Legal research company Fastcase continues to expand the breadth of materials available to subscribers through its platform. Less than a week after announcing the addition of public records data, the company today says a partnership with the American Bar Association will allow paid access to select book titles published by key ABA sections.

Steve Errick, chief operating officer at Fastcase, told me that he is working with the ABA to add publications from different sections one at a time, with family law, health, trial, IP, and criminal law among the first sections in the pipeline. He did not specify the titles to be added but said the arrangement would average 30-60 titles per section.

Subscribers will have access to these titles from directly within the Fastcase 7 platform, but they will be required to purchase the titles to which they want access. Individual titles will be sold at the ABA’s retail price, while firms that purchase multiple or enterprise subscriptions will be eligible for discounts based on number of titles purchased and number of firm users.

Even though individual titles will be priced the same as purchasing them from the ABA, subscribers get two benefits by purchasing them through Fastcase, Errick said. One is ease of access to the titles directly from the platform and the other is the addition within the books of links to cases and regulations.

Fastcase has not yet resolved how to grant access to a firm that has an existing print subscription and wants to get it within Fastcase, Errick said, but he is working with the ABA on creating a pass-through subscription.

The ABA titles will be available for purchase within Fastcase 7 to any subscriber, whether a direct law firm subscriber or a member of a Fastcase partner bar association. Law schools and government organizations will also be able to subscribe to the collection as part of their Fastcase access.

Legal research service Fastcase is announcing today a partnership with TransUnion that will give its subscribers access to public records information and analytics for individuals and businesses via TransUnion’s TLOxp platform.

The partnership will provide Fastcase subscribers with single sign-on access to information such as addresses, phones, places of employment, professional licenses, criminal records, bankruptcies, liens, assets, relatives, associations, and more.

Lawyers can use the information to perform due diligence, conduct litigation support, locate witnesses, track ownership of assets, verify identities, and conduct other investigations.

The integration will be available in Fastcase 7 when it comes out of beta sometime later this month or early in April. When a user conducts a search within Fastcase that involves an individual or company, Fastcase will offer the user the option of extending that search to TransUnion’s public records.

To access the public records information, Fastcase subscribers will need a separate subscription to TLOxp. When they first sign up for a subscription, they will also need to be authenticated by TransUnion before being allowed access. Once approved, they will be able to access the TLOxp platform without requiring a separate login and password.

TLOxp offers three levels of pricing:

  • Transactional, for firms with low search volumes.
  • Per seat, offering discounts for fixed numbers of users.
  • Flat rate, with pricing based on a minimum volume but no limit on users.

The TLOxp platform also provides analytics tools that enable users to map connection points among their search subjects and relatives, associates, companies and others. For businesses, these tools help users find subsidiaries, DBAs, UCC filings, owners and officers, board members, bankruptcies, liens, court records and more.

The TLOxp platform allows users to search this data in three ways:

  • User interface, for standard searches one by one.
  • Batch, allowing hundreds of thousands of records to be run at once, a feature the company says is popular with class action and mass tort attorneys.
  • API, also allowing users to run hundreds of thousands of records at once.

Among the types of data available in TLOxp are:

  • Social security numbers.
  • Dates of birth and death.
  • Drivers’ licenses.
  • Addresses and phones.
  • Military service.
  • Linkages among people, businesses and assets.
  • Relatives.
  • Voter registration.
  • Hunting permits.
  • Weapon permits.
  • Social media.
  • Criminal records.
  • Business information regarding liens, judgements, bankruptcies, UCC filings, criminal records of principals.
  • Owner of email address or phone number.

Steve Errick, chief operating officer at Fastcase, told me yesterday that this partnership is another step in the company’s push to provide a comprehensive legal research platform. “Our customers have been asking us for this,” he said, adding that he has already heard strong interest from subscribers at both smaller and larger firms.

Future plans call for the two companies to more tightly integrate the public records data within Fastcase and to jointly develop additional tools for accessing and analyzing the data, Errick said.

Yes, my title is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. But it is notable nevertheless that Fastcase, a company that has helped pioneer the field of affordable electronic legal research, today announced the release of a new book, its first in print.

It was two years ago that Fastcase launched a legal publishing arm, called Full Court Press, with the mission to produce law journals, legal treatises, deskbooks, and other legal resources. Its first publication was RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law.

Today, Full Court Press announced its first print book, MAP a Complex Case: A Guide for Managing, Analyzing, and Presenting a High-Risk Case. Written by Dave Dolkas, a former McDermott Will & Emery litigator with more than 30 years of experience, the book is described as a comprehensive instructional guide on how to manage, analyze and present (thus the MAP of the title) a high-risk case.

This is actually the fourth edition of the book, which was previously published by LexisNexis under the title, Managing Complex Litigation: A Guide to MAP (Manage, Analyze, and Present) A Complex IP Case.

The price of the book is $39. For those of you who have not yet entered the paper age, it is also available in PDF and e-book formats. A free preview is available for download.

The complete catalog of books available from Fastcase can be found here.

Fastcase today is announcing a partnership with legal publisher James Publishing to add its entire collection of some 90 legal treatises, books and practice guides to the Fastcase library, where they can be searched along with other legal materials and accessed in digital form.

The James publications are available to all Fastcase subscribers, including those who receive Fastcase through bar association plans, but require additional fees. Prices for individual titles are the same as are charged directly by James Publishing. However Fastcase is offering a variety of bundles that provide discounts of up to 40 percent.

For example, Fastcase offers a California litigation bundle that includes California Causes of Action, California Judge Reviews, California Objections, and California Pretrial Practice & Forms. Purchased individually, those would cost $1,106. The bundle price is $610.

Bundles are also offered for Florida practice, Illinois litigation, federal criminal practice, federal employment and labor law, family law, personal injury and malpractice, Social Security Disability, New York practice, Texas practice, and insurance.

James Publishing’s titles cover several federal practice areas and practice in California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. Its titles span a range of practice areas.

New Immigration Law Journal

In related news, Fastcase last week announced that it is partnering with the American Immigration Lawyers Association to produce a twice-yearly law journal.

The AILA Law Journal will be the second law journal published by the Fastcase publishing imprint Full Court Press. It will be available in print, as an e-book and within the Fastcase research application.

Editor-in=chief of the journal will be Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss faculty scholar and clinical professor of law at Penn State Law and founding director of the school’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic.

The ongoing legal battle between Fastcase and Casemaker over the latter’s claims of copyright in Georgia administrative regulations has taken a notable turn as the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the lower court erroneously granted summary judgment in favor of Casemaker. The three-judge panel remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings.

In 2016, Fastcase sued Casemaker in federal court in Atlanta after Casemaker served it a written notice demanding that it remove Georgia administrative rules and regulations from its research collection. Casemaker’s parent company, Lawriter, has an agreement with the Georgia Secretary of State designating it as the exclusive publisher of the Georgia Rules and Regulations and giving it the right to license that content to other publishers.

After the court dismissed that lawsuit without prejudice in January 2017, Fastcase filed a second complaint against Casemaker in February 2017. Casemaker filed a motion to dismiss that second lawsuit. In July 2017, the court granted the motion to dismiss, concluding that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because Casemaker had never registered a copyright in the Georgia regulations, and also concluding that it lacked jurisdiction because because Fastcase failed to satisfy the amount-in-controversy jurisdictional minimum of $75,000.

District Court Erred

Ruling today on Fastcase’s appeal of that decision, the 11th Circuit said that the District Court’s rulings were erroneous on both points.

On the issue of subject-matter jurisdiction, the 11th Circuit said that, while copyright registration under § 411 of the Copyright Act remains a precondition to filing a claim, the lack of copyright registration does not restrict a federal court’s subject-matter jurisdiction.

Because § 411(a)’s registration requirement is not jurisdictional, the District Court here had jurisdiction over the suit despite the fact that Lawriter had not registered a copyright in the Georgia Regulations. Accordingly, the District Court erred in dismissing Fastcase’s complaint for lack of federal-question jurisdiction.

As to the amount-in-controversy issue, the circuit agreed with the District Court that Fastcase had failed to meet its burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that its failure to deliver Georgia regulations would result in termination of its contract with the Georgia Bar.

However, the circuit sided with Fastcase in its argument that its potential liability for violating Casemaker’s copyright was not too speculative to satisfy the amount-in-controversy requirement. Fastcase argued that to maintain its contract with the Georgia Bar, it would have to copy the Georgia regulations from the Secretary of State’s website on a daily basis, and that each act of copying would potentially be a copyright violation subjecting it to liability for liquidated damages of $20,000 per occurrence.

The circuit court further ruled, contrary to the holding of the District Court, that Fastcase’s potential liability could be used as a basis for satisfying the amount-in-controversy requirement.

Here, Fastcase must access the Georgia Regulations “at least daily, and possibly thousands of times every day” to maintain a current database of Georgia law. Every time it accesses the Georgia Regulations, Fastcase exposes itself to $20,000 of liquidated liability. The “immediate financial consequence[],” … of the declaratory judgment Fastcase seeks is that it would no longer be subject to this liability. Consequently, we conclude that the amount-in-controversy requirement is satisfied and diversity jurisdiction is proper.

The case will now be returned to the District Court for further proceedings and possibly trial.

Reaction to the Opinion

“Now we get to reach a decision on the merits, and establish that private companies can’t accomplish with a clickwrap terms of service contract what they can’t in copyright,” Fastcase CEO Ed Walters said in an email this afternoon. “Private companies can’t own public law, even if they make clickwrap contracts that try to confer the rights of ownership.”

“In light of the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion in the Public.Resource.org case earlier this month, it seems clear that Casemaker can’t create any more private ownership through clickwrap contracts than LexisNexis or the Code Commission could through copyright,” Walters said.

I have reached out to Casemaker for comment but have yet to hear back.

Read the full opinion: Fastcase v. Casemaker, No. 17-14110 (11th Cir. 10/29/18).

On the surface, the Fastcase acquisition of legal news site Law Street, reported here yesterday, may seem puzzling, given that the site has been dormant for more than a year. But Ed Walters, Fastcase CEO, says there were good reasons for the acquisition.

Speaking by phone last night, Walters said that expanding into legal news is consistent with Fastcase’s ongoing mission to become as robust a legal research platform as LexisNexis and Westlaw.

“We’re knocking the legs out from under the chair of things people get LexisNexis for,” he said. “Legal news is definitely one of them.”

LexisNexis’s offerings of legal news include Law360, all of the ALM news content, legislative coverage from State Net, and litigation coverage from Mealey’s.

As I have reported here several times before, this mission to compete against LexisNexis and Westlaw has driven Fastcase to build out its library of secondary content such as treatises and practice guides, acquiring Loislaw in 2015, bringing on former LexisNexis VP Steve Errick to develop new editorial products, adding blog posts and commentary from the LexBlog network, launching a legal publishing arm, and partnering with Wolters Kluwer to offer many of its materials.

Meanwhile, Fastcase also acquired Docket Alarm, the docket tracking and analytics company. Just last week, Fastcase announced that it will become a member benefit for the 60,000-member California Lawyers Association, reportedly bringing its total user base to some 900,000 lawyers.

Given all that, the company’s desire to move into legal news makes sense. But why do it by acquiring Law Street, a site that has been dormant since August 2017? Why wouldn’t Fastcase just build a site itself?

The answer, Walters says, boils down to the platform, the integrations and the audience.

Although Law Street operates on WordPress, Law Street has customized it to create a robust news platform with a  responsive, mobile-friendly design, Walters says. The site is deeply integrated with social media for distribution of posts across Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. It is also natively integrated with news aggregation sites such as Google News and Apple News.

In addition, Law Street had built a loyal and sizeable following among millennial lawyers, who had been its target audience. Although dormant for a year, it continues to receive a fair amount of traffic, Walters said, thanks in part to its archive of 5,000 news articles.

(The Alexa ranking service ranks Law Street as 185,540 among U.S. websites. By comparison with other news sites, Law360 ranks at 5,200, Above the Law ranks at 4,188, and Law.com ranks at 6,639. Law Street Media has 2,771 followers on Twitter and 35,095 followers on Facebook.)

Buying Law Street lets Fastcase “start our legal news strategy on third base,” Walters says, rather than have to build a news site from scratch.

Although a handful of new stories have been added to the site in the past week, Walters says the immediate plan is to leave the site “mothballed” while Fastcase further develops its legal news strategy. He expects work on retooling the site to begin in earnest early in 2019 and for the site to relaunch towards the middle of the year.

One decision he has already made is to remove advertising from the site. He believes the site will help drive traffic to Fastcase and that there will be other options for monetizing the site through the sale of content or services.

He also hopes to integrate docket-alert services from Docket Alarm into the news service, to provide both alerts and coverage of breaking litigation news.

 

[Update: Fastcase CEO Explains Why He Acquired A Dormant Legal News Site.]

Legal research company Fastcase has acquired Law Street Media, a company that operates a free legal news site “written by and for Millennials,” particularly law students and young legal professionals.

Fastcase says it will retool the site and relaunch it in 2019 as an enhanced daily news and analytics hub that will highlight national and state litigation, regulatory developments and state bar news, and that will offer analytics driven by other Fastcase products, including Fastcase 7 and Docket Alarm.

Law Street was founded in 2013 by John A. Jenkins, former president and publisher of CQ Press. Jenkins will remain with the company and work with Fastcase on the relaunch.

Fastcase says it will connect the news platform to its Docket Alarm and Fastcase 7 platforms, build out its reporter team, and partner with its state bar associations to showcase their local expertise.

In a press release announcing the acquisition, Fastcase CEO Ed Walters said:

Legal research isn’t just about logging into an online service and running searches. It’s also about taking an active interest in developments that clients care about. Legal news means covering the stories behind new cases filed, analytics, new judicial opinions, passed bills, and rulemaking. Lawyers have to stay as informed as their clients, and our partnership with Law Street Media will be an important source of must-have information about the fast-changing practice of law.

Law Street’s editorial staff is based in Washington, D.C., while its business offices are located in New York City.

Except for California, every U.S. state bar offers a member benefit of free access to a legal research service, typically either Fastcase or Casemaker. Until today, California has been the lone exception.

But this morning, the California Lawyers Association and Fastcase announced a partnership through which the CLA’s roughly 60,000 members will have free access to Fastcase’s nationwide legal research system. This brings Fastcase’s total user base to some 900,000 lawyers, nearly three quarters of all lawyers in the United States.

Beginning in early 2019, anyone who is a paid member of at least CLA section will receive the benefit. The benefit includes unlimited research, printing, webinar training, and reference support. It also includes access via the Fastcase mobile app and live customer support from Fastcase reference attorneys.

Once the benefit begins, members will be able to access Fastcase through the CLA website, where they will be able to log in with their bar username and password.

The CLA is the voluntary bar association formed last January by the split of the State Bar of California. The State Bar retained only its regulatory and public-protection functions, while the CLA was created as the new home of the bar’s 16 sections and its young lawyers’ division.

“At CLA, one of our primary goals is to provide a wide variety of resources to attorneys in California, to allow their practices to thrive and their clients to receive the highest quality legal services,” said Heather Rosing, CLA president, in a prepared statement. “We are proud of what we have accomplished during our inaugural year in terms of benefits for the legal community. Coming in year two, we are excited to announce our new partnership with Fastcase that will allow our members free access to online legal research and more.”

Fastcase says that 31 state bar associations and dozens of metro, county, and specialty bar associations offer its research platform as a member benefit.

Docket Alarm, the docket tracking and analytics platform acquired last January by legal research company Fastcase, says it has released a new tool, the Analytics Workbench, that will allow legal professionals to build their own bespoke litigation analytics across any court, practice area or litigation event.

Generally, legal analytics products tend to focus on specific courts or specific practice areas. For example, Lex Machina, one of the leading providers of legal analytics, launched with intellectual property and has gradually expanded into other practice areas one by one, with that expansion accelerated by its acquisition by LexisNexis.

Docket Alarm says its new tool will allow users to build litigation analytics across all case types in state courts, federal courts, administrative courts, and other jurisdictions included within in the Docket Alarm system.

Docket Alarm says these analytics can reveal information about courts and dockets that would otherwise be imperceptible. For example, it says, the Analytics Workbench can uncover trends about discovery motions, motions in limine, and scheduling and pre-trial conferences, at both the state and federal levels.

Docket Alarm says that its Analytics Workbench provides tools for firms to build custom rules to analyze a large number of cases across any court or case type. Users can tag litigation events based on their own rules and then quickly review the tags to assure an acceptable level of quality. The tool then uses visualizations to display litigation events in aggregate and it allows users to filter or pivot the data as desired.

I have not yet seen this and so can provide no further details. The company says it will be demonstrating the tool at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries July 14-17.

A partnership announced yesterday will enhance the Fastcase legal research service through the addition of data and reviews on expert witnesses, litigation consultants, mediators and arbitrators from Courtroom Insight.

Content from Courtroom Insight has already been added to Fastcase’s AI Sandbox, a private digital environment where law firms can use artificial intelligence and data-analytics tools against combinations of their own data, Fastcase data, and data provided by third parties. (See my earlier post about it.)

In addition, the Courtroom Insight content will be integrated both into the Fastcase research platform and with the Docket Alarm platform that Fastcase acquired in January.

Some 100,000 profiles from Courtroom Insight are being added to the Fastcase platform as a new content set that will show up in search results when appropriate, according to Steve Errick, Fastcase’s chief operating officer.

Customers will then be able to obtain a more-detailed snapshot for a transactional or monthly subscription. Fastcase will enable links via an API to the Courtroom Insights platform for analytics. The Courtroom Insight content should become available within Fastcase by the fall, Errick said.

When Courtroom Insight launched in 2010, it was intended to be a Yelp-like product for lawyers to provide ratings and reviews of expert witnesses and arbitrators. Over the years, Courtroom Insight moved away from that model, finding that lawyers were reluctant to share reviews publicly. Last October, it relaunched as a private platform for law firms to privately share knowledge and mine data about experts.

Along the way, Courtroom Insight has compiled profiles on more than 100,000 expert witnesses, CEO Mark Torchiana told me in October. It also enhances these profiles with information drawn from several third-party sources.