With the whole world turned upside down, it’s more critical than ever for you to be up-to-date on the law.
That’s why you should not only subscribe to the free legal database offered by your state bar association, but you should be checking it regularly for changes in your practice areas.
“Every state bar association offers its members a free subscription to the legal research system of either Casemaker4 or Fastcase7,” write legal educators Judy K. Davis and Carole A. Levitt in ABA Law Practice Today. “Some bar associations, such as Texas, even offer members a free subscription to both. So, if you are a member of your state bar association you already have a subscription, without spending a dime on it. Their systems include primary law (case law, constitutions, and regulatory law) from the federal government and all 50 states, and much more. You can easily use either system when you’re away from your computer because they offer a free app version for your mobile device, in addition to the web-based version.”
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4 Pro Tips for Using Casemaker4 and Fastcase7
Here are some tips from Davis and Levitt for getting the most out of your bar association’s research database (all quotes are from their article in ABA Law Practice Today).
- Set up your free account. “Even if you like the fee-based legal research system you are already using, I’d suggest you sign up for a free Casemaker4 or Fastcase7 account to run identical searches on your current fee-based system and whichever system you have for free,” according to Law Practice Today. “You can then decide if the free system meets your needs. If it meets your needs, you’ll save some money by canceling your fee-based system. If it doesn’t meet your needs, you can keep your fee-based system.”
- Get familiar with the citator system. “Casemaker4 also offers a nifty citator product, CiteCheck, which allows you to upload a brief (or memo or any document with case citations) to automatically generate a report showing any subsequent negative treatment of each case. That way, you don’t have to cite check case by case.”
- Sign up for free alerts. “You can create a [Casemaker] Search Alert based on search terms and jurisdictions that you select. To set up a Search Alert, click the ‘exclamation point in a circle’ icon from the results list. Casemaker4 will run the search for you and send you an email with links to any new documents that match your criteria. Casemaker4 also has two other types of alerts: Document Alerts and Case Digest. Document Alerts can be used when you want to be informed of any new development about a particular case or any document. To set up this alert, select one, multiple, or all documents from the results list and click the ‘exclamation point in a triangle’ icon. Case Digest is a service that sends you summaries of cases 24 hours after a court releases its decision. Click the Case Digest tab on the navigation toolbar to set up this Alert service. Fastcase7 only has one type of alert. It’s the same as Casemaker4’s Search Alert, but it is limited to case law only. To set up a Fastcase7 alert, look for the bell icon to the right of the search box on the result list page and click it.”
- Share documents. “Fastcase7’s Cloud Linking is a free tool that allows you to upload your PDF or Word document to create public hyperlinks for all case citations in your document. After Fastcase7 has worked its magic, it returns the document for download, which includes public hyperlinks. Anyone you send the document to, from co-counsel to a client, etc. is able to click your hyperlinks to read the case you’ve cited, even non-Fastcase7 subscribers. Casemaker4 calls its public link a Shareable Link and works similar to Fastcase’s Public Link feature.”
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