If you are at your desk, you likely have more than one resource available to research caselaw. If you are on the move, however, your options are more limited. Fastcase just unveiled a free app for the iPhone that gives users one option.
The app itself
The Fastcase app is smooth and works rather well. If you access Fastcase through your bar membership, you need to create a new account (still free), which is slightly annoying. The interface is easy to use and self-explanatory. You can save full cases within the app, in case you need to pull them up later.
There are some downsides. Fastcase through the web is notoriously slow, and the iPhone app is maybe a little faster, but not much. The search options are limited to searching by a phrase or a citation. Fastcase is also notorious for missing cases, so I am leery about whether iPhone searches are specific enough to get the results you want. While it is nice you can save cases within the app, you cannot email them for later viewing. If you are doing research while sitting around on the subway, you would need to go back into the app while at your desk to retrieve the cases you found.
Aside from those gripes, the app is smooth and easy to use. Which leads to…
When would you use the app
If you do not have a computer available, the app could be useful in a couple situations. If you are sitting in a client meeting, or engaged in a negotiation/mediation session. I cannot foresee many situations where I would be researching caselaw, but pulling up statutes could be handy.
The app’s website promotes using it while waiting in the hallway for an oral argument. Yes, if you are unprepared, it could come in handy. Personally, I think if you are still researching caselaw while waiting in the hallway, your argument needs a lot more help than some additional caselaw review.
I think there are limited times when the app is useful. But if you need it (not in a hurry), the app itself works rather well.
Want to learn more about FastCase and other online legal research tools? We have a portal for that.