Today the Oregon State Bar (OSB) offered the first of two live training sessions on Fastcase, the new online law library for Oregon lawyers. The demo was a great opportunity to learn about new, unique, and “hidden” features of this research tool.
What is Fastcase?
Fastcase is an online law library offering access to case law, statutes, regulations, court rules, constitutions, and ethics opinions. Jurisdiction is state and federal, including appellate and bankruptcy. To find a complete list of what is included, log in, then select the Scope of Coverage link at the bottom of the Web page. (More on this below in What Features are “Hidden” in Fastcase?)
Through partnerships with NewsLibrary.com and others, users can also search newspapers, public records, federal filings, and legal forms.
What Does it Cost?
Fastcase legal research is free. It is included as a member benefit for all lawyers who are active members of the OSB. You will incur a cost if you Shepardize® or KeyCite® a case or use one of the partnership databases to purchase search results or forms. (Fastcase comes with an “Authority Check,” a cite checker which generates a citation report which can be filtered and manipulated.)
How Do I Log in?
Log in through the OSB Web site using your OSB number and password – the same one you previously used for Casemaker. Once you’ve logged in, begin your research at the Fastcase Start Page.
A second live demo, scheduled for 4:00 p.m. today, PST will be recorded and offered as a free Webinar on the OSB Web site in the near future. Tutorials are available under the Fastcase “Help” menu.
With Casemaker, customer support was provided by OSB staff. With Fastcase, support will come directly from the vendor. Fastcase offers 3 alternatives, all found under the Help menu:
A User Guide and answers to Frequently Asked Questions are also available.
What Features are Unique to Fastcase?
• Fastcase offers 6 ways to sort results – relevance, case name, decision date, cited in these results, cited in entire database, and court hierarchy. In the results page, choose Results, then Sort by.
• Search terms can be highlighted when saving or printing documents. With a document open, choose Print/Save. Change the default from No to Yes under “Highlight search terms.”
What Features are New to Fastcase?
• The results page now features a print icon, which allows you to easily add a case to the print queue for later printing.
• You can jump to search terms within a document using the keyboard shortcuts N or P – N moves to the Next search term; P moves to the previous search term.
• Legal forms are now available through US Legal Forms, a Fastcase partner. (Charges apply.)
What Features are “Hidden” in Fastcase?
Fastcase is still in the process of converting data for Oregon, so if you are looking for the Workers Comp Board, Land Use Board of Appeals, or the Employment Relations Board they are included, but not yet listed in the Scope of Coverage. Fastcase will be rectifying this shortly. To search for WCB, LUBA, or ERB matters, choose Search, then select Search Cases. Type the acronym (LUBA) or full name (Land Use Board of Appeals) and any other applicable search terms.
Quick Tips from the Live Demo
• To quickly save and retrieve documents, use My Library.
• To save and retrieve search results, favorite the Web page (as you would any other in your browser). If you return to the page later, Fastcase remembers your search parameters and provides current search results. To favorite a specific document, just click on the Add to My Favorites link in the upper right hand corner of the page or use My Library.
• To e-mail search results, simply copy the URL from the top of your browser and paste it into an email message. To e-mail a specific case or document, use the Email link in the upper right hand corner of the page.
• To see Boolean operators, check the box, “Show Search Tips” just below the search box.
• To access your last 10 searches, choose Start, then My Research Home.
• To access the last 5 jurisdictions you searched, choose Search, then Search Cases.
What is Next?
The Scope of Coverage link should be updated shortly to reflect the complete Oregon library, including the “hidden” features discussed above. Expect more content to be added over time.
Fastcase is a user-friendly product in more ways than one. The customer support options and availability is superior to what is typically available for a legal-specific technology tool. The navigation is forgiving. In most cases, using your browser forward and back buttons will get you where you intended to go. Take time to explore the Authority Check citation tool and “Interactive Timeline” which helps you see in graphical terms which cases are the most relevant, recent, or frequently cited.
Copyright Beverly Michaelis 2009