Legal Research Blog

 

Tip: Constructing a Broad Keyword Search

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 garbage, include trash and refuse in your search as well.

Instead of: “fourth amendment” & garbage

Try: “fourth amendment” & (garbage or trash or refuse)

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 will automatically pick up multiple forms of the word including plurals. For example, a search for testa* will pick-up all of the following terms:

testator, testamentary, testament, testable, 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: “statute of limitations tolled”

Try: “statute of limitations” w/5 tolled because this picks up phrases like would have tolled the statute of limitations, statute of limitations was equitably tolled, statute of limitations was not tolled, etc.

Tip: Browse Statutes in Outline View

With electronic sources, 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 on Fastcase, you can see the “table of contents view” of the entire code and easily toggle back and forth between different individual statutes.

Example: If you wanted to browse the U.S. Code to find 29 U.S.C. § 2611, 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 29 Labor.

b.  Then scroll down and expand Chapter 28 Family and Medical Leave.

c. Finally, scroll down a bit further expand Subchapter I, then click on Section 2611 Definitions.

The statute text will open up in the panel on the right while the outline of the code remains in the panel on the left.

Tip: Batch Printing

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.

Tip: Watch a Fastcase Video Tutorial

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 comments@fastcase.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/.

Getting more help is easy. For support, call 1-866-773-2782 between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm Eastern, email support@fastcase.com, or use our Live Chat feature.

Tip: Free 24-Hour Trials

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 comments@fastcase.com. (If you have compliments to share, we’ll take those too!)

Are you considering upgrading to our premium subscription but aren’t sure what you are missing? Don’t take our word for it — see for yourself by signing up for a free 24-hour Fastcase trial. Just go to http://www.fastcase.com/subscription/ and sign up today.

Getting more help is easy. For support, call 1-866-773-2782 between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm Eastern, email support@fastcase.com, or use our Live Chat feature.