Legal Research Blog


Tip: Use Live Chat for Assistance with Your Research

At Fastcase, our mission is to help you work smarter, not harder. Our live customer support is an important part of this mission and Live Chat is one of the best ways to take advantage of this service.

It works just like an instant-messaging program and allows you to get personalized help while multi-tasking at the same time. What’s more, Fastcase customer support associates can even send you links to search results, cases, and more via Live Chat making it one of the most efficient ways to get assistance.

To access Live Chat, just select Live Help from the Help menu at the top of the screen. A Live Chat window will open on your screen. Here you can type in your question and wait for a Fastcase customer support associate to respond.

Live Chat is available from 8 am to 8 pm Eastern time on Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Tip: Sorting Cases to Find Results Faster

Fastcase allows you to search broadly and then sort your search results to find what you need quickly. In fact, you can sort your case law search results in 6 different ways.  Make your selection on the Advanced Caselaw Search page under Search Options, then Results, then Sort by.  Most of these sorting options are also available on the Results screen.

Sorting Options:

Relevance: This is the default sorting order, so if you don’t make a selection, this is the order that your results will appear in. The higher the Relevance percentage (0-100%), the more likely a case is to contain a substantive discussion of your topic.

Case Name: Sorting by case name will put your results in alphabetical order.

Decision Date: Sorting by decision date will put your results in chronological order.

Court Hierarchy: Sorting by Court Level or Court Hierarchy will put your results in order according to the level or the court issuing the decision, starting with U.S. Supreme Court decisions and ending with State Supreme and Appellate Court decisions.

Cited Within: Sorting by “Cited Within” will put your results in order of the number of times each decision was cited by other decisions in your search results.  Note: This category is called “These Results” on the Results screen.

Cited Generally: Sorting by “Cited Generally” will put your results in order of the number of times each decision was cited by other decisions in the Fastcase database.  Note: This category is called “Entire Database” on the Results screen.

Tip: Send Your Search Results to Another Fastcase User

At Fastcase, you get static urls† for all search results (and cases).  That means you can save search results as bookmarks or send them to other Fastcase users.  Just follow these simple steps to send your search results to another Fastcase user:

1. Run a search.

2. When you are on the results screen, copy and paste the url into an email and send to the desired recipient.

3. Your recipient can access your search results by copying and pasting the url into her browser window after logging into Fastcase.

†Not sure what a url is?  “Url” stands for “uniform resource locator.”  Think of it as a type of address that tells your web browser where to access information from within Fastcase.  Urls are displayed in the address bar (usually at the top) of your web browser.   Fastcase urls begin with:  “https://.”

Tip: Selecting a Specific Jurisdiction

With Fastcase, it is easy to choose a specific jurisdiction for your case law searches.

1. Start by navigating to Advanced Caselaw Search.

2. Next, scroll down to the “Select Jurisdictions” heading and click the circle next to “Individual Jurisdictions.”

3. This should reveal a number of categories of jurisdictions. Expand any category by clicking the plus sign next to the category name.

4. Select the specific jurisdictions you wish to search within by marking the box next to the name of the jurisdiction. You can select as many or as few as you like, and you can search across different categories.

Bonus: As you search, the last 5 jurisdictions (or groups of jurisdictions) that you selected will begin to appear under “Recently Searched Jurisdictions.”

Tip: Search for a Case Using the Party Names

Did you know that you can easily look up a case using the party names?  Fastcase’s Keyword Search is the perfect tool for this type of search.

Example:  Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803).

1. Navigate to the Advanced Caselaw Search by choosing Search Cases from the Search menu.

2. If you know which jurisdiction issued the decision you are looking for, narrow your search accordingly.

3. Type the case name in the search box.  For example, here, you would simply type in Marbury v. Madison.

4. The case you are looking for will almost certainly show up in your top 10 search results.  In this example, the case we selected was the first case on the list.