WSBA members looking to save money on the cost of legal
research will soon have a new option. For over 13 years, the
Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) has contracted
with Casemaker to offer a free legal research platform to
WSBA members. After conducting a review of research tools
at the request of the Board of Governors, WSBA’s Practice
Management Team recommended offering both Fastcase and
Casemaker to our members. 1 The Board of Governors voted on
the recommendation at its November meeting and, as a result,
the WSBA will now provide access to Fastcase as an additional
member benefit. 2
Fastcase is an innovative legal research platform that uses
artificial intelligence and data visualization tools to help
its users research smarter. WSBA will be the 32nd state bar
association to offer the Fastcase platform to its members.
WHY T WO LEGAL RESEARCH TOOLS?
Access to up-to-date primary law is critical for cultivating a
competent legal profession and ensuring that quality legal
services are being delivered to the public. Up to 11 percent of
malpractice claims can be traced to a failure to understand or
apply the law. 3 Offering two legal research platforms will give
WSBA members the ability to discover which system works
best for them and will allow them to compare results across
the two platforms to ensure they are not missing important
Currently, 30 percent of WSBA Casemaker users report that
they also utilize LexisNexis or Westlaw to perform supplemental
searches. By offering two tools to our members, we hope to
provide alternative, affordable benefits.
Over the next few months, the Practice Management team
and Fastcase will provide more information about this new
member benefit, including a free weekly CLE webinar series on
using Fastcase. We also heard from members that additional
training in Casemaker would significantly help members to
better utilize the platform. We plan on rolling out additional
trainings on Casemaker once it completes upgrades to a new
platform in early 2019. To learn more about both tools, visit
WHAT ABOUT LEGAL TREATISES AND OTHER RESEARCH AIDS?
Commercial research tools such as Westlaw and LexisNexis
often offer supplementary research assistance materials, such
as annotations and practice guides. Although the Casemaker
and Fastcase member benefits are for primary law databases,
WSBA members can purchase electronic subscriptions to the
WSBA Deskbooks on both platforms. 4
Fastcase joins Casemaker as a free research tool
Fastcase features a proprietary algorithm called Bad
Law Bot, which alerts users when cases are cited
alongside negative citation language to help identify
criticized or overturned cases.
Fastcase’s Forecite feature helps uncover important cases
by suggesting additional results outside the scope of
your search terms. For example, if you search “Miranda
warning,” the case Miranda v. Arizona5 will not appear
directly in your results because the phrase “Miranda
warning” was not used in that opinion, but Forecite will
still display the case because it is frequently cited by
cases that do use the phrase.
Fastcase features unique visual tools such as an
Interactive Timeline and semantic word cloud. These
graphics help users see their results in new ways,
by showing cases across a timeline, demonstrating
connections between cases, and identifying key terms
or language used by those sources.
By Destinee Evers
1. At this time, Fastcase and Casemaker are the only legal research tools
that participate in bar association member benefits. Other commercial
tools such as Westlaw and Lexis did not participate in the WSBA’s Request for Proposal.
2. The Nov. 15-16, 2017, meeting materials can be found at https://www.wsba.
3. See Dan Pinnington, “The Most Common Legal Malpractice Claims
by Type of Alleged Error,” Law Practice (July/Aug 2010) (available
4. Annual subscriptions to electronic versions of WSBA Deskbooks are
available through Casemaker Libra now, http://washington.casemakerli-bra.com, and Fastcase will be incorporating the Deskbooks over the next
5. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).
HOW WSBA MEMBERS USE CASEMAKER
percentage of license
for Fastcase and
the number of members who
utilize Casemaker each year
WSBA Offers a New Legal Research Platform to Benefit Members
Destinee Evers is a practice management advisor
with the WSBA. To learn more about practice management assistance, visit www.wsba.org/pma.