Skip to content

Legal Information Access: Helping Libraries Help the Public

By Alan Kilpatrick, Librarian

The Law Society team will be presenting later this week at the joint 2021 Saskatchewan/Manitoba Libraries Association (SLA/MLA) Virtual Conference:

Legal Information Access: Helping Libraries Help the Public

Wednesday, June 16th @ 10:30am -11:30am

How can we help you help your patrons? The Law Society of Saskatchewan legal information experts are on hand and ready to help library staff and users navigate the intricacies of legal information, resources, and research. Legal problems are common. Legal information can help. It can be frustrating for your patrons to find and access credible legal information. We’re on a mission to help change that.

Attendees will learn about the resources, services, and expertise available to libraries and their users via the Law Society, gaining confidence and knowledge to respond to legal information reference questions and assist users who have legal information needs.

Attendees from both Saskatchewan and Manitoba libraries can benefit!

Presenters

Ken Fox​, Co-Director & Librarian, Legal Resources

Alan Kilpatrick, Co-Director & Librarian, Legal Resources​

Pamela Kovacs, Senior Policy Council

Julie Sobowale​, Communications Director​

Confessions of a New Law Library Director

By Alan Kilpatrick

This talk was presented at the 2021 Canadian Association of Law Libraries Conference as a lightning talk.

Good afternoon.  Welcome to Confessions of a New Law Library Director, my lightning talk for CALL/ACBD 2021.  Six months into 2020, and a short time before becoming a first-time father, I became a new law library director. 

When I first heard about my new role, I was excited and struck with ideas of revitalizing the library while unsure where to begin or how to proceed.  I would like to share a few of the tips I have learned over the past ten months in my new role as Co-Director of the Law Society of Saskatchewan’s Legal Resources department, for those who may find themselves in a similar position or curious about the skills one might need as a library director.   

While my skills as a legal information professional prepared me well, I had a lot to master!  Many of us entering this profession have little directorial experience.  However, we are all being asked to do more with less and to step outside the box and our comfort zones, even more so since the pandemic.    

What are my top tips?  Do Your Research; Learn Continuously; Get Organized; and Expand Your Focus.      

Do Your Research.  As legal information professionals, we are expert researchers.  Use your research skills to give yourself a head start in your new role. 

Research the larger organization you call home.  In my case, the Law Society.  Where does the library fit in the structure of the organization and what matters to that organization?  Does your organization have a strategic plan?  I read the Law Society’s strategic plan several times, identified opportunities where the library could add value, and connected the library’s activities and ongoing programs to the Law Society’s strategic goals, particularly to the strategic directions regarding competence and access to justice. 

Become comfortable with the ins and out of your budget.  I had never worked with a departmental budget before, and was grateful to the Law Society’s accountant for spending time educating me about budgeting in general and our budget specifically.  What belongs in each budget line?  When are your monthly and year-end responsibilities with regards to the budget?  I created a budget cheat-sheet I keep handy at my desk.           

Commit yourself to Continuous Learning.  As information professionals, we are always learning about new resources, new areas of law, and new ways to assist our users.  Really, the learning never stops.  Use your active learning mindset to support your success in your new role. 

I see my first year in this new position as one giant learning experience.  I am committed to learning as much as I can.  Talk to your colleagues, management, and professional network for advice and feedback.  Ask for help.  What professional development opportunities can you take advantage of?  I reached out to the Law Society’s Human Resource Coordinator.  She offered to conduct an Emotional Intelligence Assessment, enabling me to learn more than I thought possible regarding workplace emotional intelligence.

Take some time to Get Organized.  Like many new directors, I had a plethora of ideas and projects for the library.  A word of caution: slow down and do not try to do everything all at once.  You will be far more effective if you set a limited number of goals based on the most important priorities, such as your organization’s strategic directions, but this is easier said than done for an energetic new director. 

I found it helpful to reach out to our library team and suggest a day-long virtual work planning session.  With the assistance and support of the Law Society’s Human Resources Coordinator, an experienced facilitator, we identified our major priorities for the year, organized by quarter, and informed by the Law Society’s strategic directions.  Our intention is to revisit the workplan quarterly, update our project progress, and hold a mid-year workplan review.  

Do not forget to Expand Your Focus.  Your focus will, inevitably, expand as a new director.  Why?  The more focused details dominated my previous position as a reference librarian: finding what the user needs.  I had less occasion to think strategically about the library and the big picture.  As a new director, I discovered is that I have had to adopt a much broader focus and a more strategic mindset, asking those big existential questions.  How does the library add value to its users, organization, and stakeholders?  Why does your library do what it does?  This new focus is liberating.  I have also discovered these are challenging questions to answer.  I am still exploring how to best adopt a more strategic mindset. 

To recap, my four tips are: Do Your Research; Learn Continuously; Get Organized; and Expand Your Focus.  Full disclaimer: I am still learning!  Let me know if you have any thoughts about these tips.  What tips do you agree or disagree with?  What did I miss?  Please reach out to me if you have any questions.  I would love to hear from you if you are a new director looking to chat or a more experienced director willing to share some advice! 

Thank you.

Confessions of a New Law Library Director

Please don’t miss my exciting lightning talk at the CALL/ACBD 2021 Conference:

Confessions of a New Law Library Director

Monday May 31st, 12:45 – 1:45 PM CST

What’s a new law library director to do?

Many of us entering this profession have little management experience.  Member Alan Kilpatrick became Co-Director of the Law Society of Saskatchewan Legal Resources department in 2020.  He will speak candidly about his experiences as a new manager, highlighting the top tips and practical lessons he has learned along the way.  We are all being asked to do more with less and many CALL/ACBD members may be asked to step outside of the box and into a management role at some point. 

Are you a new professional, curious about management, or new to management?  Then this must-see session is for you!  The tips and lessons learned will be tailored to newer and midlevel professionals.         

Register for the CALL/ACBD 2021 Conference here.

CBA Mid-Winter Meeting 2021 – Legal Resources Will be There!

By Alan Kilpatrick

Are you attending the virtual CBA Mid-Winter Meeting 2021 this week?  The Law Society’s Legal Resources team is hosting a virtual exhibitor booth this year.  What can we do for you? Please stop by our booth “virtually” to connect with us over video and text chat!

This is a great opportunity to connect with members of your Legal Resources team and learn about the latest online resources you can access through the Members’ Resource Section.  We can make sure you’re ready for the next generation of legal research tools.

Our innovative information services and resources advance the Law Society’s Strategic Plan, support you and your competency, and increase access to legal information for all throughout the province.

It’s no secret that you have access to the best collection of online and print resources available to members of any law society in the country.  Regardless of your practice location, firm size, or resource cost, rest assured you have access has access to the resources they need, on-demand, to practice law competently.

Contact us by email, chat, or phone with your legal information questions.  As your legal information navigators, we can find whatever you’re looking for.  If it takes longer than five minutes to find, ask us!

Watch our booth’s Welcome Video here:

Kilpatrick for VP2: CALL/ACBD 2021 Election

By Alan Kilpatrick

I’m running for Vice-President 2 of CALL/ACBD. I’m passionate about this association and its members.

We’re all innovators. Our competitive skillset and robust knowledge of the creation, use, and sale of legal information ideally positions us to partner with the legal community and increase legal information access. As VP2, I’ll broaden CALL/ACBD’s reach and visibility to a wider group, increasing our opportunities to connect with the broader legal and legal-information communities, better communicating our capabilities and skills. Let’s embrace change and reimagine what we can be. We have the knowledge and the skills to make a difference.

My diverse experience building relationships with clients and collaborating with stakeholders in law, academic, and government libraries makes me the ideal VP2 candidate to support you, liaise with our partners, and chart a successful course for CALL/ACBD. As association Social Media Coordinator over the past six years, I’ve worked closely with many of you, our committees, SIGs, and conference planning groups, learning about the many vibrant activities of our association, the passion of our membership, and the value of our profession. I’m grateful for the numerous opportunities to serve the association, including as a member of the Executive Board for the past two years. I want to give back as VP2 and continue the important work being done on the Board.

This coming February remember, vote #KilpatrickForVP2! Follow my campaign at LibraryCanuck.com/election. Reach out to me at alan.kilpatrick@lawsociety.sk.ca or @Alan_Kilpat. I want to hear from you about your thoughts on CALL/ACBD. Thank you.

Watch a video version of my message here:

 

Your Saskatchewan Legal Databases, Relaunched

By Alan Kilpatrick

The Law Society’s searchable legal databases (Bills, Cases, Conduct Review, Ethics Ruling, and Sentencing Digests) were officially relaunched on a modern, mobile-friendly, and cloud-based database platform on Friday, November 20th, concluding a year-long Legal Resources project.

Forty More Years of Innovation

For the past forty years, Saskatchewan legal practitioners, the judiciary, and members of the public have relied on the free, timely, and reliable access to legal information provided by our innovative tools and databases.  Migrating our valuable and unique data to this modernized database platform will ensure that all Saskatchewanians can continue to enjoy access to the Saskatchewan legal information they need for decades to come.

The relaunch is a demonstrable indicator of our commitment to legal information access for all Saskatchewanians.  It represents our ongoing investment in our membership, Saskatchewan’s justice system, and legal information access for all in this province.  CanLII, Canada’s open-access national law database, took note of the relaunch on Twitter:

Earlier this week, we presented (Re)Launching Your Saskatchewan Legal Databases (CPD 287), a free webinar eligible for one CPD hour.  Were you one of the almost 150 members who attended the webinar, described by one attendee as, “…one of the best CPDs ever”?

Fortunately, you can still watch and register for your free CPD!

Don’t miss out on your chance to learn the insider tips and tricks you’ll need to get the most out of our databases!

The 2020 Canadian Law Blog Awards (Clawbies) Are Here!

By Alan Kilpatrick

Presents under the tree, frost in the air, chestnuts roasting over a fire, and … Canadian law blogs?

That’s right!  With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s that time of year where we nominate our favourite Canadian legal content for the Canadian Law Blog Awards (Clawbies).  The 2020 Clawbies mark the fifteenth anniversary of the award.

Voting is easy.  Write a blog or social media post nominating your favourite Canadian legal content.  Tweet the post using the official hashtag #Clawbies2020.  The Clawbie team reviews the nominees and announce the winners on New Year’s Eve.

Any freely accessible Canadian legal content can be nominated for a Clawbie: blogs, videos, podcasts, social media, etc.

On that note, here are my 2020 Clawbie nominations:

CanLII’s Commentary Collection
Canada’s leading proponent of free access to law and open legal publishing, CanLII’s commentary collection grew by leaps and bounds in 2020.  The list of commentary is extensive: the British Columbia Civil Litigation Manual, the Canadian Journal of Family Law, and more!

Great LEXpectations
Great LEXpectations, the wonderfully named Manitoba Law Library blog, has been active in the Canadian legal blogosphere since 2017.  Maintaining an active blog can be hard work!  We have to hand it to the Manitoba Law Library team, your collection of research tips, resources, and legal news is great!

Great Library Twitter Account
The Great Library leads the way with its engaging, effective, and entertaining Twitter account.  The Great Library staff craft a variety of helpful weekly posts: Legal research tips on #TipsTuesday, search tips on #WednesdayWisdom, and the always delightful #FunFactFriday.

3… 2… 1… (Re)Launch Your Saskatchewan Legal Databases!

By Alan Kilpatrick

I am very excited to announce that today we are officially relaunching our searchable in-house Saskatchewan legal databases on a modern, mobile-friendly, cloud-based platform:

Law Society of Saskatchewan Conduct Review Database
Law Society of Saskatchewan Ethics Rulings Database
Saskatchewan Bills database
Saskatchewan Cases database
Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Sentencing Digest

Saskatchewan legal practitioners, the judiciary, and members of the public can rely on the free, timely, and reliable access to legal information these databases provide.

Forty Years of Legal & Technical Innovation 

Developed by your pioneering Law Society Library staff through the 1980s and 1990s, these databases represent Saskatchewan’s very first instances of legal and technical innovation.  Our law library staff saw that Saskatchewan, as a small province, was not being well served by Canada’s commercial legal publishers and that there was a significant delay before our case law became available in commercial sources.

What did they do?

They boldly decided to go ahead and solve the problem themselves by stepping into the role of legal content creator, publisher, and database developer, creating databases to ensure Saskatchewan practitioners and residents could find, access, and use the law they needed.  Through their forward-thinking innovation, they created the first online internet case law database created by a law society in Canada.  Legal innovation is not new.  Law libraries have been doing it for decades.

Why Did We Relaunch the Databases? 

Over the past year, your Law Society Legal Resources team has led a major project to migrate these databases and their corresponding datasets to the new platform.

Our existing platform was out of date and we felt it was the right time to migrate our data.  We remain firmly committed to providing legal information resources in the latest formats available.  Legal information enhancements are not static.  They are constantly evolving.  We are constantly upgrading and advancing the resources practitioners and the public have access to.

These databases remain incredibly popular throughout the province, with Saskatchewan Cases receiving over 4000 hits a month alone.  Why are they so popular? They are extremely powerful tools.  Consider adding them to your practice and legal information toolkit.

Finally, the over forty years’ worth of structured data and content contained within these databases represents a valuable commodity for the Law Society, its members, and the citizenry of this province.

Need a Free CPD Credit Before the End of the Year?

Don’t miss (Re)Launching Your Saskatchewan Legal Databases.  Our free webinar, open to members, non-members, and the public, qualifies for 1 free CPD Hour and is being held on Tuesday, November 24th from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CST. Throughout this webinar, we’ll introduce you to the “relaunched” Saskatchewan legal databases and offer a variety of tips and tricks to enable you to maximize their potential.  Register here!

My special thanks to Christine Muldoon, Paul Westgate, Ken Fox, Melanie Hodges Neufeld and the rest of the Legal Resources crew for all the hard work they put into this project over the past year.

Webinar: (Re)Launching Your Saskatchewan Legal Databases (CPD 287)

By Alan Kilpatrick

You know and love our in-house Saskatchewan legal databasesCases, Sentencing Digest, Bills, Conduct Review, and Ethics Rulings. Since we launched them in the early 1990s, they’ve been a steadfast and reliable part of your practice toolkit. 

Well, as Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a-changin’.” Over the past year, your Legal Resources team has coordinated a major project to migrate these databases to an innovative cloud-based platform hosted by Lucidea.  We’re excited to announce the updated databases are ready for launch this month

We’re taking a big step towards the future of modern and robust legal information resources and we want you to be ready for this revolution in Saskatchewan legal resources

Join your bearded librarian super duo, Ken Fox and Alan Kilpatrick, to learn about the new databases in (Re)Launching Your Saskatchewan Legal Databases CPD 287:

• Cases database

• Court of Appeal Sentencing Digest database

• Bills database

• Conduct Review database

• Ethics Ruling database

Throughout the webinar, we’ll offer a variety of tips to enable you to maximize the database’s potential

Need a free CPD credit before the end of the year? CPD 287 qualifies for 1 free CPD HourRegister here!

Live Chat with Your Law Society Librarian!

By Alan Kilpatrick

Starting Monday, August 31st, it’s going to be even easier to connect with us for information and research assistance. We’re launching our brand-new live chat feature! 

Just head to the Legal Resources page and enter your question in the chatbox on the bottom right of the screen. 

And that’s it!  Either Ken Fox or I, your bearded law librarian duo, will respond promptly!

Chat with us Monday to Friday from 9:00am – 4:00pm.  Outside these hours, you’ll see a small icon on the bottom right of the screen.  Click on it and your question will be emailed to us! 

As your legal information navigators, we can find whatever you are looking for. If it takes longer than five minutes to find, just chat with us!

It’s all part of our commitment to support your information and resource needs and add value to your work through innovation.  We’re using technology to push the limits of how we support you.

You can continue to contact us by email or phone at:

 reference@lawsociety.sk.ca

1-877-989-4999 or 306-569-8020

Don’t expect us to be keeping it down or shushing you in the library stacks anymore, you’ll find us chatting up a storm!