With a torrent of information streaming through our email, social media channels and RSS feeds daily, most of us have become regimented in filtering. We eyeball headlines, prioritize links from designated Twitter followers, strain articles without a particular tag or search term and use the delete key without mercy. While our compulsive filtering immunizes us against information overload, it also deprives us of the benefits of browsing; the tidbits of wisdom or incredible connections we make while aimlessly paging through a newspaper or book or strolling through a library aisle.
We see the same phenomenon in legal research. Rarely do we discover; instead we search – by natural language terms, by keywords, by boolean connectors. It’s efficient yes, but sometimes by happenstance (reading Supreme Court decisions, as I did when I blogged at Legal Blogwatch or coming across rulings at other blogs) I often find the best turn-of-a-phrase or source of argument in cases from entirely unconnected industries.
Of course, I rarely have the chance to make it over to the library to scroll through recent cases. So I was thrilled to learn that my favorite legal research company, FastCase has just announced that it’s making Advance Sheets available in ebook format (reported at FastCase blog and also Bob Ambrogi’s Law Sites. Although as Greg Lambert discusses, Advance Sheet volumes (which were published about 50 times a year at a cost of $850) are used less frequently by lawyers (particularly the younger generation that’s grown up on LEXIS/Westlaw or solo/small firm lawyers who can’t afford them), by putting them into e-book format, more lawyers are likely to revisit Advance Sheets, taking some time each month to scroll through and see if there’s anything new or relevant they might discover.
Not only will easy and cheap availability of Advance Sheets improve the quality of practice by keeping lawyers up to date with new developments, but solo and small firm lawyers can use Advance Sheets to advance their practice. Advance Sheets and new decisions can serve as fodder for blog posts, or a note to colleagues with a “Hey, new case, thought this might interest you” type of email that can keep you at the head of the line for referrals.
So thanks, FastCase not just for the freebie, but for one that’s actually worth our time!
Do you use Advance Sheets or plan to use the Fast Case service? Why or why not?
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