CanLII is a non-profit website that provides free access to court judgments, tribunal decisions, statutes and regulations from all Canadian jurisdictions. Toronto attorney Garry Wise — publisher of the great Wise Law Blog — thought it would be useful to have an easy way to access and search CanLII on his iPhone. After a year of development, the result is WiseLii (pronounced "Wise Lee"), a free mobile research tool for Canadian lawyers that was released last week. WiseLii is not affiliated with CanLII, but it was created with CanLII's blessing.
After you choose to search either cases or legislation, you select either "Federal" or a Province. Within each juridiction you can select specific courts or sources of statutory law.
If you select cases, you next enter some search terms to see a list of hits. If you instead select legislation, you can choose to browse or search. When you select a case or a statute, any search terms that you used are highlighted and thus stand out if you scroll through the document. I wish that there were a way to quickly scroll through a long document, such as by sliding a finger on the right edge as some other apps do; right now, you often have a lot of scrolling to do. However, the app does give you a way to jump to specific words in the document. At the top, you can either enter your same search terms again, or enter any other terms, and now the search terms within that specific document are highlighted plus you get buttons at the bottom that let you advance to the next and prior instance of the search term in that document.
When you find a useful case or statute, you can tap the star at the top right to add it to your list of favorites. Also, at the top of each case or statute there is an option to send a link by email, which will open up an email containing a URL to the item in the CanLII database.
Not being a Canadian lawyer, I cannot comment on the scope and limitations of the CanLII database, but the WiseLii app does seem to do a good job of presenting a version of that resource formatted for the iPhone. Unfortunately, I did have some problems with the app crashing when I would run certain searches. Garry Wise tells me that he is aware of the occasional crashes and is working on a fix right now, so hopefully this will be resolved in a future update.
WiseLii has a nice interface, and like CanLII itself, the app is free. Hopefully the crashes will be fixed soon, because this has a potential to be a must-have app for every Canadian lawyer with an iPhone.