Make CanLII your first stop for legal research

by Catherine Best, Director, Canadian Legal Information Institute

A recent survey of the legal profession conducted by the Canadian Legal Information Institute showed that CanLII is now the most frequently used electronic legal resource by lawyers in Canada.

Thirty nine per cent of lawyers use CanLII at least once a week for their legal research. In terms of user-friendliness, lawyers rated CanLII first among the national legal information services. Of those lawyers who use CanLII, almost half stated that they can accomplish 50 per cent or more of their legal research with CanLII. And 71 per cent reported that CanLII allows them to reduce their cost for legal information.

Here are the top 10 reasons to use CanLII:

  1. CanLII publishes case law and legislation (except for BC legislation) from across Canada, as well as administrative tribunal decisions. RSS feeds are available for each court's decisions.
  2. CanLII supports searches by name, case citation, and keywords.
  3. The search engine allows you to simply type in a string of terms or to compose a more complex Boolean query. Word variations are automatically searched. Searches can be refined easily.
  4. The Advanced Search and Database Search allow you to customize your search. For example, with a click of the mouse you can restrict your search to appellate level decisions, or to a customized combination of databases.
  5. You can rank your search results by date or relevance, or by how often cases have been cited.
  6. Search results are displayed with highlighted terms. You select which search terms you want to locate in the documents, taking you faster to the most relevant passages.
  7. Cases are hyperlinked to other cases and legislation, and a note-up feature is included. Parallel citations are shown.
  8. Cases can be printed in HTML, or in PDF exactly as they were published by the court.
  9. CanLII's flexible interface allows you to browse for legislation, search within individual Acts, search an Act and its related regulations, or search all legislation. The ability to compare versions of legislation will soon be available on CanLII.
  10. There is no subscription fee, no need to log in, and no password. CanLII is funded 10. by a portion of your practice fee, but is available to everyone as part of the Law Society's commitment to public access to the law.

CanLII provides a phenomenal value to the profession for an annual cost per lawyer of approximately $30, and results in significant savings to your clients. You own it — make the most of it! For more information, visit