Staying current in legal news (or how to be a legal news ninja)

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By Sarah Roussel-Lewis

ninjaAt the Law Society Library, we like to jokingly refer to our staff as Legal Resource Ninjas, because we tend to be able to find information quickly and from some pretty obscure sources. A key component of this is trying to keep up with current legal news, which can be quite difficult at times. This process involves spending a lot of time perusing law blogs (or blawgs), news sites and reading current case law. For my Monday Pick-Me-Pp posts, I often find myself going through all three of these types of news sources and amalgamating them for our readers. Here is a short write-up highlighting a few sources you may find useful.

Some of the websites I check daily:

Slaw: Canada’s online legal magazine

Slaw is the first resource I check when looking for current legal news. They post a wide variety of legal articles about three to six times a day with the help of “22-25 weekly bloggers and 60-70 regular columnists”. Some of the re-occurring posts are: Monday’s mix (highlighting five blawg posts), Tips Tuesday, and Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII. These three in particular are super useful, and often get re-posted in our Monday Pick-Me-Ups.

Wise Law Blog

This is one of the most useful websites I have come across in my time here at the library. Garry J. Wise has taken on the task of making a daily post gathering any and all legal link headlines. When searching for any current legal development or recent articles, this blog will give you a head start.

Here are a few more websites that I check once or twice a week:

CanLII Connects

CanLII is a website everyone in the legal profession is aware of (or should be) but you may not be as familiar with their new website CanLII Connects. This resource makes it easier for everyone to access “high-quality legal commentary on Canadian court decisions”. I haven’t yet familiarized myself with their entire website, but have often found useful and interesting links since their inception (April 4, 2014).

CBC.ca/Sask & Globalnews.ca/regina

I have recently added CBC and Global to my list of “must check” websites. The legal articles might not always be front page news, so I have to dig for them, but the articles are really great for keeping up on local legal news.

I also have a category of more specific blogs that post articles within their practice areas:

Canadian Privacy Law Blog

Canadian privacy lawyer, David T.S. Fraser, runs this blog that posts articles about “developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer”. Although this blog isn’t updated every day, David posts about once or twice a week with substantial articles.

Family LLB

Even if not specific to Saskatchewan family law, this blog has become very important for being up-to-date on current family law issues. Russell Alexander, an Ontario family law lawyer, posts two to three times a week with videos or commentary on recent family law cases.

I have a much longer list of other blogs I check for our Monday Pick-Me-Ups, but I thought a short list of essential websites would be more useful for our members. Hopefully you can all become news ninjas and share in our joy of gaining knowledge about our profession.

If you know any great resources I haven’t mentioned here, be sure to leave a comment below!

 

Substantive Law Webinar Series

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The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL/ACBD) is offering a series of substantive law webinars delivered by Ted Tjaden. Ted delivered a webinar on Civil Procedure in March, 2014, and due to the level of interest, the Webinar Committee has paired up with Ted to offer the following subjects over 2014 and 2015:

  • Tort Law – October 30, 2014 from 1:00pm-2:30pm EST
  • Contract Law – December 9, 2014 from 1:00pm-2:30pm EST
  • Constitutional Law – February 12, 2015 from 1:00pm-2:30pm EST
  • Real/Personal Property Law – April 21, 2015 from 1:00pm-2:30pm EST
  • Criminal Law – June 18, 2015 from 1:00pm-2:30pm EST

Ted Tjaden, a long-time member of CALL/ACBD and the 2010 recipient of the Denis Marshall Memorial Award for Excellence in Law Librarianship, is the national litigation precedents lawyer in Gowlings’ Toronto office. Ted works closely with the firm’s national precedents team and litigation lawyers to organize and annotate the firm’s litigation research and precedents for use by the firm’s advocacy professionals. Ted has extensive experience as a litigator and knowledge management lawyer and is called to the bar in both British Columbia and Ontario. In addition to being the author of Legal Research and Writing, 3rd ed (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2010) and The Law of Independent Legal Advice, 2nd ed (Toronto: Carswell, 2013), he is a regular speaker at conferences on issues of knowledge management, technology and the effective organization of litigation documents.

Webinar costs:

CALL/ACBD Member: $40 + $5.20 HST = $45.20/webinar
Non-member: $60 + $7.80 HST = $67.80/webinar
*A 20% discount will be applied to registrations for the entire series (5 webinars).  Please contact events@callacbd.ca to register for all 5 webinars.

More information and online registration form is available on CALL’s website.

Book Review – Practice Law in the Cloud

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By Alan Kilpatrick

BkRevCloudPractice Law in the Cloud
By David Whelan
Canada Law Book, 2013
110 pp.

 

Do you want to practice law in the cloud?  This book is all you need to get started with cloud computing.   Canada Law Book describes the book on its website,

Lawyers use technology to practice and increasingly those tools are shifting out of their offices and onto the Internet. In order to take advantage of these tools, lawyers will have to identify how they to balance their professional duties with this new opportunity. As the products they use move to the cloud as Web-based applications or resources, they need to be prepared to understand what is happening and how it will affect their practice.

Practice Law in the Cloud gives readers the context and background so that they can make informed decisions about what elements of their practice should move to the cloud and under what circumstances. It raises their level of awareness and, in the long term, their level of comfort with the change that is happening.

Please stop by the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library in Regina if you are interested in checking this item out. Call Number: KF 320.A9.W55 2013 

 

In the Legal Sourcery book review, new, thought-provoking, and notable library resources are reviewed. If you would like to read any of the resources reviewed, please contact our library at reference@lawsociety.sk.ca or (306) 569-8020. Let us know if there is a book you would like reviewed.

 

Noting Up Cases – Part 2/3 (Tip of the Week)

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By Alan Kilpatrick

Noting up is a basic legal research skill.  It will allow you to locate other decisions that have or have not followed or considered a particular case.  This will enable you to determine whether a case is still good law or whether it has been overruled or criticized.

Last week, we learned how to note up a case with the Saskatchewan Cases Search.  This week, we will learn how to note up a case with CanLII.  Before we begin, it is important to realize that CanLII features an automated noteup feature that does not provide any information about how a particular case has been treated.  The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library suggests that the Saskatchewan Cases Search is the best resource to note up Saskatchewan case law.

Let’s use CanLII to note up R v Lewko, 2002 SKCA 121.  A link to CanLII is on the library homepage.

TipMay9_1

We can type the case name in the noteup search box.

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We can see that 168 cases from across Canada have considered R v Lewko, 2002 SKCA 121.

tip3Oct_2

We can restrict our search by jurisdiction on the left side of the screen.  For example, 32 Saskatchewan cases have considered R v Lewko, 2002 SKCA 121.

tip3Oct_3

 

If you have any questions, ask a Law Society Librarian. We are pleased to provide legal research assistance 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

 

Sources:

Bora Laskin Law Library – Step 3: Noting Up – Case

Law Society of Saskatchewan Library – Noting Up Cases

 

 

Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Case ‘Hot’ on CanLII

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By Melanie Hodges Neufeld

Each Wednesday, Slaw posts which three English-language cases have been most viewed on CanLII. This week, Lemare Lake Logging Ltd. V. 3L Cattle Company Ltd, 2014 SKCA 35, made the top three. Here is a summary prepared by one of our case digesters that appeared in vol. 16, no. 14 of Case Mail:

The respondent company had financial obligations to the appellant that were secured by a mortgage. The respondent also granted the appellant a security interest in all non-inventory goods and equipment, including machinery, fixtures and tools. The respondent defaulted on the obligations and the appellant applied unsuccessfully to the Court of Queen’s Bench for an order appointing a receiver pursuant to s. 243(1) of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (“BIA”). The Chambers judge found that Part II of The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act (“SIA”) applied, so the respondent was required to have leave before an action could be commenced. The appellant’s argument that federal paramountcy rendered the SIA requirements inoperative was not successful. The Chambers judge also found that a receiver would not have been appointed in any event because the respondent was not insolvent and that it would not have been just and convenient to appoint one. The appellant was also having financial difficulties and had protection from its creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (“CCAA”) in British Columbia. The appellant owed creditors $34.8 million; $10 million was the amount owed by the respondent to the appellant.

HELD: The appeal was dismissed. The appeal court agreed with the appellant that Part II of the SIA was inoperative due to federal paramountcy and that the respondent was insolvent; however, they also found that the Chambers judge did not err in deciding that a receiver should not be appointed in the circumstances of the case. The appeal court held that there was no operational conflict between the BIA and SFSA; an order for leave could be obtained prior to appointment of a receiver under the BIA. The appeal court did find, however, that Part II of the SFSA frustrated the purpose of s. 243 of the BIA so as to bring paramountcy into play. The only time requirements in the BIA with respect to the appointment of receivers is the 10-day notice period in s. 243(1.1). Parliament recognized that the proceedings were time sensitive and therefore only a 10-day notice period was granted. Part II of the SFSA requires waiting at least 150 days, which would frustrate the purpose of the BIA in moving quickly. The purpose of the BIA would also be frustrated by Part II of the SFSA because the leave application in the SFSA requires that more criteria be met. The Chambers judge was found to have erred because she did not conclude that the respondent was insolvent. The BIA does not require that a debtor be unable to meet each and every obligation in order to be considered insolvent. The respondent did not pay obligations to two of three major creditors and was unable to pay them. The appeal court also noted that a debtor needs only to fail to meet one obligation even though the BIA uses the word obligations. The Interpretation Act makes it clear that plural also includes singular. Whether a receiver is granted is discretionary and therefore a discretionary standard of review was required. The appeal court reviewed the Chambers judge’s analyses on whether to appoint a receiver as follows: 1) the Chambers judge’s comments regarding the scope of a receiver’s authority were incorrect. However, the appeal court found that they did not affect the Chambers judge’s decision regarding whether to order a receiver; 2) the Chambers judge concluded that a vesting order for the debtor’s land would not be granted because there were not exceptional circumstances. The Court of Appeal found that the Chambers judge misinterpreted the case she was relying on to make her determination and also found that her determination did not go to the core of her decision on the receiver issue; 3) the appeal court agreed with the appellant that the Chambers judge did not take into account all of the factors in deciding not to appoint a receiver. She only focused on a receiver collecting rents and the vesting order. The appeal court therefore reviewed all of the factors to decide whether it was just and convenient to appoint a receiver and concluded that the Chambers judge did not err in her decision not to grant an order for a receiver. The appellants were instructed to proceed against the respondent in the usual process of foreclosure.

 

Tips from the Editor – A Readable Document is a Document that Gets Read

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By Kelly Laycock

squintIs there anyone else out there who, like me, spends a lot of time looking at legal documents and wondering what kind of awful time warp they’ve found themselves in?

MY EYES ACHE AT THE END OF THE DAY AFTER READING ARIAL ALL CAPS, COMPLETE WITH UNDERLINING.
Times New Roman is a little better, classic even, I admit, but with all the wonderful developments in fonts out there, I bet we can bring ourselves out of the 1930s.

line
With the recent push for modernization in terms of plain language and access to justice for the public, why hasn’t anyone pushed to bring not only the content but also the style of our documents into the modern era? As it turns out, there are a few pushers out there.

A few months ago I came across an online book of typography (the style, arrangement or appearance of printed letters on a page) called Butterick’s Practical Typography by Matthew Butterick (typographer turned lawyer). I found the simple structure and easily accessible online content a perfect reference for formatting issues that come up in my daily working life. Here is the premise of his book (as found in his introduction):

This book is based on three principles.

  1. Good ty­pog­ra­phy is part of good writing.
  2. As a pro­fes­sional writer, you should hold your doc­u­ments to the same stan­dards as pro­fes­sion­ally pub­lished ma­te­r­ial. Why? Be­cause your doc­u­ments are pro­fes­sion­ally pub­lished material.
    More­over, much of what writ­ers con­sider proper ty­pog­ra­phy is an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of bad habits and ur­ban leg­ends. These will be set aside in fa­vor of pro­fes­sional ty­po­graphic habits.
  3. Any writer can mas­ter the es­sen­tials of good typography.

Yes, yes and yes. I agree! So when I later came across a mention of this wonderfully practical and comprehensive intro to typography in a SLAW article, I was over the moon! It turns out I’m not alone in thinking about the issue of bringing our legal documents into the twenty-first century!

And what’s more, I learned about another book by Butterick: Typography for Lawyers. In the Foreword of this book, Bryan A. Garner, the editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, sums up both the usefulness of this title and my frustrations exactly:

Here’s how to use this book if you’re a supervising lawyer (Sarah) dealing with an associate (Ralph):

“Ralph, thanks for the memo. I’m looking forward to reading it. But…”

“Is there a problem?”

“Well, yes. Frankly, I don’t want to read it. You’re underlining case names, you’re putting two spaces after periods, and the font is just ghastly. I could spend 30 minutes making it presentable, but I want the associates who work with me to do that in the first place. Do you own Butterick?”

“Huh?”

“Butterick. Typography for Lawyers. Here, take my copy home tonight. I’ll need it back tomorrow. Learn this stuff, please. I want all your writing for me to comply with Butterick. Got that?”

“Sure, Sarah. Thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Tomorrow will be a very new day.

I want tomorrow to be a very new day!

Of course some might buck this idea. After all, there is a historical context to consider; from the robes lawyers and judges wear to the Legalese legal professionals speak, the profession chooses to remain more “traditional”. And the traditions in legal writing and formatting go back to the era of the typewriter (and beyond). While there is nothing wrong with traditional, per se, even traditional needs an overhaul once in a while to avoid becoming antiquated.

And that is the great thing about typography: people are creating modern fonts that maintain the “traditional” style but that look and function like modern fonts. And sometimes the difference between a bracketed serif and a hairline serif is so subtle, that the untrained eye may not see the difference. But to those who deal with these issues daily, that subtle difference can have a huge impact on whether we perceive a document as outdated or modern. (Just try to read a document written on a typewriter now, and you will know what I mean!)

Of course, I’m certainly no expert, but people like Butterick are, and they are doing what they can to help the rest of us see the light.

…a beautiful document is a readable document, one that pleases if only subliminally and then gets out of the way with grace. And a readable document is, well, one that actually gets read. Enter the typographer.

—Simon Fodden, from the SLAW article “Lawyer Type”

 

SLAW has published many articles on typography, and Mr. Butterick has joined in some of the discussions. Here are a few interesting articles that talk about this matter more:

“What’s your font of choice for legal documents” by Dan Michaluk

“A Typeface Designed for Lawyers” by Simon Fodden

“Lawyer Type” by Simon Fodden

“Rethinking the Way a Court Formats and Publishes Its Judgments” by Melanie Bueckert