Over the summer, I wrote a review (also here) comparing Casemaker and Fastcase. Each of these legal research services markets itself as a member benefit to state and local bar associations. In my review, I said that “both are worthwhile services with many similarities.” But I gave Fastcase the edge for intuitiveness and ease of use.

In my review, I described the two as “in a head-to-head competition to win the loyalty of America’s lawyers.” That competition reached a critical juncture last month when the Oregon State Bar Association announced it was switching from Casemaker to Fastcase. That switch took effect today.

Today, Casemaker shot back, doing something it has never done before. It is offering Oregon lawyers free access to its research service. This is the first time Casemaker has offered its research service outside the context of a bar association member benefit and the first time it has offered its service directly to lawyers for free.

Casemaker today sent an e-mail to Oregon lawyers titled, “Welcome Back Oregon Users!” It said:

Recently, the Oregon State Bar made the decision to replace Casemaker with a less expensive and we believe less substantial product. However, we would like you to decide for yourself.

Some have been persuaded by the surface and seductive interface of Fastcase, but we know you need data that is sound, complete, and timely. That is why we have more quality editors checking the data’s completeness; our editors alone outnumber the entire Fastcase staff. Our additional investment assures a product on which you know you can trust based on a proven six-year history together.

As you compare over time you will begin to discover Fastcase’s missing data and learn of link-outs to third-party sources (Casemaker brings the data in-house, integrates into a single search and assures its completeness and timeliness… again an investment into product integrity).

You deserve the best, not cost reductions, and that is why we will continue to allow Casemaker 2.1 FREE so you may make the long-term comparison for yourself.

Eventually we will have to convert to a low-cost subscription-based product in order to cover our service outlay, but not today or even tomorrow as we do appreciate you and your loyalty to Casemaker.

The e-mail included a link lawyers could follow to sign up for free access. It also pointed them to a detailed response to my review (which I posted here in July).

A brilliant counterattack or an act of desperation? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • Steve

    The battle continues… within the first few hours from when The Oregon Bar pulled Casemaker from its web site, Casemaker received over 200> sign-ups. Each day the users numbers are exponentially increasing as the market continues to associate with the service on which they know they can trust.

    Steve Newsom – Managing Director, Lawriter

  • Bob: A point often (always?) left out of the Fastcase vs Casemaker discussion: In Oregon, only attorneys were (are) able to subscribe to Casemaker. Anyone can subscribe to Fastcase (and Westlaw, Lexis, etc.). I explain the significance of this at my Oregon Legal Research blog. What I say is not earth-shattering or reason to change a business model, but choosing to run the legal research database equivalent to “closed source” does have a ripple effect. (And I’m not advocating “free” either, just “open.”) Laura (Oregon Legal Research blogger)

    Oregon Legal Research post:
    http://oregonlegalresearch.blogspot.com/2009/10/casemaker-vs-fastcase-closed-vs-open.html or

  • joey

    I have tried fastcase, casemaker, loislaw and google scholar. I disagree with those who feel fastcase is easier to use or offers more (than casemaker).

    Fastcase v. Casemaker – Fastcase does not have all cases. Their console is difficult to navigate and requires more clicks than necessary. Their search engine is nowhere near as powerful as casemaker’s search engine.

    Loislaw appears to be coming up in the game. I note they now have almost all dist court cases and their state cases now go back into the 1920’s/1930’s and some states go back even further. This is sufficient for multi-state research. How many times do you need 50 states? Seldom.

    Google Scholar. In my view, Google scholar has all the caselaw a researcher needs. Sure, they are missing a few cases, but if a case is missing, you know it’s missing. They have a link “about” in place of a link to the case. This tells you they do not have the case. Casemaker does NOT have all cases, and if a case is not in their database, they do not give you any hint – you have to find out on your own — often after hours of work.

    What the others (Casemaker, Fastcase and Loislaw) offer over and above caselaw (such as statutes and rules) are already free on gov websites. Get real. Is it work a half million dollars a year to have statutes and rules in the same website? Sure, they have a “cite checker” tool, which is no more than a tool that runs a keyword search for you to check if your case has been treated with any negative words (overturned, overruled, remand, etc). That’s a no brainer. It’s not lesis, it’s not west. It’s a keyword search! You can do that on Google and come up with the same or better results!

    I think these blogs are by guys with very little knowledge of how databases and search engines work. Saying fastcase is better than casemaker because one has a better console is something an inexperienced researcher would say.
    by the way, your blog explains why you like fastcase more than casemaker! ha ha;