Bar News - May 21, 2014
Casemaker: Upgraded After Yearlong Review
Casemaker, the online legal research library provided with NH Bar membership, improves next month with the addition of a citator tool to help determine whether cases are still “good law.” The citator will be available to all Casemaker users.
Effective June 1, NH Bar members will be able to access new legal research services as part of the basic library offering and at no cost.
Cite Checking. Casemaker’s CaseCheck+ is a true citator that can be relied on to determine negative effects of later cases. Legal editors, rather than computer algorithms, evaluate cases to determine impact, similar to the review process for citators by Lexis’ Shepards and West’s KeyCite. The following negative treatment descriptors are used: criticized, granted, modified, overruled, overruled in part, questioned, reversed, superseded, vacated and withdrawn.
CaseCheck+ covers cases from all state and federal courts and is updated on a daily basis. Later cases with negative treatment are linked at the point in the case providing the negative treatment. Green and red thumbs up and thumbs down icons are displayed in results lists to point out cases the researcher may want to examine further.
The New Hampshire library has extended coverage back to the initial volume of NH Reports (1 NH, 1816).
Digests of Cases
Brief “headnotes” for cases are now available for all new cases issued by the NH Supreme Court. Digests of cases from other states also will be accessible. Users can subscribe to Casemaker Digest, choosing jurisdictions and/or keywords to have selected types of cases sent to them when the summaries are posted.
Casemaker updates statutes on a rolling basis as new laws are enacted. Also, statutes now feature “annotation.” Under the text of the statute will be links to cases referring to that particular statute.
Non-precedental decisions of the NH Supreme Court (3JX orders) and orders from the Business & Commercial Docket of the Superior Court are now posted on Case-maker. In the future, administrative agency decisions will be added to Casemaker.
As part of a contract renewal process, the NHBA negotiated with Lawriter, Casemaker’s parent company, to include the citator, which provides guidance on the subsequent treatment of a case by other courts as indicated by a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” icon, in the library. Also added to the main product will be the ability to receive case summaries written by Lawriter editors and annotations to statutes, displaying a list of cases citing a particular statute. (The citator and the digest previously were available for an additional subscription fee. The statute annotator is a new service.)
The Bar Association recently concluded a yearlong review of legal research options. The review included an intensive comparison of Casemaker and Fastcase, a legal research library that also serves many bar associations across the country. The review process, which involved a legal research user group of Bar members assisted by NHBA staff and Mary Searles, the NH Law Librarian, conducted member surveys, interviewed both providers, scheduled in-person demos at several locations around the state, and solicited in-depth research comparisons and comments from a number of members.
“This in-depth process concluded that our best option was to renew our contract with Casemaker,” said Jeannine McCoy, NHBA executive director. “Casemaker enhanced our members’ access by including the valuable Casecheck+ and citator to the library for all members; that improvement, combined with members’ familiarity with Casemaker, led us to confirm our continued partnership.”
The NH Bar Association was one of the first state bars in the country to sign up with Casemaker more than 10 years ago. Today, Casemaker has more than 390,000 users in all 50 states. The product has improved greatly over the years, improving the search functions and adding an editorial component to provide the citator and case summaries.
McCoy said the review was a thorough one, thanks to the participation of nearly 50 Bar Association members who responded to the “test drive” requests or who attended library demonstrations this fall.
“Casemaker is very pleased to continue its longtime partnership with the New Hampshire Bar to provide our legal research system to all members,” said David Harriman, Lawriter’s CEO. “We are very excited to be able to include our citator, CaseCheck+, our document citation checker, CaseCite, and the CasemakerDigest as part of the Casemaker product suite available to members. We look forward to adding new data and new features in the coming years to continue to provide New Hampshire lawyers with the best possible research service.”
Casemaker’s caselaw library has added cases back to New Hampshire Reports 1 (1816); Casemaker also will be moving forward with adding decisions from a number of administrative law tribunals. These improvements were a direct result of the feedback from the legal research user group and member surveys.
NHBA Communications Director Dan Wise oversaw the process of comparing the research service providers. He said new members are encouraged to volunteer for the legal research users group, which will continue to communicate regularly next year.
“Member oversight and suggestions helped improve our legal research offering this year,” Wise said. “An ongoing legal research users’ group can facilitate Casemaker continuing to expand and improve its offerings and be responsive to our concerns and suggestions.”
Jim Corbett, Casemaker’s director of marketing and a legal research industry veteran with degrees in law and library science, will participate at the NHBA Annual Meeting on June 20 for brief demos and to answer members’ questions. (Visit www.nhbar.org for details on his presentations.)
Additional training opportunities, through webcasts and live programs, will take place in the coming year.