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Fastcase Frequently Asked Questions
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What is Fastcase?
Fastcase, a Washington D.C. based company, is the premiere American provider of online legal research.
Here's just some of what Fastcase includes:
  • an easy-to-use search engine that allows both Boolean and natural-language searching;
  • cases from the courts of review fromIowa and every other state, as well as U.S. Supreme and federal appellate cases (users can search all jurisdictions at once);
  • Iowa statutes;
  • federal district court cases from Iowa-based courts;
  • star pagination and double-column printing.
Is Fastcase available to all Iowa State Bar Association members free-of-charge?
ISBA lawyer members will be able to access much of the law available on Fastcase free of charge, including unlimited access to the US Supreme Court, Federal Circuit Courts, and the supreme and appellate courts for all 50 states. All members ofThe IowaState Bar Association also enjoy access to statutes, regulations, constitutions, and court rules for all 50 states, plus cases for Iowa-based Federal District courts. In addition, ISBA members may choose to access Fastcase’s Premium Plan, which contains opinions of the Federal District Courts and Bankruptcy Courts at a negotiated discount of $195 per year per attorney.
 
How will I access Fastcase?
You may access Fastcase from any page inThe IowaState Bar Association’s website by clicking on the Fastcase logo on the right side of the page. You will be asked to sign in and the will be taken straight to the Fastcase Quick Case Law Search Page.
 
Will I need training to use Fastcase?
Navigation of Fastcase is easy and intuitive. Once you’re logged in, Fastcase’s tutorials are a great place to start. Fastcase also offers live webinar overviews on occasion that qualify for CLE credit. URL: https://www.fastcase.com/Corporate/Tutorials.aspx
 
How current is the legal research database?
Fastcase updates its libraries daily, and they add most appellate cases in slip form to the system between 24 and 48 hours from their release by the court.
 
Can I Shepardize cases on Fastcase?
Fastcase's authority check feature displays a list of latter citing cases, as well as the text in which the citation occurs. Many Fastcase subscribers use Authority Check as a "first run” for finding out if a case is still good law, and then for a more comprehensive service, will double-check using Shepards or Keycite. They offer links to both services underneath Authority Check, which will direct you away from Fastcase to Lexis or West respectively, where there is a charge of about $5 per case.
 
What is Authority Check?
Authority Check searches for other cases that cite your case and displays the results as a list of hyperlinked case names. This is a great research tool for finding related precedents, or to help determine the continuing value of a case as a precedent. In addition, you can use Authority Check on the Results page to sort search results in order of authority – with the most often-cited cases at the top of the list. Note that Authority Check only lists citing precedents in the Fastcase database.
Fastcase does not hold Authority Check out as a replacement for services such as Shepards or KeyCite – both of which we like very much. Many Fastcase subscribers use the transactional Shepards or KeyCite services as a supplement to their Fastcase service. We also recommend searching for a few words in the heading of the case to find related precedent. Setting the results display to show the most relevant paragraph will show you some of what each court said about your case.
 
What are Boolean searches, Natural language searches and Citation searches?
"Boolean" (or "keyword") searches are familiar to most Web users. They allow searchers to use terms such as AND, OR, NOT, ( ), " ", to find cases germane to a research question. Using "w/n" between two search terms (where n is a number) will find cases in which the two terms appear within n words of each other. Fastcase uses the "implied AND" search protocol, which means if there is no connector between search terms, it is treated as if the "AND" connector was used.
 
Natural language searches are much less precise, but are a good place to start if you don't have exact search terms. Natural Language searches return the best 100 results for your search, even if some of your terms don't appear in the results, or even if more than 100 cases contain your search terms. This search works well if you want to include certain words in your keyword search that might or might not appear in the result. For example, if you wanted to search for the phrase "Rule 11 sanctions for frivolous filing", a Boolean search, the search would only list cases using the word "frivolous", whereas a Natural Language search would return the most relevant 100 results, even if the word "frivolous" did not appear.
 
Citation searches should be used when you know the exact citation of the case you are looking for. Be sure to put in the volume number, the reporter identifier, and the first page of the case only (e.g., 700 F.2d 1). For more information, see the search tips, located underneath the search box, for a list of correct citation formats.
 
How do I search public records through Fastcase?
Fastcase has recently partnered with Choicepoint, the nation’s leading database of public records, to integrate public records searches into its site. You must be accredited to access the materials on Choicepoint; to do so, select "search public records” on Fastcase, fill out the accreditation documents, and then sign in! For more information about Choicepoint and how to conduct a search of public records, please contact Fastcase Customer Outreach at 1866-773-2782.
 
What if I need help?
You will be able to contact the Fastcase Customer Service Group by e-mail or by a toll free support number. The customer service desk is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday, and is offered free of charge as part of The Iowa State Bar Association member benefit. Please note that Fastcase customer service representatives cannot answer legal questions or provide legal advice.
 
Who do I contact if I have additional questions about the Fastcase service?
Please contact Fastcase Customer Service at 1866-773-2782 or support@fastcase.com

The Iowa State Bar Association • 625 East Court Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50309
Ph. (515) 243-3179 • Fax (515) 243-2511
Email: isba@iowabar.org