Somewhere along the way I downloaded the free Fastcase app, and then never did anything with it. I already pay for a subscription to Westlaw, and its database is far more comprehensive, especially with the number of practice guides I use, so why use Fastcase? You may have gone through the same thought process.
After using Fastcase for a few weeks, I now know the answer. Less is more. If I’m in court and need quick access to a case or statute, I could get to that information through Westlaw, but to do so I need to sign on, enter a client reference, select the database I want to use, and then do the search. Plus, on my iPhone, if I have to do that through the Safari browser, it’s all unreadable. Westlaw does pop up a smartphone friendly input screen, but it keeps telling me that the case I’m looking for is not in my subscription plan (it is).
So, I walk into court, and check the tentative ruling on my law and motion matter (I hate when judges don’t post their tentative rulings on the Internet). I see that the judge has cited to a case that neither side relied upon; one that did not come up in my research. No problem. I pull out my iPhone, open Fastcase, and enter enough of the case name so Fastcase can find it. There it is. I can search for keywords in the case to get me to the relevant part of the case. Cases cited within the case are hyperlinked, so I can jump to any of those if I need to. Also, there is a button that takes me to all of the cases that have cited that case.
In the five minutes before the judge takes the bench, I’ve read the decision he is so in love with, found a basis to distinguish it, and win the motion. I ultimately prevail in the case, take my 40% of the of the five million dollar judgment, and buy a beach home. All thanks to a free app.
Here is how Fastcase describes its own app:
Fastcase for the iPhone is the first of its kind and a breakthrough for two of our biggest passions, legal tech and open access to law. While we are not calling everyone together for a glitzy unveiling, we are excited to confirm that Fastcase for the iPhone is the largest law database available on the iPhone.
What’s more, it’s completely free to download and use as much as you’d like. It harnesses the full power, functionality, and extensive database of the Web-based Fastcase platform that our users depend on (click here for more information about our Web-based platform). Full functionality means searching cases and statutes with Fastcase’s smarter tools and intuitive interface.
When searching cases, you can specify the jurisdiction, narrow the date range, limit the number of results, and choose to sort your results by relevance, date, short name, or by the number of times a case has been cited by others. In addition to sorting results, you’ll also be able to choose how your results appear with three options—display ‘Title’ only for quick browsing, ‘Title + First Paragraph’ to see the beginning of the case, or ‘Title + Most Relevant Paragraph’ to see the portion of the case that refers to your keywords most often.
Other features include the ability to browse statutes, pull up a list of later citing cases with Authority Check, save a case for later, view recent searches, and change a document’s font size to small, medium, or large.
We’re proud to offer Fastcase for the iPhone with no strings attached. If you are already a Fastcase subscriber or have signed up for a free trial with us in the past, then you are already registered to use Fastcase for iPhone.