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Quick Look: New Fastcase Android App

By | Jun.05.12 | Daily Dispatch, Legal Technology, New Products, Product Beat

In news for Android-using lawyers, the much anticipated Fastcase app for Android is now available. For lawyers who do not have a Fastcase account at all, this app—like the Fastcase iPhone app—allows you to search, browse, read and save statutes and cases from a national library. If you already have a Fastcase account, then related activities on your Android, such as search queries and saved documents, automatically synchronize to your desktop subscription.

Installing the app takes mere seconds, and existing users can sign right on in. New users can quickly create a new account. I received a “Welcome to Fastcase Legal Research System” email confirmation, thanking me for downloading the iPhone application—evidence that this Android app should do everything the iPhone crowd has in their app.

Fastcase Android App

The interface is mostly intuitive and simple. Users can search or browse statutes, or search cases. Case law searches can be done by keyword or case name; restricted by jurisdiction and date; and refined by results cited generally or within, as well as by relevance and number of results. To search for statutes, you can choose to search by keyword or citation, to restrict to a jurisdiction, and to limit the number of results.

Once you’ve run a case law search, the results set is ranked by relevancy and cites cases by numbers. It shows the first paragraph of the case, the case name and the date. All of these parameters can be edited, though using the menu button to get into the settings to make changes after you’ve gotten the results will force you to rerun the search. Once in a case, the rest of the search results can be accessed through left and right arrow keys at the bottom of the screen. There is also a “search within the case” function that allows you to find keywords in the text of the case you are viewing. Up and down arrow keys take you to the next match. Click on the “Save” button on the top right to save the case or statute.

In “Saved” documents, found through the menu button on your Android device, there is a synchronize symbol. Pressing synchronize will add any items in the “Recent documents” tab of My Library in the desktop version of Fastcase to the Saved listing in the Android app. Documents saved in Android will automatically sync to the desktop. If you click on “Edit” in the list of saved documents, the button label changes to “Done.” Select a case and a checkmark appears. Click “Done” again and it will remove the case from the saved list in the app. The labeling for this function is not terribly intuitive, but not to worry—if you delete a saved case in the app, it isn’t removed in the My Library on the desktop.

The Fastcase app for Android is a web app, meaning you must have access to the Internet for it to function. While there are settings for how long users want to cache data, and how much they want to cache, I was unable to find cached versions of saved cases. This renders the app useless without a data connection, so I will continue to explore.

Note that currently there’s no way to share or email a document from the app, so remember to save the cases you are interested in to access these features from the desktop. As time progresses, perhaps we may see integration with Dropbox or Evernote, as often legal research is only one step in the legal workflow.

The fact that Fastcase makes these apps with access to 50 states’ statutes and case law available for free to subscribers and non-subscribers goes a long way toward access to the law for all people. As an Android owner, I’m happy I get to take part!

Catherine Reach is Director, Law Practice Management & Technology for the Chicago Bar Association. A popular speaker and author on law technology, she was Director of the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center for over 10 years, providing practice technology assistance to lawyers. 

From the Editors: More New Products and Updates

A number of new technology announcements for lawyers have crossed our inboxes this past month. Here’s a quick look.

  • My Legal Briefcase integrates with Clio cloud-based practice management software. My Legal Briefcase streamlines the small claims litigation process with online access to court forms, documents and other legal information by allowing My Legal Briefcase to connect and sync with Clio. My Legal Briefcase CEO Monica Goyal says, “Instead of using two different systems, clients will be able to work from one portal and complete all their essential scheduling, case and client management tasks from one place.”
  • New iTimeKeep app for TABS3 users. Bellefield’s iTimeKeep mobile app is now available for TABS3 billing software users. With the app, available from the Apple Store, users can enter time directly from their iPad, iPhone or Android devices and their entries synchronize and register in the TABS accounting system. When users add new clients, matters, tasks and activity codes in TABS3, iTimeKeep makes it visible on their mobile device immediately. The iTimeKeep app works with most time and billing systems and is available for iPads, iPhones, Android devices and any web browser.
  • Total Attorneys adds legal support services from LegalEase. Total Attorneys, which announced its $1 per month practice management platform earlier this year, now integrates with LegalEase, which provides legal support services to law firms and law departments. Now lawyers can work seamlessly with LegalEase’s attorney or paralegal support staff directly from the Total Attorneys platform. LegalEase joins Legal Leads, Fastcase, Capital Payments, Legal Web Experts, Virtual Receptionist and others—as well as Total Attorneys’ own iPad and iPhone apps—in the company’s Total Apps marketplace.
  • On the law practice marketing front. FindLaw has launched Contact Advisor to help vet client leads—it’s described as a “new contact management dashboard with advanced analytic capabilities and tools to simplify the client-screening process.” Contact Advisor is part of FindLaw’s Conversion Solutions suite, which offers an online staffed web chat service that alerts firms about potential clients who visit their website. Using the details from the web chats, Contact Advisor allows lawyers to view demographic data, read email forms and web chat transcripts, manage and categorize contacts, and communicate with prospects via email. Another lawyer-leads website coming soon, “with a mission to reinvent effective attorney marketing,” is AttorneyBoost.com. The new service promises to deliver quality prospects searching for legal help through “highly focused marketing campaigns and proprietary Internet technology.”
  • Updated e-discovery tools. Compiled Services has released version 4.2 of ReadySuite, with upgrades to the image and text viewers, added redaction capabilities within the image viewer, and improvements in the parsing and output of EDRM XML and Summation DII load files. ReadySuite is a bundled suite of specialized litigation software for handling various document-related tasks. A free 14-day trial of ReadySuite can be downloaded on the company’s site. CloudNine Discovery has released version 11 of OnDemand, the company’s cloud-based online review tool. Highlights include a brand-new review set assignment module to enable clients to administer their own reviews and an enhanced, intuitive search interface to facilitate advanced searching capabilities such as stemming, synonym and fuzzy searching. And Eleventh Hour has acquired X1 Social Discovery to address the need for social discovery. The software can collect, authenticate, search, review and produce electronically stored information (ESI) from popular social media sites.
  • New e-brief PDF-creating software. Offering a new approach to creating e-briefs, efileinteractive allows users to easily convert Microsoft Word documents into fully interactive hyperlinked PDF files—without leaving Microsoft Word. The software takes the often cumbersome process of creating a single hyperlink and reduces it to three steps. From within a Word document, (1) highlight the text where you want to add a link; (2) click the hyperlink tool in the toolbar; and (3) attach the desired file. Repeat until all hyperlinks have been added, then the software will copy, link and embed each attachment into the final interactive PDF. Because the hyperlinked attachments are embedded into the final PDF, the end-users don’t have to be online. The software itself is free—you pay $25 per e-brief when the final interactive PDF is created. A 30-day free trial is being offered for a limited time.
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