Legal Research Blog


Happy Memorial Day

Fastcase is closed on Monday, May 30th in observation of Memorial Day. We will be back to our normal hours, 8am-8pm EDT, on Tuesday.

shared via Flickr CC by Robert Couse-Baker

Have a wonderful weekend and thank you to all those who have served our country.

Where in the World is Fastcase?

In many ways, summer is the busiest season here at Fastcase. It’s that time of year when we disperse to meet members at partner bar association annual meetings, librarians, as well as fellow legal techies. Here’s a little preview of where we’ll be in the next couple weeks. Hope to see lots of you there! Drop us a note and we’ll watch for you.

May 25: We are wrapping up at the 2011 Association of Legal Administrators Annual Conference and Exposition. Thanks to all who stopped by!

June 2 – 3: Fastcase will be at the State Bar of Georgia Annual Meeting in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Bar will be hosting training seminars for CLE credit on June 2 from 9am to 10am and on June 3 from 2pm – 3pm.

June 9 – 11: Fastcase will be at The Missouri Bar 16th Annual Solo & Small Firm Conference at Tan-Tar-A Resort. Fastcase will be doing a one hour CLE training and will be giving away two premium upgrades as well as a subscription to Missouri Deskbooks.

June 8 – 10: Join us at the State Bar of Wisconsin Real Estate and Business Institute at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Join us on Thursday, June 9th at 10:45am for Fastcase Insider Tips (good for one hour of CLE credit).

June 9 – 10: We’ll be at the Arkansas Bar Association Annual Meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Join us for Fastcase training on Friday, June 10 at 9:30a or 1:30p. (See page 16 of the manual for details!)

June 12 – 15: Fastcase will be at the Special Libraries Association Annual Conference and INFO-EXPO in Philadelphia meeting with librarians from across the country.

June 15 – 18: We’ll be at the Tennessee Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chattanooga. Stop by our booth to learn more about your expanded member benefit through the Tennessee Bar Association.

June 16 – 17: Join us at the Illinois State Bar Association Annual Meeting at the Abbey Resort in Fontana, WI for member training (for CLE credit!). We’ll be doing a session for beginners from 2pm to 3pm and a session for more advanced researchers from 3:15pm to 4:15 pm. These sessions will be very small and interactive!

June 15 – 17: Stop by our booth at the State Bar of Arizona Annual Convention! Did you know that the Arizona Bar Books are now available on Fastcase? Sign up for a single book or for the whole set at the conference and receive a 25% discount!

Mendeley: Your Friend in Research

As we have highlighted before, legal research isn’t the only area where professionals are looking for ways to transform the way they receive information. Scientists, students, and hobbyists face similar hurdles in the availability and dissemination of information. While there may not be a duopoly in publishing like in the legal world, journal subscriptions can run several thousands of dollars and a single article minimally starts at $30. The nature of discovery and the importance of being published are even larger mountains to climb in terms of sharing information.

That is why we feel that it is important to highlight Mendeley, a free multiplatform reference management tool that allows users to manage their collections, find the links (citations, authors, ideas) among papers, as well as, help setup collaborative efforts. Mendeley offers key features to help improve workflow like the automatic citation extraction, being able to annotate documents within the program, as well as, iPhone/iPad app integration.

Mendeley isn’t just for scientists though. It is an interdisciplinary platform with works from physicists to those in the humanities. If you are interested in legal theory you will also find interesting papers to read and/or hopefully a place to contribute your own collection of .pdfs. If you happen to be a law librarian it may be worth your while to take a look and see at the very least to recommend to librarians in other fields.

Fast approaching 100 million documents and just shy of a million members, according to the counter on their main page, Mendeley has an impressive community. It takes advantage of this by creating a “crowdsourced research database with a unique layer of social information” allowing its users to leverage all the information generated such as trends in research so that they can discover not only where their field is heading, but also how each individual’s interests have changed over time. When users share papers or load their bibliographies, Mendeley will show them papers they may have missed as well as those who have written, read, or collected them. The team at Mendeley isn’t stopping here though. They are continuing to innovate- just last week their team introduced tags onto their platform, allowing users to find related material even faster than before.

Freedom of information with integrated social networking tools and analytics- Mendeley should prove to be a valuable research tool for the new information age.

The Father of All Advice

photo credit: Flickr cc happy via

Here at Fastcase, we’re passionate about more than just social media – we’re passionate about using social media right. In the past, we’ve brought you expert opinions about social media etiquette and even issued a few of our own, but this morning we’ve hit the mother load. While trolling through Twitter this morning, we noticed a curious tweet via Alex Howard, author of the blog digiphile. The tweet led us to Howard’s post, “George Washington’s Rules for Social Media”, from back in 2010 translating the very rules of civility and decent behavior that the father of our country so closely studied, into a guideline for social media conduct. While we got a good laugh from many of the modern day interpretations, the value of each one is not to be missed. Below are just a few of our favorites:

At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the last Commer, and affect not to Speak Louder than Ordinary.

Whether you’re online or at home, welcome guests and don’t shout. (NO CAPS, friends.)

While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.

Don’t poke or nudge people. Seriously. Just talk to them

Let thy carriage be such as becomes a Man Grave Settled and attentive to that which is spoken. Contradict not at every turn what others Say.

During meetings, be aware that updating a service or focusing on the social media backchannel instead of those present is often a breach of etiquette. Face to face meetings are too valuable to damage the relationship by prioritizing any request that can wait. Listen first, reply with context. And don’t always take a contrary position.

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

“Conscience is an ability or a faculty that distinguishes whether one’s actions are right or wrong.”-Wikipedia. Before using any form of social media, consider whether that action – tweet, link, comment, share or update – is ethical. “Google never forgets.” – Seth Godin

Take a few minutes to read through all 110 transformed tips here. George would surely appreciate it.

LTN Survey: More than anything, clients hate getting billed for legal research.

Last month, the results of a biennial survey about law firm cost recovery were posted on the Law Technology News website. The big news? Many firms are no longer charging clients for legal research. Between 2008 and 2010, the number of firms charging for legal research dropped from 97% to 73%. From the results:

Based upon follow-up discussion with respondents, clients seem skeptical about whether fees charged for legal research and word processing reflect the firm’s actual costs. Further, many clients feel these services should be part of a firm’s overhead — aka, the cost of doing business.

New best practice? “For legal research, develop a fair pricing policy that reflects the firm’s actual cost for these services.”