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The blog of the Great Library at the Law Society of Ontario

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Re-opening and Recovery – Resources for Law Firms

As the number of new cases of COVID-19 declines and governments ease restrictions on businesses, services and public spaces, lawyer and paralegal offices are re-opening, bringing more staff back into the physical workplace. Managing this transition involves complying with public health directives, ensuring the safety and well-being of staff and clients, and assessing risks specific to COVID-19 – uncharted territory for most workplaces.

While general guidance is available from government sources (City of Toronto and Province of Ontario), here is a selection of resources for law firms. These guides and checklists cover practical return to work considerations from physical distancing and PPE to employee accommodations and communications. As well, we’ve included links to a few recent articles that provide some food for thought on the potential redesign of law firm offices and legal practices in a post-pandemic world.

Returning to the Office: Considerations for Law Firms (CBA)

  • This recovery guide is divided into 3 parts: Your People, Your Office and Your Clients

A Quick-Reference Checklist for Preparing Your Return to the Office  (OBA)

Guide for Law Firms: Returning to the Office after COVID-19 (Law Society of Alberta) 

Lawyer’s Guide to Reopening the Office (Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society)

Uncharted territory: The law office of the future will look and feel different following the COVID-19 pandemic (CBA National, June 25, 2020)

Law firm evolution: Old habits die hard in the legal profession (CBA National, June 25, 2020)

How to lay out law firms, post-COVID social distancing (The Law Times, May 18, 2020) 

Pandemic series – (Law21 Blog, April 2020)
Part 7: Law firm essentials
Part 8: Law firm transitions
Part 9: Law firm transformation

Ontario legislature building at Queen's Park, Toronto

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House of Bills: A Monthly Update on Ontario Bills

Below, we have gathered a monthly recap of the bills that moved through the Legislature in June. Stay tuned for more news on when the House of Bills updates will resume weekly.

Bill 141, Defibrillator Registration and Public Access Act, 2020legend

Royal Assent (June 18)

Bill 156, Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020

Considered by Standing Committee on General Government (June 8, 9 & 12)
Reported as amended (June 16)
Third Reading, carried on division (June 16 & 17)
Royal Assent (June 18)

Bill 159, Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act, 2020

Considered by Standing Committee on General Government (June 22, 23 & 29)

Bill 161, Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2020

Considered by Standing Committee on Justice Policy (June 10, 11, 12 & 17)
Reported as amended (June 23)
Third Reading (June 24)

Bill 171, Building Transit Faster Act, 2020

Considered by Standing Committee on Social Policy (June 8, 9, 10, & 15)
Reported as amended (June 16)
Third Reading (June 17)

Bill 175, Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act, 2020

Discharge the Order of referral to Standing Committee on Social Policy (June 2)
Ordered referred to Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly (June 2)
Considered by Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly (June 15, 16, 17, 22 & 23)
Reported as amended (June 24)

Bill 184, Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020

Considered by Standing Committee on Social Policy (June 24, 25 & 26)

Bill 192, Protecting Small Business Act, 2020

First Reading (June 17)
Second Reading, carried on division (June 17)
Third Reading, carried on division (June 17)
Royal Assent (June 18)

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Indigenous Law Portal

The Indigenous Law Portal is a free resource for indigenous law researchers worldwide. The site contains a growing collection of primary documents relating to North and Central American Indigenous Peoples, and acts as gateway to the websites of national and international indigenous advocacy organizations.

The Indigenous Law Portal was launched by the Library of Congress in 2014. Last summer it was made publicly available on the LLMC Digital website. LLMC, a non-profit cooperative of libraries dedicated to preserving legal and government documents, has assumed responsibility for the project’s ongoing development.

The Portal is organized by broad region – Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central America, as well as a large section of international legal materials. Digital resources for Canada include treaties, settlement agreements, research guides and directories. Links to individual First Nations websites are provided for each province and territory.

This is a valuable and growing research tool that curates and makes historically significant primary documents publicly available. Click here to begin your search for global and regional documents.

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At your Fingertips: Proclamations and Annotations

When conducting legislative research, it’s important to remember that just because a statute has received royal assent, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of its sections have come into force. This is why it is so important to look through the commencement provisions of the statute in question to discern when the statute will be “fully operational” so to speak.

Unfortunately, deciphering coming into force dates isn’t always as straightforward as looking at these commencement provisions. While these provisions will sometimes neatly list the specific coming into force dates, other times they simply indicate that the statute will come into force “on a date to be determined by Proclamation”.

Proclamations are published in most jurisdiction’s official Gazettes. But luckily you don’t have to sift through piles of weekly Gazettes issues to find the proclamation you need. There are more efficient alternatives:

For Ontario, you can check the Table of Proclamations found on e-Laws, and for federal statutes you can check the coming into force dates in the Table of Public Statutes and Responsible Ministers on the Justice Laws website.

Another source which covers proclamations for all Canadian jurisdictions going back many years is the Great Library’s annotated statute volumes. We annotate our legislative volumes with coming into force information. This means we will actually pencil in the coming into force dates, along with the proclamation information, right next to the relevant provisions. Easy Peasy! Look for the volumes with the “Annotated” sticker on the spine to take advantage of this service, or alternatively, shoot us an email for coming into force information.

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We’re Coming Back

Thank you for your patience as we have restricted our services in light of the pandemic. This week, we started our return to the library. While the Great Library will only be accessible to library staff, we are adding back chat and phone reference. And, of course, we have full access to our collection. Our staff are available from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday.

Additionally, if you would normally come in to get a document and now have to ask us to send it to you, ask anyway. For the time being, we are waiving our document delivery fees for print-sources materials and will continue to fulfill document delivery requests for electronic documents for free. Call, email, or chat and let us know what you need. We can fulfill your requests electronically.

Thanks again for your support and patience. Our staff continue to look forward to serve you remotely. We look forward to serving you in person in the future.

Ontario legislature building at Queen's Park, Toronto

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House of Bills: A Monthly Update on Ontario Bills

We have created a monthly recap of the bills that moved through the Legislature in May. Details can be found below: 

Bill 141, Defibrillator Registration and Public Access Act, 2020legend

Third Reading, carried (May 26)

Bill 159, Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act, 2020

Second Reading, carried on division (May 26 & 27)
Ordered referred to Standing Committee on General Government (May 27)

Bill 184, Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020

Second Reading, carried on division (May 26 & 27)
Ordered referred to Standing Committee on Social Policy (May 27)

Bill 190, COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020

First Reading (May 12)
Second Reading, carried (May 12)
Third Reading, carried (May 12)
Royal Assent (May 12)

Bill 191, Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act (Presumption Respecting COVID-19), 2020

First Reading (May 19)



Movie poster for "12 Angry Men"

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Law on the Big Screen

This being the end of COVID-19 week 10, we thought it might be a good time to update our blog post of a few years ago on great legal movies. If your pandemic entertainment has so far consisted of bingeing Netflix series or scrolling through memes, maybe it’s time to settle in and watch a good legal drama, comedy or documentary. 

Here are some “best legal movie” lists to help you remember all the classic courtroom dramas and discover a host of entertaining and thought-provoking new legal films:

The 25 Greatest Legal Movies: Expanding the Boundaries (American Bar Association, 2018) 

Top legal-themed films selected by a panel of experts (lawyers, law professors and a judge). Each selection has a brief synopsis and a bonus bit of trivia about the film. See also the ABA’s 25 More Great Movies: Honorable Mentions (2018).

All-Time List of Best Legal Films (, 2020)

The best lawyer movies in chronological order, from 2019 back to the 1930’s. 

Law-Related Movies (Ted Tjaden, updated January 2020)

Almost 200 law-related movies organized by title, subject and genre.

Best Legal Movies of All Time (Oklahoma Legal Group, 2014)

Top 10 list accompanied by an infographic showing Academy Award data and Rotten Tomatoes rating for each film. 

Happy viewing!

*The picture used for this post, “12 Angry Men” by mdmdeals, is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0*

Trillium flower in a forest

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Online Only, Please!

A great legal research tool for finding secondary materials like texts, loose-leafs, websites and CPD papers just got better. Introducing the “Electronic Only” tab on InfoLocate! Thanks to the Great Library’s Technical Services team, researchers can now choose to filter search results from the library’s catalogue to retrieve only those resources accessible online. 

While previously InfoLocate allowed users to limit search results to only online resources (including books, loose-leafs and websites), or only Law Society CLE articles available on AccessCLE, we’ve never been able to combine these results to retrieve ALL online search results… until now. This new tab is an incredibly handy tool for all those working from home without access to the physical collection of their law library. 

The “Electronic Only” tab can be found on the InfoLocate results page immediately above the search bar:

Screenshot 2020-05-21 11.36.02

Portrait of Robert Baldwin

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Happy Birthday, Baldwin

Happy Birthday to Robert Baldwin, drafter of The Baldwin Act!

An Act to provide, by one general law, for the erection of Municipal Corporations, and the establishment of Regulations of Police, in and for the several Counties, Cities, Towns, Townships and Villages in Upper-Canada, also referred to as the Municipal Corporations Act, 1849, a.k.a. the Baldwin Act, was Ontario’s first municipal statute. It was named after Robert Baldwin (1804-1858), who was co-premier and Attorney General at the time and at various other times lawyer and Law Society of Ontario Treasurer. The act was passed in 1849, came into force on January 1, 1850, and was described in The Municipal Manual, 11th ed, as “the Magna Charta of municipal government in Canada” (p 8).

The citation for the act is 12 Vict c 81, and it’s available electronically in the Great Library; if you need a copy, just ask.

Prow of a canoe on a lake

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Tracking Government Action on COVID-19

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, all levels of government have enacted new legislation, issued emergency orders and passed by-laws to protect the safety and well-being of their citizens, as well as address the many issues raised by the pandemic, from suspending limitation periods to regulating physical distancing.

With the daily changes and rapid accumulation of new legislative measures, it’s becoming a challenge to keep track. Here are 3 websites that will help you stay current on official government actions relating to COVID-19:

Government of Canada’s response to COVID-19 (Justice Canada)

  • provides the latest information on federal legislation, Charter Statements and orders and regulations

Emergency status on COVID-19 (Government of Ontario)

  • daily government updates, as well as a list of all Ontario emergency orders issued to date

COVID-19: Orders, Directives & Bylaws (City of Toronto)

  • current information on municipal emergency orders, health directives, by-law changes and enforcement. Check your local municipality website for similar webpages.