January 19, 2015
As CanLII’s President and CEO for the past four years, I’ve had the enormous privilege of overseeing the ongoing transformation of Canada’s most-used legal information resource. In conjunction with a stellar Board, I’ve developed and implemented long-range plans that seek to meet the needs of legal professionals for both current and historically relevant materials and to serve the public interest in free access to law.
Just so there is no confusion, this is not a CanLII site but a personal one concerned with the future of the legal profession.
I’ve been a lawyer since 1998 (first called in Alberta, then again in Ontario in 2004), and I’ve never experienced such a sense of change in the legal profession as that hitting its shore right now.
I’m telling you about CanLII in part because legal research and managing legal information, one of the more traditional elements of legal practice, has become one of the key springboards to the future. However, as the great majority are not quite ready to abandon the older ways, the future must co-exist with the present. Different groups of researchers approach the effort with vastly different needs, styles and expectations. Similarly, the debate around law, access to justice, and the future regulation of the legal profession in the public interest is marked by vastly different needs, styles and expectations.
I’m also telling you about CanLII because a few people have said nice things about my work there and my efforts to honour the past, serve the present and create the future. Click through the badges on the right (or bottom, if you’re reading this on a phone) for some examples.
I will have more to say in the coming weeks and months. I hope you follow and participate in the discussion.
In the meantime, if you want to know more about me, you will find me on Twitter and LinkedIn. The University of Ottawa recently did an alumni (LLM 2013) write up on me. I’ve also written several articles on justice, legal information and technology matters for Slaw.
UPDATE: [February 14, 2015] Earlier this week I made two announcements – that I was stepping down from CanLII effective April 30, 2015; and that I am running in the 2015 Law Society of Upper Canada Bencher election this April. There is a connection. You see, CanLII is owned by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and funded by all Canadian law societies. Roughly 40% of its funding comes from Upper Canada (Ontario), and so a successful run in the election for this volunteer role could create a potential conflict of interest as I would be in a governance role atop CanLII’s largest funder.
Consequently, following the April elections, I will update this page to reflect my new status – with respect to both my professional preoccupations and association with the Law Society.