Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

End of Summer US Legal Research Update

I hope you have been having a memorable summer. I have been pleasantly surprised by how many of my family and friends have come through and near Milwaukee. We are gearing up for the first Republican debates to be held here on August 23rd. This debate in Milwaukee is only the first Republican debate of the 2024 presidential election cycle. Then the Republican Convention will be held here from July 15-18, 2024. That should make next summer very interesting.

Since my last post there have been more research updates from the awesome librarians at the Law Library of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Discussions of Professional Identity in Legal Education

Picture a lawyer. Was he a male or was she a female lawyer? Was the lawyer wearing a suit? Was the suit black or blue? Even if you’re a huge fan of the film Legally Blonde, I doubt you pictured Elle Woods in her pink suit. In the movie, Elle stuck out like a sore thumb among her more conservatively dressed classmates. This fall, as students begin their legal education, some of them will face deep insecurities and will not see themselves as lawyers. Schools can give students the space to talk about their perception of professional identity and encourage . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

Fraud Detection in a World of Deepfakes

Firms need to be diligent to avoid being the victim of fraud, particularly when receiving fund transfer instructions from clients via email. The prudent advice provided by law societies and/or lawyer’s insurance when transferring funds is to verify emailed instructions through direct telephone or in-person contact. The telephone contact should be initiated by the firm by using the number on file to avoid the communications being intercepted by a fraudster.

Two recent examples highlight this importance. The Lawyers Indemnity Fund in B.C. recently reported that a firm’s diligent adherence to protocol saved them from a funds transfer fraud. When a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Writing Your Book Once You’ve Planned It

If you read my column from April and thought: “Yes, writing a book is exactly what I want to do with all my free time for the next one+ years”, then you may be wondering how to get to the next step of actually writing a book. Firstly, I want to include the caveat that so far my oeuvre amounts to one book, and these kinds of methodologies are personal, so please customize or outright ignore this advice as you think is appropriate for you. This post is about what worked for me.

Firstly, I will say that I designed . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Thoughts From the Classroom: Addressing Generative AI and Legal Research & Writing

Generative AI will disrupt legal research. Its negative impact has been highlighted in mainstream media in the UK and the US. Many legal information professionals have valid concerns about how generative AI’s application in legal research may impact the integrity of the profession. Meanwhile, social media (e.g., LinkedIn and Twitter) is flooded with legal tech companies’ commentary on how it can be harnessed to streamline legal research, improving efficiency and productivity. I reached out to several colleagues to hear their thoughts and ideas on how to address this contentious topic in their legal research classrooms.

Determining whether the impact . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

Legal and Government Research on Disputed Territories

Disputed territories is a term that comes and goes, depending on who is doing the disputing and whether the claims can be attached to other geopolitical trends or issues. Personally, I’m currently working on the concept as part of my research for my upcoming book, Legal and Government Research on US and Canadian Territories. Territories are incredibly different from one another and they continue to develop in multiple shapes and forms. For a long time, the term “territory” has become a useful bucket where national governments, the law, media, academia and national narratives lock these places in an attempt . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Of Practice Directives and Legal Citation Guides: A Brief Reflection on Citing Generative AI “Sources” and Content

The Practice Directions

On June 23, 2023, the Court of King’s Bench of Manitoba (MBKB) issued its Practice Direction on the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Court Submissions. Shortly thereafter, on June 26, 2023, the Supreme Court of Yukon (YKSC) issued its Practice Direction on the Use of Artificial Intelligence Tools. (As of the date of drafting this post, no other court practice directions from Canadian courts are known to the writer.)

Digressing for a moment from the subject of legal citation, one can’t help but observe that the two practice directions have been the subject of some . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Land of Confusion: Dealing With the Bombardment of AI Information

One of my family’s often-repeated fables is how my great grandfather didn’t believe the moon landing was real. People of his generation witnessed the invention of the automobile, the television and now space travel. For some, it was too much to comprehend, and the response was to deny it was happening. Pre internet, that was a simpler task.

The psychological harm associated with technological change, particularly the exponential change we are experiencing, is well documented. Numerous articles have been written on why people feel overwhelmed by technological change and the effects of technostress, the inability to cope with new computer . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Washington DC Information Update for June 2023

I was back in Washington DC last month and found that the US Supreme Court Building has reopened to the public. I revisited their website and found that more historical content is available.

I found this current text: “The U. S. Reports volumes available for free download on this website consist of volumes 502 et seq., which covers the 1991 Term and subsequent Terms. Starting with the Court’s 2022 Term, PDFs of the U. S. Reports (in both preliminary print and bound volume format) will be posted to this website as they become available. PDFs of volumes not yet . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Statutory Publication Metaphor: Robin Hood

One of the most difficult parts of statutory research for beginners is learning that statutes are published in two formats: chronological laws and codified laws. In the US, federal legislation is first published as a slip opinion and then bound into a volume of the Statutes at Large. These documents are useful for a researcher who wants to answer questions about intent or statutory language, as you want to see the entire law as it appeared when it was passed. However, most of the time a legal researcher merely needs to know what the law is at this moment on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

Another One on AI: Teaching Legal Citation With ChatGPT

Many important questions on the use of generative AI for legal research remain unanswered. Legal citation is the focus of this post for three primary reasons: 1) ChatGPT has been trained on materials that were published prior to September 2021 and the format of the main citations used by law students (case law, legislation, books, and articles) have not changed in this time, nor are they likely to in the future; 2) it provides a low-cost opportunity for students to interact with ChatGPT and better understand how it interprets prompts; and 3) legal citation is a skill typically taught through . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Ten Years of Writing for Slaw and Filling the Gaps in Legal Publishing

Yesterday marked the ten year anniversary of my first regular Slaw column. I don’t think I could have guessed I would still be writing it after so much time, and it’s gratifying to hear when people say that they read my pieces. Having a venue where I can write regularly has been a gift for me as I enjoy being able to work out what I think on a subject and writing provides that space.

Slaw fills a gap for a communal interdisciplinary publication that is not filled by more orderly venues. It is thanks to Simon Fodden’s vision and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing