Organizing Obsession Meets the Legal Profession


Legal Research

Simply put, legal research is the identification and retrieval of information necessary to support legal decision-making. Sources of legal information include legal precedents (case law), primary (statues and regulations) and secondary (commentary) sources. Angela consults both online resources and LawSource when faced with an information need that needs scratching.

Records and Information Management (RIM)

Information retrieval from a legal file is one of the many tasks lawyers perform in their day-to-day role as a service provider. In order for lawyers to perform this task efficiently, they require meaningful file management systems, ranging from an efficient (paper) filling system to effective management of digital material (e-mails and archived material), in order to maximize information retrieval and minimize time lost searching for a document.

Trial and discovery preparation

Life is better when your records are indexed, labeled, and organized, ideally in binders (when examinations or hearings are fast approaching). From review and organization (chronological, or by subject matter) of the financial documents of new clients, to a summary of previous court documents on a transferred file, and a tracking system with respect to answers to undertakings, Angela can help with that. And will love every minute of it. It’s her thing.


Consulting services will be offered at an hourly rate of $150, plus disbursements. This rate will increase to $157.50 once the business is required to remit GST. It is anticipated that most of Ashton Legal Solutions services’ will be billed from the solicitor to their clients directly, like any other lawyer working on the same file. The exception is where an upgrade to the records management systems is required, in which case the firm/lawyer would pay for the services directly.

Information management and retrieval is the foundation of legal practice.

Ashton Legal Solutions is Angela Ashton

I am an Edmonton lawyer with a background in family law and a lifelong obsession with organizing. I obtained my LL.B. from the University of Ottawa in 2003, and was called to the Alberta Bar in August of 2004. From 2005 to 2012 I worked as Legal Counsel and Assistant Program Coordinator at the Family Law Information Centre, a project managed by Alberta Justice. In the fall of 2012 I became a non-practicing lawyer in order to pursue my Masters in Library and Information Studies (MLIS). When I obtained my degree in June of 2016 I decided to create an unholy union of my legal experience, academic background and passion for organization.

  • The lawyer-librarian advantage

    As a result of my legal practice, I understand how legal practice and files are, and should be, organized, and how family lawyers in Edmonton are struggling to keep up with client demands. In addition, there is a current movement within the profession reconsidering the provision of legal services to the public, including the unbundling of legal work to reduce costs to clients, and importantly, to provide lawyers with more time. During the course of my studies, I had the opportunity to consider how lawyers seek information, and how they execute the roles of advocate and administrator/manager. It occurred to me that there was a need for complimentary on-demand services in this niche area. Finally, as a super organized person (SOP), I take pleasure in many of the mundane tasks that lawyers either do not enjoy or lack the time to do thoroughly (legal research and trial binder preparation to name but two).

Unbundling Legal Work

Not enough time

Convenience, time constrains, lack of adequate resources and skilled support staff, the digital divide and information overload all play a role in how effective lawyers are at conducting legal research and managing their practice. When lawyers are overwhelmed and disorganized, their clients suffer, as they are more likely to achieve poor results in court or during settlement negotiations. This results in dissatisfied clients, potential disciplinary action or legal recourse, and increased stress on the part of the lawyer.

An uneasy relationship with technology

Like all other knowledge-based industries, legal firms and professional consultants are using digital technologies and data to meet the needs of ever-more demanding and connected clients. With lawyers often working with an overwhelming amount of documents on an everyday basis, management systems are crucial to making life easier and ensuring that the business runs smoothly.

The micro-firm trend

Lawyers who practice alone or in small firms often lack the resources to employ an adequate supply of skilled support staff, articling students or associate lawyers to assist with the myriad tasks and roles lawyers engage in everyday. They do not have the health benefits extended to employees such as paid medical leave, family leave, and maternity leave. When life happens, these lawyers lack a professional safety net to assist them in managing their workload while taking the time to attend to urgent family or health matters.

Demographics are shifting

Legal demographics are also shifting rapidly. Baby boomers are getting closer and closer to retirement, putting a new generation of lawyers at the helm. These lawyers are more comfortable with technology, and are also striving for greater work/life balance. They are looking for alternatives and ways to balance personal and professional obligations. One way to accomplish this is by the unbundling of legal services.

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