Have you heard of Loislaw?  Fastcase?  Casemaker? Each is a lower cost alternative to Westlaw and Lexis that appears to be a survivor in the legal research arena.  You may be thinking, “why do we care?  We have free access to Westlaw and Lexis.”

Here’s why you care:

  1. Our access to Westlaw and Lexis is not free and is an increasingly large line in the library’s shrinking acquisitions’ budget.
  2. Our students lose their ‘free’ access each summer as they head off to summer jobs.
  3. When they graduate, most of our students are going to be in a cost conscious environment and it’s our job to send them out as prepared as possible.

Fastcase is a free service for many attorneys.  Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin,  and Virginia are among the bar associations that offer free Fastcase access to their Bar members.

Some of the Benefits of Fastcase:

  • The computer generation will like the Google-like searching capability
  • The low cost

Downsides are:

  • No value added materials … no digests or annotations. No searching by headnotes.
  • Secondary sources are limited to bar publications and even those are not included in the free subscription.
  • To do a sufficient cite check, you still need to KeyCite and/or Shepardize your source.

You can read more complete reviews of Fastcase at

You can try it out for yourself.  We have ip authenticated access which means that if you go to http://law.wustl.edu/Library/pages.aspx?id=7813 and click on the FastCase icon, you can try it out (don’t forget that if you are at home, you must first connect to the VPN).