The State Bar of Wisconsin today announced that it will offer free, coast-to-coast legal research to all of its members as a member benefit. After a competitive selection process, the State Bar Fastcase to provide the benefit.
“The Fastcase service is just the first step the State Bar is taking in creating an integrated research solution for members,” said State Bar of Wisconsin Executive Director George Brown. “Fastcase is the foundation for a comprehensive service that eventually will include all State Bar materials. The Bar’s goal is to create solutions that allow members to pinpoint topics based on common search terms from across all of the State Bar’s numerous sources and present them in an easily usable format.”
In the new benefit, which is scheduled for launch November 1, 2008, members would visit the State Bar website, www.wisbar.org, and log in with their existing state bar username and password. The benefit includes law from Wisconsin and all 50 states, as well as federal law.
“Fastcase creates opportunities for members who currently don’t have access to online case research or are paying for more access than they regularly use,” says State Bar of Wisconsin Practice Management Advisor Nerino Petro. “For many users, Fastcase will be the only legal research tool they need. For others who need access to secondary materials such as treatises, specialized databases, or corporate records, Fastcase may allow them to reduce the scope of their current subscription. If members currently pay for nationwide coverage so they can link to cases outside of Wisconsin that are cited in Wisconsin materials, Fastcase will allow them to eliminate the nationwide coverage expense. Fastcase is an exciting member benefit that offers our members a great line-up of features and coverage at no additional cost.”
Fastcase launched in 1999 to democratize the law, building next-generation research tools and lowering prices for access. One way the company has increased access to the law is through an innovative arrangement with bar associations, which subscribe at volume discount prices and offer the research tool for free to their members. Fastcase has signed member benefit agreements with 12 state bar associations and numerous voluntary and metro bar associations, making the law free for almost 320,000 lawyers around the country.
As a June 30 Forbes article about Fastcase put it: “Disruption is in the air. . . . Just as cheap personal computers undermined the mainframe business in the 1980s and open-source programs like Linux and Mysql are challenging Microsoft and Oracle today, outfits like Fastcase are attacking Wexis’ stranglehold on legal research from the bottom up.”
“People assume that the law is already free online, but it’s just not true, and it is alarming how few lawyers have meaningful access to the law,” said Ed Walters, Fastcase’s CEO. “Fastcase’s sweet spot is working with state bar associations to make the law free to lawyers – so that cases get decided on the merits, and not by who can afford a larger research subscription.”
The Fastcase legal research system includes access to cases, statutes, regulations, court rules, and constitutions. Its digital library stretched end-to-end would literally wrap around the world, at 40,000 miles long, and growing.
The member benefit also includes transactional access to newspaper articles, public records searches, and legal forms, all integrated into the Fastcase website, making it one of the largest online law libraries in the world. Fastcase features specialized technology to bring the best cases to the top of the results list, as well as sorting technologies that let users customize their results for the kind of research they are doing.
“With the Fastcase member benefit, State Bar of Wisconsin members are getting one of the most innovative, patented search technologies, running on one of the most comprehensive law libraries in the world,” said Phil Rosenthal, President of Fastcase. “Lawyers in other states subscribe to Fastcase for $995 per year – already a great price compared to other premium legal research. We’re pleased, through this deal, to be able to bring our service to Wisconsin lawyers for free.”
Members of the State Bar of Wisconsin will find the Fastcase benefit by clicking the Fastcase logo on the State Bar website, www.wisbar.org after November 1, 2008.