The Law Library is pleased to offer a Quicklaw and LexisNexisAcademic refresher session for Research Assistants on Friday May 31, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon in Room 2003. Quicklaw training will be from 10:00 am to 11:00 am, followed by LexisNexis Academic training from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon. To reserve a spot please email email@example.com. with “Quicklaw and LexisNexis Academic refresher” in the subject line.
The presentations from the Research Assistants Summer Session on May 9 have now been posted on the Research Guides page. (Scroll down to Presentations). The presentations cover primary resources, secondary resources and Zotero, Evernote and the art of managing time and resources for research.
“When people say everything’s online,” says Jerry Dupont of the Law Library Microform Consortium [LLMC], “they’re woefully uninformed.”
Yes, it might seem like we have access to all the legal information we might ever need but Jerry Dupont’s observation still rings true. And while ongoing digitization efforts of law and other libraries continue to benefit the legal research community, the progress of these initiatives has been hampered by the current economic climate.
“Across the country, law libraries are trying to adapt to the digital revolution and preserve historic and precedential documents. But budget cuts have hit hard at academic law libraries, which historically have hosted some of the most robust legal collections. And the pressures are creating concerns that the public will lose access to essential legal documents.”
In a recent article published by the American Bar Association, Hollee Schwartz Temple, director of the legal research and writing program at West Virginia University College of Law, asks: “Are digitization and budget cuts compromising history?” This article provides a nice overview of some the issues and potential threats that affect long-term access and preservation to our digital legal resources.
As Schwartz Temple reports evidence of this slow down was found in a recent American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) survey. The survey found that “nearly 60 percent of … respondents have been making do with less for the past several years.”
“Even the venerable Law Library of Congress, home to the world’s largest legal collection, has felt the impact. According to Law Librarian of Congress David Mao, budget woes have affected the library’s ability to acquire materials, preserve them and make them readily available.”
The ABA’s Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress contributed to the development of the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (ULEMA) U.S. legislation that aims to “harmonize standards for acceptance of electronic materials across jurisdictional boundaries, and to help lawyers feel confident that the digital material they rely upon is current.”
The chair of this Standing Committee, Liz Medaglia, asks: “With the increasing number of materials that are born digital and never get into hard copy, how do you make sure that what you have is accurate, current and preserved?” It’s hoped that legislation like ULEMA will help foster long-term preservation and provide ways to ensure available information is authoritative.
Regardless of the stability of law library budgets issues surrounding access and preservation of digital legal materials continues to gain importance. The LLMC has made great contributions in this area but they are just one piece in the larger and increasingly complex legal resource puzzle and, as Dupont says, they are not “equipped to digitize the entirety of primary American legal authority immediately.”
While LLMC (who have also included some Canadian legal resources) and other organizations like them should be loudly applauded a national strategy on digital preservation is needed to deal with these issues here in Canada. Louis Mirando, Chief Law Librarian at the Osgoode Hall Law School Library, introduced a proposal for a special interest group on digital preservation and access at the recent annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries. This may be a valuable first step toward coordinating efforts in this country.
The Law Library is offering a legal research refresher session on May 9. While the session is geared primarily to Research Assistants, graduate students and graduating 3rd year students who want to improve their research skills are also welcome to attend, space
permitting. The workshop will cover the following areas:
- Finding primary and secondary sources
- Legal citation
- Research management tools such as Refworks and Zotero
- A Westlaw refresher session conducted by a trainer from Carswell
Date: Thursday, May 9
Time: 9:00 am-12:45 pm
Location: Room 2010
Refreshments will be served and a light lunch will be provided by Carswell.
To reserve a spot, send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org with Research Refresher Session in the subject line. Please indicate if you are a research Assistant, a graduate students or a 3rd year graduating student.
Hope to see you there!
In a post from a few weeks ago, I lamented the lack of flair in legal writing. Although it’s certainly not a “need-to-have”, it’s certainly a “nice-to-have”. Throughout legal education and practice, you will likely have to read many, many decisions, and most of them are – to not put too fine of a point on it – dry as dust. The legal arguments may be compelling, significant, and of lasting importance, but the prose less so.
It is human nature to want to be entertained, even when reading dry legal writing. This is, of course, why Lord Denning has proven to be so enduring and popular. His judgments were colourful, informative, and yes, entertaining. After reading a Lord Denning decision, you are both entertained and informed. Of course, many do not necessarily subscribe to this opinion, believing that such writing undermines the proper gravity that should be afforded to the law. On a personal level, I think that, as with many things in life, a balance should be struck. To my mind, taking the time to write judgments that are not boilerplate demonstrates that the judge is engaged and wants others to be as well. While the realities of time constraints means that taking the personalized approach to each and every judgment is unlikely at best and foolhardy at worst, it is always refreshing when something comes to your attention that demonstrates that not every decision is bloodless (yet).
Although R. v. Duncan was released a month ago, it just recently came to my attention. It is nothing if not extremely entertaining, chronicling the story of Matthew Duncan, who was rather forcefully arrested and tasered, where he eventually found himself before Fergus O’Donnell, the author of the decision, representing himself. And doing a rather poor job of it, to boot. As Abraham Lincoln famously stated – he who represents himself has a fool for a client.
As with many “literary” decisions, it has found itself to be the subject of quite a bit of controversy. In this case, in addition to the usual concerns about the appropriateness of the bench as a venue for judges to exercise their literary aspirations, there have been concerns the fact that O’Donnell so openly mocks the defendant (despite eventually acquitting him).
As I mentioned previously, it really comes down to striking the balance. However, I must concede that however entertaining it may have been to read Justice O’Donnell’s evisceration of Duncan, the old adage of “a time and a place” did cross my mind. Perhaps it is in the eye of the beholder, so take a look for yourself and decide!
Everybody knows the old schoolyard chant of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”. However, lately there seems to have been a spate of high-profile cases of (alleged) defamation and libel, with varying degrees of success. While the idea of defending one’s honour typically conjures up visions of duels (including the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and American Vice President Aaron Burr), given that shooting people – whether it is in defence of honour or not – is typically frowned upon in modern society, recourse is now more typically found in the courts.
Two particularly high profile cases have been making the rounds recently. The first involved Toronto Mayor Rob Ford who, during the course of his successful campaign for the mayoralty, made disparaging comments about the contract awarded to the Boardwalk Pub, which operates at Woodbine Beach. Ford suggested that there had been corruption involved, an allegation that the owner of the pub took exception to. In response, he filed a $6 million libel suit against the Mayor (which was one of only three major legal battles Ford fought in a short period of time). Ultimately, Ford was successful. The full text of the court’s decision can be found here.
The other high profile case (and perhaps I am betraying a touch of librarian bias here) is the case of the Edward Mellen Press and McMaster University and its Associate University Librarian, Dale Askey. In a nutshell, the case revolves around the Mellen Press suing Askey and McMaster for libel due to a less-than-favourable assessment of Mellen’s offerings as a part of a blog post that he had written when at Kansas State University. The Mellen Press has been very assiduous in protecting its reputation, and this is in keeping with its policy. For those who are interested in reading up on the ongoing story, there is an excellent blog which is offering updates as they arise. Not surprisingly, given the serious implications of such claims, there has been a great deal of scrutiny and interest in the case, so it is well worth keeping tabs on.
Given the enormous breadth of issues that can arise in the course of a defamation action (such as – but certainly not limited to – libel, slander, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and so on), it is not surprising that we have a tremendous amount of material pertaining to the subject, including the sinister-sounding (if antiquated) concept of “seditious libel“.
Oh, and a history of duelling in Canada. But just in case you ever feel so inclined to challenge somebody to a duel or take up said challenge, you should make sure to check s. 71 of the Criminal Code first.
Additional note (April 6): I forgot to mention another classic and enjoyable read that deals with libel, and is available in our fiction collection – QB VII by Leon Uris. Indeed, as the bibliographic note indicates, this was one of the books that was donated to form the core of our fiction collection, and with good reason.
LexisNexis Canada recently celebrated the completion of the first edition of Halsbury’s Laws of Canada with the publication of the 77th and final volume this past February. Halsbury’s Canada began publication in 2006 with the volume on Conflict of Laws by Osgoode’s own Janet Walker. Now complete,Halsbury’s covers 117 legal subjects from all 14 Canadian jurisdictions, making it the only truly national legal encyclopedia, providing an authoritative, reliable and elegant statement of Canadian law.
Halsbury’s Laws of Canada is available both in print (in the Osgoode Library’s Core Collection) and also online as part of the LexisNexis Quicklaw legal information service. For more information about this signal event in Canadian law publishing, please see the press release here.