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Fastcase is a US online legal research provider that is available to most US lawyers as a bar association member benefit, and to everyone else at lower cost than the traditional online legal research providers, Westlaw and LexisNexis. Fastcase isn’t just cheaper, though. Its cost is a function of its different approach to designing and developing its legal research tools.
Westlaw and LexisNexis have thousands of people cataloguing cases, writing abstracts and headnotes, while Fastcase uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to do the same work. The result is that Fastcase can offer the same features, like primary and secondary sources and cite-checking, at lower cost. But it also means Fastcase can improve its results with a software update.
The lower cost of Fastcase has also allowed bar associations to include Fastcase as a member benefit. This helped Fastcase spread to the point where, now, it is one of the most popular legal research platforms in the US. In fact, Westlaw and LexisNexis are now trying to compete with Fastcase by publishing their prices and offering lower-cost plans.
Beyond Research: the Legal Data API
Fastcase also offers access to its primary law database, its Docket Alarm dockets and analytics, and its AI sandbox for data analytics, through its Legal Data API.
These are powerful tools on their own, but through the Legal Data API Fastcase can enable other startups, like Casetext and ROSS Intelligence so they don’t have to divert resources from product development in order to build their own databases.
Acquisitions & Mergers
Not precisely an acquisition, in 2014 Fastcase licensed the TopForm bankruptcy software with the intention of transitioning the software and its users to a cloud-based version of the software, to be called Fastcase BK. It didn’t work out as planned, but Fastcase went for a do-over with NextChapter in 2019.
In 2016, Fastcase acquired the LoisLaw‘s website and brand assets from Wolters Kluwer, plus a license to some of the popular Wolters Kluwer treatises that LoisLaw subscribers could access. LoisLaw subscribers were given comparable subscriptions to Fastcase.
Fastcase’s first actual acquisition, in 2018, was Docket Alarm. More than just a way for lawyers stay on top of their cases, Docket Alarm developed advanced predictive analytics tools, judge and party profiles, and case flow visualizations.
In 2019, Fastcase acquired NextChapter and Law Street Media. NextChapter‘s cloud-based bankruptcy software gave Fastcase’s TopForm subscribers a powerful modern bankruptcy software option. NextChapter’s technology is also flexible enough that it has the potential for expanding into other areas of law.
Law Street Media, relaunched in 2020, publishes legal news by industry and integrates court filing and analytics from Docket Alarm.
Fastcase acquired Judicata in 2020 in order to get Judicata’s technology and team, and integrate Judicata into the “backbone” of the next generation of Fastcase tools.
In January 2021, Fastcase announced a merger with Casemaker, one of its main competitors for bar association partnerships. For now Casemaker is being maintained as a separate product for existing subscribers.
With the merger came Casemaker’s previous acquisitions: VersusLaw, Rulebook, and National Law Library.
Published on January 16th, 2021. Last updated on February 23rd, 2021, by Sam Glover.