Editor’s note: The Casemaker Online Law Library recently received a “rave review” in a major sourcebook for legal materials, the “Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual 2002,” by Kendall F. Svengalis. The following is excerpted from that review:
Of all the alternative computer- assisted legal research services on the market, Casemaker has the greatest potential to fundamentally transform the world of online legal research in the United States … Casemaker began as a highly popular CD-ROM product marketed to Ohio attorneys in 1988. Joining forces with the Ohio State Bar Association, Casemaker moved to the Internet in 1998, offering Ohio State Bar members access to a complete library of Ohio legal materials. Since that time, additional state bar associations have approached Casemaker to request that a similar service be made available to their own membership … It has already made a significant impact marked by a sophisticated array of search features, and the depth and breadth of its database coverage.
Content for each [state] includes the full range of primary law, including case law, applicable federal court decisions, state codes and constitutions, session laws, regulations, rules of professional conduct, attorney general opinions, workers’ compensation opinions, bar journals, and more. Moreover, caselaw is not limited only to the highest appellate courts and local federal courts, but also extends to the courts of appeals, and some trial courts.
Content is selected in consultation with each state bar association and, as such, it reflects the specific needs and desires of the practitioners in those states. The Casemaker search engine employs an intuitive technology which includes both Boolean and natural language protocols, a Thesaurus function, and a case history citator. It is simple to navigate and allows users to conduct searches or browse through the documents in each database, a feature not found in most online services.
Casemaker’s success is a striking indication of the need for low-cost CALR by attorneys across the country. Ohio State Bar Association surveys have revealed that utilization of Casemaker’s now exceeds that of any other computer-assisted legal research service. And it is not difficult to understand why. Casemaker is rapidly becoming one of the most popular benefits of state bar association membership. In states with a unified bar, Casemaker is being made available to every bar member. In states with a voluntary bar, Casemaker has become the single greatest factor driving the enrollment of new members … The strength of numbers has made Casemaker into a major success story for users of computer-assisted legal research.
… As it develops a national database of primary law, Casemaker will satisfy the needs of most attorneys for a low-cost online legal research service. In fact, Casemaker may very well become the dominant influence in the market for online legal research. Its availability as a benefit to bar members will significantly restrict the ability of Westlaw and Lexis- Nexis to expand in the small law office market, and may very well signal the death knell for many of the other alternatice (sic) CALR providers. Stay tuned for these exciting developments.