Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

I have recently returned to work after a maternity leave. Now I am struggling with how to get back up to speed on all things legal research-related. Despite my best intentions, I was unable to stay on top of Slaw posts or Supreme Court decisions while at home. Now I am constantly second-guessing my research, worried that I have missed some new resource or decision. On the plus side, I am pleasantly surprised when I discover ‘new’ features on my favourite websites and online databases; of course, I have no idea how long they’ve been there, or what other ones I may be missing, but the ones I find I try to enjoy. I have (mostly) come to terms with the fact that I will just have to be extra-thorough in my work, trying to fill in a one-year gap, realizing that it is not possible to be on top of everything all the time. But I was wondering if you had any suggestions for getting back up to speed after being away from the legal research field, perhaps on a parental leave, medical leave or sabbatical. Are there any resources on this subject out there that I’ve missed, or has this topic been raised on Slaw in the past year?


  1. In no partiular order: last year’s decisions of decisions of the SCC; some provincial appellate decisions; your collegues; the Supreme Court of Canada Law Review; the Advocates’ Quarterly, the Canadian Business Law Journal; Carswells Annual Review of Civil Litigation, the past year’s “new” material that professors at the University of Manitoba law school will be adding to the their courses for the 2011-12 school year; some CLE papers from people you have reason to trust, and prayer to the diety-equivalent of your choice.

    Good luck.


  2. Welcome back, Melanie. And congratulations on your maternity.

    Your question raises a really interesting point about lawyers and other legal workers who take a significant leave. Wouldn’t it be great if each jurisdiction maintained a rolling 12 precis of what happened of note? It might not be too hard for a firm to maintain such a thing, adding items at the end of each month, dropping off the 13th month…

  3. Melanie, I too offer congratulations!

    I have a different opinion about keeping up: Don’t worry about what you may have missed!

    If you approach each research question like a new issue – following the best practice research process of finding commentary and following the footnotes, searching with the terms you learn from the texts, and analyzing what you learn using these gathering techniques, you shouldn’t miss anything that happened while you were working on the important task of being a mom.

    While it is great to have ‘just in case’ current awareness knowledge, it isn’t the only way to build great work product. You can also use the ‘just in time’ method for finding what you need when you need it.

    Slaw continues to be searchable too, which always helps.
    Welcome back!