The Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research has been freely available on the Internet since 1998. The original author and publisher was Catherine Best. The site grew out of Catherine’s experience teaching legal research and writing, and her conviction that a process-based analytic approach was needed. She was also motivated to help researchers learn to effectively use electronic research tools.
Catherine Best retired In 2015, and she generously donated the site to CanLII to use as our legal research site going forward. Best says:
The world of legal research is dramatically different than it was in 1998. However, the site’s emphasis on research process and effective electronic research continues to fill a need. It will be fascinating to see what changes the next 15 years will bring.
The site will be maintained and expanded going forward by a national editorial board of legal researchers.
The editorial board
Melanie Bueckert is Legal Research Counsel with the Manitoba Court of Appeal in Winnipeg. She has written several legal textbooks, teaches Advanced Legal Research at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law, and is also a contributor to Slaw.ca.
Maryvon Côté is Acting Head at the Nahum Gelber Law Library at McGill University in Montreal. He is active on the Canadian Association of Law Libraries executive and writes on legal research topics.
Yasmin Khan is the Head Librarian at the City of Toronto Law Library. She has just finished a Master’s of Science, Information and Knowledge Strategy from Columbia University.
Mandy Ostick is the Manager, Library Services at Bull Housser in Vancouver. She has had previous positions as Law Librarian at Thompson Rivers University and Director of Library Operations at Courthouse Libraries BC.
Jennifer Taylor is a Research Lawyer at Stewart McKelvey in Halifax. She is a regular contributor of case comments for Stewart McKelvey Publications; CanLII Connects; and the CBA’s National Magazine blog, and has published several articles in legal journals and newsletters. She also presents on topics related to legal research within the firm and in the local legal community.
Over the coming months the editorial board will be updating the site and expanding it, with an emphasis on adding more geographically diverse content.
Here is some of the unsolicited feedback that users of the site have sent to Catherine over the years.
From the library manager of a national Canadian law firm:
“Your site is wonderful. I appreciate the clean layout, the easy navigation, and the pleasant visual experience. Substantively, the site is brilliant. The coverage of US and UK materials was the perfect amount to guide me in the sessions I gave on these topics. I especially appreciate the time you have taken to discuss the differences and similarities between QL, WL and CanLII.”
From a professor teaching legal research:
“Just a little note from Montreal to tell you how fabulous your legal research website is. Keep up the good work, it’s extremely useful and appreciated!”
From a law librarian at a large national law firm:
“I’m a relatively junior law librarian with just about four years under my belt. I came across your two guides online today and they were already helpful for me. You’ve done such a great job on these guides and I just want to thank you for these because if they help me, I know they must be helpful for others too.”
From a law student:
“Thank you so much for posting such an informative site. I fortunately discovered it in first year and expect to be using it throughout the rest of my studies and career.”
From a lawyer in Nova Scotia:
“Your website is excellent! I found it very informative, comprehensive and one of the best constructed websites I have found for legal research.”
From the head of a paralegal program at an Ontario college:
“I teach a Legal Research course to second year students in the … College Paralegal Program. Your materials are so clearly written and replete with valuable links that I know my students would have far fewer difficulties than has been the case when I have used a print required course text.”
From a law professor in Pennsylvania:
“I am presenting a Class in Environmental Law at … University, Pennsylvania, which includes an introduction to legal writing skills. I found your work to be clear, succinct and accurate and would appreciate your permission to use the information at “Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research” in my class.”
From the Coordinator of the Legal Support Group of a Federal government agency:
“Our unit provides Legal Support, including research, preparation of court documents, etc., to the lawyers of the Agency who provide advice to the Agency, its staff, and when necessary, represent the Agency before the Courts. I personally have used your website over the years to assist me with various legal research questions and have found it to be a great resource.”
From an Osgoode Hall law student:
“You should receive the Nobel Prize for your contribution to legal education for your legal research website. It’s awesome in the true sense of the word. At first glance, I was hoping to purchase a hard copy, but as I spent more time on the site it became clear that this was next to impossible — now I fully understand what Marshall McLuhan meant when he said that the age of electronic media spells the end of book. How you put all that information together is beyond comprehension. It seems like a life’s work.”