Post-Publication Changes in the Fastcase 7 Layout

During this whole time I was writing my book about Fastcase 7, it seemed they were constantly tweaking, upgrading, and adding new features. I had to sign-off on my final manuscript back in November, and my worst fear was that Fastcase would release some great new tool or make a major change to Fastcase 7 as soon as my book was published.

Well, so far so good: there’s only been a few minor cosmetic changes.

When I was writing Fastcase: The Definitive Guide, I new a book would be out of date as soon as it hit print, and they promised there were no big, major changes coming along in at least the first half of 2018.

But one purpose of this blog is to follow-up on the book when changes to Fastcase 7 are worth noting. And just as the book is hitting the streets, a few cosmetic tweaks to the main page have been made in the past few week that worth noting.

First, the main landing page been tweaked and is a bit more streamlined:

The superfluous search field on the toolbar is gone, the Outline View button has been moved next to the main search field, the extra “Advanced” link on the toolbar is gone, and the “Advanced” link next to the main search field is now a button, so it stands out more. (Oh, and the Fastcase 7 logo is different – it takes up a full pane like the rest of the elements of the landing page.)

That extra search field on the landing page always bothered me – it’s the search field that is on the toolbar in all search results and other pages, but it was just confusing here.

Second, there’s a new Apps & Tools pull-down menu on the main landing page. The links for Cloud Linking and Clio are here, as well as a new link for Docket Alarm, a leading docket-monitoring and analysis service that Fastcase recently acquired.

The minor changes on the interface are great, and Docket Alarm gives Fastcase users an up-charge option to integrate docket analysis and research into their portfolio of tools. But Alerts are still MIA on Fastcase 7 and you still can’t print or email the documents you retrieve through Type-Ahead Search. These are two important shortcomings of Fastcase 7 that I mention in the book and which I’ll be harping on writing about later in this blog.


ABA Techshow and Non-Stealth Marketing

Had a great time at the ABA Techshow in Chicago last week – great to finally meet face-to-face with many of the people who made Fastcase: The Definitive Guide possible, including people at the ABA Law Practice Division, at Fastcase, and at CLIO (whose billing software is integrated with Fastcase and were very helpful with a demo account as I wrote that part of the book).

Apparently a rumor at Techshow was that Fastcase: The Definitive Guide – sthe twitter account, web page, book, or all of the above – was actually just a Fastcase stealth marketing campaign. I decided against using an author photo on the back cover of the book, but now I see that may have been a mistake. So at Techshow I tweeted out this picture of me at the ABA bookstore to try to dispel the stealth marketing rumors and to put a face with the book.

Helpfully, Fastcase CEO Ed Walters, the supposed brains behind the rumored stealth marketing campaign, re-tweeted me to help set the record straight.

Why a Book About Fastcase?

Why a book about Fastcase? Why a book about any online legal research service? With google and a seemingly limitless supply of information online, many attorneys think research is easy and quick and that little effort is required to find just the case, statute or other legal document that you need.

But legal research is a skill and like any skill worth having, it’s a skill that takes time and effort to acquire and perfect. In the 1990s I spent years flailing around trying to teach myself Photoshop and Premiere (Adobe’s video editing program). It was very frustrating and I would routinely do some tasks the hardest way possible because I hadn’t discovered some handy tool or feature.

But eventually I found a series of manuals that helped me learn how to master these programs. Those books (the Sams Teach Yourself series, in case anyone is curious) took a logical, step-by-step approach to explaining these programs in detail, and they are well-illustrated and written in a clear, concise style that is easy to follow. These were my models for Fastcase: The Definitive Guide. Just as those technical manuals helped me with Photoshop and Premiere, I think that my book can help attorneys use Fastcase 7 more effectively and more efficiently, and thereby save time out of their busy, billable days.