blogger / April 7, 2009

Fastcase: Bigger than Blago in Illinois (not bigger than Bulls or Cubbies)

Fastcase, which is free to members of the Illinois State Bar Association, is gaining popularity in the Land of Lincoln. The cover story in today’s Illinois Bar Journal says it all:

Whether you make it your primary online research tool or use it to supplement Westlaw or Lexis, Fastcase can save you money if you’re an ISBA member. Lots of it.

So although it’s not bigger than, say, the Bulls or the Cubs, or certain politicians from Illinois, it sounds like Fastcase has its admirers in the state:

“I’m a long-time Westlaw guy,” [Huntley, Ill. solo practitioner T.J.] Thurston acknowledges up front. “For most of my years of private practice, and up until recently, I’ve had a Westlaw contract. But when I learned of the availability of Fastcase through ISBA, I figured I might as well get used to it. So, I went to the Fastcase training at the Solo/Small Firm Conference last September. Ever since then, I’ve used Fastcase almost exclusively.”

The article by Helen Gunnarsson highlights Fastcase’s visualization tools, including the patent-pending Interactive Timeline, which plots the search result on a 4D map, so users can see all of the results, and all of the data, on a single screen.

“Its graphic depiction of the cases that are most on point on the issue you’re looking at is a really useful tool. Sometimes you have to weed through dozens of cases on Westlaw to find the seminal case. The interactive timeline is a tool that makes that a lot faster and quicker.”

The article also includes a sidebar, which describes the rigorous process by which the Illinois State Bar Association evaluated different research options and ultimately selected Fastcase:

“You cannot believe the grilling we gave these people. Everyone on the committee went out and played with these things.” . . . Fastcase, [Committee chair John Phipps of Champaign, Ill.] says, emerged as the clear winner on all points. “Fastcase was very user-friendly, had a good search engine, and its company representatives were very responsive to our questions and concerns.”

We’ve seen a ton of usage from Illinois practitioners – and the usage is growing every month. More than 45 percent of active members of the ISBA have used Fastcase at least once, with more new users every day. We’re excited to work with the ISBA to provide this great, free benefit for its members!

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