App of the Week: Fastcase is Speedy, Convenient, and Free

'The Fastcase App for your iPad

Do you like free, quick access to case law and codes? Of course you do. What’s not to like?

With an iPad or iPhone, you can download the free Fastcase app to research state and federal court opinions, as well as find state and federal codes.

That’s right, it costs you and your firm nothing. Nada. Rien. Zilch. You pay nothing to get it, and nothing to use it. No other legal app out there gives lawyers and legal professionals this much portable legal research, convenience, and speed for virtually nothing.

After completing a registration form, you can begin your legal research session. The Fastcase app features court opinions from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, all U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts, Federal Appellate Courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. You can also access state and federal codes in every jurisdiction.

Its case law databases include court opinions that are hundreds of years old. We searched for Supreme Court cases before 1925 with the word ‘license’ in them, and found results that were nearly 200 years-old.

Case search results are organized by relevance, case name, decision date, and citations. Statute search results are organized by relevance, short name, and the law’s formal citation reference.

The app also places the most relevant information at the top of your results. A search for ‘blood alcohol’ in the California Code returned the state’s Blood Alcohol Content (‘BAC’) level law, California Vehicle Code §23152(b), as the first result.

True to its name, Fastcase is also wicked fast.

According to FastCase CEO Ed Walters, the app owes its speed to “having software on the client [i.e., the hardware], and the data in the cloud.”

'The Fastcase App for your iPad

Speed is essential when you need to a quick answer to your legal questions. If you’re in court and the judge cites a case that she thinks is relevant to your matter, you can find it fast. You can also consult the Fastcase app to research appellate verdicts that affirm or reverse damages while grabbing a quick cup of coffee before settlement negotiations with opposing counsel. Want to browse the latest U.S. Supreme Court opinions while riding the train to work? FastCase’s free app lets you do all of this.

The Fastcase app also presents a simple and intuitive interface. Through the settings menu, you can adjust your default font sizes and customize your search result page. On the iPad, you can directly adjust the font size from any case or statute. You can also save cases or statutes and retrieve them later from the Saved Documents menu.

There are a few things that we’re hoping for in future versions of the app.

  • We’d like to e-mail the text of cases, codes, and search results. Currently, you can only do that with FastCase Premium edition, the company’s paid upgrade. It’s a web application that you can only use on either your regular computer or with a web browser on your iPad or iPhone.
  • The iPad and iPhone versions of Fastcase do not currently sync with the company’s paid legal desktop editions. That means even if you have a paid Fastcase account (something that many bar associations give their members), you can’t transfer your iPad or iPhone searches to the desktop app. The company’s website says to “watch for a desktop sync version in a later release” that should solve this issue.

We also noticed that the Fastcase app slows down when when a search yields a lot of results. Nevertheless, we highly recommend this mobile app for lawyers and other legal professionals who perform legal research on-the-go. The Fastcase app provides everything that a lawyer or legal professional could want for quickly finding a relevant case or code.

You can’t beat the cost, and the speed will keep you coming back for more.

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