News you can use…


Have you heard about FASTCASE? It is the ISBA’s FREE online legal research service which is available to all ISBA members and included in the cost of your membership. It is an unbelievably cost-effective alternative to Westlaw and/or Lexis.

What is your Westlaw or Lexis subscription costing you every year and are you really getting your money’s worth? The April 2009 Illinois Bar Journal published a very informative and comprehensive article on Fastcase by Helen W. Gunnarsson, an Illinois Bar Journal contributing writer and lawyer from Highland Park. Gunnarsson focused on the benefits of Fastcase and whether or not practitioners should make it their primary research tool or merely a supplement to a more limited (and less costly) Westlaw or Lexis subscription. Fastcase now serves approximately 340,000 lawyers and has partnerships with numerous bar associations throughout the country. To view Gunnarsson’s article in its entirety, follow this link: <>.

Here’s just some of what you get with Fastcase

1. Illinois Supreme Court case law;

2. Illinois Appellate Court case law;

3. Illinois Federal District Courts case law;

4. Statutes;

5. Regulations;

6. Constitutions;

7. Court Rules for all 50 states;

8. U.S. Supreme Court case law;

9. All Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal case law;

10. FREE webinars (online training demonstration) on how to use Fastcase and MCLE CREDIT for taking the webinar!

11. Newspapers;

12. Public records;

13. Federal Filings;

14. Legal Forms;

15. The print queue: the ability to print all of your cases at once instead of having to print them one at a time—good timesaving technique; Fastcase also offers duel-column printing;

16. The ability to go directly to the search term in a decision or case;

17. Three (3) ways to search: Boolean (or “keyword”), natural language and citation look up – Fastcase’s search engine is easy to navigate and quite user-friendly;

18. Authority Check (***Cautionary note: Fastcase acknowledges the limitations of Authority Check and does not dispute the importance of Shepards being used as necessary***) Gunnarsson’s article suggests using Westlaw or Lexis (for Shepard’s purposes) on a transactional basis as a supplement to your Fastcase primary research service—paying for Westlaw or Lexis as you use it, rather than having a subscription, is another huge cost savings. This is a great way to “pare down” a costly Westlaw or Lexis subscription;

19. Interactive Timeline—Gunnarsson’s article describes this as a “graphic depiction” of cases that are closely on point with the issue you are researching and it creates a wonderful visual summary of relevant cases (or visual display of search results) for the user; and

20. Free online or telephone support through the customer service department which is staffed by real attorneys.

Here’s what you don’t get

1. Shepards;

2. Key Cite;

3. West’s headnotes; and

4. West’s annotation to statutes.

Finally, Fastcase customer service is available Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. central time at 866-77-FASTCASE. You can call and talk to an attorney who will work with you to fix the problem or answer your question…you can even e-mail after business hours to ask a question at

Fastcase is currently being sold to nonmember lawyers for $695 per year, but it is absolutely FREE to ISBA members at no cost beyond their regular annual dues. This is just another great reason to join the ISBA today. To check out Fastcase or obtain further information, visit the ISBA’s home page at <> -- in the upper right-hand corner of the page, click on Fastcase!


Patricia M. Fallon is an Assistant State’s Attorney in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. She is a member of the ISBA Federal Civil Practice Committee. The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and are not those of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.



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June 2009Volume 10Number 4PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)