15 April 2014

CanLII Launches CanLII Connects

The Canadian Legal Information Institute, the organization which provides the well-known legal search website that offers free access to legislation and cases from across Canada, is expanding its service offerings to include CanLII Connects.

This new service gathers summaries and comments on new cases, and appears to include feeds from a variety of sources including law blogs, law firms and the Canadian Bar Association's National Magazine. Each article can be commented upon and comes with a nifty "concur" button that allows readers to indicate their agreement with the author's position. These articles are screened for quality to some extent, as CanLII requires contributors to have a "demonstrated capacity for legal analysis;" see below.

Here's how CanLII describes their new service:
"Through this project, CanLII is taking the first steps in drawing out the goodwill of the legal community to share their insights on Canadian case law. 
"Lawyers and others routinely prepare and share summaries and commentary on the decisions of Canadian courts. You will find these insights in journals, magazines, blogs, newsletters, commercial legal search tools and many other places. But until now, you could not find multiple thoughts about a single case in one place, at the same time, at no charge to the user and directly linked to the full text of the case! 
"CanLII Connects is launching with nearly 27,000 documents covering cases from 11 of Canada's 13 provinces and territories. 
"These contribution come from national law firms, major regional firms, academics, leading practitioners and legal bloggers, research specialists, commercial publishers and law societies. These contributors were invited by CanLII to help us launch with a bang, but starting April 4th, we are accepting contributions from anyone with a demonstrated capacity for legal analysis."
Although the service is clearly in its nascency, it has the potential to give judges, lawyers and the public fairly speedy access to competent analysis and discussion of important cases and will certainly complement CanLII's better known legal search service.

The work of CanLII in providing free access to the law is unparalleled in Canada. They have done an absolutely fantastic job in providing free public legal information and promoting access to justice. CanLII, as it happens, is an effort of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and is funded by every lawyer in Canada through their law society membership fees.