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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Thoughts on the New Lexis+ Brief Analysis Tool: For Law Students and Novice Researchers

New academic year; new legal research tools. Something new always comes out right as another cohort of students is gearing up to begin their law degree. And, as with many new product launches these days, “artificial intelligence” is often a prominently displayed term with accompanying materials. As legal publishers continue to launch AI-driven research tools in Canada, what do students and other novice researchers need to know to be prepared for their first forays into legal research?

Lexis recently launched the latest version of their legal research platform, Lexis+ Canada, for Canadian law schools. It features significant updates that employ . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Adaptive Technologies for the Visually Impaired in the Law Library

This submission is part of a column swap with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) bimonthly member magazine, AALL Spectrum. Published six times a year, AALL Spectrum is designed to further professional development and education within the legal information industry. Slaw and the AALL Spectrum board have agreed to hand-select several columns each year as part of this exchange. 

When I was first asked to write an article on technology for the visually impaired and its role in legal research, I confess that a small part of me flinched inside. I wondered what I could say that would . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Commemorate the Joy of a New Semester

In the genre of self-help books which I readily consume and then promptly fail to follow, sometimes one or two pearls of wisdom enter my consciousness and reemerge in this column. One of these is Gretchen Rubin’s suggestion in her book The Happiness Project that we ought to cultivate the activities which brought us joy when we were children. When I was younger I loved getting ready for the first day of school. I loved the freedom of the summer, but as the end of August approached I liked getting my pencils in order and my binders and notebooks packed . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

The Case for Algorithmic Skepticism in Law

Algorithms have become ubiquitous in our society, yet they are widely misunderstood. Many of these misunderstandings arise from widespread lack of understanding of the technical basis for what algorithms are and how they function, but even experts often don’t understand how they work, only that they do in many situations. This lack of understanding means that there are both rational and irrational calls for caution as they are adopted further. To balance the benefits from technology adoption and caution, we need to approach these issues carefully and consider what algorithms are being used for and what underlying technology and data . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

Researching Foreign and International Current Events

In my professional experience working as a law librarian in multiple types of institutions, most of the time a question about or related to a situation happening in a foreign country or at the international level comes primarily through one scenario: the researcher read about it in an online media outlet, newspaper, article, blog, tweet, etc. and wants to know more. Understanding, finding relevant sources and making sense of a rapidly (d)evolving and fast moving situation in a foreign country or internationally is an incredibly complicated and labor intensive type of research, no matter how much experience you have in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

An Interview With CBC Journalist Blair Rhodes: Access to Legal Information in the News

Near the beginning of every academic year, I ask students in my in Legal Research and Writing class (LRW) to complete a short in-class assignment. I provide them with news articles that cover legal issues and ask them to find the decision or legislation that is being discussed. At this point in the year, students have typically only recently been introduced to both open and proprietary legal research platforms. They are inclined to keyword search the same way that they might on Google. This is usually ineffective and gives them varying results across platforms. The point of the activity is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Mindfully Reorganizing Your Time at Work

What is the most important part of your job? Can you answer that question immediately, or do you struggle to articulate just one aspect that is the most important? Did you choose the part that is the most important for you or the most important for your organization as a whole, or for your clients/students/library patrons?

Last week I was challenged to reassess the tasks that make up my job. As a law librarian at an academic institution in the third year of this pandemic, my team can be susceptible to the same feelings of burnout that are plaguing workers . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Suggested Pairing: Coffee & Crossword

I wrote two drafts for SLAW this month. I wrote and rewrote a piece on the pros and cons of committee work. I wrote and rewrote a piece on tips for tracing legislative histories. Both of these may be shared in the future, but as I was writing I realized I was feeling burnt out after a great, but incredibly busy academic year. All I wanted to do was have a coffee and complete the daily wordle puzzle.

So, if you are feeling burnt out, having a hard time focusing, or just want to take a quick break, my gift . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Is the Arctic Council Completely Frozen?

On March 3, 2022, the Arctic Council became the latest collateral casualty to the Russian invasion in Ukraine. A mere week after Russian troops began invading and bombarding Ukraine, seven members of the Arctic Council (Canada, United States, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland) condemned the belligerent actions of its eighth member, Russia. Their condemnation also included pausing the work of the Council as well as all of its subsidiaries immediately and until further notice. The indefinite hold on the activities of such an important forum for international cooperation will inevitably have severe impact regionally and internationally on salient topics, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Challenging the Status Quo With Style Guides

There is more than one way to approach setting standards for the writing and formatting of documents. An important thing to keep in mind is having a continuous awareness of, and sensitivity to, the use of text within our changing world, and to build style guides as tools that can help reflect our values, rather than a set of rules that never advance.

In my work at CanLII, I’ve had the opportunity to develop a style guide to help meet the needs of our collaborative writing projects. I also think about writing standards in my volunteer work as the associate . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Loose-Leaf Legal Publications: A Dialogue

[What follows is an imagined dialogue between a lawyer and a librarian, regarding a fictional loose-leaf publication]

Lawyer: I’d like to see what you have in the library on the crime of jabberwock-slaying, please.

Librarian (without consulting the catalog): Yes, the seminal treatise on the topic is Carroll on Jabberwocks, shelved under call number… you know what, I’ll just grab it off the shelf for you.

Lawyer: Thanks, I’ve never really understood what call numbers are, anyway.

[Librarian returns carrying four heavy, ugly binders]

Lawyer: So, which one should I use?

Librarian: Well, you just . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Visualizing the Landscape of Canadian Law School Journals

In my role at the Sir James Dunn Law Library, I help facilitate both the creation and dissemination of scholarly knowledge through law journals. As a result, I have developed many questions and curiosities surrounding scholarly publishing practices. While the larger ones require empirical research, a handful seemed easy to answer based on readily available data. Using the information available on the websites of each peer-reviewed law journal affiliated with and published by a Canadian law school, I answered the following questions:

  1. How many peer-reviewed law journals are affiliated with Canadian law schools and published in-house?*
  2. How many of these
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information