Canadian Legal Research Blog

Felsky on effective CanLII research for paralegals

Martin Felsky has published “Legal Research for Better Advocacy: A Practical Guide to Effective CanLII Research for Paralegals”. It is available at

The article is geared to research conducted by paralegals, primarily for use in Small Claims Court. The article  addresses the how, why, and when of legal research, explains its importance as an advocacy tool, includes suggestions for effective use of free sources, and provides some useful links.

BC Court of Appeal adopts new Citation of Authorities directive

The BC Court of Appeal has adopted a new directive on Citation of Authorities, effective May 30, 2013.

The directive adopts the citation standards in the 7th edition of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (the McGill Guide), except where the directive establishes a different rule.

One of these instances relates to periods. The new directive states:

Always use periods within citations where omitted by the McGill Guide.

Despite this traditional position on periods, the directive introduces several significant changes:

  • Always cite to the neutral citation first. If no neutral citation is available, then cite to a printed reporter or electronic service first.
  • Citations to a case from an electronic service should use that service’s citation format, rather than adding a reference to the electronic source at the end of the citation in parentheses.
  • Parallel citations are optional. It is therefore no longer necessary to include print reporter citations where a neutral citation or electronic service citation is used. This effectively eliminates the restriction on using the unofficial paragraph pinpoints in electronic versions of older cases, provided that the citation is to the electronic service rather than to the print reporter.
  • When relying on an authority cited by another party, always cite to the version within that party’s factum or book of authorities, and omit the authority from your book of authorities. Joint books of authorities are strongly preferred, and will eliminate unnecessary flipping between books.
  • A citation format for loose-leaf services is specified, in preference to the McGill Guide format.
  • Counsel are encouraged to hyperlink case authorities in the electronic version of their factums to the Superior Courts judgment database, the Supreme Court of Canada collection maintained by Lexum, or CanLII.

Examples are included throughout the directive to make it as clear as possible. There is also a section on stylistic considerations. Among other things, it deals with overuse of capitalization, and discourages formalistic language and Latin terms.

I think the legal profession in British Columbia will welcome these changes, although they would probably be even happier if the periods were gone!


CanLII Community project: imagine the possibilities

CanLII has posted an RFP on its site, seeking proposals for development of a new website that will operate as a portal for sharing information about Canadian court decisions. The RFP contemplates that legal professionals and academics would contribute the content, and that the content would be linked to court decisions on the CanLII site.

This project has exciting possibilities for enhancing CanLII’s content, and providing a publishing platform for the profession. Imagine being able to re-purpose various case comments, blog posts and newsletter columns written about an important case, so that CanLII users can directly access that commentary when viewing the case.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research adds a blog … finally

The Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research now has a blog called the Canadian Legal Research Blog. And that is not all. The site has a whole new look. The content is better organized and more accessible. The pages on Legal Writing & Analysis have been given more prominence, and social media links have been added.

Steve Matthews at Stem Legal, and his colleagues Laurel Fulford and Emma Durand-Wood, had the unenviable task of turning 15 years of my novice web-authoring into a well-designed styles-compliant site. They have worked wonders, and I am thrilled with what they have done.

The site first launched in 1998. The very first home page contemplated a legal research discussion group, but that aspect of the site was never implemented. With the 2013 addition of a blog and other social media tools, this part of the original plan for the site is finally being realized.

When the site first launched

  • Google Inc. had just been incorporated.
  • CanLII did not exist.
  • The WestlaweCarswell platform did not exist.
  • CD ROMs were popular research tools.
  • Halsbury’s Laws of Canada did not exist.

It is astounding how much has changed in the field of research since that time. It has been a challenge to keep up!

The Best Guide will continue to highlight significant developments, compare and evaluate research products, and provide instruction on effective research methods. I look forward to finally being able to discuss these topics with you on the Canadian Legal Research Blog.