Friday, December 7, 2012

Legislation Bill Passes

The House today passed a bill to modernise and improve the law regarding publication of legislation, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson announced.
The Legislation Bill is intended to modernise and improve the law regarding the publication, availability, reprinting, revision, and official versions of legislation, and bring it together into one piece of legislation.
The bill forms part of the Government’s response to recommendations made in two reports by the Law Commission, and also responds to recommendations made by the previous Regulations Review Committees on inquiries relating to incorporating material by reference, and the principles to be followed in determining whether delegated legislation is given the status of regulations...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Community law manual

The 2012/13 version of the Community law manual is now available online.
What a beautiful, user-friendly thing it is! The more so as it is backed up by the Community Law Centre service.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Australasian colonial legal history library

The Australasian colonial legal history library  is an AUSTLII project.
It is chiefly legislation and case law.
There is also a section for Law journals and legal scholarship concerning the colonial period. This seems to be based on the most relevant 5% of results of a pre-set search. You get the search summary at the top of the results list - always good to know where your results come from.
Here's a tip: if you can't see where your search results come from, don't trust them. Search results are essentially the answer to a question, so you need to know what the question is in order to understand the answer. I'm really aiming this comment at Westlaw NZ, whose new site does not yet give you an adequate summary of your search strategy. But something similar happens here: within the Law journals and legal scholarship section you can click a link to limit results to New Zealand journals; you get an appropriate reduction of hits (from 382 down to 27), but the search summary does not tell you that it has applied a limit. My inner control freak can't cope with this, so I'm probably better off searching AustLII or NZLII myself and building up my own criteria.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Brookers, bless them, have completely revamped and rebranded their database platform.
It is now called WestlawNZ, and you'll find it in the Law Subject guide, under Quick Links.
Have a go.
Come and see us with your questions - you'll have a few!
Formal training will be provided later in the year.

LawTalk now available online

That's according to my.lawsociety's news service.

Friday, June 22, 2012


The New Zealand Law Society site has a news item on eBench, technology that will significantly reduce the court's reliance on paper.
I'm guessing that all over the country, lawyers will be adding eBench to their word processor's dictionary, and customising their grammar checker to accept sentences that start with lower-case letters.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Principles of clear drafting

The Parliamentary Counsel Office's site includes a section on principles of clear drafting. Their concern is legislation but there is good advice here for everyone: make sentences simple and logical; use the simplest word that conveys the meaning; get to the main point (from the reader’s point of view) early.
Definitely worth a look. The document is easy to read - proof that they know what they are talking about.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

HeinOnline just keeps getting better

Originally they were a great source for older material - they still are - but they are now getting much more current content, including the Harvard Law Review and all the Georgetown law journals. Apparently 84% of their journal titles are now available with current full-text content. And they index the remaining 16%, so you know about it even if they don't yet have it.
Their recent blog post makes it all clear.
They also index external content, which they describe thus:
The External section type contains links to law review articles that do not reside inside the HeinOnline database. These are electronically published law review articles, usually not distributed in print format and only made available online via the web. As these articles do not fit the typical structure of a bound book with pagination, they do not work within the HeinOnline database model. Therefore, we have included links to these articles in the search results in order to provide you with even greater access to resources that supplement the content available in HeinOnline. Providing links to external law review articles allows you to conduct your research in one place and on one website.
 Get to HeinOnline via the quicklinks on the Law Subject Guide. Definitely worth taking the time to discover what's there, and definitely worth looking at the guides in their Help pages.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thesis information

The Library has updated its Thesis information page.
It now looks like a subject guide, but you'll find it via the same pathway to the old thesis info page: Library homepage>Research>Thesis information.
Lots of practical information there, from getting started to submitting, with everything in between.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

LexisNexis NZ training this week

LexisNexis trainer Trish is here this week, offering free training on the LexisNexis NZ databases. She'll show you things you want to know, with special emphasis on using online looseleaf services like the Family Law Service.
Thurs 24 May, 2-2.50 and Friday 25 May 12-12.50, in the Law Library seminar room (come in to the Law Library & go down to the 6th floor). No need to sign up, just turn up.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summon revisited

Summon is the search box that sits near the top of the Library homepage. It has been there for a while now, so it's time to review it.
What does Summon do? It searches a range of library-subscribed sources. That includes full-text searching within (many) online books and articles. But it doesn't search everything. And it doesn't search the content of the key legal databases (think LexisNexis, Westlaw/Brookers, CCH). 
So how useful is Summon for legal research? In general, the further you move away from New Zealand content, and the further you move away from law, the better it gets.
It's useless if you are looking for primary material (legislation, case law) and/or anything you would find within the major legal publishers' sites. The exception here is HeinOnline, who allow their content to be searched by Summon, bless them. If you want serious law, start with the Law Subject Guide.
It's good for multi-disciplinary subjects - law and medicine, bioethics, tropical timber trade - anything that might be published in non-law journals and books, by mainstream publishers. Be prepared to refine your search - you can get an astounding number of hits.
And it's worth a try if you are looking for something quite specific, like commentary on a  case for which you have an accurate citation. Chances are your hits will chiefly be footnoted references, but you might find something more substantial. Use it in addition to the key databases in the Law Subject Guide.
It's also worth a try if you have a reference to a specific article. It's often quicker than searching the catalogue for the journal title, though that remains Plan B if Summon doesn't work - some journals are available only in print or in those inaccessible legal publishers' sites.
Summon. It's worth knowing about, but the best legal research starts with the Law Subject Guide. If you want any help with that, just ask.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Other (Dark) Side of Social Media

It turns out that too much social media exposure (of a certian kind) can have negative repurcussions. So, if you're starting to look for a job, these issues are well worth bearing in mind.
Here are two recent articles from the teams at Bell Gully and Simpson Grierson, who examine the dark side of social media. Debora Doak and Nikki Donnelly from Bell Gully, write about Facebook - fair game for prospective employers?   and tell the real story of a prospective employee being asked for his facebook login during an interview. Their advice? Don't. 
Then in a similar vein, William Akel and Tracey Walker from Simpson Grierson examines the 2010 Chris Cairns 'twitter' judgment, and "suggest[s] strategies for managing your online reputation and mitigating the risks of using social media" in Protecting your Online Reputation – Walking the Social Media Tightrope. This article focusses on avoiding risk in the workplace, and easily transfers to personal risk aversion. "The beguiling ease of publishing material through social media channels brings with it significant risk."
Both articles provide some very sensible suggestions to avoid future embarrassment with regard to your facebook,twitter, or other social media profiles.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The role of the Regulations Review Committee

The New Zealand Parliament site has a new post on the role of the Regulations Review Committee. While you're there, browse their other posts, via the Features Archive (top left-hand corner, or via this link).

Friday, April 13, 2012


Lots of interesting stuff at
It's a New Zealand Law Society thing.
Explore it, especially the Information for New Lawyers. There you'll find the really useful New Zealand Law Society Guide for New Lawyers. It includes sections on starting work as a lawyer (finding a job, the interview process), appearing in courts and tribunals, and some useful insights into corporate culture.
Parts of the site are restricted to members but much of it is free.
Very cool.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Welcome finalists!

Welcome back.
We hope that by the end of the year, you will have mastered enough basic research skills to feel confident about entering the law profession (if that's what you want to do). We also want to develop the idea that law librarians are your allies, both now and in the future.
So, if you're not feeling confident about independent legal research, sign up for a repeat database tutorial. If you want help with your assignment research, just ask. If you want a second opinion about how to use the New Zealand Law Style Guide, just ask. If there is something else you would like help with, just ask.
If you are doing Honours, we can help with additional research support and information about citation management (that's EndNote). Just ask.

Welcome third-years!

Welcome back!
If you're starting the research side of the Laws 498 programme this year, you'll be in the library for some library-based exercises and tutorials.
There are sign-up forms at the Law Library desk for
  • the LexisNexis tutorial - 50 minutes, in the Law Library seminar room on the 6th floor
  • the NZ database tutorial - 100 minutes, also in the Law Library seminar room
  • the Exercise 2 workshop (do the library-based exercise, then go to the workshop), held in SR5
The library exercises are a good way to learn about the library, and about how legal literature works. Feel free to ask for help. And if you'd like a library tour, just ask.
We can also help you with your research assignments during the year. We won't do the research for you, but we can make sure you are using the most appropriate research tools.
And have a look at the Law Subject Guide. You'll soon know which sites you use most often, but it's worth exploring some of the other content as well. If you want an overview of NZ legal research, have a look at the mindmap on the Strategies page of the subject guide.

Welcome second-years!

And congratulations for getting into Law School.
We hope you'll get into the Law Library as well. You don't need to do much independent research this year but we still have a range of useful things, including
  • Close Reserve material - search the Catalogue's Reserve menu by course code to see what's on Reserve for your courses this year
  • law textbooks - great for getting an overview, and you can take them home. Search the catalogue, or ask us for suggestions
  • lots of online stuff, chiefly via the Law Subject Guide, including online textbooks like Adams on Criminal Law, which you will find via the Brookers online databases link.
  • books on suceeding at law school - browse theLaw Library shelves around KL130
  • legal dictionaries and ordinary dictionaries at K120 (just inside the entrance)
  • great study spaces - especially on the 9th and 7th floors
Do you want a library tour or a quick tutorial on using the online Adams? Just ask and we can set it up for you. Anything else you want to know? Just ask.
And make yourselves at home.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

LexisNexis NZ's TLC

LexisNexis NZ has just unveiled a new site full of useful teaching and learning resources for the LexisNexis NZ site. It's called TLC (for Training, Learning, Consultancy) and it includes a series of iKnowledge Bursts (90-second how-to videos) and a series of more in-depth iKnowledge tutorials. Topics include legislation, commentary, downloading, forms and precedents. The how-to stuff on customisation doesn't apply to us as we do not have individual log-ons to Lexis.
Access to the training videos is free; the consultancy option is not free.
Definitely worth a look, but you will need to create an account and put up with a bit of administrivia. Apparently the resources will eventually be available from within LexisNexis NZ itself, which is where we'd like them to be.
Here's the link to the TLC site.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

postgraduate workshops

The Library is running a series of workshops for postgrads. You can sign up for one or for all. And they will be repeated in semester 2.
Find out more and register here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

changing how we change things

As of now, the Parliamentary Counsel Office is adopting new terminology for describing amendments, along with a general trend from passive descriptions ("is amended by adding") to active commands ("insert"). Worth a look.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Evernote's PDFs

I'm a big fan of Evernote as a research tool to use alongside EndNote. They are both databases. Evernote is good for keeping track of the messy stuff you start with, whereas EndNote is good for the accurate detail you need at the finish.
Evernote has just improved its PDF functionality: Search results will be highlighted inside of PDFs, you can easily drag PDFs out of Evernote, and you can even copy text.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

lexis is back

Links from the Library's pages seem to be working again.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New-look LegalTrac

The more web-like LegalTrac is here. So what have we got? Open it now and have look.
But first, a reminder about what LegalTrac does. It indexes journals related to law, since 1980ish. Although it has some full text, it is chiefly bibliographic, based on a beautifully crafted set of subject headings. So you use it to work out what you want, and get the article somewhere else, usually via the handy Article Linker button that sits within LegalTrac.

Advanced Search: key things to note
I'll start here, as this is where the links from the Law Subject Guide take you. If you have used LegalTrac before, this will be reassuringly familiar.
  • Search Assist. This second-guesses what you want. I was looking for things on Lange v Atkinson so typed in: lange. Search Assist offered lane change; Lange, Jessica; Lange, David and a few others, but did not suggest the case. Search Assist got in the way and got on my nerves, so I turned it off. Choice is good.
  • Limit results. By default LegalTrac will limit your results to documents with full text and to peer-reviewed publications. Most of LegalTrac is bibliographic (i.e. not full text) and a lot of valuable material is not classed as peer-reviewed (think, New Zealand Law Journal), so I recommend removing those limits. Do this via the Preferences option (via the Tools menu) and your changes will apply until you quit. There are other limits too, some more useful than others - limiting by date is potentially useful, but chances are you will never need to exclude circus reviews from your search results.
Search Results list: key things to note
  • The left-hand side bar has options to refine your search i.e. to search within those results. In this context, the Related Subjects (i.e. the subject headings) will narrow your search.
  • The main window shows the search summary (greyed out at the top) and lists the records. If you want to go straight to the full text, you get either a PDF icon or the Article Linker link (if there is no full text in LegalTrac).
Document view: key things to note
  • The left-hand side bar shows you Related Subjects. In this context, the Related Subjects (i.e. the subject headings) will expand your search - you can link to all other LegalTrac records with those subject headings. It's worth thinking about this for a moment, and comparing it to the Search Results view, where those same Related Subjects headings can be used as limits.
  • The main window shows the bibliographic record itself - not much there, really. But you can use the links to find other articles by those authors, or to find other articles in that journal. And you can use the Article Linker button to look for the full text, if there is no PDF.
  • The right-had side bar has options for printing, downloading, exporting to EndNote (that's via the Citation Tools link).
 Enough for now. The Advanced Search is not that different, but it is still good.

A lexis web-like experience

We're having problems accessing the site - that's big Lexis, not the NZ site. There is a Plan B, which involves going directly to and signing in with a special username and password. We can give you that special username and password, but we can't publish it to the blog, so you'll have to ask. Sorry!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A more web-like experience

LegalTrac is changing tomorrow, to deliver you a more web-like experience. And when I say LegalTrac, I mean the whole Gale/InfoTrac family, which includes Academic OneFile and Expanded Academic.
This is mainly a look-and-feel thing - look out for hot topics, popular article links, intuitive 'search assist' features.
But it will affect people who have set up personal accounts with Gale: All URLs and search alerts will convert seamlessly, however, named user accounts and saved documents will not. New user profiles will need to be created on the new interface.
More on this as it unfolds.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gving it heaps

Back at work after a glorious break - Dunedin's weather at its finest - in which I made a compost heap. This has happened before: a wonderful holiday and all I have to show for it is a steaming heap. But that heap is the result of happy pottering in the garden, weeding and shredding, an armful of comfrey, a handful of free-range chickenshit, and a beautiful morning collecting seaweed. I am hoping that my broccoli will carry some of the taste of summer with it, even in winter.
So there it is, a compost heap. Just like my day job, really - lots of dry, brown stuff with the occasional high-nitrogen boost; stir it all up a bit; let it mature; spread it around, and hope that somehow it will help other people's intellectual fruits to flourish.
As it happens, a lot of the dry, brown stuff from work (statistics, old strategies, visions and revisions) has been shredded and is in my compost heap: the word about to become vegetable. So one way or another, I'll be eating my words this year.
Anyway, here's to a productive 2012, at home and at work!