Legal Research Blog


Customer Service During Sandy

We at Fastcase are bracing ourselves for Sandy’s landfall tomorrow! We will still be available for customer service beginning at 8am Monday, but will also be watching the storm and updating you via this blog with any changes to our regularly scheduled hours so please check back often.

For immediate live customer assistance please contact us via e-mail at We will also be available via Live Chat and on a limited basis by phone. Our Help and Training page as well as our FAQ are also great resources which may help answer some questions.

For the latest news on Sandy visit

We greatly appreciate your patience during the storm and hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and dry!

Luminary Award Winners

This month Fastcase had a blast at the NABE Communications Workshop in beautiful Denver, CO. We also had the great honor of presenting the 2012 Luminary Awards winners. We hope that you will join us in congratulating them and take a moment to check out some of their award winning work.

Regular Publications
DCBA- The Journal of the DuPage County Bar Association
San Diego Bar Association
State Bar of Arizona- Arizona Attorney

Special Publications
Nikki Gray- Nashville Bar Association
Lori Wolk- State Bar of Nevada
North Carolina Bar Association

Electronic Publications
The Chester County Bar Association- New Matter Committee
San Diego Bar Association
Ohio State Bar Association

Public Relations
Austin Bar Association- Communications Department
Indiana State Bar Association- Young Lawyers Section
State Bar of Texas- Communications Division

Nancy R Paul, Jim Mathias, Jack Costello and George Cardenas- Montgomery Bar Association
Carissa Long- Indiana Bar Association
North Carolina Bar Association

Kane County Bar Association- Website Committee
San Diego Bar Association
State Bar of Georgia- Communications Department

Fastcase Research Tip: Use proximity operators for more precise results

While in Keyword (Boolean) search, you can use multiple proximity (“within”) operators to fine-tune your search.

Here’s an example:

If I’m looking for cases in all jurisdictions involving the constitutionality of a search of curtilage and would like the cases to mention the word warrant or a form of warrant, I could run a search like this:

constitution* AND curtilage AND search* AND warrant*

However, that search returns 1,000+ results and the terms could be anywhere within the opinion.

If I want cases that discuss these keywords close together, I can narrow down my search by using the proximity operator. When I do this, the terms will be within several words of each other. To use the proximity operator, simply put a w/ or just a / and a number between 2 and 50 between the words you want to be close to each other. In this case, I want the terms to be within 25 words of each other. Here’s my new search:

constitution* w/25 search* w/25 curtilage w/25 warrant*

This search, even across all jurisdictions, gives me 299 results, which is a lot easier to review than 1,000!

For more tips on Boolean searches, sign up here for one of our webinars.

3 Ways to Boost Your Legal Research with Authority Check

Authority Check is one of the innovative features included in your Fastcase desktop subscription. It can help you determine whether a case is good law or not by giving you all of the later citing cases along with information about the most recently cited cases and the court levels at which the case has been cited. The report, however, can do much more than just help determine the precedential value of a case. It can help you:

1. Find additional cases on point.
If you’ve been searching for hours and have only found one or two cases that are on point, try using Authority Check to look at cases that cite the cases you’ve already found. This may lead to finding new cases and search terms that you hadn’t searched for.

2. Narrow the report to the newly-found cases to your particular jurisdiction.
On the report there is a dropdown menu that lets you filter by particular jurisdictions. This allows you to find the most relevant later citing cases and can help you better understand how a given case or topic is treated in your jurisdiction.

3. Visualize your case.
Now this is just plain cool. The Authority Check gives you a snapshot of the Interactive Timeline (another Fastcase tool) of your case. It places the cases that have cited your case on a 4-D graph. You can see a timeline with each case that has cited your case, how many times the later citing cases have been cited, and the relevancy of each later citing case. In a matter of seconds you can get a better understanding of your case.

For more information and instructions on how to use Authority Check, and Fastcase’s other innovative features, go to our Smarter Tools page found here .

An illustrated guide to Illinois’s new citation rules

On July 1, 2011, Illinois began using vendor-neutral citations, previously noted here.  The John Marshall Law School has created a helpful and fun video on using the new citation rules. Thanks to the Legal Writing Prof Blog for the pointer!