from Asus might be a game changer for me. For one thing, as with the netbook that the Taiwan company launched, this device would be cheap — perhaps $200, according to reports. Then, as you can see from the image, which is an imagined . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading, Technology

9th Circuit Rules Terror Witnesses Can Sue

The decision that has the law world buzzing this weekend is the release this Friday of Abdullah Al-Kidd v John Ashcroft.

The Plaintiff is an American-born citizen who converted to Islam while he was a running-back at the University of Idaho. He was arrested in Dulles International Airport and transferred to several facilities for interrogation for a total of 13 months, leading to the termination of his job and subsequent difficulty finding employment when he was finally released.

Most employers are not too keen on hiring people that are treated by the government as a common terrorist.

The problem . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

$150m More Legal Aid for Ontario

There has been a legal aid boycott in Ontario by senior lawyers, protesting underfunding of the service in the province, especially for complex cases.

A report by Prof. Michael Code of UofT and the Hon. Patrick LeSage commissioned by the Attorney General of Ontario found that the previous system was placing cases in the hands of lawyers who were probably inadequately prepared to deal with them.

The Attorney General has responded to these issues by pledging an additional $150 million over the next four years for legal aid, a 21% increase, the largest in its history. Min. Bentley said, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law

Library…Learning Center…InfoMart



Cushing Academy in New England has decided to get rid of an outdated technology and embrace the future.

Says its Headmaster: “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books”

Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a “learning center,’’ though that is only one of the names in contention for the new space. In place of the stacks, they are spending $42,000 on three large flat-screen TVs that will project data from the Internet and $20,000 on special laptop-friendly study carrels. Where the reference desk was, they

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Friday Fillip

I have a cottage, where I go to get away from it all. (We won’t talk about how frustrated I am that it’s one of the few places in the province where there’s no cell phone signal and that high speed internet is simply unavailable…) And I have a friend who irritates me by persisting in calling my cottage a “cabin.” It’s only a word, I know. But each time he does it, I feel like the benighted Englishman in Germany who couldn’t come to terms with the fact that the locals called a knife a Messer: “I know . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Harvard Scholarship Repository

Harvard University has launched DASH — Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard — a repository that currently makes available free the work of “[m]ore than 350 members of the Harvard research community, including over a third of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences,” according to the press release. At the moment there are some 1,500 papers available in the repository (some requiring that you register with DASH, for reasons that are not made clear on the site).

Of particular interest to Slaw readers is the fact that Harvard Law School is a participant and has lodged 64 articles with the . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Legal Information