02 April 2013

BC Family Law Resource Relaunched as Wiki with Courthouse Libraries

I am very excited to announce that today Courthouse Libraries BC has relaunched my former website, JP Boyd's BC Family Law Resource, under their Clicklaw Wiki banner as JP Boyd on Family Law. This new wiki is completely up to date for the Family Law Act and the amended rules of the Provincial Court and the Supreme Court.

BC Family Law Resource

In early 2001 I got the bright idea of setting up a public legal education website that would provide a stem-to-stern overview of family law, written in plain language that would be accessible to as many British Columbians as possible. This was long before the Ministry of Justice had put together its brilliant website on family justice and five or six years before the Legal Services Society released its excellent Family Law in British Columbia website.

After months of writing and coding webpages by hand — using the high technology of Microsoft's WordPad no less! — I hit the "send" key in November, and my idea was up and running as JP Boyd's BC Family Law Resource at www.bcfamilylawresource.com.

As time passed, I added more and more pages and more and more features, such as editable templates for common court forms as well as examples of what the forms looked like when finished, child support and spousal support calculators, a table of cases mentioned in the website, an alphabetical index, a glossary of eight- or nine-hundred legal words and phrases, a list of websites run by British Columbia family law lawyers and law firms, an internal search engine powered by Google and more.

As my website grew, so did traffic. Over the past year, traffic has regularly peaked at over 1,000 unique sessions per day during the work week and a total of more than 27,000 sessions per month. Taking my annual expenses and this volume of traffic, plus the traffic to my blog, into account, I figure my costs are around six ten-thousandths of a cent per visitor.

The New Family Law Act

Needless to say, the enactment of the Family Law Act in 2011, though undoubtedly a very, very good thing for most British Columbians, became the source of much soul-searching for me. Not only was I aghast by the prospect of retooling the 58 primary pages and 15 or so subsidiary pages in my website, some of which are really quite lengthy, I began to be concerned about how my website would survive in the event I was hit by a bus, left practice or lost the energy to maintain the website for some other reason altogether.

Courthouse Libraries BC to the rescue!

JP Boyd on Family Law

I've had very a cordial working relationship with Courthouse Libraries for a number of years now and have collaborated with them on a number of training programs for lawyers, public librarians and the general public, working with wonderful people like Janet Freeman (the LawMatters program coordinator), Nate Russell (a legal community liaison), Meghan Maddigan (a legal community liaison) and Drew Jackson (the redoubtable director of client services). One of them, likely Nate or Drew, had the masochistic idea of converting my website to a wiki platform — the rather robust and user-friendly platform that makes Wikipedia work — under the Courthouse Libraries banner.

After some thought, I realized that the proposal was brilliant. It would give me the comfort of knowing that my website would survive any career changes or a cataclysmic loss of enthusiasm; it would expand the pool of people contributing to the website beyond myself, and perhaps create a sense of community ownership; and, the content I had created would be significantly enriched with the input of people with different voices and different opinions. Even better, the wiki platform included a nifty book mode that would allow readers and libraries to make a print copy of all or part of the wiki in a smartly-designed, user-friendly book format. How cool is that? I accepted their proposal and Nate and Drew went to work.

Over the past year or so, Courthouse Libraries has worked to collect the funding needed to buy a new server and the software to go with it, and hire the graphic designers and copy editors needed to take my amateurish efforts to a more polished level. An advisory committee composed of Megan Ellis QC, a senior and well-respected family law lawyer, and representatives from the British Columbia Library Association, the Legal Services Society and Courthouse Libraries was established in late 2012, and has provided invaluable guidance for the transition. More recently, Megan has begun to assemble a stellar editorial team of experienced family law lawyers and family law lawyers new to practice to nurture and grow the wiki into the future.


I am extremely grateful for the expertise and time devoted to this project by Megan, Nate and Drew, and the not insignificant resources that Courthouse Libraries has allocated to establishing the new wiki. I am also humbled that the content of my former website, www.bcfamilylawresource.com, could possibly have been worthy of such attention and care.

I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to everyone involved, and in particular to Nate and Drew for their patience, energy and professionalism and dedication to this project. Thank you.

Get Involved!

If you're interested in contributing as as writer, commentator or as a member of the editorial team please contact Courthouse Libraries at: