The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy

15 things you didn't know about CanLII

July 31 2013 31 July 2013

Last week I caught up with Colin Lachance, president and CEO of CanLII, to interview him about an upcoming “hackathon” CanLII will be hosting with Ottawa U’s Centre for Law, Technology and Society. We’ll have more on the hackathon, which aims to foster innovation in improving access to legal and public information, later this week. Over lunch, Colin made the point that there is whole lot about CanLII that people don’t know.  "Really," I said:  “Like what?”  Well, quite a bit, it turns out.  Here is a list of 15 things, compiled by Colin, that you likely didn’t know about CanLII:

  1. CanLII is the single most consulted electronic legal information resource among Canadian lawyers.

  2. Launched in August 2000 with only 19 collections and 20,000 documents, CanLII now has 1.2M documents across over 210 collections.

  3. Most consulted documents every month: Criminal Code of Canada, Quebec Civil Code, Income Tax Act, Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure.

  4. Other regular contenders for a “Top 5” showing: Ontario Employment Standards Act, Divorce Act, Lancaster House eText on Wrongful Dismissal and Employment Law.

  5. Most consulted court decision of all time: Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick 2008 SCC 9.

  6. Most consulted court decision in a single year: R. v. Duncan, 2013 ONCJ 160: 37,000 and counting since April 2013).

  7. In 2013, CanLII has averaged over 10,000 page views per month in combined referral traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn.

  8. In 2013, CanLII has averaged over 10,000 page views per month in combined referral traffic from Wikipedia and Wikibooks.

  9. CanLII has an API that lets you build apps and web services that incorporate CanLII collection and citation data.

  10. Sample tools built using this API include a site to find overlapping citation references among cases.

  11. It also has a browser plug-in that lets you save research data in a personal folder.

  12. CanLII also provides tools that let you launch a CanLII search of text found in any webpage and that will insert case and legislation hyperlinks directly into your own Word documents.

  13. CanLII is currently testing a major overhaul of its search interface and will retire the current version in late September.

  14. CanLII is part of the global “Free Access to Law Movement” but is unique among members in that its operational funding comes solely through the legal profession by way of their home law societies.

  15. CanLII is planning a second website for 2014 that will act as a social and public portal for sharing information about Canadian court decisions.

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