Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Importance of Legal Research

The May 2011 issue of the Law Student e-Monthly, a CCH publication, has a great little article on the Importance of Legal Research by Catherine Best, whom many people may know as the author of the Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research.

The article underlines that good research is actually an ethical duty of counsel. And bad research has consequences:
"A litigator who has not conducted sufficient research thus faces the possibility of being sued by his client, and also of censure by the court through an award of costs. For a solicitor, failure to understand the law or conduct the research necessary to gain an understanding of it, will result in personal liability to the client."
Best cites a few Canadian judgments on that very point.

The article reminds me of a recent experience. Last year, I helped teach a first year legal research class at the University of Ottawa. I remember the first class during the first week. In front of me were new students who were probably bored at the idea of an entire course devoted to "legal research".

I tried a few ideas on them:
  • legal research is the ABC of law - you're not a lawyer if you don't know the alphabet and the grammar - many bored looks
  • I then joked that if they couldn't do the research during their first summer job posting in a law firm, they would be called into the senior partner's office and get yelled at - I swear I saw many students put down their Blackberries at this point
  • I was on a roll and I added that courts expect a high standard of research ability and judges will go after lawyers who are sloppy, denouncing them in open court and and even going so far as to award costs against the lawyer personally - now I had their attention. For the first week's readings, the students had to look at a few real life examples of judgments where lawyers were given a public scolding for bad research
Of course, I would have preferred chatting to the students about the "joys" of the Canadian Abridgment or the "beauty" of a good index in an annotated statute. We did get to all of that in later weeks.

But a little fear seems to have worked in week 1 and I am willing to settle for that.


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:20 pm 0 comments

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lawyers Weekly Article on Upcoming Supreme Court of Canada Nominations

The most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly briefly examines the role of New Democratic MP Joe Comartin, one of the federal politicians who will sit on the parliamentary committee that is to come up with a shortlist of candidates to fill the shoes of two departing Supreme Cout justices:

"At press time Comartin was the only announced name on the vetting committee, which also comprises one Liberal and three Conservatives."

"He will be the committee’s institutional memory, having previously participated in the pre-appointment screening of Liberal-appointed Supreme Court Justices Rosalie Abella and Louise Charron, and Conservative-appointed Justices Marshall Rothstein and Thomas Cromwell. "
The Prime Minister has said that he will name the replacements for retiring Justices Ian Binnie and Louise Charron from the committee's list.

The last part of the article has a list of people who look like potential candidates for the two open positions.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:47 pm 0 comments

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fun Reading: Greatest Comic Book Lawyers

The University of Alberta Faculty of Law Blog published an item last week on the Greatest comic book lawyers.

As I am sure you will all agree: time well wasted.


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:30 pm 0 comments

Draft Treaty on Copyright Exceptions for Libraries

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has proposed a Draft Treaty on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives :
"Particularly relevant to the work of IFLA was the study commissioned by WIPO [World Intellectual Property Organisation] from Professor Kenneth Crews, 'Study on Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries and Archives,' which WIPO published in 2008. The results of this study revealed that numerous Member States had either no exceptions or limitations for libraries and archives in their national copyright legislation, or had only minimal, general provisions."

"To examine the issues and what should be done for the benefit of libraries and archives worldwide, in April 2009 IFLA and EIFL convened a workshop at the British Library comprising librarians, intellectual property specialists, the World Blind Union, and representatives of other NGO's to develop a set of principles that should drive creation of an appropriate instrument to facilitate the mission of libraries throughout the world (...)"

"After wide consultation with librarians, representatives of Member States and other knowledgeable individuals, IFLA's working group has developed a 'Treaty on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives'. In preparation for the work on exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives scheduled for November 2011, we offer this proposal to further informed discussion of the issues."
[Source: Culturelibre.ca]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:20 pm 0 comments

Thursday, May 26, 2011

June 15 Deadline for James D. Lang Memorial Scholarship

June 15 is the next deadline for applications to the James D. Lang Memorial Scholarship, awarded three times a year by the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL):
"The scholarship is designed to support attendance at a continuing education program, be it a workshop, certificate program or other similar activity deemed appropriate by the CALL/ACBD Scholarships and Awards Committee."
The scholarship is open to members of the association who have been in good standing for a minimum of twelve months.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:38 pm 0 comments

Slaw Teams Up with Maritime Law Book For Weekly Case Summaries

The Canadian blog Slaw.ca and legal publisher Maritime Law Book (MLB) have teamed up to weekly post up to 10 summaries of important or interesting Canadian cases.

As explained on Slaw yesterday:
"Cases are selected for us by MLB editors using the following criteria:
  • Cases involving modern technology
  • Cases that extend or restrict the common law
  • Cases that interpret new or existing statutes
  • Cases that extend or restrict the existing interpretation of statutes
  • Cases with facts that result from the complexity of modern society
  • Cases with novel facts
  • Most Supreme Court of Canada cases."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:22 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Amnesty International

The international human rights organization Amnesty International turns 50 on May 28th.

Not surprisingly for a campaigning organization, Amnesty will mark the occasion with a Global Call to Action:
"Amnesty International’s new Global Call to Action includes a digital 'Earth Candle' – a significant online breakthrough that allows activists for the first time to see an overview of the organization’s worldwide actions, and how their own actions add to this force for change."

"This is accompanied by a new drive – 'Be one more, ask one more, act once more' – that aims to achieve a huge collective impact worldwide. It urges everyone – including Amnesty International’s three million members and supporters in more than 150 countries and territories – to encourage at least one other person to take action for human rights."

"The launch of the global initiative will see dozens of countries from Argentina to Ghana to Turkey to New Zealand holding a symbolic toast to freedom. This global event pays tribute to the tale of two Portuguese students imprisoned for raising their glasses to liberty – an injustice that so outraged British lawyer Peter Benenson that he launched Amnesty International on 28 May 1961 (...)

"For half a century Amnesty International – the world’s largest human rights organization – has borne witness to abuses and atrocities, has offered hope to the oppressed and forgotten, and has campaigned with innovation and determination for justice."

"It has played a leading role in making torturers international outlaws, in ending the untouchable status of leaders accused of human rights crimes, in the creation of the International Criminal Court and in achieving unstoppable momentum towards a death penalty-free world."

"In 1977, Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:43 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Law Library Journal Spring 2011 Issue

The Spring 2011 issue of Law Library Journal is out. It is a publication of the American Association of Law Libraries.

Among the articles I found interesting are:
  • Database Ownership: Myth or Reality? (Sallie Smith, Susanna Leers, and Patricia Roncevich): "Full-text electronic databases are problematic for librarians because of the way they are marketed, using distribution models that separate the rights of access and owner-ship. The authors describe their experience with a 'purchase plus access' distribution model and the in-house system they created using their purchased content."
  • A Response to The Durham Statement Two Years Later (Margaret A. Leary): "This response to The Durham Statement Two Years Later, published in the Winter
    2011 issue of Law Library Journal, addresses that article’s call for an end to print publication of law journals and its failure to sufficiently consider the national and international actors and developments that will determine the future of digital libraries."
  • Practicing Reference . . . Relevance, Choices, and the Goldilocks Problem (Mary Whisner): "Ms. Whisner ponders a core question in answering reference queries: How can we know whether what we find is relevant to what the questioner wants? Her article provides criteria to consider and some guidelines for choosing sources in response to a query. "
  • The Role of Conferences (Christine Sellers and Phillip Gragg): "The authors discuss and debate the role of conferences in the professional life of a law librarian."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:10 pm 0 comments

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Zealand Law Commission Report on Drug Use

Earlier this month, the Law Commission of New Zealand released its report on Controlling and Regulating Drugs – A Review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

Key proposals include:
  • A mandatory cautioning scheme for all personal possession and use offences that come to the attention of the police, removing minor drug offenders from the criminal justice system and providing greater opportunities for those in need of treatment to access it
  • A full scale review of the current drug classification system which is used to determine restrictiveness of controls and severity of penalties, addressing existing inconsistencies and focusing solely on assessing a drug’s risk of harm, including social harm
  • Making separate funding available for the treatment of offenders through the justice sector to support courts when they impose rehabilitative sentences to address alcohol and drug dependence problems
  • Consideration of a pilot drug court, allowing the government to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of deferring sentencing of some offenders until they had undergone court-imposed alcohol and/or drug treatment

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:56 pm 0 comments

New Zealand Law Commission Paper on Death and Cremation Certification

The Law Commission of New Zealand has published an Issues Paper entitled Final Words: Death and Cremation certification in New Zealand:
"The terms of reference for this review are wide ranging and require us to consider issues such as whether the act in its current form is meeting New Zealanders’ needs with respect to the custody, care and final disposition of the dead; whether local authorities should continue to have primary responsibility for the provision of cemeteries; and whether the current system of self-regulation of funeral directors should be continued or an alternative system of regulation considered."

"Alongside these issues the review also requires us to examine the “adequacy and efficiency” of the current laws and regulations relating to death and cremation certification. The provisions relating to the certification of death were transferred from the Births, Deaths, Marriages and relationships registration act 1995 to the Burial and Cremation Act in 2009. Because the issues relating to certification form a specialised and discrete part of the wider review, the Commission has produced this separate Issues Paper focused on certification."

"Doctors involved in certifying deaths play a vital role as gatekeepers to the coronial system and so this review provides an important opportunity to review the interface between the new coronial system (the Coroners Act 2006) and the pre-existing death and cremation certification systems."

"This discussion paper forms part of the Law Commission’s preliminary consultation process and does not predetermine the direction we may take in our final report and recommendations to government. rather, it is intended to help focus discussion and inform our research in this critical area (...)"

"Death and cremation certification is a notoriously difficult area in which to reach consensus, in part because the system serves a number of sometimes conflicting policy objectives. Those dealing with death as investigators, pathologists, coroners, doctors, health workers, care-givers or funeral directors are often working in highly charged situations. The knock-on effects of even quite minor changes within the systems and processes regulating death have the potential to cause major disruptions."
The paper also looks at the legal situation in other jurisdictions such as England and Wales

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:29 pm 0 comments

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia Final Report on Seniors-Only Housing

The Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia has released its final report on Seniors-Only Housing:
"This report considers whether to amend the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act to provide an exemption for seniors-only housing. Under such an exemption, a housing development (nursing home, assisted living facility, mobile home park, public housing, condominium project, subdivision, etc.) which restricted residence to seniors would be immune from a complaint of age discrimination under the Act. Such an exemption has been adopted in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador (...)"

"We conclude that the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act should not be amended to expressly exempt seniors-only housing. The compelling interests that may be served by some forms of housing that cater to seniors’ distinctive needs are better protected, we suggest, by a case-specific approach under the existing provisions of the Human Rights Act, rather than a blanket exemption for any seniors-only rule in respect of housing."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:46 pm 0 comments

British Columbia Law Institute Research Project on Family Status

The British Columbia Law Institute has launched a new research initiative to study the meaning of the ground of "family status" under the BC Human Rights Code.

Family status is a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Code but it is not given any precise definition. Across Canada, there have been different interpretations of the expression:

"In the face of recent confusing jurisprudence and the changing landscape of the family in BC, the objective of the BC Family Status Legal Research Project is to research and analyze the family status ground. The BCLI will publish a Discussion Paper that thoroughly reviews the legislation and jurisprudence in relation to the family status ground and describes the issues and problems with the family status ground in BC. If appropriate, the Discussion Paper will identify further legal research, law reform or legal education in this area that would benefit the public. Although the scope of this 1-year research project will be clarified in consultation with external project advisors, the project is intended to question whether patterns of interpretation reflect contemporary expansive notions of family and respect for diversity and capture the barriers to access to full participation in society faced by different kinds of families. The Discussion Paper will also consider the development of human rights jurisprudence over the years to reflect on the role of human rights codes in fostering equality for families. The paper is intended to serve as a resource for academics, advocates, practitioners and decision-makers as well as the general public."

The Institute has published a brief background paper on the issue.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:36 pm 0 comments

Australian Law Reform Commission Paper on Film and Game Classification

The Australian Law Reform Commission has published an Issues Paper for its National Classification Scheme Review:
"It discusses the important distinctions to be made between censorship and classification, and issues concerning what should be classified and who should do the classifying, in the context of rapid change in the media industries and media consumption patterns in a converging technological environment. It also discusses various options for revising the regulatory framework, including direct government regulation, co-regulation with industry, and industry self-regulation."

"In releasing the Issues Paper, the ALRC is seeking wide community input into reform of the classification system, with the aim of advising on a regulatory framework that:
  • is consistent across media industries, platforms, and devices
  • meets community expectations and is readily understood by the public
  • enables Australians to have ready access to a diverse range of forms of information and entertainment content across media platforms
  • ensures that appropriate safeguards exist to restrict the availability of inappropriate content, particularly for children
  • minimises the costs and regulatory burdens of compliance, and promotes competition and innovation
  • is enforceable and promotes public trust in the regulatory system."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:23 pm 0 comments

Best Lawyer Movie/TV Show of All Time?

3 Geeks and a Law Blog is asking people to suggest What's the Best Lawyer Movie/TV Show of All Time?:
"After a few weeks of being serious with the Elephant Post questions, we decided to tone it down a little bit this week and let you stretch your Pop-Culture muscles and tell us what movie or television show, that features lawyers, you think is the greatest of all time. I mentioned last week that Joss Whedon's show, Angel, is one of my favorites. A show where the Senior Partners of the law firm of Wolfram and Hart are all Demons from Hell… you'd kind of expect to see that as a documentary on PBS, now wouldn't you?"


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:19 pm 0 comments

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Statistics Canada Article on Trends in the Use of Remand in Canada

Earlier this week, the Statistics Canada publication Juristat published an article on Trends in the use of remand in Canada.

Remand is the temporary detention of a person while awaiting trial, sentencing or the commencement of a custodial disposition. According to the Criminal Code, adults and youth can be admitted to remand for a variety of reasons, including to ensure attendance in court, for the protection or safety of the public or to maintain public confidence in the justice system.

Among the highlights:
  • The number of adults in remand on any given day has been steadily increasing over the past decade, including a small increase (1%) in 2009/2010. There were, on average, about 13,600 adults in remand on any given day in Canada (excluding Nunavut) in 2009/2010.

  • The increase in the adult remand population has coincided with a gradual decrease in the number of adults in sentenced custody. As a result, the number of adults in remand has outnumbered those in sentenced custody for the past five consecutive years.

  • The increase in the adult remand population from 1999/2000 to 2008/2009 was driven by increases in the number of annual admissions (up 30%) as well as increases in the length of time spent in remand.

  • All ten jurisdictions that provided comparable data reported an increase in their adult remand population over the last decade. Among the provinces, the increase was greatest in Manitoba, at about two and a half times the number from 2000/2001.

  • At 69% and 67% respectively, Manitoba and Ontario reported the highest proportion of the custodial population in remand in 2009/2010.

  • Among five provinces that provided detailed data in 2008/2009, about 7 in 10 adults were admitted to remand for non-violent offences, most commonly failure to comply and breach of probation. The other 3 in 10 admissions to remand were for violent offences, most often major assault.

  • Among four provinces that provided detailed data on legal status, almost half (45%) of adults released from remand in 2008/2009 returned to the community with no further correctional supervision within 24 hours after release. Another 26% were sentenced to a provincial or territorial facility immediately after their remand ended, and 24% were admitted to a community supervision program (e.g. probation). Additionally, 3% of releases were followed by a federal custodial sentence.

  • As with adults, youth in remand in 2008/2009 outnumbered those in sentenced custody for the third year in a row. The higher number of youth in remand was driven by a decrease in admissions to sentenced custody. The number of admissions to remand and the length of time spent in remand remained stable for youth.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:53 pm 0 comments

Statistics Canada on Violent Victimization of Aboriginal Women

Earlier this week, the Statistics Canada publication Juristat published an article on Violent victimization of Aboriginal women in the Canadian provinces, 2009.

Among the highlights:
  • Close to two-thirds (63%) of Aboriginal female victims were aged 15 to 34. This age group accounted for just under half (47%) of the female Aboriginal population (aged 15 or older) living in the ten provinces. Young females were also highly represented among non-Aboriginal victims
  • In 2009, close to 67,000 Aboriginal women aged 15 or older living in the Canadian provinces reported being the victim of violence in the previous 12 months. Overall, the rate of self-reported violent victimization among Aboriginal women was almost three times higher than the rate of violent victimization reported by non-Aboriginal women
  • The majority of violent incidents against Aboriginal women committed outside of a spousal relationship did not result in injury (84%) and did not involve the use of a weapon (89%). Comparable findings were seen among non-Aboriginal women
  • Over three-quarters (76%) of non-spousal violent incidents involving Aboriginal women were not reported to the police, a proportion similar to that for non-Aboriginal women (70%)
  • Among victims of spousal violence, close to six in ten Aboriginal women reported being injured during the 5 years preceding the survey, compared to four in ten non-Aboriginal women (59% versus 41%)
  • Similar to non-Aboriginal women, about 4 in 10 Aboriginal women (42%) stated that they were very satisfied with their personal safety from crime

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:48 pm 0 comments

Thursday, May 19, 2011

UK Supreme Court Hearings Now Live

Earlier this week, the United Kingdom Supreme Court announced that its hearings will now be televised live on Sky News.

The UK Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in the UK for all civil cases and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It replaced the House of Lords as the highest court in the United Kingdom in October 2009.

The UK Supreme Court joins a small group of top appeal courts that offer live multimedia coverage of their hearings. This includes the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court of Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:14 pm 0 comments

Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of May 1 to 15, 2011 is now available on the Court website.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loan to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:11 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CALL Conference - Interdisciplinarity in Law Libraries

On Monday afternoon at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries, I attended a session on interdisciplinarity.

It was called "Thinking Beyond the Law" and featured 3 speakers: Maryvon Cote (McGill), Clare Mauro (Torys LLP Toronto) and Katie Thomas (Bank of Montreal - Toronto).

They all agreed that law librarians in all environments are increasingly being asked to expand their work and their collections into other disciplines, from history to psychology, from applied sciences to religious studies, from business research to philosophy. The pressure to adopt an interdisciplinary perspective can come from trends in academia as well as from new regulatory pressures in industries like banking (which have to take into account environmental, aboriginal and human rights issues).

The panelists described a variety of ways in which they support interdisciplinarity:

1) inter-library loan
2) tapping into in-house expertise of lawyers who have a background in other fields
3) training users in the use of non-legal databases
4) at McGill, agreements with other specialized university libraries, and modifying collection development practices to more closely track the curriculum interests of professors doing interdisciplinarity research
5) document delivery

The panelists also offered tips relating to the tools they use to keep abreast:

1) subject guides from other faculties (McGill)
2) Twitter and RSS feeds
3) the UK-based newsletter FreePint which regularly publishes resource guides on different topics and disciplines
4) info aggregators like CBCA or ABI Inform
5) free sources like Google Scholar. PubMed and SSRN
6) listservs
7) colleagues, colleagues, colleagues - have a good network in other libraries.

They also described the challenges of interdisciplinarity. The biggest one being information overload. As well, if the library is able to provide answers outside of the institution's or faculty's area of expertise on one occasion, the pressure mounts for perfection the next time.

But by and large, the speakers assured that successes are numerous and that the one thing to remember is that multidisciplinarity is here to stay.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:57 am 0 comments

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CALL Conference - News from Annual General Meeting

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries is holding its annual conference in Calgary right now and the members' annual general meeting took place this morning.

Among the announcements that attracted my attention were the following:

1) the Education Committee's 2011-2012 webinar series will be launched in June. The topics: Yahoo Pipes - Slicing and Dicing RSS feeds for legal pratice groups (June); Researching Federal and Ontario Legislation (September - 1st of series on legislative research across jurisdictions); Building and Using Collaborative Tools in a Law Library (November); Building an RFP (January); Metadata and Legal Taxonomies for Law Firms and Law Libraries (March). Rates and registration info can be found on the CALL website (http://www.callacbd.ca)

2) the CALL website redesign is moving forward and members will be given a first look this summer. The new site will reside on a Drupal open source platform. The new site will have collaborative spaces for committees and interest groups such as blogs, wikis and RSS feeds. There will also be a job board and PayPal for electronic registration and fee payment for events.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:35 pm 0 comments

Monday, May 16, 2011

CALL Conference Session - Going Green at Your Law Library

This afternoon, at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) in Calgary, there was a session on Going Green at your Law Library: Learning from Calgary Public Library's Eco-Action Team.

The session was organized by CALL's Courthouse and Law Society Libraries Special Interest Group. There were three presenters from the Calgary Public Library (CPL).

Rosemary Griebel explained that libraries are natural institutions for green policies given the fact that they are founded on the principle of re-use. As well, as institutions seen by the greater public as neutral, they are well placed to demonstrate leadership in educating the public on green initiatives.

She provided an outline of CPL's Eco-Action Plan and the many challenges that an organization can face when trying to adopt environmentally progressive policies and practices. What is crucial according to her is getting the messaging right by telling a powerful story: no one really cares if you recycled 2 tons of old books, but telling them that you sent those books to be recycled into roofing materials might grab their attention. Maybe they have Margaret Atwood on their roof.

Kathryn Nikolaychuk then took the podium to offer details about CPL's green approach to facilities and purchasing. She explained that the system-wide plan (carried out in 17 branches) went first for the "low-hanging fruit", things that are simpler to accomplish initially and that show momentum. This included changing light fixtures, low-flow plumbing etc. The Eco-Action team found that they achieved the biggest bang for the eco-buck in a suprising place: housekeeping products (cleansers, wipes, etc.)

Another issue to examine is where the library gets its energy from. Not all libraries control their facilities (especially if they are located in a courthouse), but there may be portential actions there as well.

In terms of purchasing, CPL opted for bulk buying with other like-minded organizations to get better prices for green products and they switched the models of library delivery trucks they use.

For other libraries, Nikolaychuk suggested a number of actions: think of the entire lifecycle of a product and ask (or negotiate) for the vendor to take back the product when its life is over (she gave the example of a vendor that recycles old photocopier components); always ask product vendors if they have a greener option; investigate alternative sources for products.

Finally Susan Anderson talked about staff engagement. Her suggestions for "selling" green initiatives included finding green colleagues across sectors of the organization, creating informal groups (she gave the example of an Earth Day committee), connecting with local green organizations, building staff support through lectures on eating locally or healthy greener homes, etc. This all assumes that management has bought into the plan.

She emphasized that one area that can a big impact on how staff thinks about ecological issues is the staff room. Things that can be changed include what coffee is used (fair trade or organic), the dish soap and cleaning products, getting rid of bottled water, turning off vending machine lights at night or weekends (and checking the products in those machines), etc.

Not every institution may be able to go as far as CPL (their new buildings have to conform to international LEED environmental standards and renovations to existing facilities must also respect LEED criteria) but all libraries are capable of initiating some changes.

There is a lot more practical information on the CPL's Eco-Action blog.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:00 pm 0 comments

CALL Conference Session on How Not To Be Swamped

This morning at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) in Calgary, there was a panel discussion on "Workflow - How Not to Be Swamped".

It was sponsored by the Courthouse and Law Society Libraries Special Interest Group of which I am co-chair.

The first speaker Pam Borden is a solo librarian at the Law Society of Prince Edward Island. Her main point was to find ways of "thinking smarter" to avoid wasting time. She emphasized the importance of the CALL listserv, conferences and regional law librarian networks for resource sharing.

Joan Rataic-Lang of the Toronto Lawyers Association was the second speaker. Her main recommendation: go out and buy David Allen's book "Getting Things Done".

Her main points had to do with developing a system for collecting and organizing incoming information (e-mails, RSS feeds, calls, walk-ins, voicemails etc.), and determining which items are actionable, which should be delegated or deferred.

A list-lover, Rataic-Lang explained her system for organizing to-do lists into categories such as a projects list, calendared actions, "waiting for" lists (info or decisions that must come from others) etc. She also underlined the crucial importance of procedure manuals and checklists.

The final speaker was Wendy Reynolds, a manager at the Legislative Library of Ontario.

She described their Library Client Request Database (LCRD), a repository of reference Q and As (she estimates the system has many tens of thousands of questions). Based on an Oracle platform, the LCRD was developed in-house and has functions that allow for assigning questions to the appropriate team member, delegating parts of questions, and tracking research answers. The LCRD is searchable, so reference staff do not reinvent the wheel. A field for tips describing how to handle particularly sensitive questions (or particularly sensitive politicians?) helps to ensure a consistency in quality of service.

Depending on the size of your library, there are sure to be ideas from the speakers that can help you avoid going crazy.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:00 pm 0 comments

CALL Conference CCH Vendor Demo

Yesterday afternoon at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries, the 4th vendor demo was given by CCH.

CCH has made a number of enhancements to existing products, in particular updated commentary to titles such as Canadian Labour Law Reporter, Canadian Family Law Guide, Canadian Securities Law Reporter and the Commercial Law Guide.

Tables of concordance have also been updated or added to many titles.

CCH has introduced so-called "Smart Charts" that offer easy comparisons. For example: title insurance title comparisons, cross-jurisdictional charts of personal tax credits, tax calendars, etc.

Finally, the legislation tracking tool Canadian Legislative Pulse now offers e-mail alerts for new regulations filed under a specified act.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:45 pm 0 comments

Sunday, May 15, 2011

CALL Conference Thomson Reuters Vendor Demo

Thomson Reuters was the third vendor to demo new and enhanced products at a session this afternoon at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Calgary.

Canada Law Book was recently taken over by Carswell, part of Thomson Reuters. However, its products are going ahead, among them mobile versions for the Blackberry, iPhone and Smartphone of the Ontario Annual Practice, the British Columbia Annual Practice and Martin's Annual Criminal Code.

Westlaw Canada has introduced various enhancements:
1) when noting up legislation, it is now possible to target legislative subsections and clauses
2) in KeyCite, it is possible to limit the noting up of caselaw and statutes by type of judicial treatment
3) one can indicate term frequency as a search variable - e.g.  one can specify that one is looking for documents in which a term or expression appears at least X times

Westlaw Canada also has a new collection of legal research memos that offer professional analysis in some 10 areas of law at the moment (e.g. criminal law, estates, insurance, personal injury, etc.)

It is also expanding the Carswell eReference Library with upcoming titles in areas such as aboriginal, corporate, estates, insolvency law among others.

There were few details but Westlaw Canada will soon be launching an e-book App.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:22 pm 0 comments

CALL Annual Conference Justis Vendor Demo

rokThe 2nd vendor demo at this afternoon's session at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Calgary was by Justis, the UK-based company that offers the JustCite citator.

Recent enhancements to JustCite make case citation work more efficient.  When noting up a case, results are broken down into subsequent cases, key cases considered by the initial case, recent journal articles, and legislation considered.

The one big new JustCite feature is the "precedent map", a visual map that makes apparent the connections between cases and the depth of those connections. Cases in the map are represented by circles, the larger the circles, the more links to other cases are shared (and the greater the likelihood that the initial case and these other cases are on the same point of law).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:05 pm 0 comments

Canadian Association of Law Libraries Conference Vendor Demos

The vendors are demoing their new offerings this afternoon at the  annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Calgary.

First up was LexisNexis.

Among the enhancements I would mention:

1) Quickcite now includes citations to commentary (journals and Halsbury's Laws of Canada)
2) Quickcite will soon add regulations to its citator (Sept 2011)
3) in Quicklaw searching, it is possible to add topics to search, going down up to 6 levels in each area of law, based on the Canada Digest classification system
4) a new sort option exists for case search results: sort by citation frequency
5) there is a new quick lookup tool that allows the searcher in Quicklaw to highlight text and use a drop-down to launch a search in the QL statutes database, Halsbury's, words and phrases, various websites, Wikipedia etc.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:16 pm 0 comments

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pecha Kucha at Canadian Association of Law Libraries Annual Conference

The Canadian Assocation of Law Libraries is holding its annual meeting in Calgary.

At today's pre-conference called "Spice Up Your Training", Carol Watson (University of Georgia Law Library) introduced attendees to the presentation technique known as Pecha Kucha (more info at http://pecha-kucha.org/).

Basically, presenters get to show 20 images or slides, each for 20 seconds, with the images being moved forward automatically.

It does not work for all topics - try teaching regulatory research with Pecha Kucha - but it does have its applications in the library and/or training context.

Watson mentioned its potential as an alternative to panel discussions, as a keynote presentation, as a team building tool (e.g. "a day in the life..." to show colleagues what everyone does), as a way of making staff meetings livelier ...

There are many Pecha Kucha examples from many sectors (architecture, art, libraries...) on YouTube - at http://www.youtube.com search for "pecha kucha".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:30 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

U.S. Judges' Love Affair With Bob Dylan

From the Los Angeles Times article Judges hand down the law with help from Bob Dylan:
"The protest era's vagabond poet is cited more often than any other songwriter in legal opinions and briefs. His ballads have become models for legal storytelling (...)"

"Dylan's music and values have imprinted themselves on the [American] justice system because his songs were the score playing during the formative years of the judges and lawyers now populating the nation's courthouses, colleges and blue-chip law firms, says Michael Perlin, a New York Law School professor who has used Dylan lyrics as titles for at least 50 published law journal articles."

"Perlin and others lured to the law by the moral siren songs of the 1960s credit Dylan with roles in passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, federal sentencing guidelines that purport to ensure more equitable prison terms and due process reforms prohibiting racial profiling."
The article cites a study by US law professor Alan Long from 2006 who examined legal databases to identify lyrics in U.S. court filings and scholarly publications. I had mentioned Long's study in a Library Boy post of October 4, 2006 entitled Popular Song Lyrics in Legal Writing.

The 10 most frequently cited pop music artists are, in order of decreasing importance:
  1. Dylan
  2. Beatles
  3. Bruce Springsteen
  4. Paul Simon
  5. Woody Guthrie
  6. The Stones
  7. Grateful Dead
  8. Simon & Garfunkel
  9. Joni Mitchell
  10. R.E.M.
The most popular Dylan line quoted by American judges: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

The Globe and Mail picked up the story yesterday: Dylan tops charts with U.S. judges.

The Toronto-based daily's take on the situation:
"A quick search of the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) database of judgments suggests that Canadian judges, who tend to have a drier, more no-nonsense style, are not likely to quote Mr. Dylan."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:57 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nontraditional Indexes to Law Journal Articles

Lyonette Louis-Jacques has provided a summary of Nontraditional Indexes to Law Journal Articles on Slaw.ca:
"Users sometimes want to find law journal articles on a particular subject. Other users know the title of the article they need, but they don’t know what law journal published the article. And sometimes users want to find all the articles an author has published, when the author has published articles in many journals and even in a variety of languages. They can consult standard journal indexes, but other, nontraditional indexes such as the OPACs and databases described below can be useful for more comprehensive and/or up-to-date searches"
Her article covers sources such as:
  • Peace Palace Library at the Hague
  • United Nations catalogues
  • European Commission libraries
  • European Court of Human Rights
  • Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law
  • SSRN Legal Scholarship Network
  • and many many more
Louis-Jacques is the Foreign and International Law Librarian and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School D’Angelo Law Library.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:39 pm 0 comments

Why You Need to Attend Annual Conferences

Connie Crosby has published a post at Slaw.ca where she explains the reasons why attending conferences is essential to law library staff.

The reasons:
  • Building a network
  • Access to the legal publishing industry
  • Developing new or existing skills
  • Transfer of tacit knowledge from colleagues
  • Learning the latest trends and technique
  • Meeting future staff members
As she writes:
"I get tired of hearing that conference attendance is a 'perk'. It is absolutely not. When I have attended the CALL [Canadian Association of Law Libraries] conference through the years, it is always an intense few days, seeing me connecting, sharing and learning from 7:30 am often until midnight. There is little down time for leisure activity as we try to pack as much as humanly possible in a few short days."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:31 pm 0 comments

Monday, May 09, 2011

Legal Symposium in Honour of Supreme Court of Canada Justice Charles D. Gonthier

The Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice (CIAJ) is organizing a legal symposium honouring the late Justice Charles G. Gonthier at McGill University on May 20-21:
"Charles Gonthier was known to the legal community as a gentleman, scholar, philosopher and original thinker. The basis of his worldview was founded upon the ideas of fraternity and community. In a context which focuses on the immediate needs of the individual, Charles Gonthier was concerned with the responsible development of a just society in the long term. As such, he devoted much of his later years to the area of sustainable development law."
Gonthier who sat on the Supreme Court of Canada from 1989 to 2003, passed away in 2009.

Many current Supreme Court of Canada Justices will be speaking at the event.

Justice Gonthier was called to the Quebec Bar in 1952 after graduating from McGill Law.

He was named a judge of the Quebec Superior Court in 1974. During his tenure, he became president of the CIAJ.

He was appointed to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1988, and joined the Supreme Court of Canada the following year.

After retiring from the country's highest court, he became:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:17 pm 0 comments

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Privacy Commissioner of Canada Report on Online Tracking, Profiling and Targeting, and Cloud Computing

A few days ago, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada released its report on Online Tracking, Profiling and Targeting, and Cloud Computing which comes after public consultations in 2010.

Cloud computing refers to the provision of web-based services that allow individuals and businesses to use software and hardware managed by third parties. Examples include online file storage, social networking sites, webmail and online business applications:

"With respect to online tracking, profiling and targeting, we heard primarily about the privacy issues related to behavioural advertising: what it is, what the benefits are, what risks to privacy exist, and what self-regulatory measures are in place. In terms of general privacy concerns, the blurring of the public/private divide and its effects on reputation was seen as a significant issue that arises from online tracking, profiling and targeting. Children's activities online and the need to incorporate privacy into digital citizenship programs were also items that were raised"

"The consultations were an opportunity to examine the practices of online tracking, profiling and targeting through the lens of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). While most industry participants were of the view that PIPEDA can handle the evolving technological environment, certain challenges with respect to applying the law were raised by many respondents and participants. Defining what is (or is not) personal information, determining the appropriate form of consent, limiting the use of personal information, implementing reasonable safeguards, providing access and correction to online information, and ensuring accountability were cited as PIPEDA-related issues that need careful attention. Online tracking, profiling and targeting are still largely invisible to most individuals, and most respondents and participants agreed that greater transparency is needed for the benefit of individuals and to ensure innovation.'

"With respect to cloud computing, the OPC learned about the different characteristics and models of cloud computing. We heard about its benefits and risks to enterprises and consumers. Again, most respondents and participants were of the view that PIPEDA can address issues that arise from cloud computing while others suggested that more should be done. Most of the PIPEDA-related issues concerned jurisdiction and availability of personal information to third parties; safeguards; new uses for the personal information and retention; and access."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:23 pm 0 comments

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Access to Justice in Rural and Remote Communities

Jamie Maclaren has written a post on slaw.ca about Access to Justice in Rural and Remote Communities:

"In 2011, the remote provision of legal services via videoconferencing technology is nothing new or revolutionary. But it is surely underused as a business tool. With the advent and increasing adoption of e-discoveries, e-mediations and even e-trials in many Canadian jurisdictions, little seems to stand in the way of tech-savvy lawyers marketing their services in faraway under-served places, and thus building highly profitable online practices. Such practices must overcome small regulatory obstacles relating to proper client identification and document execution, but the offsetting advantages are significant; they avoid the high overhead costs associated with conventional bricks-and-mortar businesses, and they are environment-friendly because of their mostly paperless operation."

"The proliferation of affordable online legal services will not solve the problem of limited access to legal services in rural and remote communities. It is a complex problem and, like most complex problems, it requires complex solutions. The most effective solution will always involve a greater number of lawyers and other legal service providers bringing their services physically closer to under-served markets, since consumers still prefer the warmth and certainty of in-person communications. But bridging geographical gaps will forever be a struggle across these 'few acres of snow', and the potential for online legal services to increase the accessibility of affordable legal services in all regions of Canada seems largely untapped."


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:56 pm 0 comments

Thursday, May 05, 2011

April 2011 Newsletter of David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights

The David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto has published its April 2011 newsletter.

It contains articles on a number of Supreme Court of Canada cases dealing with the award of costs in Charter litigation, the constitutionality of a pan-Canadian securities regulator, the constitutional right to a lawyer during a police interrogation, possible discrimination in government supplementary death benefits programs, etc.

The issue also features the 2011 Morris A. Gross Memorial Lecture by Marlys Edwardh of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP on legal aid and Charter challlenges.

The complete list of newsletters can be found on the Centre's Resources page.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:24 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Winners of the 2011 Day in the Life Photo Contest

The American Association of Law Libraries has announced the winners of its 2011 Day in the Life Photo Contest:
"During the month of February, AALL members took a wide range of photographs of law librarians working, meeting, teaching, and doing all that law librarians do in a given day or week. Nearly 20 members from law libraries across the country submitted 60 photos to the contest."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:58 pm 0 comments

New Zealand Law Reform Commission Third Issues Paper on Law of Trusts

The Law Reform Commission of New Zealand has published its third issues paper in its review of the law of trusts:
"Part one of the paper examines the rules that limit the duration of a trust: the common law rule against perpetuities and the Perpetuities Act 1964. The Commission explores the underlying rationale for the rule against perpetuities and asks whether the rule continues to meet a relevant policy need or whether either the mechanism for achieving this policy or the policy basis itself should change. The paper canvasses different options, including retaining the statutory perpetuity rule, adjusting or extending the statutory rule and abolishing the rule altogether, as has been done in a number of overseas jurisdictions."

"Part two of the paper looks at the rules that allow trusts to be altered. Trusts may be revoked and varied through various common law, judicial and statutory mechanisms. These rules are examined to ensure that they are clear and workable, and to determine whether reform is needed."
Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:
  • Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia Paper on Rule Against Perpetuities (July 22, 2010): "The rule against perpetuities is a legal rule which limits the duration of certain restrictions on the transfer of property. By various means of estate planning - particularly trusts - and other forms of property disposition, a settlor or testator or grantor may postpone the time when property may be possessed and used freely by a beneficiary or grantee. The Rule insists that such inheritances - and indeed, many other sorts of postponed, restricted or contingent transfers of property - can only be postponed for so long. At some definite point the property must be fully transferred to its beneficial owner, free of restrictions."
  • New Zealand Law Reform Commission Introductory Issues Paper on Law of Trusts (November 17, 2010): "The first issues paper is primarily a background paper. It traces the development of the trust from its origins in England through to the present day uses of the trust both in New Zealand and internationally."
  • Recent Reports by the Law Commission of New Zealand (December 30, 2010): "The second issues paper will cover issues with the use of trusts (especially family trusts) in New Zealand. This paper will look at the purposes for which family trusts are established, including reducing tax obligations, protection of assets from creditors and relationship property claims, and meeting eligibility thresholds for government assistance. The paper examines different legislative and judicial responses to the use of trusts to 'look through' or disregard a trust where a trust has been used to frustrate the underlying policies of particular statutes. The Commission poses options for how the law could address concerns about the use of trusts. The paper seeks comment from as broad an audience as possible on issues such as why trusts are so common in New Zealand, whether limits should be placed on the uses to which trusts are put, whether high levels of settlor control is an issue for concern, how effective existing legislative mechanisms are at addressing the impacts of trusts and whether the law on sham trusts is satisfactory."
  • Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia Final Report on Rule Against Perpetuities (January 8, 2011): "The common complaint is that the Rule is simply too complex and abstract in its application, resulting in a substantial risk that beneficiaries or grantees will be deprived of their interests through inadvertent errors in drafting (...) Given these difficulties, the Rule has been subject to significant reform in most jurisdictions other than Nova Scotia. The most common sort of reform - referred to generally as ‘wait and see’ - maintains the substance of the Rule, but allows the disposition to run its course for the perpetuity period, rather than declaring it to be invalid at the outset (...) A more radical reform, adopted in Manitoba, South Australia, Saskatchewan, Ireland, a number of US states and certain Caribbean nations, is to simply abolish the Rule, relying on other laws to serve the purposes the Rule was designed to fulfill (...) We recommend abolition."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:42 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Courts Expanding Services to Unrepresented Litigants

The most recent issue of the Lawyers Weekly reports on efforts by some Canadian courts to expand services provided to self-represented litigants:
"With high numbers of unrepresented litigants arriving in courts across Canada, courts are updating and expanding information packages to assist them."

"But, court officials say, the demand and shifting of resources is placing undue stress on the system and affecting its work (...)"

"(...) on April 21, B.C. Supreme Court added an updated list of 24 packages of information for self-represented litigants covering issues such as judicial reviews, garnishments, chambers applications and fee challenges under the Legal Professions Act."
Other courts have taken similar initiatives. For example, my place of work has created a portal for self-represented litigants.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:

  • Canadian Judicial Council Statement on Self-Represented Litigants (December 17, 2006): "Self-represented litigants are often unaware of the workings of the justice system and can feel overwhelmed by all the rules of procedure. The set of principles proposed by the Council should guide judges, court administrators, members of the Bar, legal aid organizations in assisting self-represented ligitants understand how the justice system works."
  • CALL 2007 Conference - Canadian Courthouse Library Survey (May 6, 2007): "Leaders of the Courthouse and Law Society Libraries SIG [of the Canadian Association of law Libraries] unveiled the results of a survey regarding public access (...) 27.6% of libraries have developed resources to assist members of the public in finding legal information or legal advice consisting of prepared printed brochures and research guides. These materials included electronic sources, pathfinders, online forms and Internet sites. 34.5% of the libraries indicated they were involved in access to justice projects with other organizations: training sessions for public librarians and university students, moot court tournaments for high schools or newspaper article series on public legal education ..."
  • CALL 2007 Conference - Public Access to Legal Information (May 7, 2007): "At the 2007 conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries being held in Ottawa until Wednesday, there was a session today on 'The Ultimate End User: the Public's Access to Law Libraries and Legal Information'. There were 3 presentations dealing with how law libraries and public libraries can respond to the growing number of self-represented litigants, as well with the generalized growth in the appetite of the public for legal information. "
  • Role of Public Law Libraries (June 24, 2008): "The most recent issue of the AALL Spectrum features an article about what are called public law libraries which are law libraries that serve the general population, including self-represented litigants."
  • CALL 2009 Conference - Research Projects by Members (May 27, 2009): "At this year's session, 2 CALL members presented the results of their research projects. The first was from Kirsten Wurmann of the Legal Resource Centre in Edmonton who presented the results of her study on the role and impact of librarians in the history and development of public legal education practice in Canada. Her paper is entitled The Role and Impact of Librarians in the History and Development of Public Legal Education (PLE) in Canada. "
  • Materials from Austin, Texas Conference on Self-Represented Litigants (April 7, 2010): "The Self-Represented Litigation Network is an open and growing group of organizations and working groups dedicated to fulfilling the promise of a justice system that works for all, including those who cannot afford lawyers and who go to court on their own. The Network brings together a range of organizations including courts, and access to justice organizations in support of innovations in services for the self‐represented (...) Public libraries are critical access points to government institutions. As times get tougher, it becomes more and more important that people have libraries where they can find out how to protect their rights and navigate the complexities of our society. It also becomes more and more important that libraries can show how important and effective they are at meeting this need."
  • Judges Struggling to Deal With Increased Number of Self-Represented Litigants (November 1, 2010): "This week's issue of The Lawyers Weekly includes the article Judges grapple with unrepresented litigants that quotes Judge François Rolland, chief justice of Quebec’s Superior Court, on the growing and disturbing trend towards self-represented litigants (...)"

As well, the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice has created what it calls an inventory of civil justice reforms in Canada. It contains descriptions of reform initiatives from across the country, as well as proposed reforms from law reform commissions, task force reports, and the like. This includes changes to court procedures, legal aid, initiatives aimed at helping self-represented litigants, and public legal education and information programs.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:48 pm 0 comments

Monday, May 02, 2011

Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of April 16th to 30th, 2011 is now available on the Court website.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loan to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:32 pm 0 comments

Sunday, May 01, 2011

June 9 Webinar: The Five-Minute Strategic Plan

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is hosting a webinar on June 9 called The Five-Minute Strategic Plan: When You Don't Have the Time or Resources to Do It Perfectly:
"Strategic planning is one process for setting goals and priorities. The result: What we do and how we do it contributes to what we want to achieve in the long-term. However, it is easy to become distracted by unwieldy and repetitive processes, jargon, and arguments over whether something is a goal, outcome, principle, or strategy. Learn a simple, proven model that translates strategic planning into four basic steps (plus one that repeats). It allows for effective design and execution when time is short, and you need to move ahead quickly - without driving yourself and other people crazy."

"This webinar will discuss how to:
  • Effectively sample qualitative and quantitative research about their past, current, and potential users
  • Distill leadership-level concepts (mission, vision, values) in a "where are we going, and why" statement
  • Tie strategic planning goals into project management execution
  • Evaluate plans based on users' criteria
  • Prevent micromanagement"
The event takes place at 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM - Central Time. The speaker is trainer and consultant Pat Wagner.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:02 pm 0 comments