All Our Research Tips
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:
Use Multiple Browsers and Compare Content
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:
IE – full screen:
Firefox – Full screen:
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.
Canada Day Tribute
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.
Say Thank You
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.
Legal Research Technology Concepts
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.
- Document automation (including software and word processing tools like fields and macros)
- Document management (what is kept within your organization) and content management (how are web sites, intranets and other content rich sources built)
- Open source publishing and Open Access
- Social media (Sarah included this as a skill for law professors!)
- Cloud storage
- Search engines other than Google and web browsers other than Internet Explorer
- Project Management
- Tags and hashtags, taxonomies
- The costs associated with legal research sources
- 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 :-).