Shaunna Mireau on Canadian Legal Research

Tips on Canadian legal research from the Library at Field LLP.
Postings are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the firm.

June 23, 2010

Acting on information - a Westlaw Canada bulletin

It is important to act on information.

With the conscripted assistance of Dave Stam, a civil litigator with Justice Canada, I did a very short session for the students at the Head Start program on memo writing and research output. A huge thank you to Dave who agreed on the spot, with no preparation and having never met me, to share with the students about what he expects to see in a research memo from the practitioners perspective.

Dave acted on the brief bit of information that students from his department were in the room, an opportunity was presented to share his expertise, and carrying out the proposed activity would not take much of his time.

I am glad I had a good example of acting on information when I got back to the office to see a customer alert from Carswell about Westlaw Canada. Carswell, very appropriately and in a timely manner, informed users about a glitch in one piece of functionality on their platform. It was already repaired, but they felt customers should be aware as it could have an effect on items that had been retained. Following Dave's good example, I acted on the information.

This notice went in our daily email bulletin to all members of the firm:
Westlaw Canada Notice: We received a notice that for a brief period, between the afternoon of Wednesday June 9 and the morning of Saturday June 12, there was a malfunction in the print, download, fax and email functions of Westlaw Canada. This resulted in omissions of quoted text in an undetermined number of case law documents.
This issue has been repaired and everyone who downloaded cases to worldox has been alerted. This malfunction affected printed cases as well which the library staff are unable to identify from our usage reports. Please double check the date stamp on any printed cases that you use that may have been retrieved during this time period. The Library staff are happy to re-gather these materials (at no cost) to the firm if needed.

I also did a quick check of our document management system and identified items that had been downloaded from Westlaw Canada and emailed a link to them with the message above to each person affected. It was pretty simple to do a creation date specific search of our client files with additional full text for
"end of document" & (westlaw or carswell or reuters)
to see if cases for the affected time period had been saved.
Several had and in each case users were glad to know of the problem. In one instance much of the material gathered was outside our subscription and the research support team at Carswell sent us fresh copies of everything we requested in a very short turn around time.

I really appreciated the customer alert. My confidence in a technology is always more inspired when problems are reported to customers. We all know things break and are fixed and I would rather know what and when so that I can act if necessary. I hope that other firms took action when they saw this notice from Carswell.

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June 03, 2010

Richard Susskind and I love the iPad

According the Richard Susskind, legal thought leader from across the pond and author of "The End of Lawyers?" the iPad reeks of hassle for the legal world. I didn't make that up!

This post from the Times Online (quoted here and here if you hit a pay wall) suggests that the iPad will not be the must have tool for the legal market.

The big problem for lawyers, however, is that neither Microsoft Word nor PowerPoint runs on the iPad.

Admittedly, various work-arounds are available, notably conversion through Appleā€™s equivalents (Pages and Keynote) but most legal practitioners will find this reeks of hassle.

I disagree that the work-arounds for PowerPoint are a hassle. I use Google Docs to store things like presentations (created in ppt and converted by Google) in the cloud. They display just fine on the iPad with the free Memeo app which syncs to a users Google Docs account. I have a wifi only iPad and if I display a presentation through Memeo while online, it stays in the iPad memory until I next sync with iTunes so I don't have to be connected to the net to see a document in the cloud. My presentation slides are advanced with a swipe of the touch screen.

Another way to connect to a presentation via iPad is through Slideshare. The mobile version of a Slideshare presentation even includes a next slide arrow for convenience. This method requires a live internet connection.

It is true that Pages isn't MS Word, but as a consumption device I think it will be well received in the legal market.

For the iPad loving early adopter lawyers out there, here are some useful sites:

Legal iPad Blog
iPad4Legal Blog
iPad posts at

If you want to see what the US Code looks like on an iPad, drop by my desk, or invite me to lunch!