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Did you know there is more to practicelaw than just forms?  practicelaw is designed to be a repository of resources intended to help your practice.  Similarly, the MSBA’s practiceblawg is a blog for the Association to share with you how the MSBA can help you improve your efficiency and grow your practice.  The MSBA offers members a number of products and services and is always looking for ways to better serve its members and provide greater value.

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What you need to know about Casemaker

by Joe Kaczrowski | Apr 05, 2016

After a year-long review, the Minnesota State Bar Association is switching its legal research provider to Casemaker from Fastcase.  You can learn more details about the transition, including webinar and in-person demo and training schedules here.

Why switch research partners now?

The MSBA continually reviews its products and services. A free legal research tool has long been a staple of MSBA membership, but the industry continues to evolve. The MSBA and a team of volunteer members spent over a year reviewing our current offering, Fastcase, and its competitors. While many services offer similar features, the group determined that Casemaker offered the best value to members.

Why? Two main reasons.

Ease of use: First and foremost, Casemaker is easier to use. “Computer-aided legal research” has been around for decades, and our members expect a clean, fast, and intuitive user interface. They want to be able to get in and out of the platform quickly, confident that they’ve accomplished their research task, and without having to relearn the tools available to them.

Legal research is an essential task for many of our members, but not necessarily a task they perform every day. You shouldn’t have to be a power-user to feel confident about your ability to complete your legal research. Casemaker’s simple features—like the ability to drag and drop results into a folder, an end-of-session search summary, filterable results, the ability to search within a set of citing references, and the ease with which you select relevant collections—make  doing research more efficient.

Casemaker also includes an extensive library of source databases covering both state and federal jurisdictions, and we are currently working with Casemaker reps and MSBA Sections to make the selection even more useful to Minnesota attorneys. Check out the full list online here.

New tools: Casemaker offers a great set of unique tools our members will appreciate. Here are a few:

Citator: Casemaker offers a tool not available from other low-cost providers—a citator. Let’s start by acknowledging that no citator is perfect. We heard this objection regularly over the past year. Still, we cannot dismiss the efficiency offered by a system that permits us to identify, at a glance, negative case history. Sure, users will want to review citing documents even where there is no negative history cited, but this is true with any citator, and the red thumbs down icon is a clear signal to be on the lookout.  Moreover, Casemaker’s editorial oversight by a team of attorney editors means you have the added assurance that every case has been read and reviewed.

CiteCheck: Casemaker’s citator service enables another tool, CiteCheck.  You can cite-check an entire memorandum or brief almost instantly by uploading it to the CiteCheck tool. In about 60 seconds, CiteCheck delivers a report assessing the validity of each case law citation in your document. Better still, upload your opponent’s brief to determine whether they might be citing any bad case law.

Customizable folders: You’ll be able to drag and drop search results into a customized folder structure. Users can organize research by case, client, matter, or any other personal taxonomy. That means no more need to go hunting for research you’ve already completed.

Other tools: Other tools, like the Casemaker Digest, will allow us to update our Court Opinions by email service. The new version will have a cleaner look and will be easier to use; it will be easier to customize, too, enabling you (for example) to set up email alerts for particular pending decisions.  

 How will the transition work?

On July 1, members will see a link to Casemaker on www.mnbar.org replacing the current link to Fastcase. Members will still log into the MSBA site as they do now to access Casemaker, practicelaw, and other MSBA services. System access will work the same way it works now. Watch for more details in the coming months on transitioning your personal settings (saved cases, etc.) from Fastcase to Casemaker.

Web-based trainings, along with demo and Q&A sessions featuring Casemaker representatives, are also available, and more will be added in coming months. To view the current schedule, visit our Casemaker information page.

How much will it cost?

Casemaker will be available to members at no cost. A free legal research tool is a valuable part of your MSBA membership. While we are moving to a new provider, the service will continue to be free to members.

Who do I contact with questions?

To learn more about Casemaker, you can call us at 612-333-1183 or email us at feedback@mnbar.org