Fastcase, the online legal research service that is free for Minnesota State Bar Association members, just released a new service it calls “Forecite” to assist users in getting additional relevant research results. Here’s how Fastcase marketed the development in its recent blog post announcing the service:
When you perform a keyword search on Fastcase, Forecite goes the extra mile and identifies seminal cases that can easily be missed by ordinary keyword searches.
Consider this example.
Let’s say you were researching the Miranda Doctrine under the Fifth Amendment. Can you imagine concluding your research without reading the Supreme Court’s seminal decision, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)? We can’t either. The trouble is, if you search for “Miranda doctrine” using most legal research engines, the Miranda decision will not be in your search results, because those words do not appear anywhere in the decision.
This is where Forecite comes in. Run the same search on Fastcase, and Forecite has you covered.
I tried it out on a search I usually do to show members how to use the service, typing in “covenants and habitability and landlord and tenant” (you can tell I’m a former landlord tenant attorney). It returned the usual suspects but also recognized and let me know that two of my results cited a decision from another jurisdiction. Pretty slick, particularly as it allowed me to trace more easily the origins of what later became an important legal precedent in Minnesota.
I then tried a different search involving the latent discovery of a construction defect and the impact on a statutory home warranty claim (a complicated field, I might add), and got three additional suggested cases that were not returned by my search terms. What was cool about it was that the cases generally involved entirely different areas of law (one was medmal, the other legal malpractice) but they did give me fuel to consider when determining how the discovery rule affects the statute of limitations for certain claims. Not bad. If you start using this service in Fastcase (it appears automatically in keyword searches), let us know how it’s working for you.