Database spotlight: Fastcase

While Fastcase assures us that Fastcase 6 will be around “as long as it needs to be”, Fastcase 7 is such an improvement, I’m not sure why you would still want to use Fastcase 6. 6 was useful and many of us grew to love it, but searching multiple collections could be clunky and time consuming. As someone who prefers to keep my researching options as broad as possible in the beginning, Fastcase 6 was a little stressful for me. I mean, what if I don’t know which collection I want to search? What if the thing I’m looking for is actually in that one last place where I just didn’t think to look?

With Fastcase 7, that is no longer a problem. The new layout is very similar to West. Once a search is performed, the results appear on the right side of the screen and the collections appear on the left with the number of results indicated for each collection. Below the collections is a list of additional suggested search terms that vary in size depending on how often they appear in the returned results. Clicking on one of the terms will perform a new search with the term included with your original request.

For the more visual among us, the bottom of the page contains an interactive timeline of results with the horizontal axis representing the date of the case and the vertical axis representing the relevance to your search. The larger the circles around the case, the more times it has been cited by other cases in the results or by other cases in the database.

Viewing articles is also much easier in the new version. The screen splits in two, allowing the reader to peruse the selected article while still being able to see and select a different article from the search results list.

Fastcase is a great way to access primary law from all 50 states and federal, annotated statutes, regulations, constitutions, court rules, Attorney General opinions, CLE books, Loislaw libraries, Aspen treatises, law reviews, administrative opinions and orders, newspapers and federal filings.

The best thing about Fastcase is that it is available off-site, 24/7 to certain subscriber groups. To find out more about accessing Fastcase off-site or to schedule a training, call the library!