/ June 19, 2008

The Law Goes Open Source: Forbes

An article in the June 30 issue of Forbes (released online yesterday) profiles Fastcase as part of a new vanguard disrupting the market for legal research:

“Disruption is in the air, however. Fastcase sells bulk memberships to state bar associations, . . . a compelling reason for law firms to at least try it out. 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.”

The article includes a great discussion of the evolution of legal research, from Blackstone to traditional “green screen” online research, to post-Web research tools like Fastcase. It also includes a screen grab of Fastcase’s new Interactive Timeline view, which is the first-ever graphical representation of legal research results. (You can see the interactive timeline at work by clicking the tab at the top of Fastcase search results, or in any Authority Check report.)

The article also talks about the value of Fastcase at mid-size and smaller law firms, who have been priced out of the market for traditional research services:

“Bigger law firms will continue to use Westlaw and Lexis for a long time. The established vendors have the most current and comprehensive databases, and, says Thomas Fleming, lawyers know them best. Fleming oversees the research department at 150-attorney Jeffer Mangels Butler & Marmaro in Los Angeles. His firm uses Fastcase for quick searches and to cross-check citations, but he says it has a “phenomenal niche” serving smaller firms that can’t afford Wexis”.

Click here to read the full article in Forbes, or here to try the interactive timeline view for yourself! (Fastcase subscription required)

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