Friday, November 28, 2008

Honourable Madam Justice Elaine Adair

A big congratulations to Honourable Madam Justice Elaine Adair, who was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia this afternoon!

News releases are available on DOJ website & the GC News Centre.

Madam Justice Adair was a partner with Clark Wilson LLP, Chair of the firm's Class Actions group, and also a member of its Insolvency & Restructuring and Business Litigation groups. She will replace Mr. Justice H.M. Groberman (Vancouver), who was appointed to the Court of Appeal.

Wonderful news!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Law Society of BC's Wiki Pilot Project

Law societies in most provinces have guidelines for continuing professional development (CPD), and traditionally, credits for that CPD have been earned by attending CLE seminars and workshops.

In BC, 2009 will mark the introduction of a formal, compulsory Continuing Professional Development program. The Benchers of the Law Society of BC have approved an extended list of other activities that qualify for CPD, including:
  • writing law books or articles,
  • participating in video or web broadcasts of CLE seminars,
  • teaching a law-related course.
This broadening of qualifying activities is a big step in the right direction of recognizing that individuals have differing learning styles and preferences. But what really caught my eye was this call for volunteers for a pilot project of the Law Society where participants will build a wiki – and earn CPD credit for it!

The Law Society plans to host a course that will have the volunteers discuss, research, and edit wiki content on the topic of examination for discovery. If the project succeeds, they may run the course again, offering further opportunities for lawyers to earn CPD hours.

This is an interesting project on a number of levels. Professionally, it encourages lawyers of all levels – “from no experience to senior litigators” – to share and benefit from each other’s know-how and experience. From a KM perspective, it will help capture that ever-elusive (but ultra-valuable) tacit knowledge that only comes through practical experience.

Bruce LeRose, chair of the Lawyer Education Advisory Committee, recently noted that “We want to encourage, not just education, but also engagement in learning... The practice of law requires interaction with other lawyers and discussion of ideas. We want this to become part of our learning culture.” I can certainly see how the wiki pilot, if successful, can play a role in that vision.

The challenge, of course, with this or any other Wiki project is to build a core set of contributors and get input on a regular basis. With or without CPD credits in place, getting materials from busy professionals isn't going to be easy. That's not a critique, just a fact. And one we'd hope has already been given ample consideration.

It certainly is an interesting project though. And if you're a BC lawyer wanting to align your learning CPD activities with a public-facing project that displays your expertise, then there's certainly value to be had.

Beyond the efficiency argument - two birds, one stone - this is something I've been advocating over at Stem for a while now: learning, KM, marketing and web profile building are best considered together. When crafting a personal brand that's based around expertise and experience, those elements can help paint a picture about the individual.

Projects like this provide for a unique opportunity. The question now becomes, who and how many will step forward? ... As I said, an interesting project.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Robert Ambrogi's LawSites Turns Six

Congratulations to Robert Ambrogi! One of the legal industry's first bloggers, his blog Lawsites is now six years old.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bad Economy & Law Jobs in 2008

I'm noting a couple items here for personal reference. So when the economy has righted itself once again, I can reflect back on some of the legal industry reaction.

As we reach the tail end of 2008, the economy has been all over the news. Between law firm layoffs, mergers, and dissolutions, there's been no shortage of commentary, especially as it relates to the legal job market.

Items that seem to capture some of that fallout:
  • The ABA Journal is surveying lawyers about the legal job market in the state of today's troubled economy. This was just announced and the results will be published in their January 2009 edition. You can take the survey here.
  • Legal OnRamp, the invitation-only online community for lawyers, is offering help to associates who lost their jobs in the recent spate of layoffs. See Patrick Lamb's post for more details on what support is being offered. To date, LOR has been very popular amongst corporate counsel, but is now opening its doors to lawyers who were in private practice. Saying they're optimistic that the current situation "will give those lawyers an opportunity to adapt to the world that's emerging."
  • Lastly, since it's a topic mired in speculation, I'm also going to plug JD Supra's growing collection of legal analysis on the global financial crisis. They've created a special analysis page on the site that groups contributors' articles and resources into sub-topics such as implementation of bailout plans and programs, environment & energy, mortgages, taxes, executive compensation, etc.
All things being cyclical, what goes around... it's worth remembering. Also interesting that blogs may be (over) documenting a financial downturn for the first time.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Courthouse Libraries BC Launches!

Big changes of late at the library formerly known as the "BC Courthouse Library". Yes, they've changed their name, their logo, and most excitingly, launched a beta version of their new online catalogue!

Courthouse Libraries BC
, as they will now be known, also have a fresh new look. You can read about their new brand identity over at the What's New blog.

And... how about that new catalogue?

The new beta catalogue runs on the Aquabrowser platform, and might just be the first installation for a law library! It works as a skin to the traditional catalogue interface, and offers an uncluttered and aesthetically pleasing look. Most immediately noticeable is the word cloud, which forms after every initial search. Thus suggesting alternative spellings, stemming of your terms, and controlled vocabulary associations between terms.

You can also type in a broad term such as "family law" and you'll be presented with a word cloud that offers suggestions for narrowing by jurisdiction and sub-topic. You can refine your search immediate by publication date (for instance, in the last 3, 10, or 50 years), by subject heading, by author, location, or media type.

The search syntax defaults to a boolean AND between terms. There's also an advanced search screen for users wanting more control.

Finally, you can read more about the Courthouse Libraries BC and their new Aquabrowser catalogue over at Slaw, where Shaunna Mireau has just posted about it. But seeing is believing - go check it out!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Librarian Entrepreneurs - Welcome Cable&Clark

Let's see... we've got a law firm SEO, a social media consultant, and a KM, Library & Information Management consultancy. How about a company specializing in legal information cost recovery?

Enter Cable&Clark, a company that Colleen Fitzgerald Cable and Sarah Clark Kavanagh formed to help law firms make their information services more cost effective. They advise on everything from library budgets, contract negotiations, and vendor relations to attorney training and retention. Their website also includes some specific examples of cost savings they've achieved.

One of the company's first offerings is Prepare2Practice, an intensive training workshop for new calls and law students nearing graduation. They also have a blog, Law Firm Bottom Line, which features a mix of commentary and links on legal research, vendor news, associate retention, alongside company news & announcements.

From their time in the field, Colleen and Sarah knew there was a market for "real-world" training on legal research, cost recovery, and IM for law firms. Confident that they were well positioned to help, they formed their new business in September, and are now doing what they love... helping firms with three of their biggest priorities: retaining associates, keeping costs down, and passing those savings on to clients.

So a big VLLB congratulations to Colleen and Sarah on their new business. It's really fantastic to see more librarians out there staking their claim!

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Web Hosting Home for Slaw

After a long weekend of mysql databases, .htaccess files, blog upgrades, and php coding work, the Canadian legal blogging co-op, Slaw is now just a few hours away from moving into its new home at Fused Network.

I wouldn't normally blog about a web hosting transfer. Even in this case, the website's address remains the same, and in the end it's not all that noticable to the reader. But as any website owner will tell you, finding the right web hosting environment is an important process, and often, a difficult one.

Everyone with a website has a web host, and most people have faith in their provider, at least until that faith is broken... And then everything is back on the table - service, reliability, trusted backups, and so on. Making that decision, becomes an all encompassing task that includes both online research and seeking out personal recommendations.

Unfortunately, web hosting is one of the most spammed out areas online, and trusting anything you read is frequently difficult. More often than not, I assume the company is astroturfing the sales process. I also try to make a habbit of searching the host's name along with the words 'sucks' or 'problems' to identify potential issues. If any kind of valid case can be made, I tend to have reservations about retaining that service.

Now in the case of moving Slaw, we weren't making the process any easier on ourselves. Simon Fodden and I made the choice to upgrade the website to the latest version of Wordpress, knowing our rather large list of plugins may pose problems, at the same time as we were making the host switch. We were hoping this would give us some extra time to figure out custom code and plugins along the way; but in all honestly, we would have been better making this switch without upgrading the site concurrently.

We're only a few hours away from knowing how it all went (and what we missed), but what I can offer, is some praise for Fused's owner David McKendrick who helped resolve a number of 'issues' for us (I'll say us, but not really Simon... read: Steve). We can't know about the reliability of David's service without experience (though his web-record is pretty clean...), but if service is any indication, I probably won't be conducting another hosting review for a while. With sites of my own, or when others ask for a recommendation. He's earned his hosting fee on this one.

Finally, I'd like to say how great it was to tag-team on a project like this with Simon F. As always, he's been wonderful to work with, and his insight into building websites is something I really enjoy. So cheers to you Simon!

How will you know the new Slaw from the old Slaw? Well, if everything resolves properly, you will see author photographs next to the posts on the homepage, and on the individual post pages. Other than the backend upgrade, that was the only tweak we made.

Keep your fingers are crossed for us. :)


Monday, November 03, 2008

Happy 9th Birthday to LISNews!!

Congratulations to Blake Carver and the many authors who have contributed to the last 9 years of LISNews!

Susan Crysler Joins Bermuda Law Firm

Most everyone in the Vancouver law library community knows that Susan Crysler recently left us for an opportunity to work in Bermuda.

Well, I'm happy to relay that the local newspaper, The Royal Gazette, has picked up the story, with a news item about her joining the firm Mello Jones & Martin (MJM).

We're happy you've landed safely Susan! Please keep in touch. :)

Labels: ,