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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