Lawyers at the Public Solicitor’s Office (PSO) now have full access to three premium legal research platforms. The online legal databases include Westlaw Australia and New Zealand, Lexis Advance and vLex.

Access to these platforms enhanced the research capacity of the PSO as lawyers are able to browse swathes of information, which can be used for various tasks from preparing a legal opinion, drafting advice, drafting a legal letter and writing a submission.

The PSO lawyers also completed training on how to fully utilize all features of the online legal resources. Training includes onboarding sessions conducted by officers of each database and one-on-one sessions with the PSO communications officer. At the onboarding sessions, participants were oriented on the basic function of each database. The one-on-one sessions dived deep into practical examples of how to search for a particular case, legislation or commentary.

Onboarding is an important part of the training because participants get to familiarise themselves with the different setups of the various platforms. Each platform has a different setup and special features that are unique to its design. For instance, Lexis Advance uses colour coding to track keywords and vLex shows a precedent map of each caselaw.

PSO staff during Lexis Advance onboarding session (Photo: PSO comms officer)

Access to online legal research is not a new concept for the PSO. They previously purchased packages but only through the Westlaw platform. The inclusion of these new databases will boost the research capacity and subsequently benefit the PSO clients.

“The online legal resources are vital for our lawyers to conduct proper research especially outside of the Solomon Islands jurisdiction”, said Public Solicitor, George Gray.

He added, “the training is also important to ensure that we use the online legal resources to their full potential”.

PSO staff during the vLex onboarding session (Photo: PSO comms officer)

Public solicitor, George Gray acknowledged the continuous support of the Access to Justice (A2J) project in procuring and rolling out the premium online legal resources to justice agencies, including the PSO.

The online legal resources are made available by the A2J project to all agencies across the justice sector including the Solomon Islands Law Reform Commission (SILRC), Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), Legal Policy Unit (LPU) and the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.

The A2J Project is implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and the PSO, supported by the Australian government.