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Feb 7 / Brenda Rose

PLEI Connect/La Connexion VIJ

The second phase of the Just a Click Away initiative is well underway! As you’ll recall from our last blog post, CLEO, Courthouse Libraries BC, Educaloi and PovNet have teamed up to deliver Just a Click Away Phase 2.

First up is our online community of practice, PLEI Connect/La Connexion VIJ. This part of the project is being led by the great team at PovNet. Lots of work has been going on behind the scenes, and now we need your input.

Mosa, who some of you may remember from the Just a Click Away conference in Vancouver, is the Outreach Coordinator for PLEI Connect/La Connexion VIJ. If you registered for one of the webinars or the conference last year, you’ll likely have an email from her. She’s inviting you to complete a questionnaire by Friday February 17, 2012. The information gathered will help to shape the online community of practice, so please make sure you take a bit of time before February 17, 2012 to add you two cents!

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact Mosa directly at, or Brenda Rose at

Oct 13 / Brenda Rose

Just a Click Away Continues!

We’re happy to announce that the Law Foundation of Ontario’s Access to Justice Fund has approved funding for Just a Click Away Phase 2: Supporting a Culture of Sharing.

Collaborating on this two year project are four organizations:

Also involved are advisory committee members from Justice Education Society of BCCommunity Legal Education Association (Manitoba), and Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick.

This next phase features four elements:

  • An online community of practice. Led by PovNet, we will provide a private online space for PLEI practitioners to have frank conversations and share experiences and learning about technology and PLEI on an ongoing basis.
  • A series of webinar broadcasts. Led by Éducaloi, we will hold a series of 8 broadcast webinars over a two year period where PLEI practitioners, managers, and funders from across Canada can learn about key topics relating to technology and PLEI.
  • A series of hands-on web labs. Led by CLEO, we will hold a series of 8 hands-on interactive workshops over the web aimed at PLEI practitioners who work directly with online technologies.
  • Documentation of best practices. Led by Courthouse Libraries BC, we will create online PLEI best practices guides, developed from the exchanges in the online community of practice space, the webinar broadcasts and the hands-on web labs.

The project is in the very early stages so stay tuned for information about events as they unfold. To receive updates about the project, please subscribe to our blog, follow us on Twitter and/or like us on Facebook!

Sep 21 / Drew Jackson

Just a Click Away Conference Report Now Available

The Just a Click Away Conference in February 2011 featured over 50 speakers and panelists discussing effective practices in using technology to provide public legal education and information. The conference report summarizing these dynamic sessions is now available. The Just a Click Away Conference Report can be downloaded (PDF, 2.4MB) or read and shared online in two document sharing platforms that we’re experimenting with, Scribd and Issuu (more about these below).

The conference report packs into 55 pages:

  • A description of promising practices in using technology to provide public legal education and information: three must-read pages highlighting nine promising practices in using technology.
  • A recap of the 16 conference sessions: concise three-page summaries of each of the sessions.
  • A discussion of next steps for the PLEI community: how to continue the momentum from the conference to further share and learn around effective use of technology for PLEI.

As the report relates to technology, we thought this was an ideal opportunity to experiment with technology in producing the report. We’ve made the report available in three ways, as a PDF (2.4MB) and using two platforms to provide a more dynamic version of the report: Scribd and Issuu. These platforms are two of the more popular options to present and share a document on screen. We thought we’d try out both platforms, as they have different strengths: Issuu is slick and eyecatching, whereas Scribd appears better for on screen reading and printing. We’d love to hear your thoughts about the report, including the effectiveness of these digital versions. Comment on this post below, or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook.

Conference Report on Scribd

Scribd, to us, appears better for on screen reading and printing, but isn’t as eyecatching as Issuu and doesn’t play as nice with Internet Explorer (in some versions of IE, the resolution of the document is fuzzy).

Just a Click Away Conference Report on Scribd

Conference Report on Issuu

Issuu is slicker, but leans more on the proprietary Flash technology (rather than the open HTML5 standard), and isn’t entirely intuitive to use.

May 16 / Brenda Rose

Conference Presentations Available

Many thanks to all of the great speakers we had at our Just a Click Away conference in February. On the “Conferences Presentations and Notes” tab of our website, you’ll find links to many of the presentations made at the conference in Vancouver. Recently added ones include a link to the Webex recording for Reaching New Immigrants, and Bryan Robertson’s presentation on Evaluation: How to know if your website is a success (or not).

Thank you to our presenters for sharing these with us!

Mar 8 / Brenda Rose

Graphic Recording of Conference

Thanks to everyone who attended the Just a Click Away conference in Vancouver, February 23-24, 2011. It was an amazing couple of days, filled with opportunities to learn, share and connect.

We were so pleased that so many participants were able to stay for our closing session, Imagine, where with the help of a graphic recorder, we captured how the conference touched your heart and head, and what you planned to take away with you. It was an energizing, fun way to end the conference, and start planning for the future.

Here’s the final product from that closing session. Thanks to all of you for participating, and to graphic recorder Yolanda Liman for this amazing piece of art!

From Just a Click Away Conference
Feb 24 / Valerie Patrick

Fun with the Open Data Space… or How David Eaves Really Kicked Things Off

David Eaves, our conference keynote speaker, opened the Just a Click Away conference on Wednesday, February 23 with a talk to inspire those in the public legal information community to take up the next challenge of innovation within their roles as members of the legal community.

David Eaves has a strong interest in public policy, and within that holds a passion for open and accessible data that leads to, among other things, government transparency. He argues that this perspective can also be adapted to enable citizens to better access justice, as well as to produce a long term change in public policy.

Three key elements point to the question of what can be done differently:

  • Open and accessible data, which can be and is shared with citizens. It encompasses data that is maleable and useful, which users can “look and touch”: play with, map, and make into tools that serves citizens;
  • Open standards for this data that respects privacy; and,
  • Open source software is used so that other cities (for example) can use it to make similar tools using local data for its citizens and put it on the same level as proprietary software.

What are examples of what that looks like?

One popular website, Recollect, provides Vancouver residents with a service to get updates and reminders of the city’s garbage collection schedule – a potential source of frustration due to the collection day shifting due to holidays. Recollect used relevant city data to make a more interactive garbage schedule, create applications for smartphones that send reminders in various methods, including email, telephone, Twitter, and SMS. Originally tested in Vancouver, the service is rolling out to Victoria, Nanaimo, Edmonton and other Canadian cities.

Another example uses air quality data to measure pollution surrounding local plants. The data can be mapped for use by those concerned with the emittance from a given plant, not just by community members or activists, but also by health workers. The resulting project includes, in his example, not only a map with readings, but also the email of that plant’s manager and the relevant Member of Parliament.

The result is not just an additional interactive tool, but one that plays a role towards shaping public policy and increasing government transparency.

However, for projects such as these to be possible and produced efficiently, a government has to present its data in downloadable, workable formats. To make data available in a PDF format, or something similar, that would require an interested user to then re-type this data into another format, such as a spreadsheet, presents a barrier that hinders openess, accessibility and innovation. His objective aims to not only allow citizens to read information, but to grab the aggregate data and build with it.

There are important benefits to such changes in the way that data is perceived and distributed. The first is a collapse in transaction costs – the costs that are involved when citizens or interested data users must “beg” to have that data released to them, and potentially have different users on different occasions ask again for data that was already released to another user, at another time, all over again. In addition, having the data released in a format that is increasingly barrier-free, in a format that is more playable and pliable (a spreadsheet versus PDF, for example) reduces the resources (skills, time, technology) required to work towards a goal or tool. The potential for co-operation also reduces the cost, because the data is there to be potentially grabbed by an interested user or citizen and then worked with. They do not have to gain permission to gain access, and there is less likelihood that a long, expensive and time-consumming negotiation (which, he argues, characterizes collaboration) takes place thus slowing down the path to innovation.

He argues that this take on access to data can lead to innovations in accessing the law, and inherent in this is changing the proprietary structure of access to the law. In other words, a shift must be made away from profitness and proprietariness in the law to openess. What, he asked, if you had to place yourself on the following continuum, from yes to no: “For a number of issues a citizen with a computer can be as effective as a lawyer”? If it’s not possible for the citizen to solve problems on their own, he suggested, it is potentially the case that the law is impenatrable. Is thinking upon these lines key to solving issues surrounding access to justice?

Finally, he established what he saw as the “Innovation challenge”: to crush the value out of the low end of the law. He argued that legal issues that are common could be distilled to concepts that we collectively agree upon. In a parallel way to how the Creative Commons symbol has become a standard by which a creator can select a more flexible use of their work, so could a logo or brand be used to signify a validated, standard form or contract for some of the most common disputes, such as wills or rental agreements, resulting in that everyone involved in the transaction knows what they are agreeing to. Such a product could become the go-to standard that could save signees legal fees and conflict. Therein, he argues, is the genius: the branding and the content.

In closing, there are three key pieces to his perspective: work together, with small, modular pieces to cooperate, share information and who is using it; take on the innovation challenge he presents; and, have fun with the open data space!

Feb 22 / Brenda Rose

Vancouver Conference This Week!

Our Vancouver conference is February 23-24, 2011. We’re just putting the finishing touches on what we hope will be an amazing event. We’ve got over 100 people coming from across the country, and dozens of outstanding speakers – we’re in for an exciting couple of days!

For those who are attending, here’s a quick list of information you may want to review before Wednesday:

  • Venue – our conference is being held at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Vancouver.
  • Program – the complete list of sessions at the two-day conference.
  • Speakers – read about the great lineup of presenters we’ll have!

If you’re planning to attend the post-webinar session on Portals and Other Models for Online Public Legal Education, you may want to review the handouts and recordings from the webinars we held over the last two months.

We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

For those who can’t make it to the Vancouver conference, we do plan to have a conference report posted on this site in the Spring, so stay tuned!

Feb 15 / Carol McEown

Leveraging Others’ Genius

Wow – look at all this great stuff. Ontario Justice Education Network’s Sarah McCoubrey shares their innovative online youth programs including Charter Challenge. Family issues are explored by Justice Education Society of BC’s Dave Nolette, who has an exciting new online program for separating parents. Deborah Doherty from PLEIS of New Brunswick shares their new work on fillable forms.

A breakout session on day one of the conference, “Leveraging Others’ Genius: Adapting Content from Other Jurisdictions” (Wednesday from 3:30 to 5:00) features these innovative programs and resources. And there is more – examples of ways to support public library systems in delivering public legal education, to make it easier for you to use translated materials, and a look at some basic guides from the UK that we can all use. We welcome more examples of or requests for PLEI resources or services that can be shared, adapted, or used as a model. See you at the conference. The full conference program is here.

Feb 8 / Valerie Patrick

David Eaves – Conference Keynote Speaker

We are fortunate to have David Eaves as our keynote speaker for the Just A Click Away conference. Eaves is an engaging and passionate speaker about a variety of public policy issues, including open government, open data and government transparency. He wants to see a citizenry that not only consumes information, but who can take data and rework or analyze it for their own uses to strategically produce benefits for society, as well as increase accountability and efficiency. As a testament to his dedication to this issue, he is collaborating on a site called “” (

Eaves merges his work surrounding government openess with an interest in the importance of collaboration, network building, and negotiation in order to build strong social capital. In addition to being a public speaker, he writes his blog and for the Globe and Mail, among other works, and serves on the executive of Vision Vancouver, a municipal political party.

Watch two of his talks using the links below, visit his blog at, and see our Speakers page for more information. David Eaves will be speaking at the Just A Click Away conference Wednesday, February 23rd, about how his interests intersect with access to justice.

David Eaves: Community Management and the Army of Awesome (Mozilla Summit 2010)

David Eaves as keynote at the Open Government Data Camp, London, UK, November 2010

David Eaves from Open Knowledge Foundation on Vimeo.

Feb 8 / Brenda Rose

Recording of Final Webinar Now Online

The third webinar in our Just a Click Away webinar series featured two content-rich sites, Educaloi and The link to the recording of this webinar is now available on our webinar page.

Many thanks to Myriam, Hubert and Sarah from Educaloi, and Mojdeh and Dave from for their excellent presentations today. And thank you to all of the people who attended the three webinars. We hope that you found the series informative, and we look forward to continuing the discussion at the Just a Click Away conference in Vancouver, February 23-24.