Your fees at work – Courthouse Libraries BC

The Law Society will regularly highlight some of the many services included in the annual practice fee so that lawyers are aware of and can take full advantage of benefits to which they are entitled.

In this issue, we feature Courthouse ­Libraries BC, a non-profit organization providing legal information services to the legal community and the public. Over the years, Courthouse Libraries BC has grown from a bricks and mortar book repository to a multi-channel resource that collects and curates legal information and makes it available when and where it is needed.

New online lawyers’ Reading Room portal allows lawyers to access Irwin Law and HeinOnline materials remotely through the library website. From law journals to an updated text on the Law of Evidence, it’s easy to sign in and search. This service will continue to expand in order to offer information tools directly to desktop and mobile devices.

Training and research support is provided in response to increasing demand. Courthouse Libraries BC now offers free regularly scheduled CPD-eligible training sessions to ensure lawyers are able to get up to speed with online information tools. These training sessions will soon be taken on the road to branches across the ­province.

Legal community liaisons make it easy for lawyers to stay current on legal developments. Two legal liaison officers have been added to staff, both of whom have experience “in the trenches” of small firm legal practice and are available to provide advice on becoming more effective.

Dedicated practice portals have been added to the website for civil litigation, family law, personal injury, wills and estates, and practice management. These spaces are intended to be collaborative environments for practitioners and combine legislation, case law, secondary sources, blogs and social media commentary from practitioners all in one place. The goal is to provide a one-stop-shop for getting started and staying up to date in each of these core areas. A criminal law portal will be added soon.

Local library revitalization will ensure branch locations remain essential hubs for legal information, both online and in print, as well as for supporting training and lawyer needs for work space away from the office. The revitalization will transition the branches from basic book storage to fully equipped spaces where lawyers can access a broad range of digital tools and office-away-from-the-office services, such as computing and wireless network access.

Simplified – and cheaper – fees have been implemented to address the frequently raised issue of complex library fees. For 2012, simple flat rates for document delivery and printing as well as a rate of $15 for every 15 minutes of legal research assistance (the first 20 minutes remain free) are being offered.

Clicklaw is a website for the public aimed at enhancing access to justice in British Columbia. Clicklaw features legal information and education designed for the public from over 24 contributor organizations.

For more information on how Courthouse Libraries BC can help you, visit www.courthouselibrary.ca.