Robust Legal Research on Your iPhone
"May you live in interesting times," says an ancient Chinese curse. In the world of legal research, these are interesting times indeed. Westlaw and LexisNexis are both preparing to launch major reconfigurations of their research platforms. Bloomberg Law is jockeying to take them on. Efforts to put all legal research materials in the public domain continue to gain momentum. And even 800-pound gorilla Google is getting into the game.
While those various efforts involve bigger, better and more research on the Web, one legal research service, Fastcase, is about to launch a robust legal research tool you can carry wherever you go. Fastcase has developed an app that allows full case law and statutory research on an iPhone. Even better, not only is the app free, but so is the research.
The app is not yet available in Apple's App Store, but Fastcase granted me an exclusive first look at a pre-release version of the app. I have a full review and a half-dozen screen captures at my LawSites blog.
The short version of my review is this: I was impressed. The app is easy to use and produces lightning-fast results. Use it to search cases from all federal courts and the courts of all 50 states. Search using natural language or Boolean queries or by citation. Documents are displayed in a crisp, readable, size-adjustable font. You can save documents and revisit recent searches.
You will not find every feature on the app that you would expect in a browser-based research tool. For example, you cannot print documents or e-mail them directly from the app. (You can, however, copy a document and paste it into an e-mail.) Still, for legal research on the go, at any time, and for zero cost, this is a must-have for any lawyer with an iPhone.
The app is awaiting final approval from Apple before it appears in the App Store. Fastcase could not say when that approval might come. For now, watch for it in the App Store or keep your eyes on my LawSites blog, where I'll be sure to provide an update once it officially launches.
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 26, 2010 at 11:45 AM | Permalink
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