As a young lawyer trying to learn the ins and outs of practice, it can be difficult to stay on top of recent jurisprudential developments. Following are four tips on how you can keep up with current case law and maintain the requisite level of competency to represent your clients.
1. Subscribe to the RSS feeds from the Supreme Court of Canada and the Court of Appeal for Ontario (and/or any other appellate court(s) releasing cases relevant to your area of practice)
An RSS feed is a content distribution method that provides you with updates when a website, such as that of the Supreme Court of Canada, publishes new material.
Both the Supreme Court of Canada and the Court of Appeal for Ontario offer RSS feeds that you can subscribe to through your Outlook account. You have to go to the respective court’s website so that you can copy the link for the RSS feed you are interested in. You then have to right-click on the RSS Feed folder in your Outlook, then click on “Add a New RSS Feed” and paste the link you got from the court’s website into the pop-up box. After a few seconds, a subfolder should pop up under the “RSS Feed” folder in Outlook, and voilà! Every time the Supreme Court of Canada or the Court of Appeal releases a document under the RSS feed you subscribed to, you will receive an e-mail to the specific subfolder in your Outlook RSS Feed folder. You can then open the e-mail, click on the link, and access a full version of the document.
The Supreme Court’s RSS feeds can be found here:
The Court of Appeal for Ontario’s RSS feeds can be found here:
I recommend that you subscribe to the Supreme Court of Canada’s RSS feed for “Supreme Court Judgments” and the Court of Appeal RSS feed for “Decisions of the Court: All Decisions”.
2. Join #lawtwitter
Now, if you do not have the time to read (or scan) new case law, #lawtwitter is the place you want to be!
There are legal practitioners from all across Canada who use their Twitter accounts to provide summaries and hot-takes of new cases. Sign up for a Twitter account, search the name of a practitioner well-known in your area of law, and upon finding one who is on Twitter, follow them! You can then go to their profile, check to see who they are following, and follow those people too!
#lawtwitter is a quick, easy, and free way to get the run-down on a jurisprudential case. Usually, lawyers and other legal practitioners will tweet their remarks soon after a case drops, so you don’t have to wait long to learn what is going on.
A word of caution. The brevity of tweets means that you may not understand them without some background on the case, and/or that you may not get a full picture of the facts, the parties’ positions, or the court’s reasoning. I like using #lawtwitter to “flag” important cases for myself so that I can read the full decision later, or at the very least, read a blog post on the same.
3. Run a Google search for any blog posts that have been published by a firm, a legal practitioner, and/or an academic
This one is self-explanatory. While you may have to wait longer than on #lawtwitter for a firm, a legal practitioner, and/or an academic to post a blog, you can expect greater detail and a more fulsome analysis of a jurisprudential case with the latter.
You will also want to keep an eye out for firms that regularly publish newsletters on recent case law. Newsletters offer the same level of substantive legal insight that you find in blog posts, but compile many articles in one accessible place.
4. Attend a CPD
There is an abundance of CPD programming available, especially towards the end of a calendar year, recapping the jurisprudential decisions released by the various appellate courts in the previous 12 months.
I would not recommend that you rely on CPD programming alone to help you stay up to date on case law. You will likely want to inform yourself of any major changes to the law for your practice area in a timely manner. However, CPDs can ensure that you have understood the law correctly, that you recognize the benefits and/or challenges associated with the jurisprudential developments, and that you have not overlooked anything.
If you have the time and the money, you should try to explore the plethora of CPDs available. After all, you need to get those pesky CPD hours for your licensing with the LSO.
OBA RESOURCES TO HELP YOU KEEP UP: Download the OBA Lawyers Link app for news of breaking decisions and check the Resources page within any of our practice-area-based Sections sites for information on upcoming “Keeping Up with the Case Law” Series call-in sessions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Yadesha Satheaswaran is an associate at Stockwoods LLP. Prior to joining the firm in 2021, she clerked at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and articled at a top-tier litigation boutique. Yadesha obtained her J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School. During her time as a student, she co-founded the Osgoode Survivor Peer Support Network, sat on the Board of the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, and worked at Parkdale Community Legal Services. Yadesha has been involved with the OBA for the past four years, first with the Student Section Executive and now with the Young Lawyers Division. She enjoys connecting with students and recent calls. She encourages folks to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on the OBA Young Lawyers Division’s articles page.