MN Bar Returns to Fastcase, Six Months After Switching to Casemaker

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In their ongoing competition to win over bar associations as the legal-research member benefit, Fastcase is starting 2017 with an unprecedented victory over Casemaker. Just six months after the Minnesota State Bar Association left Fastcase and switched to Casemaker, it is going back to Fastcase in response to demand by its members.

“Our members offered a clear preference for Fastcase,” Gerry Ford, MSBA membership director, told me in an email. “Their most common theme was ease of use. MSBA members find Fastcase to be more user-friendly and its interface to be more intuitive.”

I have reported here on other bars switching from Casemaker to Fastcase — such as my own state’s bar in December 2015. But when the MSBA switched last July after having been with Fastcase since 2007, it was the first bar to go from Fastcase to Casemaker. Now, as it switches back just six months later, I can think of no precedent for such a rapid turnabout.

The change back to Fastcase is effective today for MSBA members, who are being notified via email. The interface will default to Fastcase 6 but a toggle button will allow them to switch to the updated Fastcase 7 in beta, which Fastcase is now rolling out more broadly.

In a statement, MSBA Online Services Director Joe Kaczrowski echoed Ford’s comment:

The MSBA continually evaluates our products and services to maximize the value of membership and help our members keep abreast of how technology is changing the profession. In this instance, our members expressed a clear preference for the Fastcase legal research platform.

Fastcase CEO Ed Walters, in an interview Friday, praised the MSBA for responding to its members’ requests. “This is a bar association that is putting the views of its members first. Nothing comes before that.”

Over the weekend, I emailed Casemaker CEO David Harriman for comment. I have not received a reply.

With this change, Fastcase is now offered as a member benefit by 28 state bars and various other local and specialty bars. Its total number of subscribers exceeds 800,000, Walters said, which is more than two-thirds of the lawyers in the U.S.

As for the competition between Fastcase and Casemaker, Walters said he thinks it is now over.

“There’s a demonstrable clear preference for Fastcase. If you want to mark the end, it is now. Every big state bar offers Fastcase. Every state that has switched to Fastcase has been happy with it. You can’t have a clearer sign that Fastcase is better than having a state come back.”

Walters believes that there is a clear trend in favor of Fastcase and that as other state bars’ contracts with Casemaker come up for renewal, they will shift to Fastcase.

Meanwhile, the litigation between Fastcase and Casemaker over the latter’s claim of copyright in Georgia administrative regulations continues. Fastcase’s motion for summary judgment filed last May remains pending.

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