Database Evaluation

/Database Evaluation
Database Evaluation 2019-03-12T22:04:44-04:00

Study Finds Casemaker™ Consistently Outperforms Fastcase™
Findings Show Superior Relevancy, Currency, Precision, Efficiency

Charlottesville, VA, July 18, 2018 – In a study circulated at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries in Baltimore, MD, July 14-17, Casemaker consistently outperformed Fastcase, its principle competitor in the low cost legal research market.

In “Database Evaluation: Drawing The Silken Thread,” three highly respected Connecticut law librarians set out to objectively evaluate seven legal databases by researching six topics. They performed identical searches on each service, and then assessed each result set against five pre-determined criteria.

The study showed that Casemaker consistently returns more relevant results than Fastcase, its data is more current, and its citator, CaseCheck+®, is more precise and less cumbersome to use than Fastcase’s Bad Law Bot.

At several points, the study’s authors remark upon the evident shortcomings of Fastcase’s “AI-based approach” to harvesting, interpreting and manipulating data, and contrast it to the editorial processes of Casemaker, Westlaw, and LexisNexis, which entail a greater degree of human involvement.

“These findings are truly gratifying,” said Sarah Gorman, Chief Operating Officer at Casemaker. “Our legal editors take great pride in their work, and here we can see that the human touch really does make a difference.”

The numbers speak for themselves: Across 30 potential points of comparison, Casemaker outperformed Fastcase 20 times, often producing results at a par with or even superior to those of the leading high cost services. By contrast, Fastcase outperformed Casemaker in just one area.

For your convenience, we have distilled the study’s findings into a simple table, which appears below. To be clear, the study’s authors do not overtly rank the performances of the databases studied. Labels such as “Superior,” “Inferior,” and “Equivalent” reflect inferences, sometimes obvious and other times more nuanced, made by Casemaker personnel. If you have the time, your best option may be to read the full study itself, which can be found here.

Sample Commentary from the Report:
“FASTCASE places its emphasis upon AI word frequency rather than human editing. Even on a word frequency basis, it is hard to see how they arrive at this conclusion.”
“Browsing the effected statute is far easier in CASEMAKER.”
“FASTCASE does not find Light … no Connecticut case emerges even though we know that Light cited Avitzur. Even though Light was decided in 2013, it is not included in this system.”
“FASTCASE captures the 2017 changes with less precision.”
“CASEMAKER … links with changes back to 2010. FASTCASE does not capture these references at all.”
“FASTCASE gets the same result as CASEMAKER eventually … However, getting there is more cumbersome.”
“CASEMAKER correctly identifies one 2016 amendment and researchers can hypertext directly to this enactment. FASTCASE retrieves the same, but going there directly is not possible.”
“CASEMAKER captures both changes in appropriate public act form … FASTCASE, unfortunately, captures only by bill number. It also misses one change … Going with bill number alone is risky since amendments usually happen in both chambers along the way. AI harvesting in this instance falls short.”
“The correct answer … Appears first by relevance in CASEMAKER among 18 results … FASTCASE does retrieve this statute, but only at position 5 ranked at 88% relevance … This different retrieval may arise because FASTCASE rests heavily on an AI approach.”

If you’re already a Casemaker user, this study reaffirms what you already know: you can depend on Casemaker for accurate, up-to-date answers to your legal research questions.
If you’ve been using Fastcase and you’d like to switch to Casemaker, just click here to sign up today!
And if your bar association provides Fastcase as a member benefit, let them know you’d rather have Casemaker, the value leader in legal research.