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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Karen MacLaurin’s Next Chapter

There are few members of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) who are unfamiliar with Karen MacLaurin. The lively Executive Director of Ottawa’s County of Carleton Law Association for the past 20 years, Karen has been a fixture at CALL conferences for more years than any of us want to remember. She has also been a key contributor to many CALL initiatives. The Copyright Committee, Vendors’ Liaison Committee, Courthouse Librarians’ SIG, as well as other groups, have all benefitted from Karen’s energy and experience. In 2007, Karen was the chair of the program committee for the Ottawa CALL conference. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Research Plugged-In, Too

This time around the Legal Research Unplugged column is a little less legal and a little more plugged-in than usual. As often is the case, I have been thinking about the way students and young lawyers carry out research and the way we teach or guide them in this (the “we” being the more experienced research lawyers, teachers, and librarians who are tasked with or take on the responsibility). However, this time around my thoughts have turned to research skill with tools other than the traditional legal resources, in particular, skill with the tools of a “plugged-in” researcher. Perhaps this . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Feeling Weedy?

Summer is for weeding. The horticultural among us use the sunny days for tending to their gardens. The bibliocultural among us tend to our collections. This summer, as every summer, I read shelves, assessed collection strengths, and determined the fate of subscriptions and individual volumes – keep or chuck? Repair or replace? Track down missing volumes, or write them off? And I shifted, and I shifted, and I shifted. We’ve now got grow room in the areas that need it, and I got a great upper body workout.

Shifting books is one of those activities that permit contemplation. As I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

A Lament for Legal History

A friend (and fellow law graduate, non-practising) recently related an exchange she had with a prominent Canadian justice in the course of the friend’s work with a federal government department. (You may notice I am trying very hard to keep details vague, so as not to cause any embarrassment, although the friend did give me permission to relate this story in this column.) My friend had the pleasure of accompanying the judge during a trip, and they got to chatting about Canadian law and the Charter in particular. The friend mentioned the concept of the “living tree” in the context . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Trust in Librarians

I’ve spent the early weeks of Summer 2008 catching up on my reading. I’ve finally read Wikinomics, for example. I’m also trolling through my Google reader, bookmarks and photocopies of short pieces that I promised myself I would pay closer attention to “when there’s time.” In these articles and posts and books I’ve noticed a recurring theme. The idea of trust, and how Web 2.0 is changing who we trust and what we trust arises again and again.

Jordan Furlong identified trust as a challenge in the world of law firm KM, prompting me to ask the question: Do . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Why Librarianship?

I was chatting recently with a friend and fellow librarian, and mentioned that my 16-year-old niece is considering librarianship as a career alternative. “Really?” my friend replied “I don’t know that I would encourage that –- in fact, I’m not sure I would go into it myself now. Is librarianship still relevant?”

That conversation, coupled with the invitation to contribute to SLAW, has given me a chance to really think about the relevance of librarianship. Is there a future for the profession?

According to the New York Times, librarians have never been cooler. Friends in the know at UWO . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Role of the in-House Research Lawyer – Is There One?

The idea for this column arose from discussions at a recent meeting of a research lawyers in Toronto. This column takes a slightly different path from our banter at that meeting but, in essence, rests on one of the same themes: the role of research lawyers in firms today.

As we all know, over the past several decades it has become not uncommon for law firms of various sizes to have in-house research lawyers. Similar functions to those of law firm research lawyers are also carried out by dedicated individuals in government departments, courts, tribunals, and other organizations; these persons . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Information Literate Legal Researcher

Information literacy is a well-established principle in library and information studies. Ensuring that their target population – users of their libraries and information centres – are information literate is a key goal of librarians and information specialists. The concept requires that library users know (or know how to determine) the questions they need to ask, how to find (or seek assistance in finding) the information they need to answer their questions, and – crucially – how to critically (and perhaps skeptically) examine and understand that information.

This goal applies equally to the specific context of legal analysis and legal research. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information


I’m fortunate enough in my firm to practice with several other lawyers in the same research practice group. We’ve learned over the years the value of collaboration, which usually takes the form of either “open door” discussions or our monthly meetings where we share news, frustrations, current work and workload issues. In hopes these discussions may be of interest to other researchers who often practice in isolation, I’m summarizing some of the issues dealt with recently (below) and welcome anyone to contact me directly if you wish to follow up in more detail:

  1. Commercial Databases – tips and gripes
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information

From the Trenches

Daily routine in the trenches of an active legal research practice affords little time for exploring technological innovations in the legal field. Alas, I am therefore often left in the dark even after reading posts on Slaw about such technology. I’ve confessed my confusion and ignorance to Simon F, and he has responded by encouraging me to give a different perspective on issues that surround legal research and technology.

I acknowledge that much of the research I do can be, and often is, conducted by searching online legal databases, as well as internet sites and search engines. In particular, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

All the M’s in Information

Librarianship as a career choice was a remarkable fit for me, because I like to know everything about everything or at least how to find it (don’t call it nosiness!). My undergraduate studies may have prepared me for playing Jeopardy but it was my library degree that made it possible for me to get that rarest of all things — a Perfect Job! As a librarian I get paid for following my passion — finding information, organizing information, getting information out to end users. In order to do my job correctly, I get to talk to people. By asking questions . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information