Legal Citations Assistant

A legal referencing management tool that enables automated cross-referencing

Get LCA for Google Docs.

INTRODUCTION

The legal profession has a unique citation method and although following citation standards is important to maintain consistency in the communication of ideas, the current methods that are available to ensure proper citations are not up to the standards of an automated 21st century.

Legal Citations Assistant (LCA) is a referencing tool that enables easy management and citation of legal references within a document editor. Unique to LCA is its ability to semi-automate footnote construction and editing in conformity with the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (9th Edition) (the McGill Guide).

A properly placed "ibid" or "supra note #" is tedious work and what is worse that the accuracy of repeated references may be lost as a document is being written. LCA alleviates users from having to worry about the accuracy of subsequent references. When a user cites a reference for the first time with LCA, they will be prompted to enter the reference's information into LCA's input fields. The user will then be able to insert the reference into a user defined footnote number using LCA's cite function. Once cited, the reference becomes a member of the table of authorities, and any additional citation of the reference simply requires the user to specify the footnote number and cite the reference again using LCA's cite function. The end result of LCA appropriate referencing enables automated and accurate subsequent referencing, significantly reducing time spent writing legal documents.

Figure 1 shows an example of text with McGill style footnotes that is edited with and without LCA. Notably, LCA automates all the necessary repeat referencing editing. This guide explains how to use LCA in more detail.

LSA_fig1

Figure 1: Editing text with LCA enables automated subsequent referencing in conformity with the McGill Guide. (A) Original text with four footnotes (highlighted in red in the text body). (B-C) Hypothetical edits made to the original text (deletion of the first two sentences including the footnotes shown by crossed out text) causes the remaining footnotes to be cited inaccurately without the use of LCA. However, citation with LCA enables automated correction of the remaining footnotes so that the footnotes remain in conformity with the McGill Guide without any user intervention.

GOOGLE DOCS GUIDE

THE SIDEBAR

To create LCA recognizable references it is imperative that the user cites the reference using the citation function in the sidebar. The citation function is encoded within the button containing the giant quotation mark. LCA references have embedded program recognizable hyperlinks that are attached to the LCA inserted citation and these hyperlinks enable LCA to recognize a reference. Therefore, if a user were to input plain text or an unrecognizable hyperlinked reference into a footnote, LCA would not incorporate that reference, prohibiting LCA from properly editing subsequently referenced material.

TIP: Always use the LCA cite function to insert references within footnotes.

Since the hyperlinks attached to the LCA references are essential to the functioning of the footnote automation enabled by LCA, it is important that the user does not delete or alter the LCA hyperlinks attached to LCA inserted citations. Removal or inappropriate alteration of said hyperlink would prevent LCA from recognizing the reference, impairing the footnote editing capabilities of the program.

TIP: Do not delete or change the LCA recognizable hyperlinks.

The McGill Guide specifies that more information be included in a reference that is cited for the first time compared to subsequent references, which are repeated and usually contain an ibid or supra notation. When the LCA cite function is used to cite a reference for the first time, a default reference will be inserted by LCA that should be compliant with the McGill Guide in most cases. A user is welcome to change the default input offered by the first LCA citation (which is dependent upon the input field information), and any edits made to this first citation will not be re-edited by LCA. However, any edits made to subsequent references will be re-edited by LCA upon refreshing the side bar or upon inserting a new reference. This severely limits the possibility for the user to edit a subsequent citation but is an essential feature to how LCA is able to automate subsequent reference editing. Given the importance of the LCA hyperlinks attached to citations, as noted above, a user should be careful to ensure that any edits made to a first time occurrence of an LCA citation are encompassed within the LCA hyperlink attached to the default first citation text.

TIP: A user can customize the first occurrence of an LCA citation but not subsequent citations.

CAUTION! When editing the first occurrence of an LCA reference, ensure that the edits are encompassed within the LCA hyperlink attached to the default first citation text.

Proper use of LCA eliminates the need for the user to type any citation information into a footnote. Rather, a user should interact almost exclusively with the LCA sidebar only. Figure 2 contains the workflow for inserting an LCA citation into a Google document for the first time. Figure 3 shows an example of a subsequent citation using LCA and an example of how LCA automates editing of footnotes in correspondence with the edits made to the document text.

LCA_fig2

Figure 2: Protocol for inserting a reference for the first time into a Google document using LCA. (A) After installing LCA from the Google Docs Add-ons store, LCA will be available under the Add-ons tab and can be opened using the menu option 'Start'. (B) The basic LCA sidebar consists of a toolbar of key functions. From left to right is the new reference drop down menu, refresh button (refresh symbol), additional features menu (add symbol), bold type (B button) and italic type (I button). LCA supported references include legislation, jurisprudence, books and articles and can be added using the new reference drop down menu. (C) To add a new reference, select the desired reference type in the reference type drop down menu and click the add button. Fill out the appropriate information for the selected reference type using the LCA input fields and click create. (D) Newly created references will show up in the floating reference table, a temporary container for references that are awaiting a first time citation. A user can choose to delete the newly created reference, by clicking the X button, or to cite the reference by clicking the button containing the quotation mark. (E) Upon clicking the citation button, the user will be prompted to specify a pinpoint for the citation and an introductory signal (Intro sig) if appropriate. The text shown below the sidebar (lorem Ipsem ...) is hypothetical text in a Google document that is ready to be cited using the prepared reference. (F) To cite the reference, place the cursor in the appropriate footnote number within the footnote section and then click the citation button in the sidebar. The citation will be printed to the Google document at the location where the cursor was positioned and the cited reference is removed from the floating references table. If the reference was printed in a footnote within the footnote section, LCA will detect the reference type and include it in an appropriate table of authorities heading (legislation in this case). If the newly cited reference does not show up in the expected table of authorities, try clicking the refresh button. However, note that citations printed elsewhere in the document (not in a footnote within the footnote section) will not be detected by LCA and therefore will not be included in a table of authorities. Once included in a table of authorities, subsequent citations can be made clicking the citation button.

LCA_fig3

Figure 3: Examples of inserting subsequent citations into a Google document using LCA. (A) LCA sidebar populated with two reference types: one statute and one case. (B) A hypothetical Google document containing citations to the references shown in Figure 3(A). A user wishing to re-cite a previously cited reference should position the cursor into the desired footnote within the footnote section (cursor shown in footnote number 3) and then click the citation button on the LCA sidebar for the desired reference in a table of authority (re-citing the Digital Privacy Act in this situation). (C) Subsequent citations using LCA will print in conformity with the McGill Guide. (D) Edits to the Google document often make the footnote references inaccurate, as shown here through the deletion of text (the text that is struck out). (E) By clicking the refresh button, LCA automatically detects LCA inserted references and re-configures the citations so that they are accurate in accordance with the new document edits. In this situation, the first occurrence of the citation to the Digital Privacy Act was deleted, making the second occurrence of the citation to this statute inaccurate. The LCA refresh button detects that there is only one citation to the Digital Privacy Act and fixed the citation as a default first citation.

SUPPORTED REFERENCES

Current, LCA supports the following types of references: legislation, jurisprudence, books and articles. References that do not fall within these categories should be added manually.

COMPATIBILITY WITH NON-LCA REFERENCES

LCA referencing is designed to be compatible with non-LCA referencing. This hybrid approach has been adopted so that users can still manually input citations when LCA citations are not satisfactory. Moreover, users will have to manually input non-supported references. Users should be careful to ensure that non-LCA references are consistently cited manually and that LCA references are consistently cited using the LCA citation function.

TIP: Try not to mix LCA citations with non-LCA citations.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

The additional features menu (+ button) includes other useful footnote tools for Google documents. These include the following functions:

Cite after text: LCA will convert footnote citations to after text citations.

Footnote format: changing the font style and size of footnotes in bulk.

Print bibliography: print the bibliography of current cited references at the position of the cursor.

Remove hyperlinks: remove all LCA program recognisable hyperlinks from the footnotes. A user might want to remove the LCA recognizable hyperlinks at the end of writing a document so that any manual edits that need to be included in the footnote citations may be accomplished without LCA overwriting said edits. Keep in mind, however, that once the hyperlinks are removed, LCA will no longer be able to edit the citations according to any changes within the document.

Turn auto refresh on/off: As of November 19, 2019, LCA starts with the auto refresh function turned off. This means that clicking the double quote button will only insert your citation at the position of the courser without editing in proper parallel citations. This helps reduce errors on computers with slow processors or on documents with many footnotes. Manually click the refresh button will make LCA to edit the footnotes with proper parallel citations. Note also that when you insert a citation for the first time from the floating references table, you will have to click the refresh button for the reference to appear in one of the supported references tables.

Turn highlight on/off: highlight all LCA program recognisable hyperlinks in red font colour (or remove highlighting). Highlighting the LCA program recognizable hyperlinks can be a handy tool when users are unsure which citations where manually inserted and which where inserted by LCA. The highlighter can guide the user where to edit text that will not be overwritten by LCA editing.

TIP: Use LCA's additional features to format footnotes in bulk and to double check which references are LCA recognizable.

TIP: Use the remove hyperlinks function with caution.

INSTALLATION

LCA can be installed through the Google Doc Add-ons Store. More information on installation can be found here.

PRICING

LCA is available for free. If you like LCA, consider making a donation to the developers here. Or, if you prefer, you can make a donation to the Winnipeg cat and dog home (the residue of testamentary dispositions for all Manitobans).

TERMS OF USE

The following terms govern the users use of the LCA Google Add-on. LCA is licensed (not sold) to the user (any legal entity that has acquired access to the LCA Google Add-on). The creators of LCA (the developers) retain sole ownership of the LCA Google Add-on.

1. PRIVACY POLICY

1.1 The LCA Google Add-on does not store any user information. All processes are dynamically calculated at run time, by-passing the need for any data storage.

GOOGLE ACCOUNT ACCESS

When you first install LCA, the Add-on will request access to your Google account (see snapshot to the left or above, depending on your device). The requested permissions are used by LCA for the following reasons:

1. View and Manage documents that this application has been installed in: LCA requires this permission in order to access the Google Doc that you are working in so that appropriate edits can be made to the footnotes.

2. Display and run third-party web content in prompts and sidebars inside Google applications: LCA requires this permission in order to display the sidebar and run the LCA program in the Google Doc that you are working in.

2. LICENCE

2.1 This license grants the user permission to install LCA on a single Google account.

2.2 Once granted, this license allows user to use LCA on the account on which LCA was installed with the following conditions:

(a) The user will not share access to LCA with any one else.

(b) Licenses are non-transferable.

2.3 This license may be revoked at any time for any reason without notice, thereby terminating access to the LCA program.

2.4 The developer can deny request for a license.

3. NO WARRANTY

3.1 No warranty is included with the LCA license. LCA may not behave as represented in this information manual. LCA may make citation errors. LCA developers disclaim all liability from the users use of LCA.

BUG REPORTS

Any problems and/or inaccuracies can be sent to the developers through the help menu under "Report a problem" option. Please specify a return e-mail address if you would like to be contacted back.

01-05-2019 Updates:

  1. Input fields used for adding new references have been changed from a static size to a dynamic size that changes based on the input text. This allows viewing of all the printed or pasted text at once.
  2. Previously, LCA did not register bold or italicised text that was copied elsewhere and pasted into the LCA sidebar. Now, formatting is removed from any text that is pasted into LCA input fields. Use the bold and italic buttons on the LCA sidebar to make text bold or italicised.
  3. Issues with inputting '<' and '>' characters into LCA input fields has been resolved. Now citations with online resources are supported.
  4. There was an issue when inputting the same case name from different court levels and when inputting statutes with the same name but different versions. To fix this issue, unique identifiers for legislation and jurisprudence have been changed to the publication information (statute volume, jurisdiction, etc.) and the first case reporter, respectively.
  5. Introductory signals did not work when LCA edited the document with "supra". This is now fixed.
  6. Bibliography now prints in alphabetic order.
  7. The 'Cite after text' function has been added. This functionality converts footnotes to after text citations.

06-10-2019 Updates:

  1. Fixed a sidebar display error where the references in the table of authorities or in the floating reference table overflowed the regular width of sidebar causing an annoying horizontal scroll bar to appear. Appropriate text wrapping has been implemented to eliminate this overflow error.
  2. Made a loading screen for the highlight function so that users would be aware that LCA is performing an operation.
  3. Added a search bar that enables automatically filling in fields for jurisprudence type reference with SCC cases from 1877 to mid May 2019. Just start typing the case name and then click on the case name that you are want to cite.
  4. Optimised LCA's footnote algorithm. LCA is now twice as fast as previous versions.
  5. References within the table of authorities are now editable. Edit references that are in the table of authorities by clicking the pencil button. New fields in edit menu automatically fill with old content to enable swifter editing.

11-19-2019 Updates:

  1. Auto refresh function turned off. In order to refresh the footnotes you must now manually click the refresh button.

01-09-2020 Updates:

  1. Fixed bugs in article and book editing functions.
  2. Updated SCC cases in the jurisprudence search bar.
  3. Updated links to reflect new domain name.

Legal Citations Assistant: 2018-2020