Legal Research Blog
Don’t let the tedious process of copying down case citations sidetrack your research project. Instead, use the Copy Citation function in Fastcase to automatically copy and paste the citation of the case you are quoting into the document you are working on. Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Access the case that you want to cite. Make sure that you are in the full case text view and not on the results screen.
Step 2: Select Copy Citation from the Document menu.
Step 3: Open the document (or e-mail) that you want to paste the citation into. Put your cursor in the appropriate spot in the document and press Ctrl + V.
Voila! The case citation will be pasted into the document.
Please note that at present this feature is only compatible with Internet Explorer.
When you are getting started on a new research project, it is usually a good idea to start with a broad search query and then narrow your query until you get an acceptable number of results. Use these tips to make sure you are not inadvertently excluding decisions that address your topic.
1. Use synonyms. Try including common synonyms for the keywords in your query. For example, if one of your search terms is car, include automobile and vehicle in your search as well.
Instead of: “fourth amendment” & car
Try: (“fourth amendment” & car) or (“fourth amendment” & vehicle) or (“fourth amendment” & automobile )
2. Use the wildcard operator. By truncating a search term down to the root of the word and adding an asterisk at the end, your search with automatically pick-up multiple forms of the word including plurals. For example, a search for contract* will pick-up all of the following terms:
Contractor, contracting, contracts, contracting, contracted, etc.
3. Avoid quotation marks. Rather than putting a phrase in quotation marks, try constructing a query using keywords in the phrase connected with the within operator. This will reduce the chances that you are excluding cases that use slightly different words.
Instead of: breach of contract
Try: breach w/3 contract because this picks up phrases like breached its contract, breach of the contract, etc.
Sometimes the fastest way to find the statute section that you are looking for is to browse the statute in Outline View. Using Outline View you can see the structure of the entire statute and easily toggle back and forth between different subsections.
Example: If you wanted to browse the U.S. Code to find 42 U.S.C. § 1983, you would follow these steps:
1. Select Search Statutes from the Search menu.
2. Above the text box, there are two tabs, a Search tab and a Browse tab. Click on the Browse tab.
3. A list of our searchable jurisdictions will appear. Select U.S. Code from the list of statutes and jurisdictions by clicking on the plus sign next to “United States Code.” This will bring you to an expandable outline of the U.S. Code. Choose which edition of the U.S. Code you want to search by clicking on the plus sign next to the applicable edition.
4. Initially, you will see a list of the Titles within the Code. Click on the plus sign next to each Title to view the Chapters within each Title. Then click on the plus sign next to Chapter to view each Section.
a. Scroll down and expand Title 42 The Public Health and Welfare.
b. Then scroll down and expand Chapter 21 Civil Rights.
c. Finally, scroll down a bit further and click on Sec. 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights.
The statute text is in the panel on the right while the outline of the statute remains in the panel on the left.
Did you know that you can print up to 20 cases at a time?
1. Add documents to your print queue. Add documents to your print queue one of two ways.
From the results page: Each case on your results list has a Print Queue icon to the left of the screen. The Print Queue icon looks like a printer with a plus sign on it. Click on the Print Queue icon to add a case to your queue. When the case has been added, the plus sign on the icon will turn into a minus sign.
While browsing a case: Click on the Add to My Print Queue link at the top right of the screen.
2. Review your queue. To review your print queue, select View Print Queue from the Print menu. To remove the case from your print queue, click on the icon again.
3. Print. Once you have made your formatting selections, click the Print/Save button. The cases listed on your print queue will begin downloading as a single document on your computer. Open the file using the appropriate program (e.g. MS Word, Adobe Acrobat, Word Perfect) and then print the document by selecting Print from the File menu.
This month, Fastcase will be posting daily tips to assist you in your research process. Comments? Suggestions? War stories about how you use Fastcase in your practice? We want to hear from you. Drop us a line at email@example.com. (If you have compliments to share, we’ll take those too!)
When it comes to navigating a new web-based service, sometimes the best way to learn is by seeing. We have a library of 30 second to 5 minute video tutorials that will take you through finding and viewing cases and statutes, printing, and using advanced features like Authority Check and the Interactive Timeline. You can watch these videos, on demand, any time you need them. Find them at www.fastcase.com/support/.