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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

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

Accessing, Documenting and Preserving Information on Ukraine

I teach a class at the University of Arizona College of Law called, Foreign, Comparative and International Legal Research. In my class, I discuss with the students the different ways in which this type of advanced legal research is dependent on constantly moving variables and components. Beyond a handout of the top five sources to consult, I instead strive to make the students understand that they need to create a research strategy, keep track of changes on foreign and international law, and consult a significant amount of non-legal information. All of this needs to be done while always evaluating . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Citations: Ugly but Necessary in Public Regulatory Guidance

At an early point in my career as a librarian, I became exasperated with colleagues who loved teaching legal citation, and I proposed holding a ceremonial burning of some copies of the Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation at the end of that year of law school. I still believe that our students might find it cathartic to burn their bluebooks just before graduation. Thankfully, my colleague reminded me that book burning is antithetical to the core values of librarianship, and over time I hated citations less as I began to understand them better.

This week I found myself unexpectedly . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Some Thoughts on Algorithmic and Data Literacy

Last year I was interviewed by Dominique Garingan for her dissertation on algorithmic literacy, and thought I would share my thoughts that arose in relation to that conversation with you here too. She also published an article about her dissertation findings in the most recent issue of Canadian Law Library Review: “Advanced Technologies and Algorithmic Literacy: Exploring Insights from the Legal Information Profession“.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “algorithm” as “a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end“. Algorithmic literacy, in turn, is the understanding of how computer systems apply algorithms so that users . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

Using Vinyl & Spotify to Understand Legal Information Online

Most legal research is done online through a combination of open and subscription databases. Legal information is available at our fingertips through Justice Laws, LEGISinfo, CanLII, Westlaw, Lexis, ProView, SOQUIJ, [insert your preferred database here], and the list goes on. The availability of electronic resources has radically changed—and will continue to change—the way legal professionals conduct research. However, despite my enthusiasm for the improved accessibility and retrievability, I think the lack of engagement that new legal researchers have with print resources creates comprehension issues. The disconnect between a source’s print and electronic formats reduces their understanding of the process used . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Hong Kong’s National Security Law Provisions and Latest Cases

Over the past few years, the precipitous fall of Hong Kong seems to be a saga no one wants to stick around to see the ensuing episodes. Widespread censorship, crackdown on press and academic freedom, and backlash on dissenting voices are enforcing a total takeover of Beijing over the city. Xi Jinping is making clear that the special administrative region will not escape his dictatorial and authoritarian vision of government and the world. Nowhere is this repression more acute than in the Hong Kong universities that were pivotal in giving the city its internationally renowned intellectual and academic . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Year-End Legal Information Update From Washington, DC

2021 was a better year than 2020, but has ended badly with soaring virus outbreaks. Our U.S. Congress still has a lot of leftover legislative work carrying over into 2022. But the federal information worker bees have continued to add more content and finding aids to their many online resources.

On December 20th the Law Library of Congress posted A Trove of Information: The Coverage Page and then on December 21st their 2021 Top 10 and Year in Review. Next on December 27th they posted their list of The Most Viewed In Custodia Legis . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Pivoting From Print to Digital: Insights From the Canadian Law Library Review

While access to legal journals in printed form is still desired, many have transitioned to a purely digital format. But what exactly does moving from print to digital entail? To better understand this process, I asked Susan Barker, retired law librarian from the University of Toronto and current acting editor of the Canadian Law Library Review (CLLR), about her experience when the publication took the leap to online-only in 2015.

1. What were the motivations for CLLR to go purely digital?

When I came on board as editor in 2013, the decision to go digital had been tentatively made . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

How Legal Scholarship Can Reveal the Difference Between the Law as Written and the Law as Applied

Is there one piece of legal scholarship which you read years ago that sticks with you? For me it was an article about how a person’s right to legal name changes can be hindered by clerks who may misstate the law or a person’s options. The article is called Changing Name Changing: Framing Rules and the Future of Marital Names, and it was written by Elizabeth F. Emens and published in the University of Chicago Law Review in 2007.[1] I believe I read it around 2015, and I remember being fascinated by the concept of “desk-clerk law.” In . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

An Afghan Law Librarian on the Demise of His Country’s Legal System

“There is nothing we can do right now. Afghanistan’s justice system [has] collapsed [right] now. If we say that Afghanistan’s justice system has collapsed since the Taliban took over, we might not be exaggerating.” said Adnan, a nickname of the person I interviewed with him, chosen for security reasons. He shared these words during our online interview in mid-November 2021. Adnan left Kabul, Afghanistan in July 2020 where he was working as a Legal Advisor with the government of Afghanistan. Through this position and previous ones, Adnan has managed to make quite an impact on law librarianship both inside and

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information