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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

On Writing, or “Beer + Edits”

Some of us write because publishing is a requirement for career advancement as legal information professionals. Some of us write because we want to document an event in law librarianship, report on a conference or workshop attended. Some of us write to share information on a legal research topic that fascinates us. Some of us write to fill a gap in the literature. Some of us are neophyte writers and some of us have been at it for quite some time. I fit the latter description, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on the process.[1]

Honing Your Writing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

D’You Know What I Mean? – Musing on Communication

A number of my appliances appeared to stage a coordinated strike during my recent holiday break. In equal parts, believing that a significant pool of the knowledge of the world can be accessed via the phone in my pocket, and cautious of the fact that despite this, people are constantly wrong about innumerable things, I set out to up my domestic credentials by attempting a repair of both our dishwasher and refrigerator. A series of web searches, YouTube videos, and some lurking about in appliance repair forums quickly became the first tools in my box. My approach was simple, I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Conferencing, Or, Every Fish Has a Job

Everywhere I go, there’s an aquarium. When I took the library tour while I was attending the law rare book school at Yale, there was an aquarium in the library book stacks. And when I went to the AALL annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland and decided to have dinner at one of the suggested eateries, Luna del Sea Steak & Seafood Bistro had an aquarium. What are the chances of seeing aquaria in unlikely places in the span of a month? Well, each time I saw an aquarium, I was drawn to the black, unmoving fish hidden in the dark . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

GDPR Is Here …. Now What?

With very little fanfare, but flood of notifications heralding its imminent arrival, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR) came into direct effect across the 28 member states of the European Union and three of the four states belonging to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), (collectively the European Economic Area (EEA)) on May 25, 2018. The Regulation has been on the statute books for a couple of years, but only appeared on the legal risk radar recently. The maximum penalties for non-compliance are jaw dropping and headline grabbing – €20M or 2% of global revenue for non-compliance . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Latest Legal Information Update From Washington DC

I am away from Washington for the summer, but I want to update you on some recent developments at the Law Library of Congress. If you have any questions about the information below or any other questions or suggestions, the law librarians there are available through their Ask a Librarian interface or their 24/7 chatbot.

In January a post in their In Custodio Legis blog announced an improvement to the search interface on Congress,gov. “The new Search Bar is what we used to refer to as the Global Search, which was present on almost every page. The new . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

So You Want to Be a Foreign Law Librarian

I became a Foreign Law Librarian by accident. I didn’t plan on being one. Yet here I am. How did it happen? How did I come to specialize in foreign, comparative, and international law librarianship? What’s it like to be an FCIL librarian? What are the career paths of FCIL librarians generally? Should you become a Foreign Law Librarian?

My general plan after I decided I wanted to be a law librarian was to work as a general legal reference librarian in an academic law library. In order to do that, I needed a library science degree and a law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Unrealized Potential of Courthouse Libraries

I’ve never had anything but the highest respect, admiration and regard for my colleagues in courthouse libraries; and, if I have any regrets about my career, one of them is that I never had the opportunity to work in a courthouse or law society library. Of all librarians, it is they who, through a network of almost 200 county courthouse libraries in Canada, remain closest to the practising legal profession. Private law librarians (ie, law firm librarians) are closely attuned to the practice in their firms, often specialized in one area of law (eg, labour or criminal or business law) . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

So There’s Been Some Buzz About Legal Data Lately …

It seems that interest in legal data has reached such a level of hype that people have started asking me about it unprompted, which is an interesting development. I had assumed that when I spoke to people about this I was buttonholing them, and that they wanted to be anywhere else and talking about anything else (except of course for Tim Knight, but that’s part of the reason we’re friends). It does make sense that it’s happening now. Legal data is interesting: it describes rules and systems that affect all our lives, it is commercially valuable, and it hasn’t . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

How Are Your New Year’s Resolutions Coming Along?

In the past I have vowed not to make resolutions that just get broken. At the end of last year I polled my Facebook friends to see what they suggested. The best idea came from my Canadian cousin Blaine. “Just have more fun in 2018.” Another suggestion I found online was to ask questions instead of making direct statements. My question was “how can I bring more joy into my life and the lives of others? “

So while I’m reaching out to my Facebook friends and family, I want to include you SLAW readers. One of the pleasant and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Law Firms Thriving at the Edge of Chaos

My new year’s resolution was to make more time to read for pleasure, principally to ensure I was switching off from work in the evenings and to get away from constantly looking at screens. It’s been a qualified success. I’ve just finished Michael Crichton’s “The Lost World”, which has got me thinking about dinosaurs and their extinction. Inevitably, though, I end up relating those thoughts back to work and law firm innovation for this column.

Operating under a business model that was originally designed for the horse an cart age, law firms are popularly misconstrued as “dinosaurs”, in the sense . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The INT-LAW Email Discussion List Migrates to Google Groups

On February 9, 2018, the Int-Law International Law Librarians list was migrated from LISTSERV to Google Groups. The migration was seamless. Joe Schumacher, the Int-Law list manager, did a great job of giving us advanced notice, migrating the list, and following up on any post-migration problems. The email address for posting to the Int-Law list remains the same. It’s been about a month since the migration. Below, I review the new features of Int-Law via Google Groups.

We learned that Int-Law was going to move to a new host when Joe Schumacher posted the following message on Int-Law on February . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Valuing Legal Information

The problem with trying to value legal information is that we mostly just talk about its price instead of its value. The value of anything is subjective, and correct legal information at the perfect time is worth a great deal, general legal information that isn’t needed at a particular moment is worth much less. This is important because the people who make decisions about how to fund legal information are often not the people who use it regularly and are generally not faced with urgent legal matters at the moment of making decisions about how much to pay for it. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information