Library Tips

Research Tip: Using Google to Site Search

In the course of online legal research (especially legislative) it’s not uncommon that you come across a website’s built-in search engine that refuses to cooperate with what you want it to do. Whether that be a lack of filters, spurious results, or just a bad user interface, there are many offenders (especially, sadly, on our government websites). This at best can lead to frustration and at worst to wasting hours of time not being able to find what you’re looking for. Fortunately, there’s a underused method to leverage Google’s search engines to assist, which I’ll detail below.

But let me start by giving an example. Say we’re looking for Hansard Debates or Committee Proceedings on the Ontario Legislative Assembly website that discuss the Police Services Amendment Act of 1997. I was able to pull up the page for the bill, as seen below, but I unfortunately soon discover that the Act was earlier than when they start directly linking out to any related debates or committee reports from that page.

Knowing, however, that they do have the Debates and Committee Documents online dating back to at least the 1970s, there must be a way to find them. You could try using their built-in search engine at the top right, or even their Advanced Hansard search, but by doing so I’ve usually found myself wading through multiple long documents, most of which do not pertain to what I am looking for.

Fortunately, there’s a quicker way, and Google can be used to do a lot of the heavy lifting here. You can easily narrow a generic Google search to search only a single website. To do this, in a regular google search just type in:

site: police services act 105

This will search all of the Ontario Legislative Assembly’s website for the keywords Police Services Act and 105 (I used the bill number to narrow it down from other amending acts). Voila, you can see below our more relevant results linking directly to committee reports, in the usual Google format we are familiar with.

You can do this with any website whose search engine might not be the best. Just use:

site:[url] [keywords]

And let Google do its thing.

Resource Spotlight: Bullen & Leake & Jacob’s Canadian Precedents of Pleadings

Once a month, Robeside Assistance will feature a resource that we purchase for the library that you might not know we have. Our collection is full of great books, databases, programs, and other materials, so definitely visit us in the library if you’d like to use anything mentioned here!


If pressed to name our favourite books in the library, Brenda and I would both include Bullen & Leake & Jacob’s Canadian Precedents of Pleadings in our top three. Tucked away in the civil litigation section, this gem of a title seems to always provide just what we need, when we need it. Based on the long-published British book of similar name (Bullen & Leake & Jacob’s Precedents of Pleadings, currently in its 18th edition), this book offers a huge selection of sample pleadings in a wide variety of legal areas. I find myself reaching for this book when asked for sample personal injury pleading examples, and Brenda has used this for the construction pleadings as well. You can take a browse through the impressively detailed table of contents here.  The book came with a CD-ROM, too, which has copies of the precedents contained in the book. No need to re-type – just let us know at the Reference Desk that you’d like to use the CD and you can take home copies of the precedents you that need, ready to be modified.

If you’d like to look through this excellent resource yourself, you can find it in our Texts section at KF 8868.1 B85 2013.

Research Tip: CCLA Conference Papers Database

It’s not surprising we get a lot of requests for conference papers from our own four annual cornerstone conferences: Family Law Institute, East Region Solicitors’, DCAO Criminal Law, and Civil Litigation Updated.

What more people don’t know is that we post the papers on our website in CCLA Conference Paper Database afterwards! So even if you aren’t able to attend, you can check out what sessions were held and keep up to speed on the current issues in the profession. They are also useful for specific practice directions for the East Region, or summaries of recent local cases and precedents.

The easiest way to search is by author. For example, I’m looking for Justice Mackinnon’s papers here:

When I hit search, I’ll get a results screen with all of her papers:


And now I can browse and download whichever ones I am interested in by clicking on the link next to the PDF icon. If I do not know the author, I can also search by subject. Additionally you can search by specific conference and year by clicking on the “Advanced Search” button on the main search screen.

It’s a great way to keep apprised of the work of the local bar!

As always, we’re here to help, so let us know if you have any difficulties finding papers from our events and we’ll see if we can send them to you. The database goes back to 2001, but we are often able to scan and send papers from prior to that as well!


Online Texts at the CCLA Library

If you’ve been into the CCLA Library in the last couple of weeks, you may have seen some new labels on various text books and looseleaf binders. As more and more of our print materials are either being replaced with or accompanied by an online version, we wanted to make it easy for library users to recognize what they can find on our computers. Here’s a quick run-down of the new labels, and what they mean:

ProView Thomson Reuters ProView

ProView is an online platform for reading legal texts that are published by Carswell. Quite a few of looseleaf binders that we subscribe to in print are also available on ProView, which makes it easier for you to search through content, and email or print excerpts for your research. The list of titles available on ProView is continually expanding, so something that’s not on there today could very well be next month. We’re working on a blog post to describe how to use ProView and a full list of what we have available in the library, so stayed tuned for that.

Westlaw WestlawNext Canada

Within the CCLA’s subscription to WestlawNext, we have both the CriminalSource and FamilySource add-on packages. Each of those services provides access to several popular Carswell looseleaf titles (and some titles that we had to cancel in print form years ago due to cost concerns). If there’s a WestlawNext sticker on a looseleaf you’re looking at, you want to access our Westlaw subscription on the computers to look at the e-version. My personal favourite? You can find Ewaschuck’s Criminal Pleadings and Practice in Canada on CriminalSource.

Quicklaw LexisNexis Quicklaw

For electronic access to several very popular text books published by LexisNexis (such as Sopkina on Evidence, as pictured here), you can turn to our Quicklaw subscription. Currently, we have texts in four different areas of law: criminal, family, employment, and general litigation.

For all of these online versions, you do need to come to the library in order to access them. Our licensing agreements do not currently allow for remote access, so you’ll need to be in the library, and on our computers. The upside to this, however, is we’re here to help! If you need any assistance in finding the e-titles on our Westlaw, Quicklaw, or ProView subscriptions, just let any of the library staff know and we can show you where to find them.

Research Tip: American Case Law

American case law is sometimes quite difficult to track down, as most of the time our basic Canadian database subscriptions do not cover other jurisdictions. (That’s why we added British case law database JustisOne to our subscriptions; check out our introductory post if you haven’t had the chance yet!)

So where can we find free access to American Case Law?

1. Google Scholar is always the first place we look. With a clean interface and a large collection of cases from state and federal courts, it’s a fantastic place to start. From the main search screen, select “Case Law” (or articles/patents if you are looking for those), and enter your search terms. Your results page should look quite familiar to you; you can click through to open a case. Note that you can also click on the “How Cited” link at the top to see any articles or cases that refer to it. Often times even if Google Scholar does not have the case you are looking for, it will still contain a reference to the case as well as alternative citations that you can try elsewhere.


2. Findlaw houses a lot of case law as well, as well as commentary and links to the state and district courts. To search for case law, you can enter a party’s name in the “Search for a Case” box, or alternatively, click on “Advanced Search” to enter in any other information you know. (This is where docket numbers can come in handy!) Results will bring you to a summary page, where you can click on the “Read” button to be linked to the full decision, although sometimes this will be behind a paywall.

3. Justia also offers free access to online American case law, as it brings together decisions from the Federal Courts and many of the district courts websites as well. You can search using the bar at the top right, or browse through the different courts below.

4. Casetext is the CanLIIConnects of the United States, as it features case law and added commentary by members of the legal community.

5. If you happen to know at what court the decision was made, you can often head directly to the State or District Court website to browse a database of their own decisions. Often times these are also included in the databases mentioned above.

6. Let us know! We have access to other libraries and their collections as well, so if we can help track down the case(s) you’re looking for, send us an email!

From Your Library: Quicklaw Forms and Precedents

This week we’d like to highlight the “Forms” section on Quicklaw. If you have a Quicklaw subscription in your office, take a look and see if you have these in your subscription. We have them in the library through our LibraryCo Quicklaw subscription, so you can always find them here.

The quickest way to access these forms and precedents is through the Forms tab. You can see in this image where it is located from the Quicklaw homescreen.


Here’s what you need to know about these forms:

  • They are available with these different practice areas in mind
    • Banking and Finance
    • Commercial Tenancies
    • Commercial Transactions
    • Corporations
    • Debtor/Creditor
    • Employment
    • Information Technology
    • Intellectual Property
    • Land Development
    • Licensing
    • Municipal Law
    • Gold’s Criminal Precedents
    • Sale and Operation of a Business
    • Sale, Distribution, and Transport of Goods
    • Solicitors Forms
    • Wills and Estates
  • You can download them as Word documents (which means you can modify them without having to re-type)
  • There are also some handy checklists available in each section too

If you don’t have an O’Brien’s subscription in your office or you want to try out another precedents collection, we definitely suggest looking at the collection in Quicklaw. If you need any assistance with this product, as always, let us know!

From Your Library: Searching Ontario Hansard Debates Online

If you need to discern the intent behind a particular piece of legislation, there’s (arguably) no better place than from the discussion of those who brought it into being. Fortunately, the record of the debates of parliament, the Hansard Debates, are becoming increasingly available online.

Provincial (Ontario)

Provincial Hansard records are available from the Legislative Assembly’s website, with scattered coverage back to 1979. PDF files of the most recent parliamentary debates are also available on the Legislative Assembly’s site in addition to the plain text. If you know the date on which a certain bill was discussed, you can simply browse to that date from the link above.

Most of the time, however, you will probably not know the exact date that the bill was discussed. In this case, you can browse to the Bill itself by clicking on Bills and Lawmaking -> Past & Present, and then select the parliamentary year from the dropdown menu. Once you have located the Bill, you can click on the “Debates” tab, as seen in the example below.


This will bring up a list of the dates that the Bill was discussed in parliament, and by clicking on the blue dates, will link you directly to the Hansard records. If a link is not available online, it will at least tell you the date, which you can then use to look it up in the print version at a library.

The majority of commentary occurs during the second reading of a bill. If it is deferred to a committee, the committee reports will also be linked from this screen.

You can also search the Hansard debates here, although your mileage may vary using this search tool.

We don’t hold the print copies of the Hansard here at the CCLA Library, but they are available from the University of Ottawa Law Library and the Supreme Court Library. As always, if you have difficulty finding what you need you can contact us at and we will do our best to point you in the right direction!

From Your Library: Quicklaw Practice Pages

A subscription to Quicklaw is another excellent research tool provided via the LSUC to every courthouse library. There are loads of great features within Quicklaw, but one that is commonly overlooked (unfortunately!) is the Practice Area section. Here’s where it is on the home screen:


We have four practice areas available to library clients – CriminalPractice, EmploymentPractice, FamilyPractice, and LitigationPractice. If you pop over to one of those areas when you first load up Quicklaw, you’ll have an easy to scan and use list of secondary sources that are available for you to search, read through, print, or email. For example, LitigationPractice contains a bunch of quantums (such as personal injury damages or wrongful dismissals), practice guides, and texts like The Law of Limitations. Next time you’re in the courthouse, stop by and take a look at this great feature of our Quicklaw subscription!

From Your Library: HeinOnline

One of our favorite online resources is HeinOnline. What exactly is in HeinOnline? It’s an online access point for lots of great legal research materials. Here are just a few of the things that are contained in our subscription that we’ve used when carrying out research for our library clients:

  • Legal and law-related journals – over 2,000 of them!
  • The English Reports (which has reprints of English cases dating from 1220 to 1867)
  • The Revised Statutes of Canada, all sets (good for legislative research)
  • A wide range of American legislation

The really great news is that access to Hein is available to all Law Society members through a subscription worked out by the Law Society of Upper Canada. You can search, read, and download all without paying an additional cent. If you’d like the username and password for Hein, let us know and we can give it to you. It changes roughly twice a year, and did just last week, so you might need to update your information! Keep our email address ( handy!

Changes to CCLA Library Online Products

Starting January 1, 2014, there will be changes the online products you will have access to in the CCLA Library. We hope you’ll find these changes useful for your legal research!

No Longer Available:

Criminal Spectrum

Newly Added:

Quicklaw CriminalPractice

This product contains the following titles:

    • The Practitioner’s Criminal Code (Gold)
    • The Law of Search and Seizure in Canada (Fontana andKeeshan)
    • Sentencing (Ruby, Davies, Doucette, Loosemore, Orkinand, Wawzonek)
    • Annotated Youth Criminal Justice Act (Weinper, Direnfeld, Greene,Pearson, Richardson and Tuck-Jackson)
    • Impaired Driving in Canada (Kenkel)
    • Canadian Extradition Law Practice (Botting)
    • Sopinka, Lederman & Bryant – The Law of Evidence in Canada (Bryant, Lederman and Fuerst)
    • Canada Criminal Digest
    • Abrégé de jurisprudence – Droit criminel
    • Criminal Law Cases – Topical
    • Supreme Court of Canada Service
    • LAW/NET™ Legal Update Service
    • For the Defence, the newsletter of the Ontario CriminalLawyers’
    • Association
    • Alan D. Gold’s Criminal Law NetLetter
    • Alan D. Gold’s Money Laundering Update
    • Crown Weekly NetLetter
    • Federico and Rondinelli’s DNA NetLetter
    • Impaired Driving NetLetter by the Hon. Justice Joseph F. Kenkel
    • LexisNexis® Criminal Charter Issues NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Criminal Offences NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Criminal Procedure NetLetter
    • The Practitioner’s Criminal Precedents (Gold)

Quicklaw FamilyPractice

This product contains the following titles:

    • Ontario Family Law Practice (The Hon. Mr. Justice David Steinberg, the Hon. Mr. Justice Craig Perkins, Esther L. Lenkinski and Andrew James)
    • Wilson on Children and the Law (Jeffery Wilson)
    • Family Mediation and Collaborative Practice Handbook (Barbara Landau, Lorne Wolfson and Niki Landau)
    • Castel & Walker – Canadian Conflict of Laws (Janet Walker) Canadian Contract Law (Angela Swan)
    • Canada Child Support Quantums
    • Canada Spousal Support Quantums
    • Canada Dependants’ Relief Quantums
    • Canada Matrimonial Property Quantums
    • LexisNexis® Family Law (Ontario) NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Youth Protection NetLetter

Quicklaw LitigationPractice

This product contains the following titles:

    • Canadian Federal Courts Practice (Hughes, Renaud and Horne)
    • Federal Limitations Manual
    • Ontario Courtroom Procedure (Ferguson)
    • Sopinka, Lederman & Bryant – The Law of Evidence in Canada (Bryant, Lederman and Fuerst)
    • Class Actions Law and Practice (Eizenga, Peerless, Wright and Callaghan)
    • Canadian Tort Law (Linden and Feldthusen)
    • Canadian Contract Law (Swan)
    • Castel & Walker – Canadian Conflict of Laws (Walker)
    • The Law of Limitations (Mew)
    • Canada Civil Procedure Digest
    • Canada Civil Evidence Digest
    • Canada Limitation of Actions Digest
    • Canada Breach of Contract Quantums
    • Canada Defamation Quantums
    • Canada Medical Negligence Quantums
    • Canada Property-Related Torts Quantums
    • Canada Wrongful Dismissal Quantums
    • Carlson Personal Injury Quantum of Damages NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Civil Practice (Federal) NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Ontario Civil Practice NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Civil Evidence NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Conflict of Laws NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Limitation of Actions NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Class Actions NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Economic Damages NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Personal Injury NetLetter
    • LexisNexis® Tort Law NetLetter

To access any of these Practice products, simply proceed through to Quicklaw as normal on the Desktops of our library computers.