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.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.