Tip of the Week

Child Rights Toolkit (Tip of the Week)

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Ken Fox, Reference Librarian

Did you know that the Canadian Bar Association publishes toolkits in multiple practice areas? Today I want to tell you in particular about the Child Rights Toolkit that was launched just May 11 of this year.

This toolkit describes its four main parts as:

Fundamentals – provides the fundamental framework of child rights including where they come from, what they are, who is responsible and the status of child rights in Canada.

The System: Cross-Cutting Themes – outlines available systemic child rights supports and tools and in particular independent human rights institutions and child rights impact assessments.

The Child: Cross-Cutting Themes – highlights subjects that may be applicable to the child or a group of children you work with that transcend all areas of the law, such as Charter rights, best interests of the child, child participation, legal representation and freedom from all forms of violence.

Legal Areas – provides four steps to implement a child rights based approach in practice as well as child rights information and law in specific legal domains such as child protection, family law, youth criminal justice, and immigration.

Each of these opens up an in-depth commentary with labyrinth links to international conventions, federal and provincial legislation, major case law, policy documents, and articles.

Three years in the making, and developed by a long list of content experts, CBA staff, and steering committee members, this toolkit is well worth a good look for anyone involved in the rights of children in Canada or internationally.

 

Research Tip Roundup: CanLII

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Alan Kilpatrick, Reference Librarian

Over the summer, we will be highlighting Legal Sourcery’s most popular research tips.  On that note, here are Legal Sourcery’s most popular CanLII tips:

If you have any questions, ask a Law Society Librarian! We are pleased to provide high-quality legal research services to Saskatchewan members in person, on the telephone, or by email.

 

AskLibnEmail reference@lawsociety.sk.ca
Call 306-569-8020 in Regina
Toll-free 1-877-989-4999
Fax 306-569-0155

Searching Google Efficiently and Effectively (Tip of the Week)

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By Alan Kilpatrick

The Internet is home to a growing body of high quality materials such as research guides, government reports, and legal commentary.  Accessing this material is as easy as typing keywords into Google and hitting enter, right?  Wrong!

The challenge to using Google efficiently is wading through the overwhelming volume of results retrieved.  Fortunately, there are tools to help pinpoint what you are looking for.  There is far more to searching Google than you might think.

Identify the Core Concepts

The first step to searching effectively is selecting effective search terms.  Identify the core concepts.  These will become your search terms.  Remove vague terms from the query.  They do nothing to improve the quality of the results.  Do not type a full question in the search bar.  Focus on the core concepts and eliminate everything else.

Search Operators and Filters

Operators and filters enable you to search with precision.  Advanced searches can be conducted with Google’s advanced search page or by incorporating operators and filters directly into Google’s search bar.  I recommend incorporating them into the search bar.  The real power of operators and filters comes from combining them together.  The search bar enables you to combine them with ease.  It is awkward to combine them with the advanced search page.

Here are the most useful operators and filters:

AND: AND separates terms that are distinct concepts, such as robbery AND weapon.  It narrows a search by retrieving results that contain both terms.  It is Google’s default operator.  As such, it is not necessary to type AND.  A space between terms is automatically interpreted as AND: robbery weapon.

OR: OR is used to separate terms that are synonyms of the same concept, such as (armed OR weapon OR knife).  It broadens a search by retrieving results that contain any of the search terms, but not necessarily all.  Enclose OR statements in brackets.

NOT:  NOT is represented by the minus sign.  It excludes results that contain a particular term.  For example, tort -defamation will not retrieve results that contain the term defamation.

PHRASE: To search for an exact phrase, enclose the phrase in quotes.  For example, “child of the marriage”.

SITE: Site limits the search to results from a certain website or domain.  For example, divorce site:gc.ca only retrieves results from the Government of Canada domain.  divorce site:plea.org retrieves results from plea.org.  This makes it easy to locate results from trustworthy websites.

ALLINTITLE: Title limits the search to results that contain the terms in the title.  For example, allintitle:legal regulation will retrieve results with these words in the title.  If your terms appear in the title of a document, it is likely relevant.

FILETYPE: File type limits the results to a certain file format.  For example, lsat filetype:pdf will retrieve results in PDF.  lsat filetype:ppt will retrieve results in PowerPoint.

Combining Operators and Filters

Combining operators and filters together will enable you to craft powerful queries and locate good results.  For example, (paralegal OR “legal technician”) “legal regulation” site:lawsociety.sk.ca filetype:pdf will retrieve PDF documents from the Law Society of Saskatchewan domain on paralegals and legal regulation.

Evaluating the Results

Not everything Google retrieves is credible.  It is up to you to evaluate the results.  Consider authority, objectivity, and authorship.  Recognise that the order of the search results is not based on authority.  It is based on Google’s search algorithm.  The results most relevant to you may appear much farther down the results list.  Consider searching Google Scholar if you need scholarly and academic resources.

We have only just scratched the surface of Google today. Please contact the Law Society if you have any other questions.

Subject Resource Guide – Tort Law (Tip of the Week)

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By Alan Kilpatrick

The Tort Law Subject Resource Guide is now available online at the at Research Resources  area of the Law Society website.

Subject resource guides provide the titles of key texts, ebooks, CPD materials, journals, legal encyclopedias, and provincial and federal legislation for a particular area of the law.  They are guides to finding the best resources for an area of the law.  The guides are intended to be used by those starting new legal research projects and to ensure that obvious resources are not missed.

Other subject guides available at Research Resources include:

 

The Law Society Library will continue to develop subject resource lists in every area of legal practice on a regular basis.

 

Saskatchewan Legal Research Primer (Tip of the Week)

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By Alan Kilpatrick

Need a quick primer on Saskatchewan legal research?  

  1. Court Rules: Publications Saskatchewan publishes the Court of Appeal Rules and the Queen’s Bench Rules online at publications.gov.sk.ca/freelaw.  The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library publishes annotated print copies of these rules.  The Saskatchewan Queen’s Bench Rules Annotated 2016 Consolidation and Civil Appeals in Saskatchewan feature high quality commentary and practical observations on case law and legislation.  Copies are available for sale on the Law Society website.
  2. Provincial Point-In-Time Research: Point-in time consolidations and historical legislation are available online on the Publications Saskatchewan website.  The Law Society Library maintains the Saskatchewan Bills and the Saskatchewan Regulations databases.  These searchable databases track changes to Saskatchewan statutes and regulations over time, chart the progress of bills, feature proclamation dates, and include legislative summaries.  Saskatchewan Proclamations features a handy list of provincial proclamations dates from 2000 to the present.
  3. Legislative Assembly Website: The Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan website charts the progress of bills before the current session of the Legislature as well as previous sessions from 1998 to the present.  Debates and hansard are available from 1998 to the present and can be browsed by date through the legislative calendar, searched through the subject index or speaker index.  Information about committees, minutes, orders, and journals can also be found here.
  4. Legislative materials:  The premier resource for Saskatchewan legislation is the Publications Saskatchewan website, available for no charge at publications.gov.sk.ca/freelaw.  It hosts a comprehensive collection of current Saskatchewan legislation as well as a growing historical collection.  They also maintain legislative tables that are essential for historical research.  The legislation available online is considered authoritative, not official.  Only paper copies of legislation are considered official.
  5. Continuing Legal Education: The Law Society of Saskatchewan operates a mandatory continuing professional development (CPD) program for members.  Some past editions of CPD materials, Bar Course materials, and other legal education materials are available for free online through the CPD Full-Text Search, a unique resource maintained by the Law Society Library.       
  6. Law Society of Saskatchewan Library: The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library serves the legal information needs of Saskatchewan members, articling students, and the public by providing a print and online library collection, high quality legal research services, and a variety of Saskatchewan focused legal publications.
  7. Additional Resources:  The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library participated in a digitization project with CanLII.  As a result, CanLII now features a nearly complete record of Saskatchewan case law from 1907 to the present.  Those searching for Saskatchewan case law should also consider consulting Saskatchewan Cases.  This searchable database features digests of Saskatchewan cases from the late 1980’s to the present.

Please contact the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library at reference@lawsociety.ca or 306-569-8020 if you have questions regarding Saskatchewan legal research.

 

The Conflict of Laws – What are the Sources? (Tip of the Week)

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By Ken Fox

Conflict of laws, also known as private international law, is a topic concerning the rules governing what happens when two or more legal systems clash in a private dispute. Pitel & Rafferty’s text on Conflict of Laws identifies three key questions: (1) whether a court has jurisdiction, (2) what law the court will apply, and (3) whether a judgment from another jurisdiction will be enforced. Unlike public international law, conflict of laws is not the same everywhere, but is particular to each jurisdiction.

As such, some people have asked about developing a Saskatchewan-specific resource for conflict of laws. While most of the issues discussed the textbooks are internationally-based, there are some areas, such as estates law and family property law, where inter-provincial jurisdictional issues become critical. So a Saskatchewan-based resource might be a good idea – we’ll look into it!

Nationally, the most often-cited text is Castel & Walker’s Canadian Conflict of Laws. The current (6th) edition is a two-volume looseleaf published by LexisNexis, which is available at our libraries in Regina and Saskatoon. For a more concise text, try the aforementioned Pitel and Rafferty, a volume in Irwin’s Essentials of Canadian Law series, which are available to Saskatchewan lawyers online through the Members Section of our website. Also available through the Members Section, and our shelves, is the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest volume on Conflict of Laws, which is cross-referenced to related case law in the Canadian Abridgment.

Internationally, the library maintains the current edition of the classic Dicey Morris and Collins book on The Conflict of Laws, published by Sweet & Maxwell in London. At a glance, I wasn’t sure how relevant this text is to Canadian legal disputes (unless they involve the British jurisdiction specifically), but it has been cited by Canadian courts over 400 times in CanLii, including in recent decisions by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada, so apparently it still carries some authority.

If you have any questions about the above, or have any recommendations about sources we should acquire or develop, please add your comments below, or otherwise contact us.