Friday, January 16, 2015

Fastcase Legal Research Service Now Available

The Goodson Law Library now subscribes to the legal research service Fastcase. Members of the Duke Law community may access Fastcase with a current Law School NetID through this link, which is posted on the Legal Databases & Links list as well as in the Duke Libraries Catalog.

You may be thinking, "Not another legal research service to learn!" It’s true that the interface will look somewhat familiar to users of Westlaw, Lexis and Bloomberg, and the primary law content can be found elsewhere. But it's still worth taking a look at Fastcase, especially if you plan to practice in one of the 27 states (or a handful of cities and counties) whose bar associations currently offer the service for free as a membership benefit, a list which includes New York and North Carolina. In jurisdictions with free access to the service for bar association members, Fastcase can be a highly cost-effective starting place for your legal research.

Like other legal research services, Fastcase offers a choice between natural language or Boolean command searching for its content, which includes case law, statutes, regulations, court rules, and constitutions. Most primary law search results are displayed in a traditional list format. However, case law search results can also be displayed in an Interactive Timeline option, a graphical depiction of each case result's influence which was described in the May 2014 ABA Journal cover story on visual law services. Secondary sources include newspapers available through a partnership with Newsbank, and law review articles provided through a partnership with HeinOnline. (Note that in this law school-wide version of Fastcase, your personal search histories and document access histories are not saved, as they would be in an individualized account through a state bar association.)

Many Fastcase tips and tricks can be found on its Help & Training pages, as well as on The Fastcase Blog. To learn more about low-cost legal research services, visit Section IV of the Goodson Law Library guide to Legal Research on the Web or Ask a Librarian.