Montana attorneys have a new option for conducting electronic legal research, and this one is free, making it a game-changer for many attorneys who have had limited access to electronic legal research until now. The State Bar of Montana recently contracted with Fastcase to provide research services for Montana attorneys. This week University of Montana Law School students and faculty also gained access to Fastcase.
The Fastcase library contains cases, annotated codes, administrative regulations, constitutions and court rules from all 50 states and federal jurisdictions. In addition, through a partnership with Hein Online, Fastcase users can also research law review articles.
Fastcase has some unique features that set it apart. Fastcase’s relevancy results make sure the most relevant documents are always listed at the top of the results. The results screen weighs the relevancy of each document and in one glance shows how many times each has been cited, making it easy to find both the most relevant and most cited cases at the same time. For researchers who prefer visual cues to numbers, an interactive results map allows researchers to see both most relevant and most cited cases in one visual display. Fastcase’s authority checker doesn’t analyze how citing cases have treated a particular case, but it does show the context in which the case was cited and the language surrounding the citation. In addition, Fastcases’s new Bad Law Bot flags cases that have been treated negatively.
Twenty-five state bar associations now subscribe to Fastcase for their members. If you are a UMSL student or faculty member, you should have received your Fastcase password via email this week; if you didn’t, contact the law library. There will be training opportunities early next semester, but if you want to start trying it out now, there are some video tutorials you can use.
The Jameson Law Library Blog will take a break Friday, November 28 for the Thanksgiving Weekend. Look for us again on December 5.