Free Online Legal Research a Hit with MSBA Members
When MSBA announced free online legal research
as its newest membership benefit in May, it was an immediate hit with members.
In just three months, more than 5,000 attorneys have taken advantage of Fastcase,
MSBA's new exclusive member service that is free to all members of the Association.
These attorneys are enjoying electronic access to Fastcase Legal Research's
full national law library to advance their law practices and better serve
their clients at no cost.
In just three
months, more than
service that is free
to all members of
"Fastcase is one of the most valuable practice
tools MSBA has ever offered as a membership benefit,"
asserts Paul V. Carlin, MSBA Executive Director. "We have been extremely pleased
with the immediate usage of Fastcase and the positive response from our members.
We anticipate that 30 percent of our members will use this new resource in
short order. This new member service is already benefiting many of our members,
giving them an excellent tool to enhance their law practice."
On May 15, through a partnership with Fastcase,
MSBA launched its free online legal research as an exclusive member service.
It is already benefiting solo practitioners, large and small firm attorneys
and government lawyers every day. "Many members have communicated their approval
and appreciation for this cost-saving, valuable research tool," Carlin continues. "Fastcase
should prove to be an excellent recruitment enticement for attracting new
"Not only does Fastcase level the legal profession's
playing field," reports Carlin, "it solves 90 percent of most lawyers' research
needs 90 percent of the time, facilitates work on pro bono matters, improves
cost recovery and reduces the total cost on fixed-rate contracts with Westlaw
and Lexis. Virtually no training is necessary for Fastcase since its usage
is so intuitive and easy to use."
"We started Fastcase with the goal of making
the law more accessible," says Phil Rosenthal, Fastcase's President. "Working
with the MSBA to make the national law library free for Maryland lawyers
is exactly why we're in business. We're very pleased to partner with the
MSBA to provide this exciting free benefit."
"MSBA MEMBERS HAVE ACCESS TO
a full national library of state appellate opinions from all 50 states
since 1950, the U.S. Supreme Court back to 1 U.S. 1, and federal
courts of appeal back to 1 f.2d 1, US District Courts in Maryland, US
Bankruptcy Courts in Maryland, all federal Courts of
Appeals plus statutes and administrative codes framed from all 50
states through Fastcase,: adds Paul Carlin, MSBA's Executive Director.
Fastcase provides attorneys with an impressive
case law database of published and unpublished cases that is updated on a
daily basis. It publishes appellate opinions generally 24 to 48 hours after
they are released by the court and its servers and data research facilities'
uptime is 99 percent. The response time for the return of data for customers
is generally between five and 10 seconds, contingent on the connection speed
and citation analysis options.
"The Fastcase search engine is powerful and allows
you to formulate your search using natural language or powerful Boolean (terms
and connectors) searching," continues Carlin. "Searches for regional and
national matters involving many states and federal jurisdictions can also
be expedited. Since the service is so intuitive, Fastcase represents that
very little training is necessary, although a five-minute online tutorial
One of the real benefits, according to Fastcase's
CEO Ed Walters, is that the library is national in scope. "Because the cost
of research is so high, many lawyers can only afford to subscribe to a single
state when purchasing a service. That's only a small slice of the pie – and
it often leads to incomplete information."
The Fastcase service, by comparison, covers all 50 states. "Who wants to go
into battle with one arm tied behind their back? The free MSBA benefit gives
lawyers a more complete picture, allows them to be more competitive, and in
the end, should improve the quality of justice in the state," adds Walters.
"MSBA members have access to a full national
library of state appellate opinions from all 50 states since 1950, the U.
S. Supreme Court back to 1 U.S. 1, and federal courts of appeal back to 1
F.2d 1, US District Courts in Maryland, US Bankruptcy Courts in Maryland,
all federal Courts of Appeals plus statutes and administrative codes framed
from all 50 states through Fastcase," adds MSBA's Executive Director.
"Another key advantage of Fastcase is the ability to do multiple state and
federal searches simultaneously and to sort your searches by six different
criteria: Relevance, Case Name, Decision Date, Case Cited Within, Case Cited
Generally and Court Hierarchy."
Although the MSBA has contracted for Fastcase's
National Appellate level of service, members will be able to upgrade to the
Premium Database Level of Service for just $195 a year (that's a year – not
a month!) – an $800 discount for members of the MSBA. In addition to
the other national materials, the Premium Plan provides opinions from all
U.S. District Courts (1 F.Supp. 1 to present) and all U.S. Bankruptcy Courts
(1 B.R. 1 to present).
MSBA members may access Fastcase through the
MSBA website, www.msba.org. To take advantage of this exclusive member
service, members should go to MSBA's website under the
"Members Only" menu, click on Fastcase, then enter their bar number and password
to gain access. If you don't know your password, contact MSBA's membership
Department at email@example.com.