What is Fastcase?
Fastcase, a Washington D.C. based company, is the premiere American provider of online legal research.
Here's just some of what Fastcase includes:
- an easy-to-use search engine that allows both Boolean and natural-language searching;
- cases from the courts of review from Illinois and every other state, as well as U.S. Supreme and federal appellate and district court cases (users can search all jurisdictions at once);
- Illinois statutes;
- star pagination and double-column printing.
Is Fastcase available to all Illinois State Bar Association members free-of-charge?
Yes. It is brought to you by the ISBA Mutual Insurance Company.
How will I access Fastcase?
You may access Fastcase from any page in the Illinois State Bar Association's website by clicking on the Fastcase logo in the upper right of the page (it is also accessible through the Practice Tools menu). You will be asked to sign in (if you aren't logged in) and the will be taken straight to the Fastcase Quick Case Law Search Page.
Is there an app for that?
Will I need training to use Fastcase?
How current is the legal research database?
Fastcase updates its libraries daily, and they add most appellate cases in slip form to the system between 24 and 48 hours from their release by the court.
Can I Shepardize cases on Fastcase?
Fastcase's Authority Check feature displays a list of later-citing cases, as well as the text in which the citation occurs. Additionally, Fastcase recently released the Bad Law Bot which uses computer algorithms to detect when cases have been treated negatively in subsequent court cases. These cases will appear in the Fastcase database with a big red flag next to the party names. Bad Law Bot is great at identifying negative treatment, but as with Shepards or Keycite, attorneys should never entirely rely on any citator without consulting the sources.
What is Authority Check/Bad Law Bot?
Authority Check searches for other cases that cite your case and displays the results as a list of hyperlinked case names. This is a great research tool for finding related precedents, or to help determine the continuing value of a case as a precedent. In addition, you can use Authority Check on the Results page to sort search results in order of authority — with the most often-cited cases at the top of the list. Note that Authority Check only lists citing precedents in the Fastcase database.
The Bad Law Bot reads through the cases in the Authority Check report and analyzes the language the citing court uses in discussing the case. If it detects negative language was used in discussing your case, a big, red flag is posted on the case. In addition, you will see on the Authority Check Report a Bad Law Bot section highlighting the negative cases and the negative or neutral language it used that the Bad Law Bot thinks you need to know about.
What are Boolean searches, Natural language searches and Citation searches?
"Boolean" (or "keyword") searches are familiar to most Web users. They allow searchers to use terms such as AND, OR, NOT, ( ), " ", to find cases germane to a research question. Using "w/n" between two search terms (where n is a number) will find cases in which the two terms appear within n words of each other. Fastcase uses the "implied AND" search protocol, which means if there is no connector between search terms, it is treated as if the "AND" connector was used.
Natural language searches are much less precise, but are a good place to start if you don't have exact search terms. Natural Language searches return the best 100 results for your search, even if some of your terms don't appear in the results, or even if more than 100 cases contain your search terms. This search works well if you want to include certain words in your keyword search that might or might not appear in the result. For example, if you wanted to search for the phrase "Rule 11 sanctions for frivolous filing", a Boolean search, the search would only list cases using the word "frivolous", whereas a Natural Language search would return the most relevant 100 results, even if the word "frivolous" did not appear.
Citation searches should be used when you know the exact citation of the case you are looking for. Be sure to put in the volume number, the reporter identifier, and the first page of the case only (e.g., 700 F.2d 1). For more information, see the search tips, located underneath the search box, for a list of correct citation formats.
What if I need help?
You will be able to contact the Fastcase Customer Service Group by e-mail or by a toll free support number. The customer service desk is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday, and is offered free of charge as part of The Illinois State Bar Association member benefit. Please note that Fastcase customer service representatives cannot answer legal questions or provide legal advice.
Who do I contact if I have additional questions about the Fastcase service?
Please contact Fastcase Customer Service at 1866-773-2782 or firstname.lastname@example.org