Matthew Meland

Matthew Meland

Lawyer at FFMP and founder of Sharpened.

Codes: Which Ones to Choose and How to Annotate

by | Aug 8, 2018 | Quebec Bar | 2 comments

Matthew Meland

Matthew Meland

Lawyer at FFMP and founder of Sharpened


Just some answers to the common questions of which codes to choose, how to annotate, and whether you should read the Collection de droit.

So, you’re writing the Quebec Bar and one of the first questions which you will be confronted with is which codes to buy (by codes I mean: Civil Code of Québec, Business Laws, Labour Laws, Code of Civil Procedure, and the Annotated Criminal Code). Some English speakers prefer to purchase Martin’s Annotated Criminal Code as the annotations are in English, rather than in French. I didn’t, but know that that is an option. There are two main legal publishers in Quebec which each have the suite of codes required for Bar School: Wilson & Lafleur and Les Éditions Yvon Blais. It should be mentioned that both publishers produce codes which contain just about identical legal texts. The traditional perspective on the matter was to buy the Wilson & Lafleur codes as they contain better annotations (links to other relevant articles, more on this below). However, Les Éditions Yvon Blais has recently upped up its game and added bold headings before all of the articles paragraphs which tell you at a glance what the paragraph is about. When Yvon Blais was the only one to do this, I used to recommend them, but now that Wilson & Lafleur have copied them, the old logic holds and I recommend that you get the Wilson codes. When you becoming a practicing lawyer, you will likely use the Wilson refillable codes (they are in binders and have a subscription service whereby they send you new pages when the law changes). If money is no object, you may even want to consider getting those binders for the Bar Exam, but that really isn’t a must by any means, and the pages in the binders rip easier than the ones in the bound book.

Now, that you’ve chosen your codes, the next step is to annotate them. I found it quite helpful to colour code the edge of the pages in order to help me get to a particular article faster. I followed the scheme where I coloured the pages edges for each 100 articles in one colour and then used this same colour scheme for all of my codes. That way, I knew that if I was looking for article 136 in the Civil Code or in the Annotated Criminal Code, I just had to look in the first green section. Also, every five hundred articles are now yellow which makes it quite easy to get to say article 2250 (count five yellow sections and its in the next blue one). I used a set of five different colour Sharpie highlighters, but the Bic ones or any other should be just fine too.

  • Pages containing articles 1 to 100: Yellow
  • Pages containing articles 101 to 200: Green
  • Pages containing articles 201 to 300: Blue
  • Pages containing articles 301 to 400: Pink
  • Pages containing articles 401 to 500: Orange
  • And repeat

Colour-coded Civil Code of Quebec page edges

As for annotating the articles themselves, I’m not a big fan of highlighting parts of the text itself, I prefer to circle or underline, but this is really a matter of personal preference. And in that respect, less is more. If everything is highlighted, underlined, or circled; it’s like nothing is.

Get into the habit as of the first day of your studying to make links between pertinent articles and complete the indexes. What do I mean when I say complete the indexes? Well, sometimes only some of the article numbers are contained in an index entry. If ever, you find some article numbers are missing, just add them in. If you don’t the index entry you are looking for, you unfortunately cannot write an entry as this would contravene the “no writing” (other than numbers) in your codes rule. Rather, I would add the article numbers next to the entries I looked up, hoping that I would follow the same logic next time I tried to look up the same concept. This is very important in your Business Law code (especially if you use the Yvon Blais version as their index is woefully inadequate and needs a lot of work.) And on the subject of annotations, I found a 0.3 mm lead pencil particularly practical as it writes quite small which leaves space for more notations. My favourite is the Kuru Toga 0.3 mm lead pencil.

Annotations in my Civil Code of Quebec

One last point, is it worth reading the Collection de droit? My personal feeling is that unless you are really lost in a particular subject, it isn’t worth it. I found it very long to read and I didn’t find it very helpful for the Barreau du Quebec’s exam. When I did decide to read it, I would place the book in question on my trusted Joseph Joseph folding book stand and use the TimeTimer to make sure that I kept reading at a good pace. But honestly, having written the Bar, I’d recommend doing all the pass exams (available here: Quebec Bar Past Exams), rather than read the Collection. If you have extra time, maybe do the past exams or the annexes a second time.

The annexes, on the other hand, are moderately helpful and a worthwhile doing. You’ll see that they contain some past exams questions. Try to complete them without the solution sheets which are floating around on different DropBoxes. Finally, don’t correct your answers using the solution sheets and then go to the École du Barreau classes as you are setting yourself up for extremely boring set of classes (all you do in those classes is correct the annexes due that day). Good luck.
Joseph Joseph CookBook Compact Folding Bookstand, White and Gray
Time Timer, 3 Inch
Time Timer MOD, 3.5 inch (Sky Blue)
Sharpie Accent Highlighter 2-Pack, Yellow
Bic Brite Liner Highlighter 5-pack, Assorted
Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil 0.3mm, Standard Black
Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil 0.3 mm, High Grade Blue


  1. Jess


    As I understand, the Barreau sends a list of laws that are required and includes the civil code, criminal code, code de procédure and code du travail. It also includes a long list of other laws and says that students cannot print them out. Do we just buy the first four codes, and what about the list of other laws that they mention? Can a hard copy be purchased? Thanks a lot!

    • Matthew Meland

      Hi there. All of the laws which you need are in the codes which you buy (they will also provide you with a book including all of the ethics laws which you need). For example, the book that contains the Civil Code of Quebec should also include the Consumer Protection Act.


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