After 13 years Fastcase is getting a
makeover. Over the past few weeks  Fastcase has been rolling out Fastcase
7 to the 27 bar associations which provide Fastcase  to their
members.  Tomorrow they are launching Fastcase 7 for
law firm subscribers.  I have watched Fastcase grow from a beta
platform to a serious legal research platform with more than 800,000 subscribers.
The new Fastcase 7 interface will start out as a new option  which
customers can  choose to access from the  “classic” home

The Fastcase 7 Home Screen


Ed Walters, the CEO of Fastcase  provided this
rationale for the phase in of Fastcase 7. “We’re moving people’s cheese,
and we know that can be a difficult transition, so we’re doing it slowly.
The plan is to have people log into the classic Fastcase interface by
default, with the ability to toggle to Fastcase 7, as a start.  After
about 6 months, when we know that people like Fastcase 7, we’ll flip the
default.  Users will log in to Fastcase 7 by default, with a toggle to go
back to the classic Fastcase interface.  After about a year’s transition,
we’ll phase out the toggle to the classic version. ” But Walters isn’t
tied to any specific timeline. ” These aren’t hard and fast deadlines
for the roll out…  If people need longer to feel comfortable, we
can extend; if everyone loves Fastcase 7, we can accelerate.” Both
Fastcase classic and Fastcase 7 are built on the same search platform – even
though the look and feel are very different.

Walter’s expects it to be a smooth transition. Fastcase 7
includes all of the most popular Fastcase classic features: copy with citation, dual-column printing, integration
with HeinOnline and Clio, batch printing, Bad Law Bot, annotated statutes. He also outlined for me some of the highlights of the new Fastcase 7 platform.


Training Resources. The first time a subscriber logs in to
Fastcase 7, there’s an animated, guided tour which can be re-run it at any time
by selecting Guided Tour from the orange Help and Support resource center on
the Fastcase 7 home page. There is in fact, a whole suite of training materials
– user guides, how-to videos, lesson plans for teachers, problem sets, even
crossword puzzles for training people on the new Fastcase 7.   All of this
can be found at
Some of these are designed for self-guided instruction, but many are designed
for law librarians and legal research professors to use as teaching
aids.  There is also a free Fastcase 7 webinar series (more info

The New Look  The original Fastcase was designed to be
used on the low-resolution, square 4:3 CRT monitors of the 2000s era. Fastcase
7 is designed for high-resolution 16:9 wide-screen displays. Walters who is
a bit of a
“typography nerd”  took great care in
selecting the colors, fonts, and sizes  to assure that  everything
is very easy to read.   The Kepler font was chosen for case displays so
that they look like they’re printed on a page.  According to Walters,
Kepler originated in legal publishing, and “tests showed that it was very
easy on the eyes, which is especially welcome when doing legal research for hours
on end.”

The Fasecase 7 Plaform in Action


 Highlighting the Interactive Timeline. I have always
been baffled that interactive timeline  feature was not front and center on
Fastcase. Fastcase 7 finally moves   The Interactive
Timeline to the front of the results page,  to assure that more
people can see the  data visualization tools.  Walters
acknowledged the misstep of having  “invented data visualization for
legal research in 2008, and cleverly hid it on a tab behind search results,
where nobody would ever find one of our coolest features.”


Global Search. Fastcase started out as a caselaw service,
but over the years they have expanded to include almost 40 million documents which
include statues from all 50 states, the U.S. Code, current regulations for most
of the 50 states, the CFR and every law review article ever published in America
from  their partnership with HeinOnline and much more.  On Fastcase
7, subscribers  can search across all data types with a single
search, and filter down with facets on the results page.


 Advanced Search  The advanced search page
is full of “power tools for power users.” Walters is trying
to empower researchers:”So many people are going to the Google model
for legal research – one box and a billion results.  That’s awesome for
the Web, when you’re looking for one thing, but terrible for legal research ,
where you’re searching for lots of things, or to see that nothing of a certain
type exists.  Google-like legal research runs the risk of infantilizing
legal researchers — we’re trying to empower great legal researchers.”

 Source Selection.  On Fastcase
7,  users can choose from recently searched libraries, or a fixed list of
libraries from a state of  their choosing or select from a big type-ahead
list of all possible jurisdictions.

“Goof-proofing your research.”  Fastcase has
offered the Forecite features for years. Forecite uses deep citation analysis
to identify caselaw which is relevant but not explicitly linked
through specific citations or keywords.  This feature has been expanded
to search all the libraries and data types  and suggests additional
resources that might be useful.


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 The Quantum Interface. Walters describes Fastcase 7 is
a single-page app. The page does not reload every time a link is
clicked.  Search results are “bottomless” and all on the same page which Walters describes this way;” Fastcase
7 has a quantum interface: instead of switching pages on the app, all of
the pages exist on every page, behind the scenes – they pop in or resize
themselves, so you don’t need to keep reloading the pages.”   It’s elegant,
fast, and  according to Walters it’s the only single-page app in legal


The Walters Doctrine of Pricing and Innovation:
“Innovation isn’t a new product that law firms should pay more for.
It’s table stakes for legal tech companies.  We innovate as a part
of doing business, and it should be included in the price, not serve as a
justification for a price increase.  Firms love putting Fastcase in the
budget, because they always know what it will cost, with no exceptions,
ever.”  There is no price increase for Fastcase 7!


The Public Beta.  Walters regards Fastcase 7 as a
public beta. Users are encouraged to report any issues  using the
Feedback link on the bottom right of every page.  Fastcase will continue
their product development efforts on Fastcase 7, and  subscribers should
continue to see improvements during calendar 2017. ” We’re an agile
software development shop, which means there’s a new release of Fastcase every
month.  Tell us what you like, or what you hate, and we’ll make


 OK Walters sounds a bit like a new father handing out
cigars: ” We work hard to build beautiful, innovative software, and we’re thrilled
with Fastcase 7.  It’s the most powerful, most intuitive, most elegant
legal research software ever built, and it will only get better from here.
I hope people love it as much as we do!” … But who can blame him for having a passion for excellence in a product he and his co-founder Phil Rosenthal have  been building  for more than a decade Congratulations  to Walters and his Fastcase team on the
launch of Fastcase 7!