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All Our Research Tips

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?

http://www.canlii.org/en/ab/laws/index.html

How about Ontario legislation?

http://www.canlii.org/en/on/laws/index.html

The legislation of Manitoba?

http://www.canlii.org/en/mb/laws/index.html

The pattern for decisions is also very predictable and stable. The case R. v. Smarch which is cited 2015 YKCA 13 has this link:

http://www.canlii.org/en/yk/ykca/doc/2015/2015ykca13/2015ykca13.html

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:

http://www.canlii.org/canlii-dynamic/en/ca/laws/stat/sc-1996-c-19/latest/sc-1996-c-19.html#sec1

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.

 

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):

https://nextcanada.westlaw.com/Browse/Home/TextsandAnnotations/LitigatorTextsandAnnotations/SaskatchewanRulesofCourtAnnotated?guid=Iff55e4893d671f4ee0440021280d79ee&originationContext=documenttoc&transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)

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.

 

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:

ICLL/CLSI: http://www.lexisnexis.com/ca/legal/search/UrlApiShowSearch.do?sfi=CA03STCmtrySrch&csi=281868,281863

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:

http://www.lexisnexis.com/ca/legal/search/UrlApiShowSearch.do?sf?sfi=YYYYY&csi=XXXXXX

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.

CA01STLegCmnSrch Legislation
CA01STLegBillsSrch Legislative bills
CA01STHistLegSrch Company Profile
CA01STIntLegiCmn International legislation – common law
CA01STIntLegCvl International legislation – civil law
CA04STJrnlsSrch Journals
CA04STIntJrnals International Journals
CA06STSrvSrch Services
CA06STIntServices International Services
CA01LNSimplSrch News and Companies
CA02LNCmpSrch Company Profile
CA00STGenSrch General Search
CA02STCseCmnSrch Cases
CA02STIntCseCmn International Cases – common law
CA02STIntCseCvl International Cases – civil law
CA02STPrsInjurySrch Personal injury
CA02STQuickCiteSrch QuickCite
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:

http://www.lexisnexis.com/ca/legal/results/renderTocBrowse.do?csi=355292&pap=srcdir

 

Today’s tip is a reminder that web delivered content may display or act differently depending on your browser and the size of your browser window. If it is possible in your organization, use more than one web browser.

To highlight this tip, I will show you three versions of Lexbox, a groovy new research tracking service that is available from Lexum at mylexbox.com.

Chrome – full screen:

lexboxChromeJPG

 

 

 

 

IE – full screen:

LexboxIE

 

 

 

 

Firefox – Full screen:

LexboxFF

 

 

 

 

Note the very minor differences in where your see down arrows and menu options. This website is very well organized and is using responsive design. The page rescales based on the screen size and is very mobile friendly. Even with all of that care and attention the web developers brought to this work, each browser behaves differently.

Consider viewing websites in alternate browsers.  You may be surprised at what is revealled when looking at something through a different lens.

 

Happy 148th birthday Canada.

There is a nice history of Canada day outlined at this federal government website that was updated in June of 2014.  It reminds us of some facts.  I share those blow that relate to finding the law of Canada Day:

  • July 1, 1867: The British North America Act (today known as the Constitution Act, 1867) created Canada.
  • 1879: A federal law makes July 1 a statutory holiday as the “anniversary of Confederation,” which is later called “Dominion Day.”
  • October 27, 1982: July 1, “Dominion Day” officially becomes Canada Day.  The date relates to the proclaimation of The Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11,  documents both conveniently located on CanLII

I will celebrate today by playing O Canada on my ukulele.

 

When someone does or says something nice to, for, or about you, it is appropriate to express your gratitude.

This holds true for someone who goes out of their way to assist you with your legal research problem.  I am not especially advocating a regular contribution to the wine fridge of your local law librarian who helps you all the time – I leave that to you.

Today’s Tip is particular to those (unexpectedly) wonderful public servants who call you back with information in a timely fashion, the colleague down the hall who saves you with a precedent, the partner who takes a bit more time to educate you about their strategy…moments of assistance that stand out.  Be mindful of the assistance that others go out of their way to give you and thank them for it.

I believe that by recognizing others with thanks, we add a little bit of happiness to the world.

Readers of Slaw Tips – thank you! Have a happy day.

 

Last week I posted about Legal Research Technology Skills. After reading Sarah Glassmeyer’s post on Slaw about The Future of Legal Practice and Technology for Law Professors. Today’s Tip is about technology concepts that I think are necessary for legal researchers. Concepts are things that a legal researcher should understand and have a rough idea of how they apply to legal research.

  1. Document automation (including software and word processing tools like fields and macros)
  2. Document management (what is kept within your organization) and content management (how are web sites, intranets and other content rich sources built)
  3. Open source publishing and Open Access
  4. Social media (Sarah included this as a skill for law professors!)
  5. Cloud storage
  6. Search engines other than Google and web browsers other than Internet Explorer
  7. Project Management
  8. Tags and hashtags, taxonomies
  9. The costs associated with legal research sources
  10. Research sources (fee based and free) that your organization does not subscribe to or have an access account for

The idea of understanding these concepts so that  the legal researcher can pull them out or add them to the toolbox at the appropriate time is implied with this list.

Remember that individuals don’t necessarily need to carry their own toolbox, they can always call a carpenter (or a law librarian :-).

 

Sarah Glassmeyer recently posted on Slaw about The Future of Legal Practice and Technology for Law Professors. Her opening salvo:

One of my pet peeves is when people throw around the word “technology” as a catch all to mean anything that can or will involve a computer. A common pattern is “In X number of years, this task will be replaced by TECHNOLOGY.” The speakers very rarely get into specifics as to when technology they mean. Personally, I like to amuse myself by replacing “technology” in these statements with “magic fairies.” Actually, I think fairies are more likely to exist than some technology that is universally adopted and solves myriad problems.

Sarah’s post goes on to focus on technology skills and technology concepts that she recommends for law professors. I think that there are technology concepts and skills that legal researchers should have. Today’s Tip is about technology skills that I think are necessary for legal researchers. Skills are things that a legal researcher should be able to do or use.

  1. Search a library catalogue database to find an appropriate set of textbooks on a topic
  2. Note up cases for judicial history as well as consideration of decisions by other cases and legal commentary using multiple database sources (fee and free)
  3. Copy and paste with keyboard shortcuts
  4. Sort in word processor tables and spreadsheets and be able to use methods other than eyeballs to identify duplicates in lists
  5. Add hyperlinks to documents
  6. Read a URL and understand where it is going
  7.  Create documents answering a research question that make use of styles
  8. Search statute databases to locate current and historical legislation
  9. Use RSS feeds to keep current
  10. Use advanced search techniques of Google and other search engines (search within a site, by date,  for words in page titles)

Next week’s tip will be about the technology related concepts  a legal researcher should be able to understand.

Which tech skills should be added to this list?

 

I despise long deadlines for legal research projects. Give me a complex project that has to be completed by the end of the week over a complex project that I must pick away at over a month or two any day.  Why? With a longer project I must use formal project management – on myself.

Project managing a short deadline individual research question is easy to mentally manage by scripting the activity as “the research process”.  To be clear, I am speaking of the type of legal research that is often assigned to junior lawyers, law students or law librarians. In reality, the legal research process that is used to answer a specific assigned question IS project management. There is a defined objective, scope, constraints, a plan, execution of the plan, monitoring of performance of the plan through the activity, and reviewing the completed product.

A longer deadline often indicates a more complex task so there is a compelling reason to lay out the project management piece of the action in a more formal way.  Writing down the plan for a multi-pronged piece of legal research, checking in with delegates (and yourself) to ensure scope and timelines are in line, and all of the other bits of the project management diligence FEEL like they get in the way of doing the work which is the fun part for most of us.

Today’s Legal Research Tip: remind yourself that every legal research question is really a project; let the project management – managing the process of getting to an answer – be part of the fun.

 

A post from the daily blog from Harvard Law Schools Program on Negotiation offer this advice regarding when negotiators assume too much:

One pitfall is that decision makers often overlook others’ viewpoints. When we do take others’ thinking into account, we tend to assume that they know as much as we do. For this reason, marketing experts are generally worse than non-expert consumers at predicting the beliefs, values, and tastes of consumers.

Similarly, individuals who correctly solve a problem overestimate the percentage of their peers who will be just as successful solving the same problem .

This advice resonates for answering a legal research question as well.

  • how much data is the asker looking for
  • what is the depth and breadth of the answer expected
  • where is the starting point that is expected

Everyone knows how the word ass+u+me breaks apart. Make sure you manage expectations by not assuming too much.