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


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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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Legal Research Survival Guide, Part 4 – Following the Breadcrumbs: Source Notes and How to Use Them

With their jumble of letters, numbers and symbols, legal citations can give researchers quite the headache. While you may have already figured out how to navigate case citations, legislative citations are quite different and can seem even more confusing. One place you may come across legislative citations is in the source notes (or historical notes) found at the end of sections of consolidated law online or in printed statute and regulation revisions. This blog post will help you to decipher and interpret source notes found in statute consolidations.

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Know What You’re Looking For

Why is it useful to know the full name of law reports and their jurisdictions? Because you can find cases much more successfully if you look for them in the right places. You won’t find a US, UK, or Australian decision in an electronic resource if it doesn’t include US, UK, or Australian decisions. So it pays to know what you’re looking for. Continue reading


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Wikipedia and Legal Research

Wikipedia was launched this week seventeen years ago. Since its debut on January 15, 2001, the site has grown exponentially in size and popularity. The English language Wikipedia alone contains 5,548,706 articles and Wikipedia is currently ranked the world’s fifth-most-popular website. Its most viewed pages are those on Donald Trump, Star Wars, and various members of the British Royal Family (Source: Wikipedia). So what role, if any, can Wikipedia play in legal research? Continue reading


Square or Round?

There can be plenty of brackets and parentheses in legal citations. Yet, a case citation is incomplete unless it also includes the year of the decision. If a decision has a neutral citation, the year is already part of the citation and there are no brackets or parentheses to worry about, e.g., 2011 ONCA 55. That’s the easy part. Continue reading


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Be Kind to Your Reader (Why Good Citation is Important)

This blog post isn’t about how to do citations, it’s about why it’s important to provide good citations for the readers of your documents. The library staff’s philosophy is to make it easy for people to look up the case, article, book or statute to which you’ve referred, and to use a consistent style of citation throughout. Continue reading