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Fastcase’s Authority Check versus LexisNexis Shepard’s Citation Service?

Is it even fair to compare the two? These questions dominated discussion today at a meeting of the Virginia State Bar Task Force on On-Line Legal Research. Chaired by VSB president-elect Jon Huddleston, the group is gathering information to help the VSB decide whether to renew its contract with the Fastcase service, up for renewal in February 2009.

The task force heard a report on the generally positive experiences of other states and bar groups that use Fastcase, and on some who use other services. Neighboring North Carolina raves about Casemaker, but it costs about $25 a head, compared to about $4 a head for VSB’s Fastcase service.

Task force member Tim Coggins, the University of Richmond’s law library director, has organized law library staff and some students to do a more detailed case-by-case comparison of Authority Check and Shepard’s. His preliminary results highlight some problems with inconsistent results with Fastcase, as first reported by task force member Kevin Martingayle.

Lawyers who want to weigh in can take the task force survey, which it plans to launch by e-mail or online after the Lawyers Helping Lawyers survey goes out.

In the meantime, if you want to warm up your survey click response, you can respond to the VLW online poll (shameless plug) on whether lawyers should be required to carry malpractice insurance. In case you wondered, the VLW poll is a straight-up tally of numbers, not names. VSB council members will not be bound by any on-line vote they care to offer.
By Deborah Elkins

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