Canadian Open Access Legal Citation Guide

Nothing excites librarians quite like citation guides! While many people are familiar with the products available through the major publishers, our colleagues across the country have been busy working on an open access guide that will be free and accessible for all. We’re so pleased to announce that the Canadian Open Access Legal (COAL) Citation Guide/Guide canadien de la référence juridique en accès libre (RJAL) is now freely available on CanLII.

This guide is a continually-evolving publication, and there is an email included below for any feedback. Stay tuned as well, as there will be training sessions for this guide offered this fall!

You can read the full press release below.

The Canadian Open Access Legal (COAL) Citation Guide/Guide canadien de la référence juridique en accès libre (RJAL), which began with the desire for an open-access legal citation guide in Canada, is now available:

Over the course of two years, law librarians from across Canada worked together to create the COAL-RJAL Guide. The English version of the Guide is now freely available and hosted on CanLII (2024 CanLIIDocs 830), and the French version is in progress. The Guide is intended to be used throughout the legal field and incorporates feedback contributed by reviewers from Canadian courts, law firms, law journals, law societies, and law schools.

COAL-RJAL is freely available on CanLII, allowing anyone requiring a Canadian legal citation guide to access it online without financial barriers. This Guide will reduce the financial burden on law students, new lawyers, and sole practitioners and will also support self-represented litigants, libraries, and other organizations with an access to justice mission.

The Editorial Board of COAL-RJAL is a national, bilingual, and bijural group, committed to continuity of the Guide and continuous knowledge building. Regular Guide updates will centre the needs of the legal community by incorporating user feedback and responding to emerging developments, while maintaining long-term consistency.

The legal community’s support and expertise is the foundation for COAL-RJAL’s success. Explore the Guide on CanLII for writing, editing, or teaching, and give us your feedback. The Guide will be enriched by contributions from a diverse group of people sharing their knowledge. Connect with the Editorial Board at for feedback, volunteer inquiries, and more.

Library Information for Summer Students

Welcome new Ottawa summer students! If you’re a law student working a firm this summer, we’d like to invite you to a tour of the CCLA Library and learn more about our services. Library tours are a great opportunity to meet library staff and learn about the legal research services and resources we can offer, training opportunities, and legal services to support and assist a legal practice. We also encourage any and all students to sign up for the CCLA Newsletter to begin learning about news, events, and opportunities in the East Region. The newsletter is always free, and not tied to CCLA membership.

Tours will be held beginning May 11 on Wednesdays at 10:30 AM, and usually take between 15 to 20 minutes. Please email or call 613-233-7386 x221 to schedule a tour. Need another time? Would rather meet virtually? We can do that, too! Email the library and let us know how we can help you get started this summer.

vLex Canada: New Subscription!

We have another new database now accessible at the CCLA Library! We’re excited to announce our subscription to vLex Canada. This includes access to both their AI-powered research tool, Vincent, as well as electronic versions to the popular Irwin Law book series Essentials of Canadian Law.

Vincent, AI-powered legal research

Vincent is a virtual legal assistant who, through artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies (Iceberg AI), finds legal citations, cited documents and the most relevant legal concepts in any legal document from 10 jurisdictions including Canada. Just drag and drop your document into Vincent and it will generate a list of documents for you to review including legislation, case law, books, journal articles and more!

We haven’t been able to play around with it much yet, but we’re looking forward to hearing how it works for you! You can learn more about Vincent here.

Irwin Law’s Essentials of Canadian Law

You’re probably familiar with the Irwin Law textbook series even if you don’t know it! Many of them can be recognized by a burgundy-coloured cover. They are very popular in the library because they are so straightforward and easy to read.

And now they’re even more accessible on the vLex platform – to read and search electronically! The Essentials of Canadian Law series contains over 300 titles on a wide variety of topics.


Interested in checking these out? Feel free to attend one of four upcoming training sessions! Click on the dates below to register:

This subscription was made possible through the Legal Information and Resource Network (LiRN) new Electronic Resources Suite for all courthouse libraries in Ontario.

LexisNexis Practical Guidance: New Subscription, Plus 2-Week Remote Access!

We’re so excited to announce that we’ve acquired a subscription to LexisNexis Practical Guidance! It’s not an exaggeration to say that this database has quickly become one of our favourite sources, as it contains some of the most helpful and practical materials we’ve seen in most areas of law.

There are Precedents, Practice Notes, Checklists, Calculators, How-to Guides, toolkits… the list truly goes on! We now have access to ALL of the modules, featuring the following subjects:

  • Capital Markets and M&A
  • Commercial
  • Corporate and Private M&A
  • Employment
  • Family Law
  • In-house Counsel
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Litigation & Dispute Resolution
  • Personal Injury
  • Wills, Trusts & Estates

This database will be accessible at the CCLA library terminals.

Remote Access

Although the COVID-19 remote access to Quicklaw has now ended, as a promotion LexisNexis is offering two-week remote access to Practical Guidance for Ontario Courthouse Libraries. Register here by February 28th for a complimentary two-week remote access trial of LN Practical Guidance accessible from the convenience of your own office or designated workspace. Your two-week trial period starts the day you register.


If you would like to attend training on this new resource, please see the links in this pdf for upcoming CPD-accredited sessions.


This subscription was made possible through the Legal Information and Resource Network (LiRN) new Electronic Resources Suite for all courthouse libraries in Ontario. More details on this new suite of resources will follow!

Recently Published Ottawa Decisions

Find below recently published Ottawa decisions, available for free through

Family Matters

Barta v. Barta (2021 ONSC 6265)
spousal support — income — imputed — child support — temporary
Justice T. Engelking

Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa v. K.D. (2021 ONSC 6092)
child — parents — genuine issue requiring — summary — affidavits
Justice J. Audet

Civil Matters

Abboud et al. v. Bouwer et al. (2021 ONSC 6188)
oppression — directors — pleading — shares — corporation
Justice C. MacLeod

Thomson v. Benjamin (2021 ONSC 6096)
costs — motion — cross-examinations — indemnity — adjournment
Justice R. Ryan Bell

McGuire v. Dejong and Coldwell Banker (2021 ONSC 6044)
real estate — commissions — registration — transactions — trade
Associate Justice A. Kaufman

Criminal Matters

R. v. Gill (2021 ONSC 6328)
metal weightlifting bar — knives — home — murder — gloves
Justice A. London-Weinstein

Divisional Court Decisions of Local Interest

Merivale-Gilmour Manor Ltd. v. Municipal Property Assessment Corporation Region No. 3 et al (2021 ONSC 6240)
higher assessment — reason to doubt the correctness — withdraw — motion for leave — property
Justice K. Muszynski

Pinon v. City of Ottawa (2021 ONSC 6172)
class proceeding — preferable — bus — certification — class members
Justices D. Aston, K. Swinton, and J. McCarthy

Compendium of Damages Awarded in Personal Injury Actions Across Ontario, January 1999 – October 2020 Update

The 2020 update to our Compendium of Damages Awarded in Personal Injury Actions Across Ontario is now available! You can download a copy of this year’s update here, or find it on the Civil Litigation Practice Portal of the CCLA website.

We would like to thank The Honourable James Chadwick for his leadership on this project, as well as the law students and lawyers who make this update possible every year. This year’s update was completed with the efforts of Philip Byun of the University of Ottawa Common Law program. Thank you very much for your contribution to this year’s update!

New Features on CanLII!

Keen CanLII users may have noticed a few new features in the last month or two, and if you’re legal research nerds like us, were probably quite excited! For all the details on these upgrades and how to make use of them, check out the CanLII Blog. In short, here are two of the updates we think you’ll like:

  • Unfavorable mentions”: This is a big one! A yellow jalapeño will now appear when there is an unfavourable mention in a citing decision.  This complements the blue jalapeño of relevancy.
  • “Heatmaps” in legislation: Our reference librarian Brenda absolutely loves this one. Heatmaps are a tool used to visually indicate which parts of a document have been cited more frequently. CanLII rolled out this feature for decisions earlier this year, and it’s now available on legislation.

As we always say with CanLII, the best way to learn how to use these new features is to just do it! Head on over to CanLII’s blog for all the details on how these features work, and then jump in on CanLII. Want a quick link to both of these? Check out Canada v. Vavilov and look for the yellow pepper! For the legislative heatmap, take a look at the right side of the screen on the Construction Act. Remember, the darker the blue, the more heavily cited that section is.

HeadStart Ottawa 2020: Legal Research for Articling & LPP Students

Welcome to all new articling and LPP students!

The CCLA Library is excited to announce a virtual series legal research programs for our incoming students this fall. (If you’re coordinating your students at your firm or organization, please take note!) You can register for all or just some of these programs, but we strongly suggest attending our first session on September 24.

All of our library research sessions are completely free, and will also be recorded so they’re available later. Click on the program title to register, or send us an email if you’re registering multiple students.

HeadStart Ottawa: Legal Research for Articling & LPP Students 
Thursday, September 24 @ 2:00 – 3:00 PM
This is our flagship student session, and we are so excited to see you there – over Zoom! Join us virtually this year to get right down to the most critical pieces of information you need to know for doing research over the next year (and beyond). You are guaranteed to leave the session with a clear idea of how you’ll approach your research assignments, and which research platforms, materials, and supports are in place to help you succeed.

Lexis Advance Quicklaw 
Monday, September 28 @ 2:00 – 3:00 PM
This session is fantastic for anyone who is working with Quicklaw in their offices, or who prefer to use this platform at the CCLA Library. It’s also great if you’re generally unfamiliar with what is included in a Quicklaw subscription (spoiler: A LOT). For this session, we’ll turn it over to local Quicklaw trainer Ron Jones, who will show you the ins and outs of this platform and how you can make the most out of your time on Quicklaw.

WestlawNext Canada 
Tuesday, October 6 @ 2:00 – 3:00 PM
If you’re planning on using WestlawNext Canada in your research, whether at your office or at the CCLA, this session is definitely one to attend. Our local WestlawNext trainer Josee Provost will show you how to best use this platform in your research, including the various practice-area specific sources that the CCLA subscribes to.

Thursday, October 15 @ 2:00 – 3:00 PM
CanLII is wildly popular with everyone working in the justice system. If you haven’t had much cause to use it before but will be relying on it more frequently as you enter a legal practice, this session is a great overview of CanLII’s functionalities. There will certainly be some neat tips and tools that you didn’t know about!

Legislative Research 
Tuesday, October 27 @ 2:00 – 3:00 PM
Lawyers love to assign legislative research tasks to their students! If that thought scares you, be sure to sign up for this session. CCLA’s Reference Librarian and legislative research aficionado Brenda Lauritzen will take you through some of the most common types of legislative research tasks and leave you feeling ready to take on an assignment.

Library Tours 

Group tours of the Gordon F. Henderson Library will not be available this fall due to space constraints, but we are happy to provide individual tours. Please email us if you’d like a tour of the space.

O’Brien’s Encyclopedia of Forms: Now on WestlawNext Canada!

If the CCLA Library staff team had one legal research wish, it was for the wildly-popular O’Brien’s Encyclopedia of Forms collection to move off of the existing O’Brien’s platform and into Westlaw.  Well, wishes do come true: O’Brien’s is now available in WestlawNext Canada!

As we are subscribers to the complete O’Brien’s service, we have access to all of the divisions that are available electronically. Sadly, “Mortgages and Conveyancing” is a discontinued division (Division 3), and was not available on the old online platform either.

When we re-open the Library next month (details on that forthcoming), we hope you’ll come check it out for yourself and see how wonderfully easy it is to access the forms. In the meantime, if there’s anything we can do to help, let us know!

New on CanLII: Additional Reports of Family Law Decisions

Family law practitioners, this is for you!

CanLII has announced that approximately 4,800 judicial decisions from the Reports of Family Law (from 1968 to the present!) have been added to their database. This was made possible from a grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario, and fills in some significant gaps in the jurisprudence that was available – for free – on their site.

For more details, check out CanLII’s blog post.