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Fastcase (Free) is a free legal research tool for the iPad. The application includes case law and statutes from all 50 jurisdictions. For a fee, you may upgrade to further access administrative cases, treatises, and other reference materials.
Here’s a quick guide to performing legal research using Fastcase.
Drafting a Memo
If you are waiting in court for your case to be called, you could be drafting a memo with Fastcase for later formatting at the office.
Open the application and select whether to search for cases or statutes:
You can refine your search by jurisdiction, date, court, and authority:
Enter your search terms, which may be Google-like in their simplicity:
Click on your case, as your results are listed by relevance with brief summaries:
Select the portion of the opinion that you wish to incorporate into your memo or brief. To copy text on the iPad, press your finger at the beginning of the section, then scroll through the paragraph and select, “Copy”:
Double-click on the Apple home button to switch to PlaintText (Free), a free text editor that syncs with Dropbox. Or, return to your home screen and open the application:
Within PlainText, create a new document by clicking on the document-plus icon in the menu bar. Create a title for later reference. Press your finger to the screen to paste your legal research into the memo:
Here is your legal research, saved for later:
When you return to the office, open the Dropbox folder on your PC. Your research memo will be saved as a .txt file in the PlainText folder within Dropbox. A quick “select all” and “copy/paste” into a Word document will allow you to format your memorandum.
Why would you bother with legal research on the iPad?
The iPad is no substitute for drafting pleadings, but imagine all the time you spend waiting as an attorney. You can use that time to research a legal issue, save your research in PlainText, and copy it into a brief once you return to the office. Fastcase allows attorneys to save time and better serve their clients.
What about LexisNexis and Westlaw?
WestlawNext has an iPad that is available through the App Store. If you already have a Westlaw account, this may be a better option for you. However, only FastCase provides free access to all users for all 50 jurisdictions.
LexisNexis has an iPhone app but not an iPad app. For those of us who hate reading the newspaper on an iPhone, imagine squinting to read the latest decision by your local bankruptcy court. If LexisNexis ever releases an app for the iPad, hopefully it includes the same functionality as FastCase, which for now remains the best solution.
For questions, comments, or help using the Apple iPad at work, please contact me at email@example.com.
Upcoming EventsRoanoke Valley Paralegals Association
May 9, 2013
Topic: "iPad Presentation at Trial: Presenting Your Case with TrialPad, Keynote, and Exhibit View"