Changes Ahead!

A couple of weeks ago, we were given the go-ahead to start prepping the library for the long-awaited renovation. I’m sure you can imagine our delight and excitement! In the coming months, we will be pruning the book collection and removing bookshelves from our space. “Weeding” a collection, as it’s known in the library world, is a process that takes a fair amount of time to complete properly, even more so when you’re doing a large scale weed like we’ll be doing for the renos. The renos are still a ways off, but the books need to be attended to first!

The first set of books to leave the library are select volumes of legislation from other provinces. The next stop for those books, we’re happy to say, will be HeinOnline, where they will be helping to increase the amount of Canadian legislation available in that database. (Did we mention LSUC licensees get free HeinOnline access? Contact us for details!).

We are currently working on our renovations plan, including which services and materials will be available during construction. We will make everyone aware of those plans when they are finalized. For now, however, we’re business as usual, just with slightly fewer books and shelves, and slightly more dust! Launch

Jen and I are very excited to announce a project that has been a long time in coming…!

We can’t count the number of phone calls we get from members of the public or lawyers looking to find if a will exists. In other provinces there are different solutions to help with this issue that run by different organizations, but we found that in Ontario we were sorely lacking!

So with the help of a FOLA Legal Innovation Award, we set out to see what we could do. We launched the result, Will Check, at our Solicitors conference a couple weeks ago, and got some great feedback!

So what is Will Check and how will it help? In summary:

  • Will Check is a wills registry to store the location information for wills (not the wills themselves), curated by the CCLA Library.
  • If we get a request for a will, ideally we can look up the lawyer who holds the original of that will. We only provide the contact information of that lawyer, not any information about the will itself.
  • Currently requests and submissions can only be made by members of the LSUC.
  • We are beginning the project focused for those who practice in the East Region.
  • The site features simple forms to fill out, making registering wills quick and easy.
  • Sample release available to get client approval.

We will be continually improving and hopefully expanding based on feedback, and are optimistic that this will become an invaluable resource for solicitors who practice in the area of wills and estates. If you have any comments, we’d love to hear them! Let us know.

Preview: 2017 CALL/ACBD Conference

The CALL/ACBD annual conference is coming to town next week, and we couldn’t be more excited! The last time the CALL conference was held in Ottawa was in 2007, so this will be the first time any of us here at the CCLA get to attend the conference on home turf and welcome our library friends and colleagues to the city. The conference planning committee has put together an excellent program on the theme of “Celebrate our history, create our future,” appealing to a wide variety of our interests as law librarians. Here are just a few of the sessions we’re especially looking forward to:

Uncharted Ethical Lands: Law Libraries as Creators, Publishers and Hosts of New Information

“Law Libraries are exploring new and non-traditional roles as creators, hosts, and publishers of locally created content. Learning hubs, incubators, data repositories, and OA e-publishing are a few of the exciting services that may re-position libraries and librarians as leaders in the new information environment. These kinds of services can potentially lead us into legal and ethical minefields as we negotiate competing rights, explore the extent of institutional responsibility, and begin to build our brand as publishers. This workshop offers the PLUS model of decision making as one tool to assist library staff in working through the ethical and legal obligations associated with these new and yet-to-be determined roles. After a presentation of the model, participants will work in groups to apply ethical decision-making processes to real case studies, and then come together to arrive at the best and most ethical “let’s make this happen” solutions.”

Wikipedia and the Law: A Mini Edit-A-Thon

“‘Why is there no Wikipedia article about Elder Law in Canada?’ ‘Why does the article on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario need citation verification?’ ‘Shouldn’t someone fix this?’ Yes – and that someone is you. This hands-on workshop will show you how to create your own Wikipedia account, how to edit and add content to existing Wikipedia articles related to the law, and how to create Wikipedia articles from scratch. You will also learn helpful tips and tricks for hosting your very own Wikipedia Edita-Thon.”

Judicial and Legal Archives – Preserving the Past, Telling Stories in the Future

“Judicial information includes both the judgments and orders produced by Courts, the case files, and the personal archives of judges. How is this record being preserved across the country, and what stories does it hold? What will the record look like in the future, as email replaces analogue correspondence? Can we preserve the electronic record? Rosalie Fox, Director of the Supreme Court Library and Information Management Branch will discuss the challenges of archiving judges’ personal archives, and how deliberative secrecy impacts judicial archives here and around the world. Professor Philip Girard, eminent legal historian, will speak about using case files and judicial personal papers to illustrate the evolution of Canada’s legal history. David Rajotte, an archivist with Library and Archives Canada, and the archivist responsible for the recent assessment of the Supreme Court and Exchequer Court’s collections, will round out the panel, with a perspective on preserving judicial archives.”

The Digital Litigator : Throwing Away the Binders and the Briefcases

“Justice Canada’s lawyers, members of the federal department frequently referred to as “Canada’s largest law firm”, are changing the way they litigate. Learn from Jean-Sébastien Rochon about how his group is equipping litigation teams with the information technology, tools, information, and processes to change the way they practice law in a digital information environment.”

As always, you can follow tweets from the conference with the hashtag #CALLACBD2017.


Mental Health Week 2017

May 1 to 7, 2017 is the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week. During past several years, the CCLA has been fortunate to have mental health experts speak at our conferences and deliver CPD programming. The importance of mental health care in the legal community cannot be overstated, and we’re happy to help spread the word and remind our readers of the resources available to all lawyers, paralegals, law students, and judges in Ontario, as well as their family members.

The Member Assistance Plan, provided through Homewood Human Solutions, is a confidential health service that is funded by, and runs entirely independently of, the LSUC. A variety of counselling options are available through their service (online, telephone, and in-person), to address all manner of mental health care issues (such as stress, anxiety, anger, depression, and much more).

To find out more, check out, or call 1-855-403-8922.

For Mental Health Week, the Canadian Mental Health Association’s #GETLOUD campaign is currently in full swing. To learn more about what this organization is doing to help bring attention to the need for mental health care funding and services, check out their campaign website –


Upcoming CPD: Social Media Social

To our out-of-town readers (and people already registered – thank you!), please forgive this small bit of promotion! There’s a really neat CPD program coming up in Ottawa next month, and we just had to write about it for the blog.

On April 4, the CCLA will be holding the “Social Media Social” – a gathering of some really excellent bloggers and social media pros from the Ottawa legal community (and also me – how did I get on this invite list?!). What started out as local lawyer Sean Bawden (author of the Clawbie Award-winning “Labour Pains” blog) tweeting “Hey, who wants to get drinks and talk about blogging?” has morphed into a half-day session on topics related to blogging, vlogging, and Twitter. You can take a look at the full agenda here. By my count, there are five Clawbie winners speaking that afternoon, so I think it’s safe to say we’ll know a thing or two about legal blogging! The session has been accredited for 1.25 professionalism hours and 1.75 substantive hours, too, so if you’re already getting to work on your 2017 CPD hours, you can snag a few here.

Registration for the session is available online. Brenda and I will both be there, so we look forward to meeting more of our readers in person!

State of Washington & State of Minnesota v. Trump

It’s hard to stay away from the news these days, but those closely following the appeal from Trump’s Immigration Ban in the United States might be interested to see that due to interest in the case, the 9th Circuit has put up a webpage for all of the related court documents. Some light reading for those inclined.

There’s been quite a legal flurry north of the border in response to the ban as well. Courthouse Libraries BC has arranged an upcoming webinar entitled “Canadian Lawyers and the Impact of the US Executive Orders (Muslim Ban)”, to take place on Monday, February 27th, 3:30-4:30 PM EST. BC lawyer Peter Edelmann will be joined by US attorney Nikhil Shah to discuss:

  • The EO and whom it affects.
  • The effects of the various injunctions (MA, NY, CA, etc.) and appeals and what this means practically for affected people seeking access to the US.
  • Legal procedure and rights at the US Border.
  • Some expectations/predictions re future banned countries.
  • Canada’s next possible moves (e.g. Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement).
  • Information about the Canadian and US lawyer alliances/participation in this crisis.
  • What you, the lawyer on the front lines (or who wants to get involved) needs to know, e.g. what you can accomplish v. what you should expect.

You can register for the webinar here.

Fighting the Good Link Rot Fight

One of the things that keeps librarians up at night is something known as link rot (don’t get us even started on “fake news” and information literacy). There was an article highlighting this issue in the NY Times a couple of years ago, but basically, link rot happens when you cite something on the web that ends up moving its URL, changing its form somehow, or being deleted altogether. As the internet grows naturally from its infancy and more things change, it becomes harder and harder to identify sources, and more and more links lead to dead ends.

This is happening in case law and the legal world as well as the scholarly one, and you can understand how this might be important when the footnotes and links are referring to the basis of legal precedent. The Times article identified that in 2013, a study found that 49% of their Supreme Court decisions links no longer worked. There have been a couple initiatives to try and rectify this since then, the largest of which being, which archives and gives permanent links to resources so that they will no longer change.

Today, the Supreme Court of Canada revealed a similar project they have been working on, their depository of Internet Sources Cited in SCC Judgments (1998 – 2016), which contains permanent links to documents referred to in SCC decisions. Here is their news release regarding the service:

January 26, 2017

OTTAWA – Recognizing that web pages or websites that the Court cites in its judgments may subsequently vary in content or be discontinued, the Office of the Registrar of the SCC has located and archived the content of most online sources that had been cited by the Court between 1998 and 2016. These sources were captured with a content as close as possible to the original content cited. Links to the archived content can be found here: Internet Sources Cited in SCC Judgments (1998 – 2016).

From 2017, online internet sources cited in the “Authors Cited” section in SCC judgments will be captured and archived.  When a judgment cites such a source, an “archived version” link will be provided to facilitate future research.

An important step forward. Hopefully we will see similar initiatives by other courts to help address this issue.

End of Year Round-Up

It’s hard to believe it’s almost 2017! (And really, good riddance 2016.) With our Clawbie noms out yesterday, we’re wrapping things up this week before the holiday break. We’re very happy with what we achieved this year with the launch of Robeside Assistance, and we’re excited to go into the new year with a whole bunch of ideas for new content. In the meantime, though, here’s a quick look back at our favourite posts that we made this year.

By far our most popular series are the Recently Published Ottawa Decisions and the Blog Rolls, so we won’t be including those, but here are some others worth a read!

  • How to Find Unreported Decisions – In our technologically-antiquated Ontario court system there’s no real good way of going about finding decisions that were never published, but here we present your best options for getting your hands on those difficult-to-find decisions.
  • Tools We Love: Doodle – We love free things that make our lives easier! Using Doodle to schedule meetings does both of those things, and here’s a quick tutorial to show you how great it is.
  • Sites Unseen: Lipad – In the Sites Unseen series we featured legal research sites and tools that might be lesser known. A newcomer on the scene and one of my favourite new resources is Lipad, which is a new interface for accessing the Federal Hansard Debates.
  • #ThrowbackThursday: Somerset House – We had so much fun researching old Ottawa photos and history for our Throwback Thursdays, and when the Somerset House came into the news this was a perfect opportunity to do so!

Thanks so much for your support and readership this year; it’s been a blast. Wishing you all the very best of holidays and a Happy New Year!


The 2016 Clawbie Awards: Our Nominees!

Clawbies Logo

It’s the most exciting time of the year for Canadian law blogs – the Clawbies! A quick recap: the Clawbies have been awarded each year since 2006 to Canadian law blogs for their work over the previous year. Nominations come from the blogging community itself, in posts like these or on Twitter (look for the hashtag #clawbies2016).

We’re super excited to name our three nominees for the Clawbies this year. We’ve kept in mind the key characteristics of a legal blog (practical, genuine, conversational, and improving the legal system), and we also wanted to pick some of our local favourites. We’re only allowed to pick three (but we love all of you, Ottawa, we promise!), so here they are:


Michael Spratt
Michael Spratt (Abergel Goldstein & Partners) / @MSpratt

We became huge fans of Michael’s work when he started doing episode recaps of the Netflix show “Making a Murderer” on his podcast The Docket.  As the old saying goes, come for the Wisconsin true crime, stay for the interesting, thoughtful, and provocative posts on the Canadian legal landscape.  Michael’s dedication to the criminal justice system inspires us, and his blog has become essential reading. 

Some of our favourite blog posts this year:


Labour Pains
Sean Bawden (Kelly Santini LLP) / @SeanBawden

Sean’s blog has been an inspiration to us for a long time. His analysis of recent labour and employment decisions and the ramifications for the reader as either an employer or employee are well written and incredibly useful. Also, we love a punny name (obviously). 

Some of our favourite blog posts this year:


Anne-Marie McElroy
Anne-Marie McElroy (McElroy Law) / @ammcelroy

When Brenda does her Ottawa Blog Roll posts, Anne-Marie’s posts are always among her favourites. Don’t tell the others, but this is the first blog name she yelled out when nomination time came! 

Some of our favourite blog posts this year: