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Legal Researchers Take Note: Canadiana Online is Now Free to Access!

By Alan Kilpatrick

Earlier this year, Canadiana Online’s unparalleled online collection of historical materials became free to access. The collection, available at no charge at Canadiana.ca, contains more than 60 million digitized pages of books, periodicals, and government publications from early Canadian history.

Why should lawyers and legal researchers take note of this thrilling development? Canadiana Online features an outstanding collection of historical statutes, bills, legal journals, and law reports. Some examples include:

• Bills
• Court Rules
• Criminal Law Texts
• Law Reports
• Lawyer Directories
• Sessional Papers
Statutes

Notably, we located a digitized copy of the Catalogue of the Law Society Libraries of Saskatchewan from 1912 through Canadiana Online.

Legal researchers should take advantage of the wealth of legal resources available freely online here.  Canadian Online offers a simple search interface with search tips. Search results can be narrowed by multiple search filters and subject headings.

Sources Cited

Ross, R. (2018, November 15). Over 60 Million Pages of Digitized Canadian Documentary Heritage Soon To Be Available At No Charge. Retrieved from: https://www.crkn-rcdr.ca/en/over-60-million-pages-digitized-canadian-documentary-heritage-soon-be-available-no-charge

 

The Next Generation of Legal Research is Here: Vincent

By Alan Kilpatrick

Meet Vincent! The Next Generation of Legal Research (CPD 240)
Wednesday, October 1st, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CST

Are you ready for next generation of legal research technology and biggest disruption Canada’s legal information landscape has ever seen: artificial intelligence?  Don’t miss this Continuing Professional Development webinar with Ken Fox (Law Society Library, Saskatoon), Alan Kilpatrick (Law Society Library, Regina), and Colin Lachance (vLex Canada).

Meet Vincent! The Next Generation of Legal Research (CPD 240) will familiarise you with Vincent, a revolutionary AI powered legal research tool from vLex Canada.  It’s unlike any other resource you’ve used before.  Vincent, powered by Iceberg’s artificial intelligence framework, “reads and analyzes” your legal documents, memos, and briefs.  Doing so, Vincent draws out and highlights the key concepts, authorities, and relevant results.

The Law Society’s library staff have negotiated and secured access to Vincent for all Saskatchewan members.  Members can access this amazing new tool directly on their desktops from the Members’ Resource Section.

Meet Vincent! is accredited for one 1 CPD hour. Registration Fees: $80.00 +5% GST = $84.00. Register Here!

Sources
•  AI-powered legal research added to the tool kit of every lawyer in Saskatchewan / Colin Lachance
•  Meet Vincent! / Ken Fox

Saskatchewan’s New Revenge Porn Law

By Alan Kilpatrick

Saskatchewan’s Privacy Act, RSS 1987, c P-24 was recently amended to introduce new avenues for victims of revenge porn to seek damages and justice.  Revenge porn includes the non-consensual distribution and sharing of intimate photographs, films, or videos.

Justice Minister Don Morgan explained that The Privacy Amendment Act, SS 2018, c 28, which came into force on September 15, 2018, “provides victims with a clear path for pursuing legal action against those who have victimized them by sharing their intimate images without consent.”

The new law enables a victim to directly sue the image’s distributor.  The law also creates a reverse onus and places a burden on the distributor to prove they had consent to share the intimate image.  Victims can now pursue an action in either Small Claims Court or the Court of Queen’s Bench.  For damages under $30,000, a victim can pursue a simpler and quicker action in Small Claims Court.

Consult the sources below to learn more.

Sources

Fraser, D.C. (2018, September 17). Saskatchewan’s revenge porn law is now in effect, making it easier for victims to take legal action.  Retrieved from https://leaderpost.com/news/saskatchewan/saskatchewans-revenge-porn-law-is-now-in-effect-making-it-easier-for-victims-to-take-legal-action

Government of Saskatchewan. (2018, September 17). Legislation To Support Victims Of “Revenge Porn” Takes Effect.  Retrieved from https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2018/september/17/privacy-act

Green, G.A. (2018, September 18).  Recent Saskatchewan Law Regarding Sharing, Posting, or Disseminating Intimate Images.  Retrieved from http://www.mckercher.ca/blog/recent-saskatchewan-law-regarding-sharing-posting-or-disseminating-intimate-images

Refreshing Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Copyright Web Presence

By Alan Kilpatrick

Good afternoon. In Fall 2017, I began a project to refresh and update Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s copyright website.  One year later, in Fall 2018, we launched a new public-facing copyright site for students, as well as an internal copyright site for staff, faculty, and course developers.  Members of the Sask Polytech community who want to learn more about copyright need look no further than these resources.  We’re excited about these new websites!  I encourage you to check out our new public site at library.saskpolytech.ca/copyright.

During the project, I learned about best practices for library copyright websites, information architecture, and about communicating a complex topic like copyright effectively.  I’d like to share what I learned.  I was fortunate to receive this opportunity to work as a casual Copyright Consultant with Sask Polytech’s Copyright Office, Rita Schiller, Tasha Maddison, and Rian Misfeldt on this project.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for allowing me to contribute.

Why Refresh Sask Polytech’s copyright web presence?  The refresh was long overdue.  Our existing copyright site was out of date.  Rian, Rita, and I had several goals in mind.  First, we wanted to update the content, organization, and structure of the site.  Next, we wanted to ensure that Sask Polytech’s copyright site aligned with copyright content from other postsecondary institutions.  We wanted to use the site to better educate the Sask Polytech community about copyright, to promote awareness of copyright compliant practices, and to minimize potential copyright infractions.  Finally, we wanted the site to demonstrate that Sask Polytech takes copyright seriously.

Sask Polytech’s IT department helped us articulate these goals.  They asked us to define the primary goal of the site, the primary demographic, the ideal user scenario, and so.  A recurring theme of this project was collaboration.  The reason this project was successful was because we collaborated with many different groups across campus to accomplish it.

Rian asked me to begin by identifying best practices for academic copyright websites, to look for effective features we might want to include, and to develop recommendations for our own site.  I surveyed a variety of copyright sites from institutions across Canada and conducted a brief literature review.  These three papers, Copyright Practices and Approaches at Canadian Universities, Copyright Communication in Canadian Academic Libraries, and Webpages on Copyright in Canadian Academic Libraries do an excellent job of investigating best practices as well as effective ways to communicate copyright to a postsecondary community.   Here are the best practices I identified.  These extend to any Library copyright website, not just an academic one.

• Copyright websites are visible and accessible: Generally available within a few clicks of the academic library homepage, accessible via the institution’s search engine, and a visible pillar of copyright education.

• They’re clearly worded. Lengthy text passages do a poor job of communicating a topic as intimidating as copyright. To aid comprehension, concise language, broken into short paragraphs, should be used.

• They’re well organized. Most feature a simple main page that introduces copyright. Straightforward links should be provided from this main page to separate pages containing more detailed information on copyright subtopics.

• They’re educational. Many students and faculty lack copyright confidence.  The site should educate visitors about essential copyright concepts and provide basic guidance.  During my survey, I found that there was much similarity regarding the concepts presented on copyright sites.

• They should provide contact information. Users should be immediately alerted as to where they can get additional assistance.  That’s why we provide contact information for our Copyright Office prominently on our site’s homepage.

• They should promote respect for copyright. As an institution, we have a responsibility to promote respect for the law.  The site should include links to relevant policies, court cases, legislation, as well as provide a legal disclaimer.

• Finally, they should promote alternatives. The site should include links to copyright friendly resources: public domain, Creative Commons, royalty free, open access, and so on.

After some discussion, we decided to create two sites: a public-facing one as well as an internal one.  We wanted the public site to focus on Sask Polytech students, potential students, as well as the outside world and to provide a general high-level overview of foundational concepts.  We decided the internal site would focus on our faculty, course developers, and staff and would build on the foundation of the public site by providing guidance regarding copyright and course development.

Copyright is a complex topic.  I found that some academic copyright sites are overwhelming in the way they organize and present content.  I worked hard to make our public site’s sitemap as straightforward as possible.  I modeled it after the simple navigation I found on the University of Regina and University of Alberta copyright sites. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug influenced me to create page names that were as clear as possible.  I didn’t want visitors to be confused about the information they would find on any given page.  What is Copyright?, Why Should I Care About Copyright?, and Get Help, are all examples of this.

While writing the public site’s content, I focused on making the language clear and understandable.  My goal was to provide a good overview without overwhelming visitors.  Many postsecondary copyright sites contain a large amount of Creative Commons licensed content.  For example, copyright sites for the University of Saskatchewan, University of Waterloo, University of British Columbia, and the University of Regina contain content licensed under a generous Creative Commons license.  I took advantage of this and reused some of their content on our site.

I did encounter some academic copyright sites that don’t present concepts in a way that is easily understandable to those who aren’t copyright experts.  For example, many prominently feature fair dealing on their homepages.  Fair dealing is certainly a key concept to know about.  However, the background necessary to enable someone to understand fair dealing isn’t always readily provided.  It’s difficult to really understand what fair dealing is unless you have a grasp of all sorts of foundational concepts.  For example, what is copyright, why should anyone care about copyright, copyright balance, owner’s rights, and user’s exceptions.

Here’s a breakdown of the content on our public site:

• The Homepage introduces visitors to copyright practices at Sask Polytech and prominently features the Copyright Office’s contact information.

What is Copyright? presents visitors with a simple introduction to copyright’s key concepts.

Why Should I Care About Copyright? bluntly explains why visitors should care about copyright.  It features this excellent infographic from the University of Regina.

• It can be difficult to know where to start. Before You Copy presents students with five essential questions they should ask before reproducing content.

Using Copyrighted Materials describes a variety of factors visitors should be aware of when using copyrighted materials: fair dealing, exceptions, licenced resources, obtaining permission, and so on.

Copyright Friendly Resources has links to public domain, Creative Commons, and open access resources.

• Finally, Get Help provides visitors with the Copyright Office’s contact information.  The message stressed here is that the Copyright Office is here to help.

To launch the public site, I worked with Kelly Burke, Sask Polytech’s Digital Ecosystems Librarian, to create a visual mock-up and to upload the content.  Rita, Rian, and Tasha all reviewed the site’s content and provided feedback.

Work on our internal site began next.  It builds on the foundation of the public site.  We encourage faculty, staff, and course developers to review the public site before the internal one.  We wanted this site to contain practical information, real-world examples, and to provide faculty and staff with solid guidance.  Its based on the same best practices as the public site and has an equally straightforward sitemap.

We’ve received some very positive feedback from Sask Polytech staff, students, and faculty.  We wanted to share what we’ve accomplished with you today.  Thank you.  Are there any questions?

Saskatchewan Introduces Claire’s Law

By Alan Kilpatrick

Justice Minister Don Morgan introduced Bill 141: The Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol (Clare’s Law) Act to the Saskatchewan Legislature on November 5th, 2018.  Second reading of the bill occurred on April 2nd, 2019.  The legislation is intended to enable police to inform an at-risk individual about their partner’s violent past.  Saskatchewan, according to the Government’s new release, is the first province in Canada to introduce legislation of this kind.

The bill, also known as Claire’s Law after a British woman murdered by her partner, emerged out of the Government’s Domestic Violence Review Panel.  Earlier this year, the panel’s final report acknowledged that Saskatchewan has the highest rate of domestic violence in Canada.  It proposed several recommendations including Claire’s Law.

The legislation would, CBC Saskatchewan reported, enable a concerned party to make an application pursuant to the legislation.  A panel would review the application and determine whether to release information about a violent individual to their partner.

Fittingly, representatives from the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS) were present at the Legislature for the introduction of the legislation.  PATHS is a non-profit organization that provides domestic violence support services in Saskatchewan.

Sources

Government of Saskatchewan. (2018, May 24). Saskatchewan Domestic Violence Death Review Report.
Retrieved from http://www.saskatchewan.ca/~/media/news%20release%20backgrounders/2018/may/sk%20dv%20death%20review%20report.pdf

Graham, J. (2018, November 5). Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol Act – Clare’s Law –
Introduced In Saskatchewan. Retrieved from https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2018/november/05/clares-law

Hunter, A. (2018, November 5). Saskatchewan 1st to introduce Clare’s Law, aimed at stopping domestic
violence. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/sask-clares-law-domestic-violence-1.4892606.

Two Years On: The Saskatchewan Libraries 2017 Budget Crisis

By Alan Kilpatrick

In March 2017, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that funding to Saskatchewan’s public library system was being reduced.  Shortly after the announcement, widespread public protest emerged throughout the province.  Approximately one month later, the Government reversed the funding cut and committed to a public consultation and engagement process regarding libraries.

The consultation and engagement process took place over two phases:

  1. Report of Saskatchewan Public Libraries Engagement / Government of Saskatchewan (December 2018)
    Throughout fall 2018, MLA Terry Dennis led a panel that met with representatives from each public library system in the province.  The panel asked several questions, learned about the current state of public libraries, and discussed opportunities for the future of libraries.  The panel identified eight themes common to all Saskatchewan library systems.  Each theme is described in this brief report released by Mr. Dennis in December 2018:
    • Funding Structure and Predictability
    • Provincial Public Library Strategic Plan
    • One Card, One Province
    • Communication with the Provincial Library
    • Governance Training
    • Indigenization
    • Value of Public Libraries
    • Legislation
  1. Report of Saskatchewan Public Libraries Engagement Survey / Government of Saskatchewan (March 2019)
    In January 2019, the Government followed up by launching an online survey.  Saskatchewan residents were invited to read Mr. Dennis’s report and provide feedback.  Specifically, the Government wanted to gather public feedback to determine whether the eight themes accurately reflected public opinion.  The survey was open for fifteen days and received more than 5800 responses.  The responses indicate that Saskatchewan residents largely agree that the eight themes represent key concerns for public libraries.

In the coming months, the Government has indicated that it will be using the eight themes and public survey responses to develop a public library sector plan.  No additional information has been provided about the sector plan at the time.

You can learn more at:

Province Seeking Public Input On Report On Saskatchewan Libraries Engagement / Government of Saskatchewan (January 2019)
Report of Saskatchewan Public Libraries Engagement Survey / Government of Saskatchewan (March 2019)
The Saskatchewan Spring of 2017: 34 Days that Shook the Province and Led to the Provincial Government Reinstating Funding to Public Libraries / The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Science (2017)

Law Librarian On Site

By Alan Kilpatrick

Need help with your legal research? Law Society of Saskatchewan librarian, Alan Kilpatrick, will be at RPL’s Central Branch as a “Law Librarian On Site” to help guide you through the many legal resources available. Please contact the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library for more information.

Thursday, March 21: 1:00-4:00 pm
Thursday, April 4: 1:00-4:00 pm
Thursday, April 18: 1:00-4:00 pm
Thursday, May 16: 1:00-4:00 pm

 

Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide Added to CanLII

By Alan Kilpatrick

The Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide (formerly the Best Guide to Legal Research) is a free online legal research guide that has been available on the internet for the past twenty years.

The guide was first created and launched in 1998 as a website by Catherine Best, an experienced research lawyer.  Catherine donated the guide to CanLII in 2015 when she retired.  CanLII took over editorship and rebranded the website as The Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide.

Earlier this month, CanLII announced that the guide has been fully  revised, converted from a website to a full-fledged ebook, and added to CanLII’s growing commentary section.  The ebook is now maintained by a volunteer editorial board of five prominent Canadian legal researchers:  Melanie Bueckert, André Clair, Maryvon Côté, Yasmin Khan, and Mandy Ostick.

The ebook can be searched with keywords and Boolean operators.  Sections of the text can be copied, pasted, and downloaded to your computer.  It now features 13 chapters covering a variety of legal research topics:

  1. The Importance of Legal Research
  2. Step-By-Step Legal Research Process
  3. Use Commentary to Define and Understand the Issues
  4. Guidelines for Online Research
  5. Researching Canadian Federal and Provincial Legislation
  6. Searching Canadian Case Law
  7. Restate the Issues and Refine Your Strategy
  8. Review and Assess the Case Law
  9. Stare Decisis and Techniques of Legal Reasoning and Legal Argument
  10. If You Get Stuck
  11. When to Stop
  12. Preparing a Legal Memorandum
  13. Legal Citation

I encourage you to check the guide out.  You can learn more from CanLII’s official announcement.

Sources 

Kilpatrick, Alan. (2016, September 16). The Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research – Tip of the Week.
Retrieved from https://lsslib.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-best-guide-to-canadian-legal-research-tip-of-the-week/

Sutherland, Sarah. (2018, October 26). The Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide on CanLII.
Retrieved from https://blog.canlii.org/2018/10/26/%F0%9F%97%9D-the-canadian-legal-research-and-writing-guide-on-canlii-%F0%9F%97%9D/

Tredwell, Susannah. (2018, October 31). CanLII Adds the Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide
Research & Writing. Retrieved from https://tips.slaw.ca/2018/research/canlii-adds-the-canadian-legal-research-and-writing-guide/

NewLi: Legal Information for Saskatchewan’s Newcomers

By Alan Kilpatrick

The rate of newcomers and immigrants settling in Saskatchewan has skyrocketed in recent years.  The past decade saw more than 100,000 immigrants arrive in the province.  Over ten percent of Saskatchewan’s population, according to the 2016 census, are immigrants.

Newcomers face a variety of unique challenges accessing legal information, understanding their rights, and making sense of Canadian law.  According to this previous blog post on Legal Sourcery, Saskatchewan Chief Justice Richards identified these challenges and encouraged Saskatchewan’s Public Legal Education Association (PLEA) to create a legal information resource specifically for newcomers:

“Saskatchewan, like many other parts of the country, is enjoying a significant influx of new immigrants. Many of them come from countries or places where the law, police, lawyers, government and the courts function much differently than they do in Canada. We need to ensure that all of our citizens understand the basic roles of the legal profession, the police and the courts. As well, they need to understand that these institutions are beyond the reach of corruption and bribery and that they can be used with confidence to vindicate rights, and ensure fairness.”

PLEA, as you may know, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing Saskatchewan citizens with high-quality plain language legal information, education, and publications on common legal topics.  PLEA launched its NewLi website in late 2016 as a “Saskatchewan newcomer’s guide to the law.”  It features accessible information about the law, government, and justice at newli.plea.org.

The Law Society Library team is excited to see more plain language legal information being made available in Saskatchewan as a result of PLEA’s outstanding efforts.  Most Saskatchewanians have a difficult time understanding formal legal language and legalese.  Access to understandable legal information is an access to justice issue.  For example, the British Columbia Provincial Court explains that “by using plain language we … contribute to improved understanding of court processes, legal issues, and decisions. We shorten court lists. And we give people effective, real access to justice.”

We encourage you to check out NewLi and call on Saskatchewan’s legal profession to step up, write plainly, and produce more plain language legal content.

Sources

British Columbia Provincial Court. (2017, July 18). Plain language – essential for real access to justice. Retrieved from http://provincialcourt.bc.ca/enews/enews-18-07-2017

Gagne, J. (2018, October 21).  Access to justice week highlight – A2J for Newcomers. Retrieved from https://lsslib.wordpress.com/2016/10/21/access-to-justice-week-highlight-a2j-for-newcomers/

Latimer, K. (2017, October 25). Share of new immigrants in Sask. climbs upward: StatsCan.
Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/sask-recent-immigrants-numbers-climb-1.4371285

Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan. (n.d.) NewLi: about. Retrieved from
http://newli.plea.org/about

Shepherd, A. (2018, September 18). Saskatchewan marks 20 years of immigrant nominee program. Retrieved from https://www.cjme.com/2018/09/18/saskatchewan-marks-20-years-of-immigrant-nominee-program/

Public Access to Legal Information

By Alan Kilpatrick

The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library is open to the public. We are a strong supporter of access to justice and improved access to legal information in Saskatchewan.  We encourage you to visit our library and take advantage of our print resources and expertise.

Members of the public are welcome to use our print resources during regular business hours.  However, we are not a public library and cannot lend materials out to the public.  You can browse our Library Catalogue online here.

We carry thousands of current legal textbooks, loose leafs, encyclopedias and dictionaries, as well as collections of print statutes and regulations, forms and precedents, and law reporters.  Our collection is a great source of legal information as it comprehensively covers every area of Canadian law. It is a valuable starting point for someone looking to obtain information about the law.

Our staff is ready to provide the public with basic legal information assistance in person, over the phone, and via email. We can teach you about conducting basic legal research, suggest resources for further learning, and, when necessary, make referrals to the appropriate organizations that provide legal advice.

Our self-service photocopiers in the Regina and Saskatoon Libraries are available to the public:

• Copies are $0.25 per page plus GST
• All copies are bound by restrictions under the Copyright Act

 What we can do for the public:

• Locate statutes, regulations or cases in print or online, as well as other materials in our collection

• Help you learn to use the most useful online resources

• Suggest further resources for further research

• Make referrals to other legal service organizations

What we can’t do for the public:

 • Provide legal advice or offer opinions on legal matters

• Select statutes, regulations or cases for a specific situation, or interpret the meaning of them

• Describe how to file a document or which document to file

• Comment on how to proceed with court actions

 

Our Contact Information

Please do not hesitate to contact or visit us for assistance:

Regina Library: 306-569-8030
Toll free: 1-877-989-4999
2425 Victoria Avenue

Saskatoon Library: 306-933-5141
Toll-free: 1-888-989-7499
520 Spadina Crescent East

Email: reference@lawsociety.sk.ca

Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 am – 12:00 noon; 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Evenings and weekends – closed
Holidays – closed

Sources
Some of the text was adapted from the 2016 Public Services Flyer developed by former Law Society staff member Kelly Laycock.