Legal Research Blog
Did you know that all Fastcase users have free and unlimited access to reference support through Fastcase? Fastcase has a terrific team of research support staff comprised of technical professionals and research attorneys who are here to help you run searches and find the most relevant cases.
Denise Lauretti is the Senior Reference Attorney on the Fastcase customer support team. She has her J.D. from Boston College and twenty years of practice experience in Massachusetts and New Hampshire doing insurance defense work. She joined Fastcase as a senior reference attorney in January and oversees the Fastcase customer support team in Washington, D.C. We recently sat down with Denise to talk about how she and her team help Fastcase users every day.
FC: This is a time where legal technology is changing really quickly. What do you think the biggest challenges are right now in legal research?
DL: One of the greatest challenges is opening the field to more experienced lawyers who feel technology has passed them by. I hear from attorneys every day who felt that books were still the standard for research. Often, this is because traditional search engines are not as user friendly for someone new to the idea of online research. Fastcase’s intuitive interface makes the transition easy for those attorneys. The training offered is accessible and easy to use. Results are easy to understand and incorporate into every day practice. Additional tools such as the iPhone and iPad apps allowing access on the fly are important in today’s law practice.
FC: Is there such thing as a typical research question from a member?
DL: A user will call and say “I’ve been researching for three days, and I’m out of ideas. I don’t know what else to do.” More often than not, because we work with Fastcase every day, we are able to run a couple of searches and get them point them in the right direction. We are also able to suggest additional searches that may be helpful in narrowing down results going forward. We always encourage members to call us back if they need more help later. It’s an ongoing process.
FC: These aren’t the kind of things that many experienced attorneys learned in law school, right? Keyword (Boolean) search hasn’t been around that long?
DL: We had a week of training with Boolean searches during my first year and then used books. Even when online search options became available, training on the system was short and the support system was frustrating. Books were always the backstop. Fastcase’s engine, which returns results in the order in which they are likely to be useful is an innovation designed to streamline that process. The search tips that appear on the search pages are extremely useful for those of us less familiar with the Boolean search.
FC: How do you and your team help make time spent researching more efficient?
DL: We regularly help members get started with research, especially when they are moving into a topic that is unfamiliar. In speaking with members about the task at hand, we also have the opportunity to suggest time-saving tools that will aid in finding the right document faster. We know that for members, time is money – we aim to help save both.
FC: Thanks Denise!
Users may contact Denise and her team from 8AM to 8PM Eastern, Monday – Friday.
Phone: (866) 773-2782
Live Chat: Help| Live Chat
Next time you need help finding something, call us. 1-866-773-2782.
Former Supreme Court Justice has a book in the works where he discusses his time working with five chief Justices- Vinson, Warren, Burger, Rehnquist, and Roberts. In an interview with the Atlantic he says:
“I’m writing a book about the five chief justices that I’ve known, and I’ve got it almost done. I think I’m going to call it The Five Chiefs. It’s primarily personal recollections of each of the chiefs, and I also have some comments about some of their jurisprudence.”
With 63 years worth of memories to go through, Stevens should be able to put together an enlightening read for anyone interested in the judicial history of the United States Supreme Court.
Ever since the introduction of the iPad, the tablet race has been fascinating to watch. Having all but obliterated the Netbook market (when was the last time you have heard anyone mention one, let alone be excited about one?), the market continues to grow as companies and developers find increasingly useful purposes for the devices. This week alone has seen two major developments.
This week Barnes and Noble took major steps to expand the functionality of their Nook Color E-reader. More expensive than Amazon’s Kindle, but half the price of Apple’s iPad2 the Nook at $249 seems to hit a number of high notes. Upgraded to include Android 2.2 “Froyo”, Flash 10.1 and a limited Nook specific app store the device seems to carve out a niche unto itself stressing both practicality and features at a reasonable price point. If you are an avid reader or would like to be, the device’s support for different document types (PDF, DOC, TXT, EPUB, etc.) make it an interesting choice.
Sony announced this week the introduction of the S1 and S2 tablet devices for this fall. Meant to compete against the likes of the Xoom, iPad2, Blackberry Playbook, and Samsung Galaxy the two devices take a different stance on design. The S1 takes on the standard tablet design while the S2 has a clam shell form factor reminiscent of Microsoft’s Courier tablet concept. Both the S1 and S2 are expected to use Android’s 3.0 “Honeycomb” build. Expectations are high for the devices (although apparently realistic for Sony executives) as the major new releases this year, while plentiful, so far have been underwhelming.
With the introduction or announcement of several high profile devices or upgrades, 2011 really does seem to be the year of the tablet. If you are interested in any of the mobile legal assistance software that has been released in the last year or so, you have many more hardware options than you think.
By now you’ve probably at least heard about the latest in scandals at the intersection of technology and privacy rights. Yes, it’s true – Apple does in fact have the capability of tracking your location via the iPhone and/or iPad. As blogger Jason Perlow of Tech Broiler points out, is this really that much of a shock? In order for GPS devices to function as needed, your location must be revealed. The sticky part is where and how long companies are allowed to store this information – if at all. Herein lies the controversy. During a session at the Where 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, CA last week, programmers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden revealed that Apple not only has this capability but they have also been storing the data on your device. Allan and Warden presented on the ways in which Apple has been collecting the data, where it’s being stored and the lack of protection over the information, all items that have had i-fanatics in a panic. It seemed fairly clear that Apple had broken the rules and the media wasted no time making implications about what this all means and who would be caught next. DailyTech covered many of the details and rumors including the very real lawsuit filed against Apple just two days following the announcement. The post also addresses the concern that, much like many other issues of this nature, Apple is not the only company at fault. It’s apparently widely known that Google tracks users of its Android system but avoids the same scrutiny by deleting the information soon after collecting it.
Although Steve Jobs made a brief statement denying Apple’s tracking faux pas at the beginning of the week, the company followed up this morning with a more comprehensive question and answer session about what exactly the iPhone and iPad track as well as what they’re doing to rectify the situation. Apple explained that cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots are used to mark your location as opposed to your exact latitude and longitude, in order to allow GPS and other location driven apps to function properly. They made no effort to hide the fact that information is indeed stored on your iPhone and not encrypted but that this would soon be changing. Furthermore, any information that leaves your phone, whether it is being forwarded to Apple or downloaded to iTunes, as it is anytime you backup, the information is encrypted (assuming you have the appropriate on your iTunes account). Perhaps the most important part of the official response from Apple was their list of software updates to include a reduction in the size of the database stored on the iPhone, discontinuation of database transfer upon backup, and the addition of encryption. To read more of Apple’s answers you can take a look at the full list of responses posted by Business Insider here.
While Apple did a nice job answering the tough questions, it remains to be seen whether their honesty after the fact will impact the lawsuit before them. Nothing included in the official response speaks directly to the complaint filed but their continuous reference to opt-in apps that would necessitate location tracking, implies that Apple does not believe they have violated federal law. It could be months or even years before we get an answer to that question but we’re sure there will be many more revelations in the coming weeks.
The Wall Street Journal has a great article on its website about the role of social media in the workplace. While not a great fit for all organizations, the collaborative nature of the system can make the potential gains of shared knowledge worthwhile. The guidelines the article sets out are a great starting point for an internal social media framework.
The best part of the article is its overall theme. The reality of social media involvement whether inside or outside of the organization is investment in the platform. Facebook and Twitter succeed not only because of the rapid dissemination of data, but also because of the personal investment of its users. An organization’s leadership needs to motivate and fuel ownership of the project by fostering contribution, actually implementing the good ideas, and show support for the platform. Otherwise your social media experiment may end up being another statistic.