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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

Two Senses of a Right to Research

I have championed ways of increasing the public availability of research and scholarship in these Slaw columns for well over a decade under a variety of names, from open access to the catchy right to research (R2R). I picked up R2R, as I’ve noted, from the inspiring Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at the American University Washington College of Law in an initiative led by Sean Flynn. What I’ve now realized about R2R is that it can be read in two historically significant ways, with the difference between them neatly capturing what sets Prof Flynn’s and my current . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Whither or Wither: I-Law and Its Traditional Family

The published information relating to the disposal, by Informa to Montagu, of Lloyd’s Maritime Intelligence is, thus far, relatively light on detail and plans, certainly as regards that part of the business unit which might be described as law publishing, perhaps with as its future hub. It may be that it will sit well and flourish within its new corporate environment and even offer added value opportunities for other former Informa businesses such as Emerging Portfolio Funds Research (EPFR) and/or businesses which previously were not with Informa, notably Jane’s. However, that would be a surprise to me. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Broader Impact of a Court’s Historic Decision

In overturning Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. the Supreme Court signaled a radical break with the history of the Court, executed in the name of an historicist “originalism.” David Cole, the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, noted in the New York Review of Books (August 18, 2022) that “never has the Court eliminated a constitutional right so central to the equality and autonomy of half the nation.” But then he also observes that “never has so much changed in a single year” for the . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Creating a Valued and Successful (Law) Publication

The previously predicted and wholly predictable sale, by Informa PLC to Montagu, of 80% of the former’s Maritime Intelligence business unit will be one to watch for its affect on law publishing. The fact that Jane’s is part of the Montagu portfolio may be a relevant factor in the sale, and indeed over the years there has been shuffling of key personnel between Jane’s and Lloyd’s. Assuming that Informa’s i-Law, together with the range of books, law reports and journals under a handful of imprints, form part of the sale, and/or, if so, they are subsequently sold on, it . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Intellectual Property Integrity and Public Access to Research

When it comes to intellectual property, the question of integrity more often comes up around the ownership of the work than on the quality of the property itself. Yet in my work on scholarly communication, I have made the case to consider how the concept of intellectual property arose, long before such an idea existed in law, out of an intense consideration of a work’s intellectual qualities or properties. It was through a long history of scholarly inquiry into such properties, dating back in the West to medieval monasticism, that we have come to take for granted that a text . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Added Value in Legal and Other Professional Information Provision

The announcement, applicable to England and Wales, of the alpha launch of Find Case Law, from the National Archives, is a significant step forward in giving greater access to case law and making judgments available freely for re-publication under a new copyright regime, the Open Justice Licence. For free access to cases from both Irish jurisdictions, Scotland, the European courts and the Commonwealth, the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) remains a key source. Find Case Law is and will probably always be incomplete, requiring access to all the other available sources of primary legal materials, but that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

An Open-Access Teaching Q&A With UBC Law Professor Samuel Beswick, Editor of Tort Law: Cases and Commentaries

Samuel Beswick is an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia Peter A. Allard School of Law. His primary scholarly interests are in the areas of torts, unjust enrichment, limitations, and remedies. Last year, Professor Beswick reached out to CanLII to discuss a new casebook and syllabus he was designing for his 1L Torts class. He wanted to create a teaching resource that would utilize CanLII’s online functionality and be freely accessible to students and professors. Last August, CanLII published the First Edition of his casebook. Now, we are thrilled to be able to share the Second Edition of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Publishing

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

And Now the Driverless Keyboard

We appear to have crossed another great divide in artificial intelligence. It is not just the constant shuffle of driverless cars in my Silicon Valley neighborhood on their endless driving lessons. Nor is it the machine learning gains in diagnostic accuracy that exceed those so expertly trained in radiology and dermatology. Those are visual advances in machine learning. This time it’s language.

Steven Johnson, in a marvelously well-done article in the New York Times Magazine, sets out what machine learning is making of writing. It is the driverless car equivalent of the keyboard. Just feed in your destination and it . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

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

You Say You Want an Evolution

I understand that, despite the incessant reports about the amount of investment money being directed at legal technology, it is difficult to sell it to lawyers and their firms. No doubt, there are as many reasons and opinions as there are lawyers, though Hugh Logue, author of Automating Legal Services: Justice through Technology, suggests that fresh strategies are desperately needed as outdated market assumptions, inflexible sales structures, and sledgehammer products prevent the legal solution market leaders from reaching the lucrative small law market”; some might question just how lucrative that market is. Equally, it is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Lexum’s Approach to Automatic Classification of Case Law: From Statistics to Machine Learning

Lexum focus has always been on using the latest technology to automate legal publishing with the goal of improving the cost/benefit ratio of accessing legal information. For this reason, we historically favoured full text search engines over classification systems based on a thesaurus. The manual labelling of judicial and administrative decisions is a labour-intensive process that has traditionally contributed to the high costs of legal publishing. Where large volumes of decisions are rendered, it also makes exhaustive publishing difficult to achieve, justifying the selection of a limited number of “reported decisions.” Lexum has always headed straight in the opposite direction. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing