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Archive for April, 2011

The Phoenix rises….Hello LibreOffice!

For those who were fans of  the office suite: NeoOffice (for the Mac) or OpenOffice (for Windows), being free open source office productivity suites originally created by Sun Microsystems, you may be downhearted to hear that OpenOffice (and NeoOffice) are now officially dead. However, this is truly a case of "The King is Dead - Long Live the King!".  OpenOffice and NeoOffice live on - being open source software -  in a new incarnation.  LibreOffice. For one, those of us who were fans can now refer to this new suite by one name - rather than two! This new suite will run under Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, Suse, ...).  It is also is available in more than 30 languages.
Posted in: Technology: Office Technology

Public Libraries and Legal Research

No matter how good a library is, space and economic constraints mean that it simply cannot carry everything a researcher might need. As a result, libraries rely on other libraries to help fill in the gaps in their collection. (This practice has its flaws, most notably being what happens when the other libraries stop carrying the materials you need, but that’s another column.) I run the library of a Vancouver law firm so my “go to” libraries (as you might expect) are the B.C. Courthouse Libraries and the University of British Columbia’s Law Library. However, I also use the . . . [more]

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

PIPEDA Amendments in Force April 1

We have mentioned before that the Anti-Spam act (bill c-28) will not come into force until the fall. (It may potentially be delayed because the election has delayed the creation of the regulations that must be in place before it is in force.) Several sections of the act that amend PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) were however proclaimed in force effective April 1

The PIPEDA amendments from the Anti-Spam act are in force to the extent that they are administrative in nature. Those that interact with the anti-spam provisions are not yet in force, and presumably will . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

Women Lawyers as Rainmakers

The only job security any lawyer has whether as a partner or as a sole practitioner is the ability to generate clients. Leadership and power in a law firm of any size attaches to the lawyer who brings in the most business and keeps herself and other more junior lawyers supplied with work. Yet typically, the major rainmakers in law firms are primarily men. 

The National Association of Women Lawyers in the US in their 2009 annual National Survey on the Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms (www. found that half of the larger law firms in . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

New Parliament Website

Check out the renovated website for the Parliament of Canada. The design is clean, simple, and easy to use. And, of course, the redesign extends to the important LEGISinfo site as well. There you’ll find current bills front and centre (able to be ordered by latest activity date or bill number, and filtered by a set of facets to the right), each displaying a handy progress chart indicating how far along in the legislative process each bill is:

Now all they need to do is recapture the URL from the domain squatter who’s got it now. . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements, Legal Information: Publishing, Miscellaneous

What Not Re When Not

In the mid-nineties, I was asked to demonstrate in court our evidence display system for a major prosecution. Instead of my usual script and demonstration, Senior Counsel for the Defence asked that I demonstrate by editing a document ID on our interactive system on the fly. While the system was not built to do that, particularly in court, I thought I could do it, though not quickly. Then he asked for another document to be changed, and before I had finished, another, and then half a dozen in rapid succession. In my efforts to impress the Court, I had fallen . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Here Come the Summer Students

This is the season that brings joy to the heart of many a law firm training librarian. Summer students are starting next week – or in some rare cases, yesterday. At Field Law this year we are welcoming one summer student in our Calgary office (Hi Daniel!) and one in our Edmonton office (Hi Kelsey!). April is always an opportune time to revisit the legal research learning objectives so summer associates.

I am certain that most law firm libraries have input, if not full purview, over summer student research training. In the past, my team has used a two prong . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training

The R Word

Racism is like alcoholism — you can’t deal with it until you admit that you have a problem with it. Somehow the same people who might agree that Canada is filled with systemic discrimination, in virtually every institution or sector imaginable, also seem to believe that no one is a racist. (Well, maybe those boot-wearing, skinhead white supremacists, but no one else.)

No one in government, education, law, health-care, business, or social services even wants to hear the words “racism” or “racist” – they are just too harsh. How then can we deal with the harsh and deeply entrenched reality . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Compulsory Voting

Thank you to Simon Fodden for inviting me to contribute to Slaw. I am delighted to be here!

One of yesterday’s headlines caught my eye: passing legislation to make voting mandatory in Canada. This debate is certainly not new, as each election and the somewhat disappointing turn out seems to bring similar questions to the forefront; however, any law addressing this matter has yet to be passed, as opposed to a number of countries that have already adopted such legislation.

As with any law, not voting would have consequences, i.e. penalties (a fine of some sort). Such a law could . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Substantive Law: Legislation

A Round of Applause for the Middle Men and Women of Culture!

There’s a tendency, and I can be more guilty than most, to moan about how awful can be the major international professional information providers. Yet, compared to so many other sectors that affect our private, community and working lives, they’re, in relative terms, harmless and not especially evil. It’s not that they’re the oil polluters, the auto industry, the military-industrial complex, the tobacco industry and the like. Law publishing causes few deaths, helps professional advisers to perform valuable work and is generally on the positive side of the balance between democracy and totalitarianism.

So, for a change, I’d like . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Amazon Outage Stratifies the Cloud

Last week Amazon’s popular AWS cloud computing service suffered an unprecedented multi-day outage. The outage brought down thousands of websites, including popular websites such as Quora, Reddit and FourSquare, and generated coverage from mainstream publications such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

While many are quick to point to the outage as a sign that cloud computing is unreliable and not ready for mission-critical applications, the outage has simply brought a reality of both on-premise and cloud computing to light: systems fail, and mission critical applications need to be designed to expect failure.

The media . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology

Work-Life Balance and Volunteering

Research suggests that to be Canadian is to be a volunteer. A 2003 national survey found that 19 million Canadians do volunteer work every year. This is estimated to be 2 billion hours of volunteer time per year. That’s equivalent to 1 million full time jobs. The same survey found that only 7% of volunteer time consists of sitting on board, while the other 93% finds people helping to deliver programs and services or fundraising. Another national survey found that Canadian volunteers contributed, on average, an astonishing 166 hours each in 2007.

If Canadians are serial volunteers then Canada’s lawyers . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law