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Bar News - February 17, 2012

Casemaker Reloads: New InterFace, New Features

David Harriman
Starting next month, NH Bar members will find a faster, easier, better Casemaker Web Library waiting for them.

Casemaker still provides NH Bar members with free, unlimited access to its comprehensive library of primary sources for caselaw and codes, state and federal. But the new interface offers an easier, more intuitive experience for users with "Google-like" intuitive searching and seamless navigation among types of information. Thatís because Casemakerís traditional grouping of information sources in various libraries is consolidated with the simple click of a check box.

NH Bar members currently access the Casemaker 2.2 version from the NH Bar website. The new format, currently available with current data in beta format, is expected to become the default interface in March, immediately following the Midyear Meeting.

Several Bar members familiar with Casemaker have tested the new format and reported no problems with completing typical research tasks and finding their way around. The beta version can be accessed as a link from the first page on the Casemaker site after members enter through the NH Bar website portal. (The beta version has the same data, but testing is not complete on all of its features. You also must sign-in separately; once it becomes the default format, your Bar member log-in and password will suffice.)

While Casemaker has gone through several interface upgrades and its library has greatly expanded since the NH Bar began offering it as a free benefit in 2002, this new format is the most significant advance yet, says Jeannine McCoy, NHBA Executive Director. "The new Casemaker offers editorial services and a much more streamlined approach to online research. It is both more sophisticated and simpler to use."

Casemaker is available through 28 state bar associations and is available to more than 400,000 attorneys nationwide. According to Casemaker CEO David Harriman, approximately 45 percent of attorneys with access to Casemaker now use it regularly. In New Hampshire, the percentage of Association members using Casemaker is estimated to be more than 50 percent.

Harriman believes that many attorneys were initially introduced to Casemaker as a no-frills, basic research source available as a baseline member benefit. Since then, he said, Casemaker has matured to become much more than a library of materials, and has added features that will enable lawyers to integrate their research into their client files.

Completely new to Casemaker are personalized services. Bar members, using the same log-in information they use to access the For Members area, will now be individually identifiable when they enter Casemaker, through the portal. This personalization will allow each user to see their own activity, such as "Recent Searches" or "Saved Searches". Users can append notes (and hide them or edit them) to documents, and store them in self-created folders in Casemaker. A client tab enables users to retain and even record the amount of time spent on research for specific clients.

Also available, for a small monthly subscription fee is Casemaker +, a suite of value-added services including:
  • Casecheck + Searches in NH and nearly all other US jurisdictions have been evaluated and cross-indexed by legal editors to provide researchers with guidance on whether an opinion has been affirmed, overruled or otherwise affected by a subsequent ruling.
  • Casecheck Brief Analyzer. This feature can be used to check and verify that all of the citations in a selected brief are accurate, up-to-date and not cited unfavorably by recent rulings.
  • Casemaker Digest. Summaries or headnotes of recent cases are being prepared by Casemakerís team of legal editors, headquartered in Charlottesville, Va. (The editorial team joined Casemaker when it acquired Jurisearch, another legal research provider.) The Digest is available in several different formats. Users select practice areas, search terms, jurisdictions, even judges, as filters for an email feed delivered daily or weekly.
Harriman believes these modestly priced services, as well as an interface that facilitates searching across multiple libraries, and the ability to retain searches and notations on library documents will help Casemaker gets a second look from law firms and attorneys who have previously relied on the value-added services (and high prices and sticky contracts) of commercial research giants such as West and Lexis.

"People are surprised at breadth and depth of the primary material we have," said Harriman. "Now the citation checking product and digest are getting their attention. Attorneys in all firms are looking at ways to reduce their expenses. In some cases, they have signed long-term contracts with the well-known services but they are looking at Casemaker to provide ways to help them reduce their costs.

"Step one is to overcome the perception that Casemaker is something less than first-class. But once they start taking a look, itís not long before they see the value we offer. I really believe our new version rivals Westlaw Next and Lexis Advantage as an organizational/productivity product."

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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