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

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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

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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.

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Quicklaw Free Trial Extension

As the end of the initial 30-day Lexis Advance Quicklaw complimentary remote access approaches, LexisNexis Canada has announced that they are extending the program to May 31st. 
In addition, LexisNexis will be upgrading their free trial to include Lexis Advance Quicklaw Comprehensive, a package which provides access to all texts and treatises currently available in electronic format through Quicklaw.
Interested LSO licensees can self-register through this link:

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Family Law Resources and COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has given rise to urgent and evolving family law issues. To help you find current family law information, here are some key resources that address those legal issues directly related to the pandemic, such as access in shared child custody and what constitutes an urgent family law matter that will be heard by the courts.

This Week in Family Law (Franks & Zalev) on WestlawNext Canada – Family Source

Check this newsletter regularly to get the COVID-19 Update, a weekly recap of cases and commentary on new developments, and to access the Epstein Cole COVID-19 Case Chart which includes more than 40 family law cases that have dealt with COVID-19 related issues.

(Thomson Reuters is currently offering all LSO licensees free 30-day access to Westlaw Next Canada.)

Urgent Family Law Cases During COVID-19 (Kathryn Hendrikx) – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance on Lexis Practice Advisor

This source lists all current urgent family law motions heard in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice since March 18, 2020. See the accompanying practice note, Urgent Family Law Motions During COVID-19 for a discussion of procedure on urgent motions.

(LexisNexis Canada is offering a free a trial of Lexis Practice Advisor and free access to their COVID-19 Document Kit)

Lawyer’s Daily COVID-19 Updates

Legal news and updates relating to the corona virus for all practice area are freely accessible on the Lawyer’s Daily website. See for example, Determining urgency in family law during pandemic: Ribeiro v. Wright, by Alex Boland, Lawyer’s Daily, April 06, 2020.

Ontario Court Notices:

Setting out the scope and procedure for urgent matters:

Public Legal Information:

“Urgent” Court Cases and COVID-19, updated April 21, 2020 (NSRLP)

Guidance and recent decisions to clarify what the courts consider to be “urgent” during the pandemic.

Template Social Distancing Clauses for Parents, updated April 16, 2020 (NSRLP)

Sample clauses on social distancing undertakings for parents with shared custody arrangements.

COVID‑19 Family Law (CLEO Steps to Justice)

Answers for the public to questions about access, child and spousal support, family violence and going to court during the pandemic.

A note about library services:

Although the Great Library is closed, staff are working remotely. We are continuing to provide legal research assistance and document delivery service using our online resources. If we can help you in any way, please email us at

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Finding Legislative Histories on eLaws: A Refresher

Looking for legislative history and amendment information for Ontario statutes but find yourself unsure how to begin? Here’s a quick refresher on using e-Laws to get the information you need.

If you click into any piece of current consolidated legislation on e-Laws – I’ve used the Ambulance Act as an example –  you can find three spots that contain legislative history information:

  1. under the “Versions” tab,
  2. in the “Legislative History” note,
  3. and through the Source Notes under each section of the act.


  1. “Versions”


The “Versions” tool of the e-Laws website is a great way to view historical versions of consolidated legislation. Simply click one of the listed hyperlinked date ranges to view a snapshot of how that act read during that period of time. e-Laws provides historical versions of consolidated legislation going back until January 2, 2004.

  1. “Legislative History”

legislative history

Near the top of every consolidated act you will find a section that reads “Legislative History”. Here, you can find a list of cites to acts that have affected the current act in some way (whether through amendment, repeal or enactment) since the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990. This is helpful when looking to trace an act back to before the “Versions” cut-off date of 2004.

  1. Source Notes

source notes

When looking for legislative history information for specific provisions, look to the citations provided at the end of each section of the act. Unlike the information provided in the “Legislative History” section, these source notes highlight only those acts that have affected the specific section in some way. These source notes go back until the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990. For more on how to read and utilize source notes, see our blog post here.

Tables on e-Laws

And of course, e-Laws has plenty of tables that can be helpful when conducting legislative research. The “main” table to use when tracing back legislation may well be the “Public Statutes and Ministers Responsible” table. This table provides info concerning minister(s) responsible, legislative history and repeal information going back until the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990. For a full list of e-Laws legislative tables, click here.

Need legislative history information going back before the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990? HeinOnline has got you covered. You can find tables of public statutes at the end of volumes of the digitized Ontario annual statutes up to 2001. These tables provide information on statutes such as: their citation within the most recent revision as well as amendment and repeal information. And don’t forget — Law Society of Ontario licensees have free remote access to HeinOnline through the Great Library.

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Remote Access to Online CPD Materials

Did you know that you can remotely access continuing professional development (CPD) materials through the Great Library’s catalogue? Whether searching through the “Everything”1or “CPD”tab (shown below), you can search, summon, download and send digitized CPD materials remotely.

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Searches using the “Everything” tab are conducted on the search platform InfoLocate. While searches on this platform will summon results other than CPD materials, you can use the filter “Online Law Society CLE Articles” found on the left to narrow your results to only include online CPD materials. See below:


Searches using the “CPD” tab are conducted using the database AccessCLE. This database is home to hundreds of free, digitized PDFs of Law Society of Ontario CPD materials.

Another place to look for online CPD materials is CanLII. The County of Carleton Law Association CPD materials from 2018 and 2019 were recently made available on CanLII’s “Commentary” platform. Find these by navigating to the “Conference Proceedings” link on the Commentary page, or click here.

Having access to CPD materials can really come in handy as they are a great way to keep up to date on emerging legal issues and can act as primers or introductory overviews of major legal topics in a given field. They are also great tools for finding forms and precedents!

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Yes, the Words are Important!

Doing some online research and getting no results? Are you using the right words?

When we did research using print sources, the right terms weren’t as essential as they are today. In the print sources you could browse the table of contents and index, review a relevant chapter, and sometimes even open the book to the exact page you need (serendipity – it has happened, honest!).

Doing research with print provides a context; you’re starting with Waddams’ The Law of Contracts, or Brown on Insurance Law in Canada. As you read you discover other relevant terminology and learn more about the area of law. But with online searching you’re sending words into a void with the hope that the results contain the answer you seek.

So how can you avoid wasting time? Begin with the right words. For example, searching for a precedent for a “motion for rectification” instead of an “application for rectification” will return zero results. If you’re not sure of the right words, first do some research in secondary sources such as Perell & Morden’s The Law of Civil Procedure in Ontario, the C.E.D. (print or through WestlawNext Canada) or books on wills and probate. Secondary sources are your friends!

If your online search still doesn’t pull up relevant results, tweak your search. Instead of using a phrase such as “application for rectification”, try broadening the search and do a proximity search instead: application /5 rectification. Be sure to use the correct connectors for the online source since they aren’t always consistent.

It may seem like a waste of time to begin with some preliminary research to gain context and an understanding of a topic, but in the end it may save you time – because the words are important.

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Legal Research Survival Guide, Part 8 –Deciphering Case Citations

Once you’ve mastered the art of deciphering case citations, you’ll find that what initially looked like a jumble of letters and numbers to you is actually very useful legal shorthand. A case citation, properly formatted, can tell you the names of the parties, year, jurisdiction, court level and where to find the decision, all at a glance.

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