Alexsei – Legal Memos. On Demand.

ASKING GOOD
LEGAL QUESTIONS
- A GUIDE

The structure and phrasing of your legal question is the main factor that influences the subject matter and focus of your Alexsei memo. By following the guidelines below, you can ensure that Alexsei provides you with on-point memos that fully and specifically answer your particular query.

Of all the considerations that go into building Alexsei, the quality of our memos is of supreme importance. At Alexsei, we focus the majority of our time, energy, and resources on ensuring and continually improving the quality and responsiveness of our memos. We understand that without high-quality answers, the benefits of using artificial intelligence—such as reduced cost and turnaround times—are pointless.

There are many factors that influence memo quality; however, there is one factor that is out of our control—how your legal question is asked. Below is a guide to help you ask questions that will return the best quality answers.

One Rule, Four Guidelines


The One Rule

  • Your question must be answerable with reference to caselaw and legislation

The Four Guidelines

  1.  Facts should be distinct from the legal question
  2. The more specific the question, the more specific the answer
  3. Ask a general question if you want a general answer
  4. Use precise legal language

The Rule

1. Questions must be answerable with reference to caselaw and legislation


Alexsei is designed to provide an objective summary of the law and legal principles applicable to any given situation. However, we believe that the interpretation of the law and its application to your client’s particular situation should be left exclusively to human lawyers.

If your question cannot be answered with reference to caselaw and legislation alone, Alexsei cannot answer the question. For example, Alexsei cannot answer questions that ask for an opinion on a client’s particular situation or for a suggestion of best practices or business advice in a particular situation. However, Alexsei can find and summarize the cases and legislation that are applicable to your client’s situation so that you, a human lawyer, can analyze the law and provide an opinion to your client.

The Guidelines

1. Facts should be distinct from the legal question


When submitting a legal question to Alexsei, lawyers are provided with a field for the legal question and a field for any background facts. It’s important that you separate the background facts from your legal question. Why?

  1. Alexsei’s cutting-edge AI focuses on what is inherently objective, that is, the current state of the law. Our technology will better identify the most relevant and helpful cases when the legal question is distinct from the facts.
  2. If Alexsei’s lawyers separate out the relevant facts from the legal question manually before running your question through our AI, we risk misinterpreting the precise legal question that you are seeking an answer to.

2. The more specific the question, the more specific the answer


As a rule of thumb, the level of specificity of an Alexsei memo will correspond to the level of specificity in the question asked. For example, the question “what is the test for constructive dismissal” will yield a more general answer than the question “have courts found that the reduction in hours of work from 40 hours per week to 30 hours per week constitutes constructive dismissal”.

Asking a general question will result in an Alexsei memo that provides a broad overview of an area of law. Asking a specific question will result in an Alexsei memo with a narrowly tailored answer.

Formulating a specific legal question does require some general knowledge of the area of law that you are asking about. Starting out by intentionally asking Alexsei a general question can help you to develop the knowledge that you need to formulate a specific question (See #3 below).

3. Ask a general question if you want a general answer


As previously noted, when a lawyer asks a specific question, Alexsei will return a narrowly focused memo. However, in some cases, a lawyer may need to develop a broader understanding of an area of law in order to tailor a legal question to their client’s matter. In these cases, intentionally asking a general question will result in a broad memo that provides a good base from which more specific questions can be formulated. We often see a series of questions from a user follow this pattern—progressing from the general to the specific—reflecting the natural development of the lawyer’s understanding of the relevant law.

4. Use precise legal language


As all legal professionals know, it is critical to use precise language. Not surprisingly, this holds true when you ask Alexsei a legal question. For example, if a lawyer asks about a breach of contract but uses the word “rescission” when they meant to ask about “repudiation,” the memo that Alexsei provides in response to the question will be different from what the lawyer expected. You can ensure that your memo will answer the question that you had in mind by precisely formulating the question and checking to ensure that you have used the correct legal terminology.

GOOD QUESTIONS

1.

Q: What is the test for the oppression remedy?

F: A director has been using corporate funds for personal purposes.

2.

Q: Does violence engage the clean hands doctrine?

P sues D for breach of trust. P punches D in the mouth after filing the claim.

3.

What is the test for the admissibility of expert evidence?

4.

What is the test for determining whether to grant summary judgment?

5.

Q: In what circumstances will the termination provision of a contract be held ambiguous and therefore unenforceable?

The termination provision in issue states: Employment may be terminated at any time by the Employer and any amounts paid to the Employee shall be in accordance with the Employment Standards Act of Ontario.

6.

What are the minimum maintenance standards for highways in Ontario with respect to snow and ice on sidewalks?

7.

What is the range of non-pecuniary damages in cases involving mild traumatic brain injuries in elderly women?

8.

What is the test to establish self-defense when the accused is charged with assault?

9.

Q: Does the Ministry of Transportation owe a duty of care to other users of the roadway when determining whether to issue a driver’s licence to a particular driver?

The plaintiff was injured by in a motor vehicle accident and alleges that the MTO was negligent in giving the other driver a driving licence

10.

Does a landlord have standing to bring an oppression application against a corporate tenant?

11.

Does the cap on non-pecuniary damages apply to derivative claims under the Family Law Act?

12.

How does the doctrine of paramountcy apply in a conflict between a valid provincial law and non-statutory Canadian maritime law?

13.

Can damages for delay be properly included in a lien claim under the Construction Act?

14.

Will a lump sum payment made to the payor under the Veterans Well-Being Act properly be included in their income for the purposes of child support?

15.

What factors do the courts consider when deciding mobility issues on an interim basis?

16.

What are the elements of the offence of municipal corruption pursuant to section 123(1) of the Criminal Code?

17.

What factors will the courts consider when determining whether to impute income to a spouse who has never worked full-time during a long-term traditional marriage when calculating spousal support?

18.

Does an expert witness owe a duty of care to third parties?

19.

What are the elements of sexual assault?

20.

How is a reasonable notice period determined?

21.

What is the test to determine whether use of portions of a textbook by an elementary school educator in the classroom constitutes “fair use”?

22.

Q: Can a reduction in the hours of work  for an employee who is paid on an hourly basis constitute constructive dismissal?

F: Employee has been working 36 hours/week for the last 4 years with some sporadic overtime hours during busy times. The employer told the employee that, starting in one week and continuing for the next 6-12 months, the employee will only be scheduled to work 27 hours/week.

23.

Q: Does a post-separation increase in the income of the payor spouse result in an increase of spousal support payments that will be owed to the payee spouse?

F: Husband and wife both worked full-time at the start of their marriage. After having children, the wife began working part-time hours in order to care for the couple’s children. The couple separated 7 years after being married. About one year after the separation, the husband was promoted and began earning 30% more than he had been earning prior to the separation.

24.

Q: Can a not-for-profit organization be held vicariously liable for a tort committed by one of its volunteers that occured while the volunteer was acting for the organization?

F: Non-for profit held an event where X was a volunteer. X’s duties included setting up, facilitating, and cleaning up after a silent auction. During the event, X got into a fistfight with a guest at the event. The guest was seriously injured in the fight.

25.

Q: What factors do courts use when determining whether a non-solicit and/or non-compete clause in an employment contract is void for being overbroad?

F: Employee worked as a computer and phone repair technician in New Brunswick. Their employment agreement stated that for 6 months following the cessation of employment they could not provide computer or cell phone repair services within 25 km of the employer’s place of business.

BAD QUESTIONS

1.

Q: If a director is unhappy with the actions of another director who has been taking funds from the corporate bank account for his own use such as going to bars, how can the first director establish that the second director has oppressed him?

F: N/A

2.

Q: What are clean hands?

F: P sues D for breach of trust. P punches D in the mouth after filing the claim.

3.

Is the expert’s testimony admissible?

4.

Can you bring a claim in negligence against a municipality in Mexico?

5.

Summarize all Court of Appeal summary judgment decisions citing Hryniak v. Mauldin

6.

Is this termination provision void for ambiguity?

The termination provision states: Employment may be terminated at any time by the Employer and any amounts paid to the Employee shall be in accordance with the Employment Standards Act of Ontario.

7.

Find cases where the courts have awarded significant damages for mTBI to elderly females

8.

What defences are available to a criminal accused charged with assault?

9.

Q: Will a tort action against the MTO be successful?

The plaintiff was injured by in a motor vehicle accident and alleges that the MTO was negligent in giving the other driver a driving licence

10.

Is Party X liable to Party Z for negligence?

11.

A key employee of a closely-held corporation dies in a car accident caused by another party’s negligence. The corporation suffers a loss of income as a result. On the facts  of the case, will the corporation succeed in a negligence action against the other party?

12.

Our client is a middle manager at a large company. When our client’s boss retired, the company appointed one of the middle manager’s direct employees was appointed to fill the role on an interim bases. Does the middle manager have a claim for constructive dismissal?

13.

When will the court order an unequal division of net family property based on (1) a resulting trust in property owned at the date of marriage; (2) reckless dissipation of the family property; and (3) the fact that the marriage was of a short duration?

14.

How have the courts decided when to order production of the file of psychiatrist in the family law context?

15.

Under what circumstances can an estate trustee argue that a settlement agreement was frustrated?

16.

How can a plaintiff avoid the finding that they have a crumbling skull?

17.

Has the accused committed a sexual assault?

18.

What do I need to do to bring a claim in the Manitoba Court of Queens Bench?

19.

What is the limitation period in scenario X?

20.

How much HST does my client owe?

21.

What is the process for evicting a commercial tenant?

22.