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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Why I Joined the CanLII Board as a Director

Last October, I was appointed a director on the board of Canada Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Becoming a director on the board of CanLII is a dream come true for me. It represents not only a personal achievement but also an opportunity to give back to a cause I deeply believe in – free access to legal information. I’ll share my journey and the reasons behind my decision to join CanLII’s board as a director.

A Quest for Access to Legal Information

My journey into the world of legal information access began during my time as a law student in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Everybody Hates the McGill Guide: A Citations Editor’s Lamentation

Contrary to popular belief (i.e., that of my closest friends and family), a lot of people care about the McGill Guide. This is evidenced by the many tweets, blog posts, and articles that refer to the Guide. As the Citations Editor of the 10th edition, I’ve read all of them. While I found many to be insightful and helped me through the course of my mandate, I noticed something: few seemed to understand the actual process behind writing the McGill Guide. This article aims to fill this conceptual void by providing a firsthand account of how the 10th edition was . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Making It Work: Finding Opportunities in Project Upheaval

Seth Godin writes in his book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable, “The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship.” This is the mantra that keeps me going through every legal information content project I’ve been involved with as a knowledge engineer. But sudden and what often seem like inevitable changes in funding, timelines or resource allotment can be overwhelming. Being told to pivot or be resilient in the face of adversity without practical solutions is only so helpful.

I found myself in such a situation, as briefly . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law

Book Recommendation: How to Write a Lot, by Paul Silvia (2nd Ed., 2019)

Lawyers read more than ordinary people, and writing is the inverse of reading, so all of that reading ought to make great writers of us. Nevertheless, for many lawyers of my acquaintance, any sort of writing outside of the ordinary business of law can be a source of misery and self-torture. I have a suggestion for you—a book that inspired me to reject my self-created barriers to becoming a more serious and dedicated writer. The book is the second edition of How to Write a Lot, by Paul Silvia. PhD.

Dr. Silvia is a professor of social psychology at the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Someone on LinkedIn Sold Me These Magic Beans: Generative AI and Legal Research

The hype around generative AI and legal research continues, and it seems everyone has an opinion. There are concerns about use of AI in practice, but there is less clarity about how to approach finding sustainable solutions. It is however apparent that we need to consider the risks associated with using these systems, especially those that were not designed for certain uses. This is particularly important because general purpose tools like ChatGPT are likely to continue to be developed, and, given the complexity of navigating legal information, if they can be used with law they will be.

The first solution . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

McGill Guide 10th Edition: Hierarchy of Sources

Revised with comments on 22/10/2023.

The 10th edition of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (the McGill Guide) was published in the summer of 2023. Having been six years since the 9th edition was published, the most recent edition has made necessary revisions that improve the accessibility and inclusivity of sources. Anecdotally, the revision that seems to have garnered notable attention is Jurisprudence Rule 3.1: Hierarchy of sources. There are several changes worthy of discussion in the 10th edition, but the focus of this post is to explain the new hierarchy of sources for jurisprudence . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Elevator of Comparative Legal Research

Let me ask you a question. If you are a researcher interested in comparing laws and regulations related to indigenous peoples in several countries, which keywords should you use to find relevant information? Aboriginal Law, First Nations, Native Law, Tribal Law, Indian Law, something else, all of the above? Well, it depends. For those of you who have engaged in comparative research, be it legal or not, you know that the answer is always “it depends”. The reality is that different jurisdictions and legal systems have evolved and continue to do so in a myriad of disparate ways. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

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