All Our Research Tips
Watch for New Tools
Today’s Tip was inspired by a news release that crossed my email:
Canadian startup launches law search engine
Legal technology puts 5 million pages of laws from around the world
(September 24, 2015, Toronto) – Canadian startup, Global-Regulation Inc., has just launched a law search engine that enables searching 225,000+ laws from the European Union, United States, Canada, China, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Germany, Japan and other countries.
“Our software automatically translates laws into English so our users can search the world’s laws,” says Founder Addison Cameron-Huff. “Automatic translation makes the world’s laws instantly accessible to researchers, regulators, lawyers and businesspeople.”
Global-Regulation emerged out of research at Osgoode School of Law (York University) in Toronto, Canada. The two Founders are Nachshon Goltz, an Israeli lawyer turned Ph.D. candidate at Osgoode Law School and Addison Cameron-Huff, a Canadian tech lawyer and award-winning programmer. Mr. Goltz, who is completing his Ph.D. in regulation, knows that, “Google does not cater to government regulators.”
“We are helping the people who write our laws by giving them the tools they know they need but no one is making,” notes Mr. Cameron-Huff.
The founders aim to make the world’s laws searchable in order to help regulators make better regulations and lawyers better understand the international landscape.
Global-Regulation has 100,000 more laws in the pipeline and aim to have more than half a million laws available in 2016. The current database would exceed 5 million printed pages and would be a stack as high as the CN Tower.
The service is available for limited free use by the public at www.global-regulation.com.
If you are aware of new tools you will always be able to judge your efficiency in retrieving an answer to a legal research question.
The global-regulation.com site is pretty cool too.
I recently did some work for one of my colleagues and was reminded how great it feels when you do something and get feedback. Today’s tip is to give feedback. Often, legal research is shared among many and giving feedback will reinforce all the positive aspects of sharing access to work product.
If you are using someone else’s prior work as part of your research, let them know that it was helpful. Let them know that by properly citing the cases and legislation you were able to note things up. Let them know that by listing the texts and other secondary authorities they used it made your job easier. Let them know that their efforts at clear writing, using headings, and relying on a standard predictable format for research analysis, it helped you do your job.
Understand the Why
Today’s short legal research tip is this:
You will find better answers to questions if you know Why you are asking them in the first place.
Understanding the motivation for an answer that is hidden behind a question helps reveal biases, suppositions, assumptions and missing inputs that, if misunderstood, lead to incomplete, incorrect, and inefficiently gathered results.
I think about this whenever I momentarily worry that artificial intelligence will make librarians obsolete.
Human Rights Search Engine HuriSearch
If you are doing research in the area of human rights, you might find HuriSearch a useful addition to your toolbox.
HuriSearch offers a fairly sophisticated front end, allowing you to query any of four types of source (NGOs, national human rights institutions, academic institutions, and intergovernmental organizations), search in any of sixteen languages, and use word variations if you wish. As well, search results can be filtered by facets: source type, source organization, country, and document format. Furthermore, you’re offered a permalink to your search and an RSS feed, so that you can stay up-to-date.
To my joy (and likely my fellow librarians) there is an advanced search option.
HuriSearch is a product of HURIDOCS, an international NGO helping human rights organisations use information technologies and documentation methods to maximize the impact of their advocacy work.
Finding an expert or seeing if an expert has been qualified as such can be a challenging legal research exercise. Here are some tips and links to help you.
Use the Canadian Expert Witness Directory through Litigator on WestlawNext Canada. The directory links to cases the expert has been qualified in. You need a WNC password and access to the Litigator component for this of course, but it is a great place to start.
To find out if there are experts on your issue whose expertise has been qualified by the courts, search on CanLII for the following string:
qualif! & expert /p [insert your specific subject area with “/p” between each word]
This is a blunt force full text search so you will get results that are not relevant mixed in with those that are.
Check out the University of Toronto Blue Book of experts, or visit your local university website to search for academics.
Ask your friendly neighbourhood law librarian to search for experts – they will likely use tools like industry association websites to see who the prolific writers and presenters are on specific topics in addition to the usual paths above.
Have some advice on this topic? Please add your comments.
Today’s research tip is more about research output than gathering. Do not be afraid to use colour to add visual clues to your research output. Using coloured text or tables is not appropriate for pleadings of course, but why not present your client with some visual clues in your opinions?
For instance, a table showing research results representing a quantum of damages could have background colour with the high low and mid-range results. If your organization incorporates colour into your brand, this colour wheel will help with shading.
For instance, if your colour is purple, shading a table or even an element of text that you want to draw attention to can be adjusted by considering your colour as 50% and increasing the shade to 75% or decreasing it to 25% using the monochromatic scale at a resource like the Color wheel chart from rapidtables.com
Adding colour to your research output can work to engage the reader.
Linking for Law School Electronic Case Books
Thanks to Sooin Kim, Faculty Services Librarian with the Bora Laskin Law Library, University of Toronto there is another type of link creation tool to share. Thess tools are made for a specific purpose – to assist with building links to material that will be used at law schools.
Sooin shared the WestlawNext Link Creator https://lawschool.westlaw.com/admin/wllinkcreator/wllinkcreator.aspx. It is a nifty little tool that will build a link to a specific citation, a KeyCite record, a particular database or to a specific query. It also offers the link in three formats: URL, Iframe, and Hypertext link with all of the HTML code including an option to open the link in a new window.
Sooin confirmed that even though the tool points to the US Westlaw, it redirects to the Canadian source.
Duke Law (specifically the Goodson Law Library) describes the WestlawNext Link Creator on their Proxy Link Builder page. They also offer a link to a Similar tool for LexisNexis: LexisNexis Link Builder. I am sure that this tool offers similar features to those with law school LexisNexis access accounts.
I used to assist a colleague who was a sessional instructor prepare his electronic case book. Preparing links to material licensed by the University Libraries was arduous – find the cite through the proxy service links from the catalogue, copy and paste the URL, test it for link stability, build the hyperlink. These tools offer a great shortcut to that process.
Deep Links to CanLII
To continue the theme from the last couple of weeks, Today’s Tip is about linking in to CanLII. The tips for WestlawNext Canada and LexisNexis Canada have been about linking to a specific source within the services and that makes sense for CanLII as well.
Stable, predictable, readable URLs are one of the truly wonderful things about CanLII.
What is the start page for searching Statutes and Regulations of Alberta?
How about Ontario legislation?
The legislation of Manitoba?
The pattern for decisions is also very predictable and stable. The case R. v. Smarch which is cited 2015 YKCA 13 has this link:
Following the logic it is CanLII website/reading language/jurisdiction/neutral cite for the court/ doc /year of decision/neutral citation/ and finally neutralcitation.html
The /doc/ part of the pattern is a static reference and except for that, everything after the language choice flexes with the decision. Citing a bunch of Court of Appeal decisions and want to make hyperlinks to CanLII from your document? You don’t have to find the decisions, and then copy and paste CanLII URLs, just locate the first one and copy and edit parts the citation to do the linking task quickly.
This works particularly well if you are linking to sections of legislation. The pattern for that is also predictable for legislation on CanLII that has the “Show Table of Contents” feature. Here is a link to section 1 of the most recent Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, SC 1996, c. 19:
Guess what the link to section 2 is.
There are also CanLII related tools, like LexHub, to help with linking to bunches of cases from your work product for even speedier mashups.
Deep Linking to Westlaw Canada Sources
Last week, I gave a shout out to Ted Tjaden for sharing some info about deep linking to LexisNexis Canada sources, and I am continuing to thank Ted this week. Ted shared some information about deep linking into WestlawNext Canada.
Deep-linking to the Canadian Abridgment:
https://nextcanada.westlaw.com/Browse/Home/AbridgmentTOC/TOR.XVI.6/View.html (this should be strict liability, rule in Rylands v Fletcher)
When you are in the Abridgment, you can usually get the abridgment schema code and simply insert it in the foregoing URL. The portion of the URL above that is the schema code is TOR.XVI.
I have had good luck with jumping to a browsing page for WestlawNext Canada content by copying a URL link from anything that is hyperlinked. This method requires first going to the service and then copying the URL. For instance here is a link to the Saskatchewan Queen’s Bench Rules (2013):
The string is not quite as comprehensible as Ted’s example for the Canadian Abridgment, but it still works, even with a sign on interruption.
The point of Today’s Tip is to not be afraid of deep linking. The fact that I can only read part of my copy & paste URL to know that I am linking to the Saskatchewan Rules is acceptable. Knowing that I will have to update the link if the platform has a major change (like from eCarswell to WestlawNext Canada) doesn’t outweigh the benefit of making the links and using them while they work.
Deep Linking to LexisNexis Canada Sources
Hat tip to Ted Tjaden for Today’s Tip. Ted is a fan of deep linking to sources including fee based sources of legal research. I am a fan of Ted, including his excellent Irwin Law text Legal Research and Writing which has a companion website. Ted recently shared the pattern of how to deep link to specific material in LexisNexis Canada.
As you may know, not all databases in QL give you the “hyperlink” option.The following pattern gives you a stable URL to a single database:
ICLIP = http://www.lexisnexis.com/ca/legal/search/UrlApiShowSearch.do?sfi=CA03STCmtrySrch&csi=281866
The only variable is the CSI number. You can get the CSI number from the “Info” icon in the Source Directory.
To deep link to a combined/global database, separate the CSI numbers with a comma:
I really appreciate being able to link to live commentary on commercial sources. In my organization links like these appear in our library catalog and on our Intranet pages. Linking to sources is the best use of licensed materials, and lets you use specific parts of a commercial database in compliance with your licence agreement – unlike downloading something and linking to a download (a no-no). Linking also means that you are seeing the current material when you follow a link.
Stephanie Parisien, Senior Customer Care Representative at LexisNexis Canada offered this additional info:
The basic pattern to give you a stable URL to a single database is:
YYYYY = a search form code from the list below
XXXXX = the csi (constant source identifier) for the specific database. You can find the CSI by locating the source in the Quicklaw Source Directory and hovering your cursor over the source information icon. The CSI appears in a URL at the foot of the browser.
CA01STLegBillsSrch Legislative bills
CA01STHistLegSrch Company Profile
CA01STIntLegiCmn International legislation – common law
CA01STIntLegCvl International legislation – civil law
CA04STIntJrnals International Journals
CA06STIntServices International Services
CA01LNSimplSrch News and Companies
CA02LNCmpSrch Company Profile
CA00STGenSrch General Search
CA02STIntCseCmn International Cases – common law
CA02STIntCseCvl International Cases – civil law
CA02STPrsInjurySrch Personal injury
CA02STWrngDismSrch Wrongful dismissal
CA03STCmtrySrch Commentary [used in Ted’s example above]
CA02STBrdsTribSrch Boards & Tribunals
CA03STIntCmtry International commentary
CA05STFrnPrcSrch Forms & precedents
CA05STIntFPrecdt International forms & precedents
CA01IntPrPRA Intellectual Property Practice Area
CA02ImigrPRA Immigration Practice Area
CALUSelectContent Legal Updates Page
CA04FamlyPRA Family Practice Area
CA05CrmnalPRA Criminal Practice Area
CA03EmplmPRA Employment Practice Area
Finally, to link to the table of contents it should look like this: