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Riding the Digital Wave: Technology and the Library

By Alan Kilpatrick

Over the past century, the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library has been tasked with providing members access to legal information and resources in the latest, most convenient, and most accessible formats available.  While the physical presence of the Law Society Library in Saskatchewan has been constant, technological developments during the last three decades have radically changed the way law libraries operate and provide service.  This is an exciting, and absolutely necessary, opportunity to reinvent the library for the digital era.  At the forefront of these developments, the Law Society Library has appropriately shifted its focus away from print resources and towards online resources in digital formats.

The Law Society Library has become a leader among Canadian law society libraries for its ability to take advantage of the latest technological developments in the legal information world and provide members with an ever increasing amount of digital resources and online services.

Historically, the Law Society Library languished for much of the 1970s as one of the few jurisdictions in a Canada without a professional librarian.  The 1980s, however, saw the library boldly enter the technical age, under the direction of librarian Douglass MacEllven, a graduate of MacGregor Law School and Washington State University.  He served as library director from 1977 to 1988 and was awarded honorary lifetime membership to the Law Society in 1988.

1979 saw the extension of library services to rural areas of the province by telephone and the introduction of a province wide fax machine network.  This network, likely one of the first in Canada, allowed information to be sent anywhere.

In 1980, the Law Society Library became the first computerized courthouse library in North America, an event covered heavily in the media.  With access to Quicklaw and its fax machine network, the library was able to complete computer research and rapidly send detailed materials to rural members.  The early 1980s also saw the creation of This Week’s Law (TWL).  TWL, a Saskatchewan judgement digesting service, was the precursor of today’s popular Case Mail newsletter.

In the 1990s, the ground breaking Legal Information Network (LINE), expanded members access to legal databases and the library collection, through a toll free telephone dial up line.  This ground breaking system, described as state of the art by Iain Mentiplay in A Century of Integrity: The Law Society of Saskatchewan 1907 to 2007, was a first among law society libraries in Canada.

Today, members can access an amazingly comprehensive set of subscription legal databases, like WestlawNext Canada, from the Members’ Section of the Law Society website on their computer‘s desktop.  In fact, the Law Society Library was one of the first jurisdictions to offer such convenient desktop access to legal resources.

As the Law Society Library moves forward toward a brave new world of online legal resources, we remain fully committed to providing all members with access to legal resources, wherever they may be in the province, in the latest and most convenient digital formats available.

(Reposted from the Law Society of Saskatchewan Benchers’ Digest Spring 2017)

First Edition of Halsbury’s Laws of England Digitized

By Alan Kilpatrick

The first edition of Halsbury’s Laws of England has been digitized and made freely available by the University of Toronto Robarts Library. Halsbury’s Laws of England, a comprehensive and popular legal encyclopedia covering all areas of English law, has been published for over a century and is currently in its fifth edition.

For some, the first edition of Halsburys constitutes a benchmark for Canadian and Saskatchewan law. Fortunately, you can now access the first edition of this seminal encyclopedia, originally published from 1907 to 1917 across 31 volumes, right on your desktop.

You can find an online index to all 31 digitized volumes here.

In the introduction to the first edition, the Right Honourable Earl of Halsbury, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, explained that,

“The result is not a mere encyclopedia, it is not a mere collection of cases, but a number of treatises composed by learned lawyers, supported by the decisions of the great judges who have from time to time adorned the English Bench; and it is hoped that when finished the work will finish a complete statement of the Laws of England.”

We encourage you to check it out!

Regina Public Library’s Legal Resources Fair 2017

By Alan Kilpatrick

The Regina Public Library is hosting its second annual Legal Resources Fair on Tuesday, March 14, from 12 – 8pm at the Central Branch.

Drop in between these hours for a tradeshow featuring Regina’s free legal service providers, a variety of free workshops on common legal issues, and to learn more about your legal rights. Volunteer lawyers with Pro Bono Law will be offering 30 minutes of free legal advice. Appointments must be pre-booked directly with Pro Bono Law.

Other participants at the fair will include Family Matters, PLEA, the Office of Residential Tenancies, and the Family Law Information Centre.

The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library is excited to participate in the event again this year and to connect with members of the public. I will be hosting a workshop on “Doing Your Own Legal Research” for self-represented litigants from 2 – 3 pm:

2:00 – 3:00 pm—Doing Your Own Legal Research
Doing your own legal research for a court case can be intimidating, especially if you have no formal legal training. However, there is help out there for people wanting to represent themselves. Join reference librarian Alan Kilpatrick from the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library to learn about CanLII, a free legal service that can be accessed by anyone via the Internet. The presentation contains federal and provincial case law, legislation, and more.

Do you need to learn how to conduct your own legal research? Are you just curious about Canadian law? Don’t miss this exciting session with the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library at the fair!

We look forward to seeing you there!  Click here to learn more.

Freedom to Read Week 2017

By Alan Kilpatrick

“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.” Henry Louis Gates Jr.

ftrFreedom to Read Week is a yearly event dedicated to promoting intellectual freedom and the freedom to read.  According to the event’s official website, it “encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” This year, Freedom to Read Week is being celebrated from February 26th to March 4th.

As a staunch member of the library community, the Law Society Library is always excited to celebrate this week. We forthrightly call on all members of the Law Society to mark this occasion and stand with the library community to promote intellectual freedom. Be sure to check out to find out how!

Saskatchewan Law Grad Talks about Legal AI

By Alan Kilpatrick

Did you catch Andrew Arruda’s TED Talk?  TED Talks brings together diverse speakers to discuss exciting and emerging issues in the world today.

1Arruda (JD’14) is a recent University of Saskatchewan College of Law graduate.  In his talk, Arruda speaks about the potential of an artificially intelligent (AI) lawyer to democratize the law, reduce legal costs, and to make the practice of law cheaper for all.  To accomplish this goal, Arruda worked with a computer scientist to create ROSS, the world’s first AI lawyer.  I encourage you to watch the video yourself.

The primary argument Arruda makes is that an AI lawyer can help reduce legal research time and consequently lower the fees incurred as a result of legal research.  Time spent on legal research, Arruda explains, is the biggest barrier to hiring a lawyer. Lawyers spend twenty or thirty hours on legal research and spend hundreds of dollars each month to access legal databases.  ROSS will allow lawyers to get away from legal research.

While I am skeptical an AI lawyer can actually do what Arruda claims, the idea is intriguing.  At the Law Society Library, we are continually on the lookout for the latest legal resource technology for our members.  Our goal at the Law Society Library is to provide members with the newest digital resources anywhere in the province.  Today you can access WestlawNext through the Members’ Section right on your computer’s desktop.  Tomorrow, will you be able to access an AI lawyer?

Database Video Tutorials

By Alan Kilpatrick

The Law Society Library team has created a series of helpful tutorial videos to aid members in searching CanLII and the Saskatchewan Case Search.  You can watch the videos by clicking on the “Library Tutorials” button on the left side of the Law Society Library homepage or by following the links below.

The short digestible videos demonstrate how to search each resource in key ways:

CanLII Videos

Saskatchewan Case Search Videos

  1. A Basic “How-To” (5:57)
  2. Searching for a Case with a Common Name (3:08)
  3. Noting Up a Case with CanLII (2:22)
  4. Searching for Case Law (2:04)
  5. Searching for Legislation (2:44)
  1. What is the Saskatchewan Case Search? (1:46)
  2. Finding a Particular Case (2:32)
  3. Finding a Case of Unknown Name (2:39)
  4. Noting Up a Case (2:45)
  5. Noting Up a Statute (4:56)

The Law Society library will continue to develop new tutorial videos for other online resources.  Please let us know what you think about these videos and if you have any suggestions.

If you have any questions, ask a Law Society Librarian! We are pleased to provide high-quality legal research services to Saskatchewan members in person, on the telephone, or by email.



Native Law Centre Case Watch

By Alan Kilpatrick

nativelawcentreEach month, the University of Saskatchewan’s Native Law Centre blog features a Case Watch.    The Case Watch is a newsletter of digested aboriginal case law.  It covers all aspects of aboriginal case law including title, rights and Gladue factors.  It is a collaboration of the Native Law Centre and Pro Bono Students Canada – University of Saskatchewan Chapter.

If you are a practitioner of aboriginal law or you closely follow this area of law, I strongly encourage you to check out Case Watch!

If you have any additional questions, ask a Law Society Librarian! We are pleased to provide high-quality legal research services to Saskatchewan members in person, on the telephone, or by email.