Connecting Public and Private Legal Information Part II: Linking your Legal Citations to CanLII Material

A month ago, I introduced Lexum’s first step in providing Knowledge Management as a Service (KMaaS) via Lexbox. This development has made it possible for Lexbox users to start searching their own documents alongside the public legal information made available on the CanLII website. This post covers the upcoming release of the second feature tied to that approach. In a few weeks Lexum will integrate its citator to Lexbox, automating the linking of legal citations included in the body of documents submitted by users to the corresponding cases and legislation on CanLII.

The idea of enabling users to auto-link their own material to CanLII is not new. Some of you will remember the Lexum/CanLII Reflex Hyperlinking Tool released around 2008, or its successor LexHub unveiled in 2011. Initially offered as a MS-Word extension and eventually as a web service, the concept remained to use heuristics to recognize the patterns of legal citations and automatically inserts links pointing to CanLII on them. Lexbox users will soon benefit from essentially the same tool, with a few additional features. First, PDF files are now supported as well, thanks to Lexum’s approach to PDF publishing. Second, the recognition of citations has been greatly improved over the years, and now supports the citation of sections and inferred references (where the citation of a section does not immediately follow the formal citation of the document). Third, Lexbox compiles a list of all cited case law and legislation for each of your document and makes it accessible from the header of that document page.

For Lexbox users, the most evident benefit is to quickly jump from their own documents to the sources of law they cite. But it also works the other way around. When browsing CanLII and landing on a cited document or section, users will also find links pointing to their own knowledge base. In both cases and legislation, the CanLII Noteup feature has been adapted to list citing documents hosted within each user’s Lexbox account.

  • When browsing a case on CanLII, the Noteup feature will be accessible by clicking the cartoon bubble located at the top right of each paragraph.
  • When browsing legislation on CanLII, the Noteup feature will be accessible by clicking the link displayed over the section number located at the top-left of each section.

Essentially, Lexbox and CanLII are automatically sorting out your own knowledge by the appropriate source of law. This development enables Lexbox users to create their own annotated judgments or legislation directly from within the CanLII interface and without much effort.

As announced initially, the next logical step will be for Lexbox to propose alerts based on this private content.  As things look like, this next feature will be included in the same release as the citator, which is currently scheduled for early August.