BC Provincial Court’s eNews and Twitter Town Hall receive 2019 Clawbies!

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There’s no red carpet, monologue, or envelope-opening, but for people working in the field of public legal information the “Clawbies” – the Canadian Law Blogs Awards – are the equivalent of the Oscars. The Provincial Court of BC was delighted to learn on New Year’s Eve that it had been awarded not just one, but two 2019 Clawbies for its online communications.

The Clawbies

2019 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

Launched from a law library in 2006, the Clawbies were intended to recognize and showcase outstanding Canadian law blogs. The award categories have gradually been expanded and now include almost any type of free online legal information.

Every December, users of Canadian digital legal information are invited to nominate their favourites. This year’s Clawbies judges (Emma Durand-Wood, web content strategist and manager of lawblogs.ca, a catalogue of Canadian law blogs; Jordan Furlong, legal industry analyst and forecaster; and Steve Matthews, publisher and editor of Slaw.ca and web development company president) considered more than 500 blogs listed in lawblogs.ca in light of readers’ responses and selected “the best of the best”.

Best Blogs and Commentary Award

The BC Provincial Court’s eNews was honoured in the Best Blogs and Commentary category, with the Clawbies judges saying:

“After 14 years of Clawbies, it’s still a pleasure to read a really well-written blog. This year’s recipients have achieved the deceptively tricky goal of conveying legal wisdom in an engaging and reliable way.

BC Provincial Court eNews
You might expect communication from a court to be stuffy and dry, but the British Columbia Provincial Court’s eNews blog takes a surprisingly accessible, conversational tone. From justice hackathons to court rules changes, to new publications and judge news, court happenings and opportunities for feedback, we’d love to see more courts across the country take a page from the BCPC’s blogging book.”

Six other blogs were recognized in this category, including BC Chief Justice Bauman’s blog for Access to Justice BC. Interestingly, five of the seven “best blogs” this year originate in BC.

Best A2J Resources Award

The Court received its second 2019 Clawbie in the Best A2J Resources category for the live #A2JChatBC Twitter Town Hall it held last October in conjunction with Access to Justice BC. The Clawbies judges said:

“Some of the most exciting legal information work happening these days is taking place with the aim of improving access to justice. While an overwhelming number of people and projects nominated for this year’s Clawbies fit the A2J bill, we’ve selected three in particular that are outstanding. …

BC Provincial Court Twitter Town Hall
2019 saw the third edition of the BC Provincial Court’s “Twitter Town Hall”, which prompted 170+ questions by participants and almost 150 responses from the team of BCPC Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie, BCCA Chief Justice Robert Bauman and former SRL Jennifer Muller. Being able to ask questions of a judge in public, online, and have them answer is “practically unprecedented”—kudos to the BCPC for this remarkable initiative.”

Also recognized in this category were the National Self-Represented Litigants Project’s CanLII Primer, a legal research guide designed for self-represented litigants, and Courthouse Libraries BC’s Clicklaw Wikibook, JP Boyd on Family Law.

Take a look at other Clawbies categories to see the exciting variety of creative approaches being used to share legal information today – including podcasts that pair a lawyer with a comedian and a comic book series on landlord/tenant issues.

Collaborative, team efforts

The Court’s eNews blog began in January 2015 as an experiment. Judge Ann Rounthwaite volunteered to post short informal news articles weekly on the Court’s website to keep it active and engaging. Five years and 232 articles after the first eNews was published, website analytics have proved the blog’s value. eNews articles earned 94,507 page views in 2019.

It has been a team effort. Serving as the Court’s Digital Communications Coordinator after her retirement, Ann Rounthwaite continues to write the articles or edit them for plain language and style; judges and judicial justices contribute subject ideas and articles; members of Court committees and the Court’s Legal Officers review drafts for legal content; and Jason Amott, backed up by others in the Court’s IT Services team, ensures they are posted in the desired format. Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie provides suggestions and reviews each eNews article published.

Organizations involved in the BC justice system have also contributed by sharing information for articles about innovative projects and efforts to improve access to justice.

The Court’s live Twitter Town Halls held in 2016, ’17, and ’19 have also benefitted from generous collaboration by groups in the justice system. The communications staff of the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch and Courthouse Libraries BC staff have helped with planning and publicity. For the 2019 Town Hall, the Court collaborated with Access to Justice BC (A2JBC) and a wide variety of organizations shared information and perspectives by tweeting during the event.

Chief Judge Gillespie said, “In its online communications as in other areas of its work, the Provincial Court focuses on users’ needs. It’s immensely gratifying to receive this acknowledgement of our efforts to offer court users and the public needed information, listen, and respond appropriately. And it’s exciting to see all the legal information available online for people to watch, read or listen to!”

Subscribe to the Court’s award-winning eNews at www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/enews. Follow us on Twitter @BCProvCourt.