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Did you know that the Gallop Portal (Government and Legislative Libraries Online Publications Portal) provides free and convenient access to almost 500,000 electronic government publications from all levels of Canadian government?

Launched five year ago by the Association of Parliamentary Libraries in Canada (APLIC), the portal is intended to provide Canadians with an easy way to access, connect, and interact with Canadian government resources.  Canadian Legislative and Parliamentary libraries are mandated to provide access to government documents by the Federal government’s Depository Services Program.

APLIC describes the portal as a “one-stop access point” to government publications.  Users can search for documents across jurisdiction and language using a variety of filtering options and a straightforward search interface.  The portal provides particularly high ease of use compared to other Canadian government websites.

We encourage you to check the Gallop Portal out at

[This tip by Alan Kilpatrick originally appeared on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog]


In the distant past, lawyers used to send printed client updates by mail. Those days are long gone. Then came e-mail, rapidly reaching the saturation point.

You don’t want to clog up your clients’ email in-boxes more than you need to, so push things their way through a brief and punchy blog post.

Blog posts can be published on your firm’s public website and also distributed to a phenomenally big audience through aggregators of online content like Lexology, Mondaq and JD Supra.

Novice blogger? Fear not: here are some tips.

Don’t write about the law; write about how the law affects the people you serve

  • Why should the reader care about this information?

A good way to think about blog writing is to consider it a proxy for speaking

  •  If you were asked about a particular topic in an elevator, what would you tell the person in 30 seconds?

To be engaging, your blog post should do some or all of the following:

  • educate, inspire or entertain
  • not be boring – no one wants a tedious and overly technical piece with dozens of footnotes
  • have a specific client (or type of client) in mind
  • share and initiate a conversation
  • introduce why the reader should read the post (online content is judged largely by its headline, especially when readers usually see a list of headlines in their feeds)
  • provide quick, practical information on how the content affects the reader
  • make the reader want to ask you for further information

Blog-writing is a way of sharing your personality

Additional resources to help you:

Next: euphemisms

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


The 9th edition of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (better known as the McGill Guide) was published earlier this summer. The most important change was no longer requiring a parallel citation in addition to a neutral citation. While the guide tends to be the default for Canadian citation, several courts have slightly different citation requirements:

Susannah Tredwell


Did you know that you can receive instant notifications every time a new case is added to CanLII simply by subscribing to an RSS feed?  Would you like to monitor all new decisions from a particular level of court or administrative tribunal?  An RSS feed can do that for you.

RSS feeds deliver instant updates that inform you whenever a website is updated.  In CanLII’s case, they will alert you whenever a new decision is posted.

Our colleagues at the Law Society of Manitoba Library have put together an excellent guide that describes how to Create an Alert with CanLII.

[This tip by Alan Kilpatrick originally appeared on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog]


The latest in a continuing series.

Next time: guidance for the reluctant legal blogger

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


Not hats: capital letters (or, in typographical parlance, upper case).

Don’t shout at people

When the interweb and e-mail were new, it took (some) people a while to figure out that typing your message all in caps is the typographical equivalent of shouting. Compare: please don’t forget to do this (gentle reminder) versus PLEASE DON’T FORGET TO DO THIS (angry, hectoring, perhaps a bit desperate, possibly crazy).

Used sparingly, capitals can be an effective way to express emphasis (especially if you’re not typing in HTML or rich text) – but the key word here is ‘sparingly’; if everything is emphasised, nothing is (the lawyer who cried ‘urgent’?). Or you look like you’re shouting.

 Proper names

That is, names of persons and places (Beyoncé, Tennessee), which always take an initial capital – unless done for typographical (or other) effect (the writers e.e. cummings, bpNichol and bell hooks come to mind).

 Sometimes proper names can lose their initial capital when they become disassociated with an actual place: you would not be wrong to write brussels sprout, french letter, french window, venetian blinds.


Old-fashioned usage is to go all out with capitals on these; it’s more modern to ease up (but I’m a fan of that officially capitalised T in Her Majesty The Queen).

When referring to a specific person by title, it may be better to use upper case: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, pleased welcome the Prime Minister of Canada!’

But when you’re using a job or other title as a generic description, the capitals can go: ‘When Sir John A. Macdonald was prime minister, there were less rigid rules about conflicts of interest’.

Similarly, it’s really not necessary to capitalise every routine instance of president, chair etc.  Or words like state or province, unless you’re referring to the government of the jurisdiction in a legal or technical sense: He was born in the state of Alabama but The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has issued bonds.

It is not (or perhaps that should be NOT) necessary to use an upper-case J every time you write the title judge or justice. Yes, Justice Abella; but There are nine justices of the Supreme Court of Canada and The judge gave brief oral reasons.

In the humanities and social sciences, capitals are disappearing from titles of books and articles (except for the first word and any proper names); it’s also generally regarded as better design to omit capitals in headings and headlines (the way I have in this tip up to this point). This may yet come to the law.


Periods were once de rigueur but now may be omitted for a cleaner look: ABA, FWB, LCBO, NAFTA, MP, Mr, QC, UK, USA, WTF etc.

 Capitals for Important Words

Please resist the temptation to slap a capital letter on a word as a form of emphasis: you run the risk of what was called, in an earlier GWWT, the Winnie-the-Pooh Effect (‘I have been I have been Foolish and Deluded … and I am a Bear of No Brain at All.’).

Next: confusing pairs, part 6

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


As mentioned earlier this year, CanLII has been adding secondary materials to its database. If you’re looking for recent articles from Canadian law journals, CanLII now offers access to sixteen journals:

  • Alberta Law Review
  • Appeal: Review of Current Law and Law Reform
  • Canadian Bar Review
  • Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law
  • Canadian Journal of Human Rights
  • Canadian Law Library Review
  • Canadian Parliamentary Review
  • Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies
  • LawNow Magazine
  • Manitoba Law Journal
  • McGill Journal of Dispute Resolution
  • McGill Journal of Law and Health
  • McGill Journal of Sustainable Development Law
  • Ottawa Law Review
  • University of New Brunswick Law Journal
  • Windsor Yearbook on Access to Justice

In addition to these journals and the CanLII Connects commentary, CanLII has added books, newsletters, and reports and research papers.

Susannah Tredwell


There is a distinct love-hate relationship between the English and French languages. We’ve borrowed a lot from the French over the years, with mixed results.

All of this goes back a long way (1066, and all that), but shows no sign of abating.

French words we’ve more or less naturalised

There are some borrowings from French that we don’t even think about, because they’ve become fully anglicised, sometimes with changes in spelling: apartment, baton, hotel, parliament.

Sometimes we try to make anglicised French words more French again, for example when we pronounce niche like NEESH, instead of the acclimatised (and perfectly correct) pronunciation NITCH.

Other French words are still in transition, although it appears to be a losing battle to keep the final French –me in program(me). There may be hope yet for manoeuvre against the tide of maneuver.

Accents disappear readily, but not always. A good example is the French-derived word for CV: is it résumé (which would be the correct spelling in French) or resumé (which is common in English)? The pedant in me prefers the former, even though that runs the risk of looking … well … pedantic. So I avoid the issue and just say CV.

Debris is also neither fully English nor French: the E has generally lost its accent, but (as in French) we don’t pronounce the final S.

French expressions which don’t really have an exact English equivalent

Can you come up with pithy English equivalents for je ne sais quoi, joie de vivre, sang-froid, savoir-faire and après-ski?

Keeping one’s cool, perhaps; but know-how isn’t quite the same as savoir-faire – it lacks that certain something?

French expressions which will make you sound pretentious

Basically anything that already has a serviceable and well-established English equivalent.

French expressions which the French don’t really use

And then there is that category of words and phrases used in English and derived from French, but which the French don’t really, actually use. At all. Ever. Some examples follow.

Au jus: Your humble scribe has yet to see this on a menu in France. (And please, don’t say with au jus; au means ‘with’.)

Au naturel: This just means ‘plain, unadorned’ to the French. They say nu (‘naked’) when they mean ‘naked’.

 Brunette: A woman with brown hair is brune or une brune.

Décolletage: One would talk about a woman’s décolleté in French (if one mentioned it at all).

Double entendre: A French person would say double entente or sous-entendu.

Duvet: To a French speaker, this is just the down that fills the quilt, not the quilt itself – which is a couette.

Encore: The French don’t shout this after particularly good performances: they call out bis! (‘repeat’).

Ensuite: This doesn’t mean an adjoining bathroom to a French person; it just mean ‘then’. For the room, say something like salle de bain attenante.

Rapport: In French, ‘a connection’ with someone, whether good or bad; to convey the positive sense this word has in English it would be necessary to say un bon rapport.

Résumé: The French use this, but only to mean ‘summary’; the biographical document is a curriculum vitae.

Risqué: Merely ‘risky’ to the French. For ‘slightly daring or scandalous’, you’d want to say osé.

Not suggesting you use the genuinely French versions of these now-English expressions, however, because the versions we use are so entrenched in English that you’d attract funny looks for trying to be more authentically Gallic.

If it’s any consolation, the French use ‘English’ words that look nothing short of outlandish to us, like le people (celebrities, the beau monde) or even un people (a celebrity); un brushing (blow-dry); un pressing (dry-cleaning); un relooking (make-over) and se faire relooker (to get a make-over); un basket (sports shoe); talkie-walkie (walkie-talkie) – amongst many others. For further reference, see C. Furiassi & H. Gottlieb, Pseudo-English: Studies in False Anglicisms in Europe (2015).

Next time: CAPS

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


In honour of the Charter’s 35th anniversary, the Department of Justice released the online Charterpedia. As noted on the site:

This Charterpedia provides legal information about the Charter and contains information about the purpose of each section of the Charter, the analysis or test developed through case law in respect of the section, and any particular considerations related to it. Each Charterpedia entry cites relevant case law, and citations to Supreme Court of Canada decisions are hyperlinked whenever possible.

It contains a wealth of information about the Charter by section, including info on similar provisions, purpose, and detailed analysis. Check it out!

[This tip by Melanie Hodges Neufeld originally appeared on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog]


An assistant called me recently, asking whether the other side on a transaction was correct to keep inserting an extra L every time the word instalment appeared in an agreement.

The traditional/British spelling is with only one L; the Yanks now generally use two – so I told the assistant to stick to her guns if she felt strongly about it.

Similarly, the classic spellings are fulfil and fulfilment – but one increasingly sees a doubling of the second L in both. Fulfill is listed in the Oxford English Dictionary Online only in the usage examples up to about 1600, but is now usual in the USA. Take your pick (but I know which way I’d go).

Are there any rules? Yes, but they’re tricky and inconsistent. The Atlantic is (as ever) the great divide – leaving Canadians adrift somewhere in the middle.


UK: double final L if the preceding letter is A (befall, enthrall, install; but appal), single if it’s another vowel (distil, instil, enrol, annul)

US: inconsistent? Our American spell-check wants appall, instill and enroll, but is OK with the other single-L spellings in the previous line

Derivatives of verbs ending in L

UK: double the L, unless it’s preceded by a long vowel sound (so, travelled but failed)

US: only one L (traveled, traveler)

Derivatives of nouns or adjectives ending in L

UK: when you add –ed, –er, or –y, the L is generally doubled (jewelled, jeweller, gravelly; but unparalleled); before –ish, –ism and –ist, not doubled (devilish, liberalism, naturalist; but panelist or panellist – and the Oxford prefers the double-L form)

US: generally not doubled after –ed and –er (jeweled, jeweler); panelist

Before –ment

UK: never double the L (fulfilment, instalment)

US: double away (fulfillment, installment)

Derivatives of words ending in –ll

Sometimes the second L disappears: almighty, almost, already, altogether, always (but NEVER alright; it’s two words, all right), skilful (Yanks want skillful), wilful (willful in the US of A)

The second L used to disappear (and still could, really) in dullness and fullness

Totally confused now?

Next writing tip: fractured French

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)