Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Legal Universe At Your Fingertips, For Free!

The end of the workday. You lock up your shop, trundle off to the local attorney watering hole, and almost instantly find yourself embroiled in a friendly, yet frenzied, argument over whether case X said Y or Z. Factions form. A wager ensues. The next round depends on who's right. But how to settle it?

Soon, you'll no longer need to adjourn to the nearest law library, spectators in tow, to leaf through bound reporters. Instead, you'll be able to whip out your iPhone and enlist the aid of your Fastcase app. As Robert Ambrogi reports,

The app is not yet available in Apple's App Store, but Fastcase granted me an exclusive first look at a pre-release version of the app. I have a full review and a half-dozen screen captures at my LawSites blog.

The short version of my review is this: I was impressed. The app is easy to use and produces lightning-fast results. Use it to search cases from all federal courts and the courts of all 50 states. Search using natural language or Boolean queries or by citation. Documents are displayed in a crisp, readable, size-adjustable font. You can save documents and revisit recent searches.

You will not find every feature on the app that you would expect in a browser-based research tool. For example, you cannot print documents or e-mail them directly from the app. (You can, however, copy a document and paste it into an e-mail.) Still, for legal research on the go, at any time, and for zero cost, this is a must-have for any lawyer with an iPhone.

Sounds like it might even be useful for things other than settling bar bets. And the icing on the case: "[N]ot only is the app free, but so it the research."



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