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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Barriers to Accessing Legal Information

In this post, I would like to highlight the barriers to accessing legal information and ways we can help remove them.

Let’s begin by clarifying the difference between accessibility and availability. Material is accessible when barriers to the content are removed and they can be used by as many people as possible, these barriers can take several forms such as financial or technical limits to access. Material is available when people can easily use it, because it is free of legal and policy restrictions.

A legal document can be accessible, but not available. For example, a member of the public . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Connecting Public and Private Legal Information Part II: Linking Your Legal Citations to CanLII Material

A month ago, I introduced Lexum’s first step in providing Knowledge Management as a Service (KMaaS) via Lexbox. This development has made it possible for Lexbox users to start searching their own documents alongside the public legal information made available on the CanLII website. This post covers the upcoming release of the second feature tied to that approach. In a few weeks Lexum will integrate its citator to Lexbox, automating the linking of legal citations included in the body of documents submitted by users to the corresponding cases and legislation on CanLII.

The idea of enabling users to auto-link their . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Online Conferences: The Good, the Boring, and the Unmuted

For Academic Law Librarians, June and July are the conference season. Many law schools don’t have summer classes, and so what would otherwise be a slow part of the year ends up turbocharged with preparing presentations, finalizing travel arrangements, and taking care of other professional development. This summer, of course, most of us will not be attending any conferences in person. The silver lining is that I’ve been able to attend conferences I would not necessarily have been able to attend in person, such as the CALL/ACBD (Canadian Association of Law Libraries/L’Association canadienne des bibliothèques de droit) conference, the LLNE . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Platforms, Content and Duplication

As we continue to develop CanLII as a content platform and start to work more on developing original content, I have been thinking about the tension between platforms which gain value from lots of content, and organizations that create content as their primary value proposition.

The observation may be trite, but to illustrate my point using more general examples, Google and Facebook are examples of platforms that gain from having additional volume while devaluing each individual piece of content. Newspapers and magazines provide value primarily through the content they create.

In legal information we have analogous organizations with similar . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Good News From Washington, DC

We citizens in DC have been subjected to too much sad news and desolation due to the coronavirus and the violent federal response to a peaceful demonstration against police brutality. These peaceful demonstrations are continuing throughout the United States.  

I was very happy that on June 15th the Supreme Court of the US decided that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from firing employees for being lesbian, homosexual, bisexual or transgender. Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia was a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

On page nine of the opinion he states that: Title . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Live From DC, It’s Information Overload!

Ever since Washington, DC, shut down two months ago, I have been inundated with offers of free Zoom webinars and all sorts of interesting virtual meetings. I will attempt to point out some of the more relevant and interesting information that has come to me, with a focus on legal information sources and a bit of personal enrichment.

My friends at the Law Library of Congress have continued to update Congress.gov and provide legal research support through their Ask a Librarian service. The main Library of Congress webpage leads you to a treasure trove of digital resources including the World . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Building Community Online

Hosting a conference in a hotel, doing an escape room with your colleagues, inviting guest speakers to your class, joining a sports team, cooking dinner for friends, these are all great activities for building community. But how do we translate that to an online environment during a time of social distancing? What do we lose or gain?

As I write this in self-isolation, I’m reminded of the importance of community building. I’m inspired by how people are cheering outside their balconies at the same time every night in support of healthcare workers, putting drawings of rainbows on their windows for . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Get Organized! Time Investments for Better Legal Information Habits

We are living in unusual times. While some of us are battling illness, overwork, or the exuberance of nearby small children, others are finding ourselves with more self-directed time than usual. If you are seeking some direction for your work, here are some ideas for research challenges or organizational methods so that you can learn something or organize something to make your future work life easier. They’re arranged according to the approximate time they’ll take: very short tasks, tasks for an hour or so, and multi-hour tasks.

Organizational tasks for five minutes or less:

Organize your inbox. For almost everyone, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Kings, Courts, and Self-Represented Litigants

As modern states were developing in Europe during the medieval period, local feudal lords held power of governance over people living their territories. Part of the responsibility of the lord or monarch was to adjudicate disputes. For the sake of simplicity, I will use the term king here, though we should understand that there were multiple titles for people who filled this role depending on the structure of the particular territory: emperor/empress, king/queen, prince/princess, duke/duchess, knight/dame, etc. People would appear before the king at the royal court to present their cases, and the king would issue a decision about what . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Creative Commons in the Legal Space

Creative Commons licences (also commonly referred to as CC licenses) are a less-restrictive alternative to those in the traditional copyright system. Since 2001, they have been used to encourage collaboration and create a space to allow for the public sharing of information.

There are a number of different licences, each with varying levels of restrictions, but with the overall goal of allowing people to share and build upon the work of others. Permissions to use the creator’s work are granted up front and to everyone. The Creative Commons organization has created a system of open licences using plain language . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Vavilov & Dunsmuir: Looking for Signals in the Precedential Game of Thrones

As we all know, administrative law nerds (their own expression) received a nice Holiday present on December 19 when the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Vavilov. This important event in Canadian law isn’t just fun for the admin law crowd, it’s also an occasion for us, legal information geeks, to live in real time another game of “precedential game of thrones.”

I’ve been interested for a long time in finding signals that could indicate that a case is no longer good law (or at least no longer to be cited without caution). There are ways to spot . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

Thanks for All the Fish

When the late Simon Fodden (RIP) asked me to write a column for Slaw, “Canada’s online legal magazine,” I welcomed the opportunity. I could write for a Canadian and global legal audience about foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) information resources and about FCIL librarianship as a career. I could help fill in an information gap for this very special law librarian career path. I joined Slaw in 2010, its fifth year in existence, as a “Legal Information” columnist. My first column was on “The State of Digitization of United Nations Documents” (June 29, 2010), wherein I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information