Hearsay ... the Journal of the Bar Association of Queensland
OOPS. Your Flash player is missing or outdated.Click here to update your player so you can see this content.
Recent Advances in digital researching, through LexisNexis. Print E-mail

Recent-advances-in-digital-researching-intro.gifThis paper by Brian Morgan follows on from a Seminar provided by LexisNexis at the Inns of Court on the 19 June 2013, which was chaired by the author.

We live in exciting times. Technology is developing at a pace unimagined 50 years ago. With the progressive application of information technology to the practice of the law, we are now seeing the third generation of electronic means of carrying out our legal research.

If you attended the Bar Convention in March, you would have seen the LexisNexis stand prominently set out opposite the entry to the conference rooms. Perhaps you glanced at the items displayed there. If you subscribe to LexisNexis or keep up to date with their regular lists of new publications, you may not have given them a second glance.

Last year LexisNexis advised that they were about to produce their loose leaf services in a digital format. At the time the emphasis was on the Apple ios tablet platform.

It was opportune therefore to stop and inquire as to progress with Red and whether it was to be available on any alternative format, such as Android or Microsoft. The answer at the time was “no”. However it is now available as a desk top application for computers running Windows 8.

Anyone who has ever had to travel by plane to a distant Court will long have become disenchanted with having to carry a number of large volumes of loose leaf services, but until now there has been no alternative.

Subscribing to these services is one thing, keeping them updated each month or so, is another.

The purpose of this article is therefore to introduce you to two new research mediums available as part of a subscription to LexisNexis.

At recent seminars conducted under the auspices of the Queensland Bar, in Brisbane, the first question has often been, “what is the cost?” The answer to this is that it entirely depends on the service that you acquire. However if a set of Chambers or a floor of Chambers, negotiates for packages for several members, but with payment by the group or floor collectively, LexisNexis will negotiate a substantial deduction from a subscription for an individual in return for sending one account and being paid by one entity.

As mentioned earlier, LexisNexis now offer their loose leaf services in digital format under the banner of a product simply known as “Red”.

Red is offered via an Apple ipad or ipad mini. More of this further on in this article.

Red is very simple to use and only takes a few minutes of playing to allow a first time user to feel comfortable with it.

It is offered to you as an alternative to, or in addition to, your present loose leaf service. Thus, if you subscribe to Cross on Evidence, plus the Civil Procedure, or any other of the Loose Leaf services presently available, you can simply change your subscription and replace the loose leaf copy with a “Red” subscription.

Once you have become comfortable with it, you will quickly realise that the printed version is no longer necessary.

One feature which Red offers, which is not available in the printed version is “search” whereby one no longer has to manually search the Act or publication, but can have the program do it for you in a fraction of the time.

Traditionally, barristers tend to use some form of bookmark, highlight, post it note or so on, to allow easy access to a page or passage of a text. It is not uncommon for us to mark up these volumes before trial, so that in Court it is easier to find the relevant passage via the words on our “post it note” .

“Red” offers exactly the same facility but in perhaps an easier way. When one seeks to highlight or note a particular passage, holding the finger on the Tablet screen brings up a dialogue box permitting us to highlight or apply a digital note to that passage. When it is saved, it, and any other notes, are immediately accessible from a box at the foot of the Red page. Thus if you have marked 20 passages with a couple of identifying words on each “post it”, the identifying words are set out, such that you click on the one you want and it opens at the intended reference.

It is probably easier to observe this process than to try to describe it.

“Red” allows one to access a publication via the Contents box but it also retains, at the foot of the screen, any recent passages that you have looked at, which becomes another simple method of recalling an earlier researched passage, retracing your steps or quickly moving from one reference source to another and then back to the first.

For added convenience, “Red” is made available to us on our Tablet and also on our desk top computer. Provided both devices are “on line” with the Internet, either wired or with “wi-fi,” information stored on one, is synchronised to the other so that highlights or post its, don’t have to be physically inserted on the Tablet but are digitally transferred or synchronised between the two.

Users of iphones, who have never used an ipad, will quickly realise that they are dealing with an old friend as the programs are essentially the same. “Red” is not available however on iphones and if it was, the screen is such as to make the program unusable.

There is a question of what size Tablet to acquire, assuming you don’t already own an ipad. At the end of the day the standard ipad and the ipad mini each have advantages over the other, so that it really becomes a matter of choice for the prospective buyer.

The obvious advantages of the ipad mini are its very light weight and its greater portability.

The advantage of the standard ipad is its greater screen size, which tends to make it readable when sitting on a lectern whereas it is more convenient for ageing eyes, to pick up the “mini” and hold it closer than the lectern.

The greatest disadvantage of the big brother is its weight in that it does become a little heavy if one does need to hold it for any length of time. But for all that it is lighter than the loose leaf folder it will be replacing.

Both ipads have an internal battery which is likely to last you for a whole day in Court without having to plug it into a power outlet.

More of this will appear later in this paper.

LexisNexis have entered into an arrangement with an International Company known as Mobile Mentor to provide the necessary equipment for a Red user who does not have an ipad, to mentor the purchaser in its use, to provide for security against its theft or loss, which includes very prompt replacement complete with all of your work and is, as the name shows, Mobile, as well as offering Mentoring.

They also provide you a small charger, about the size of a cigarette packet, which can recharge your iphone several times before it needs to be recharged, together with leads permitting it to be charged via a computer’s USB port, a plug in charger or a car charger.

If you already own an ipad, they offer a service of setting it up for you, for a reduced fee from that in which they supply the ipad.

Finally, Mobile Mentor offers the facility whereby you can lease an ipad so that you don’t have to worry about upgrading to the next model and disposing of your old one.

This relationship between Mobile Mentor and LexisNexis offers a combination of the resources of two companies which are distinct and separate in what they offer, but whose services complement each other by allowing a new subscriber to “Red” to be provided with a package which is set up and ready for their precise needs, with the knowledge that if their ipad is lost or broken, a replacement will be dispatched within hours of the call for help whilst also offering mentoring, should the user come up against a problem for which they need help.

At the same time, they offer a free one hour mentoring session to assist with the immediate knowledge gap that comes with trying out a new service.

LexisNexis has always offered tutoring services, throughout Australia. Perhaps one of the greatest criticisms of users of their Online service is that they don’t take sufficient advantage of recurrent training.

Little changes occur from time to time in the Search methods available online, but unless one retains familiarity through regular use, it is easy to forget these, or to never master them.

Thus a session with a LexisNexis tutor every two years or so, is probably a helpful step for any user.

In addition, LexisNexis now provide for online tutorials or webinars (for those initiated in the use of computer jingo), which are freely available to users and are very helpful in keeping our researching technique fine-tuned.

It was in fact through a tutoring session, that the author was introduced to LawNow-Legislation which is the second topic of this article.

Users of LexisNexis Online Service will be familiar with the My Services column on the opening page which may read like this:

My Sources

We are interested in the LawNow-Legislation source for present purposes.

Probably every reader of this article will be familiar with Austlii and the ability to identify legislation, work through amendments etc and with some effort, come up with a detailed history of the section or part of an Act.

LawNow provides for the same concept but the detail available far outweighs that on any free service, giving us the history of legislation from the bill stage, the date of proclamation of any section, the history of any amendments and in the case of the Competition and Consumer Act (Cwlth), a list of legislation in the pipeline which, on being proclaimed, may impact on that Act. The philosophy behind giving such attention to this Act, is that as it arose from the ashes of the Trade Practices Act and is subject to a large number of amendments it was considered to be a useful additional service.

Repealed legislation is not removed from the data base but remains available to be researched.

One can view LawNow-Legislation in either Search Mode or Browse Mode.

The latter brings up this page:

ACT Legislation

Commonwealth Legislation

NSW Legislation

Northern Territory Legislation

Queensland Legislation

South Australian Legislation

Tasmanian Legislation

Victorian Legislation

Western Australian Legislation

whereas the “Search” box brings up a page almost identical to the normal Search Page presented for any LexisNexis Online research.

The “Browse” function gives you the option of identifying which State you want to look at. Using Queensland for this example, provides the following screen:

LawNow Queensland Legislation

Last service update: 19 June 2013

Bills current to (last sitting day): 7 June 2013

Acts and Subordinate Legislation current to: 19 June 2013 (Latest Gazette: Vol. 363, GN.30 (14/6), EG.33)

For further details see Update Status

Acts

Subordinate Legislation

Progress of Bills

Other Jurisdictions

All Acts by Title
Current Acts
Repealed Acts
Year & Number
Assents
Commencements
Current Acts by Subject
Keywords in Titles
Defined Terms
Historical Versions

All SubLeg by Title
Current SubLeg
Repealed SubLeg
Year & Number
SubLeg Made
Commencements
SubLeg by Subject
Keywords in Titles
Defined Terms
Historical Versions

All Current Bills by Title
Government Bills
Opposition & Private Member Bills
Bills by Year & Title
Last Sitting Day Results
Bills Passed & Awaiting Assent
Bills by Introduction Date
Bills Terminated in 2013

- ACT
-
Commonwealth
-
New South Wales
-
Northern Territory
-
South Australia
-
Tasmania
-
Victoria
-
Western Australia

This article was prepared on the 20th June 2013. Thus one can immediately confirm that this data base is up to date as of 19th June, with Bills up to date as of the last sitting date of the Queensland Parliament on the 7th June.

The four columns permit ready searching of the requisite legislation, which you can see, also includes historical versions and two important options, Keywords in Titles and Defined Terms.

If one needs to print out the authorised version of an Act, a link is available from Law Now, to the respective authorised sites.

It perhaps needs to be said that as soon as we speak of online or digital research, we are also able to take advantage of search options which previously we had no alternative than to do by hand.

For example, searching Defined Terms for the word “bail” produces, in 5 seconds, these responses:

"bail"

Youth Justice Act 1992 SCH4

"bail decision"

Bail Act 1980 PROV40SUB2

"bail proceeding"

Bail Act 1980 PROV10BSUB3

Try to find those references in under half an hour using conventional research facilities.

Conclusion

In this day and age it is essential for barristers to have the most complete library that they can afford. In the past five years we have seen bound volume libraries disappearing from our personal libraries, both because the cost of maintaining them is prohibitive and also that they are faring poorly against the availability of the same material online from the comfort and convenience of one’s Chambers.

The next step in this transition to a paperless library will see the demise of loose leaf publications. With their replacement with an up to date online service, “Red”, we will gain the appreciation of our support staff who will no longer have to update them every month or so as also will we have the convenience of knowing that updates are included in what we are researching.

Updating” Red” is as easy as following the prompts when our service tells us that updates are available. No longer will we risk misfiling material in our loose leaf service. Travelling to Court, be it across the road or across the Country, will no longer require excess baggage to take these large volumes of Statutes or loose leaf services, for they are available on our ipad, complete with our annotations and markings.

As a matter of interest, there are at present, over 150 titles available in Red.

In researching legislation, LawNow provides a new, one stop shop which takes the effort out of legislative researching.

LexisNexis’ local trainer, Mark Norman, is a former librarian who brings to his tutorials his training in that discipline. He provides easy paced hands on seminars under the name, “Working Smarter with LexisNexis”.

A one hour seminar attracts for barristers, one CPD point under the Practice Management stream.

Mobile Mentor through its relationship with LexisNexis provides us with an economical way of not only acquiring an ipad or backing up our material but they also provide, as their name suggests, mentoring, that is, a process whereby they assist us to get the best out of “Red” and the most efficient use of our ipad. If our ipad is lost or damaged a replacement, complete with all our original material, will be quickly despatched.

Brian Morgan


| | | | | |