Roger writing the LAWmag

Birthday Legal Information Ramblings

July 16th, for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere, is usually a beautiful day in the heart of summer.

Nothing spectacular ever happened in history on July 16th other than the explosion, in 1945, of the first-successful atomic weapon, and the award in 1999 of the first-ever WWLIA 5-star to duhaime.org by ... err ... never mind.

Great.

But usually July 16th is a quiet day.

How could anything happen on July 16th? Who can lift a dagger to assassinate a king or slave away at some Earth-shattering legal proposal in the heat of the Gregorian calendar’s 197th day?

WWLIA 5 starThe sun slowly cooks me and I, "sitten" upon my cushioned deck chair enjoy the occasional ever-so-slight breeze coming from the short horizon on Backyard Victoria. My empty plate sits on the table before me, the cinnamon bun now but a few crumbs.

Wrote-up and polished off an image re Charles I for my new Law Gallery and moved on to renovate Family Violence and Child Sexual Abuse articles – all before 10 AM on July 16, 2008. Really enjoying Seventy-Two Years at the Bar right now, yet another law or legal history book (probably my 20th this year) from which I'll spot through the site where relevant.

Forty-nine years ago, I was born in Northern Quebec, Baie-Comeau to be exact. Left there when I was 26 and have ended up in this glorious town on the Pacific Ocean. While in law school, I devoured French law books, all extolling the virtues of civil law. When I started to practice in Baie-Comeau, a new Ontario-based company wrote to the firm and they passed the letter on to me as it was in English. In a community some 250-miles North of the nearest real law library (Quebec City), electronic access beckoned as our research savior. I got an account with QuickLaw and was very disappointed with the product but mostly horrified at the proposed cost.

Mostly, legal information has been a commodity, sold at whatever price the vendor can obtain. Law books usually cost well over $100 – compared to $19 for the latest best-seller. The authors of law books don’t get rich so you know it’s the publisher making the money.

Early on, I saw that legal information was not available and for some reason I still can’t figure out, it has been a passion of mine ever since, culminating in duhaime.org, born in 1994, when bulletin boards and its successor, the Internet were fledging novelties.

At that same time, I had to return to law school to retrain in the common law; a propitious event as it crystallized in my mind the fruits of both legal systems: perfect background for an international legal information website I later discovered when I let myself hire ... myself.

From then, the big event was teaming up with Spry New Media and Lance Long (pictured), the Internet’s best-kept-secret. Mr. Long, also a Victoria resident is a brilliant, thoroughly professional - self-styled Internet marketer - but for duhaime.org, he is also the design chief and the always-ready sober-second-thought balance against my idea-a-minute approach to a website.

LLFor example, he will inevitably tell me, truthfully, that this spontaneous blog article will do nothing to increase my traffic.

"It’s all about you, dude! Too many I's," he’ll say. "No-one’s going to read it."

Or: "There're no track-backs! What were you thinking!"

My own nine-year old daughter says, after I shared the title of this with her:

"Oh, yeah, right dad. No one's going want to read about your birthday."

It was thanks to Mr. Long that I introduced Google ads which has finally freed me up from my law firm to devote more time to the website.

We are committed to writing solid legal articles (besides this one!).

There ain't no marching to the drum-beat of the latest blog article or, for that matter, attending old boys club meetings.

When I hear the EA Games introduction saying of "challenge everything", I get goose bumps.

Build it and they will come.

What is needed to the average person as, from time to time, they find themselves amidst the bottomless seas of law and the legal system? Where are those spots of open water and is there a life jacket within swimming distance for the lay-person?

There’s little direct glory in duhaime.org but when it happens, it is usually enough to get by on for a while.

Two or three years ago, I was rushed upon by a judge of the Court of Appeal of British Columbia who was walking the floors of the Victoria courthouse one quiet summer day. I thought he had an injunction to run me over and certainly didn’t think he’d remember me as a barrister. He grabbed my hand, shook it and exclaimed "you’re a genius", explaining that he had visited my website and loved it.

Or seeing my traffic double in a single year, even as the Net becomes saturated with copycat sites.

That kind of stuff keeps me going for years.

Then there are the sweetest emails anyone could ever hope for, from the mother of a murder victim or a victim of a child sexual telling me how much my website has helped her.

Or the frequent email from a law student detailing how much time I saved him/her in having to research legal cases. So many calls begin with "first of all, I want to thank you for your website."

It’s good to be 49 and through the health and happiness, be enabled to help over 4,000 every single day. Well over a million unique viewers visit duhaime.org every year, from Surrey to Sri Lanka.

Birthdays are a good time to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going and frankly, I can’t imagine a more rewarding and fun past-time than Duhaime.org. I've got to be the luckiest legal writer in the whole world.

And even though no-one (except my wife) is going to read this article, I don’t care because, to use words my 14-year old daughter would use, it’s my birthday and I can write what I want to!

REFERENCES:

  • Re 1st image: early vain and brash logo/banner for WWLIA award.
  • Re 2nd image, resemblance of LL has been altered to protect the innocent.
  • Bowen-Rowlands, E., Seventy-Two Years at the Bar (London: MacMillan and Co., 1924)

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