Legal Research Blog


Checklists in Your Practice: Increasing Efficiency

We always love a post about how to work more efficiently. That’s why we loved Jim Calloway’s column in LawyersUSA about how to use checklists in practice. The source of Jim’s enthusiasm? Atul Gawande’s book “The Checklist Manifesto.” From the column:

Lawyers tend to be creative problem solvers. The idea of spending the work day following detailed checklists may strike many as a rigid and unappealing business model. But the opposite is actually true. If you are going to have to do many simple and mundane tasks (and we all do), it is better to get them completed in less time and with less effort. That frees up more of your time for the valuable and creative work of lawyering and it might even allow you to go home a little earlier that night.

Read the whole post here.

Click here to read our post about how to handle items that have been sitting on your checklist for too long.

Jim Calloway is the Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program and co-produces the monthly podcast, The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology. He is also a legal tech Jedi — having chaired the ABA Techshow and spoken about legal technology just about everywhere one can. Legal tech is often intimidating and bewildering to users — and despite (because of?) Jim’s mastery, he is still able to explain hardware, software, and processes in ways that any lawyer can understand. He’s also the recent winner of a Fastcase 50 award honoring law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, & leaders.

Fastcase at AALL

Fastcase spent a busy week  in Philadelphia, exhibiting and having a great time at the American Association of Law Libraries Annual Meeting. Coming off of a win at the 2010 Annual Meeting for New Product of the Year, Fastcase took the opportunity at the 2011 meeting to highlight our latest features, recognize top legal innovators and of course, have some fun. With the Fastcase Cloud Printing launch just the day before the Exhibit Hall opening ceremony, our team had the opportunity to showcase the suite of applications that will provide users with one-click printing from a variety of legal applications. We were excited to be able to share this development first with some of the legal field’s most creative and forward thinkers. In addition to stopping by the Fastcase exhibit for demonstrations, word spread quickly about the new additions to the Fastcase t-shirt line. Many law librarians left the Annual Meeting with quite the souvenir.

On Monday, Fastcase announced the winners of our inaugural Fastcase 50 list. The list featured individuals from across the legal field including state bar leaders, bloggers, librarians and legal tech innovators and created quite a buzz at the Annual Meeting. To view the full list and read more about our 2011 winners, take a look around the Fastcase 50 winners page here – while you’re at it, start brainstorming your nominations for next year!

Wrapping up AALL 2011, CEO Ed Walters coordinated a panel to discuss the law library’s impact on the movement. Building on the conversation started last year at a workshop at the Center for American Progress , Ed brought together panelists Greg Lambert of King & Spaulding, Sarah Glassmeyer of Valparaiso University Law School Library, Keith Ann Stiverson of Chicago-Kent College of Law Library and Carl Malamud, founder for The group provided great insight from their respective backgrounds and assured that the conversation about open-sourcing the law remains open and active.

We would like to say thank you to everyone at AALL for another great Annual Meeting and for those of you who joined us in the PLL-Fastcase Hospitality Suite. We are grateful for your support of Fastcase. Let the countdown for AALL 2012 commence!

Fastcase Welcomes the State Bar of New Mexico

Starting today, the State Bar of New Mexico will be providing access to Fastcase for its 8,600 members. The benefit includes free access to Fastcase’s comprehensive national research service, including state and federal materials. Its New Mexico libraries include caselaw and statutes, session laws, administrative rules, regulations and codes. The service also includes transactional access to newspaper articles, federal court filings, and legal forms. Members may log in by going to, opening the legal research drop down menu, selecting Fastcase, and entering a bar ID and password.

Members will also have access to the newest Fastcase feature – annotations for statutes. Look for more news about Fastcase annotations right here on our blog!

Tip: Using the Wildcard Operator

The wildcard operator is one of the most powerful Boolean operators in your toolkit.  At Fastcase, we use the asterisk symbol (*) as our wildcard.

When you put the asterisk after the stem of a word, your search will return documents containing any word beginning with that stem.

For example:

Termin* →         Search results containing the words termination, terminated, terminal, etc.

Litig*     →         Search results containing the words litigator, litigation, litigious, etc.

Eat*       →           Search results containing the words eat, eaten, eatery, eaters, eating

As you can see, using the wildcard operator is a very powerful and flexible tool.  Think about incorporating the wildcard regularly in your searches.

Tip: Use Your Browser to Develop a Library of Your Favorite Searches

You may already know that Fastcase automatically tracks your last 10 searches.  But have you ever wished that you could access even older searches?  How about naming your searches and organizing them in folders by topic?  You can easily accomplish all of these tasks using your web browser.

1.     While on the Results screen, press Control + D.   (Mac users, use Apple/Command + D instead).  This will cause a small window to appear on your screen.

In IE:  “Add a Favorite.”

In Firefox: “Page Bookmarked.”

In Chrome: “Bookmark Added.”

2.     The window will prompt you to name your bookmark.  You might want to name your bookmark according to your search topic, e.g., “Beach easements.”

3.    Next, follow the prompts in the bookmark window to create a new bookmark folder for your search.  (Hint: Try creating folders for particular clients or briefs, e.g., “Merits Brief” or “Smith Arbitration.”)

4.     To return to your bookmarked search results later, find the bookmark folder you created using your browser. When you click on the bookmark, your search results will automatically reappear.

(Hint: Make sure you are logged in to Fastcase before accessing your bookmarks).