Lucky Android Now Has Fastcase App

 

I have been a fan of Fastcase on iOS for more than two years and now I have some great news for Android toting lawyers – Fastcase is now available on your Android-powered device! It has a similar interface and feature set as the iOS app; most notably FREE access to case law and available statutes as well as synchronization of research between mobile and desktop. Results come back to you with case name and the most relevant paragraph, with results listed by relevancy ranking. Search terms are highlighted. Using Mobile Sync and desktop access, you can go back on your desktop to stuff you’ve found and saved on your mobile so that you can more easily read and print your results.

 

Bottom line, though, is that these features come to you for free on your mobile. I can think of no other legal mobile app that offers such a great research alternative for so little money. Go, Fastcase!

Quantitative Legal Prediction and You

When one thinks of the practice of law, I imagine one thinks “qualitative”, relegating the “quantitative” to the accountants and actuaries. But the more data we can collect and mine, the more likely even the most judgment-based tasks can be influenced by trends. That is the premise behind the label “quantitative legal prediction” – mining “big data” for trends in legal decisions and court filings, statutory evolution and legal billing and task performance in order to predict outcomes. The ABA Journal reports on an article at Law Technology News  touching on the concept and how it is being used in a few scenarios. How could this work? Imagine crawling the opinions and decisions in Pacer to find the arguments that supported the most winning results? While the key to the effectiveness of the tech is getting the information into mine-able form, there are already services and firms making inroads. There are programs for e-discovery using algorithms to identify documents most likely to be relevant to a given discovery request. Ty-Metrix, a legal billing software, has collected massive amounts of billing data and can now mine it for law firm rates and the factors that affect those rates. Then there is Lex Machina, an organization that has spent 10 years trying to build and organize an effective database for intellectual property litigation.

There are other examples as well in the LTN article. And the article and its examples herald for me an era in law practice that I have been eagerly anticipating – that moment when we can dip into all the available information on a given subject, tap the data and return predictive answers back using an interface like Wolfram Alpha. I don’t believe that this ability means the death of human judgment. Quite the opposite – armed with better data, more complete information, our judgment will be sharpened and improved. I welcome our Big Data Driven overlords and their semantic minions. It will be interesting to see what the next few years brings, especially if efforts to demolish the PACER pay wall come to fruition.

Zillman's Annotated Academic & Scholarly Search Sources

 

Another great resource from research whiz Marcus Zillman over at LLRX – Academic and Scholar Search Engines and Sources – An Annotated Link Compilation. In Mr. Zillman’s own words:

 

This new guide focuses on the latest and most significant academic and scholar search engines and sources. With the constant addition of new and pertinent information released online from every sector, it is very easy to experience information overload. A real asset in responding to the challenges of so much data is to apply techniques to identify and locate significant, reliable academic and scholarly information that resides in both the visible and invisible web. The following selected academic and scholar search engines and sources offer a wide range of actionable information retrieval and extraction sources to help you accomplish your research goals. 

 

There’s a metric tonne of good stuff in his list. Have at it!

 

 

An RSS Feed for Legal Apps

 

Back in the day, specialized applications for law were few. Not so much anymore. If you want to stay on top of the latest and greatest applications to support your legal practice, check out Mobile Apps for Law’s site and RSS feed. The site promises legal research and utility apps for all devices. In addition to the RSS feed, which delivers new inclusions straight to your RSS reader of choice, the site itself is searchable. Using boolean search, keywords and fields, you can find by application subject and/or device, and limit to recently updated apps. You will need to subscribe to the to see full search results, though.

Or, you can use the new RSS feed. The free feed provides information on the latest mobile apps releases for legal research and utilities. The feed gives information on each app that is newly added to the database, which apparently includes over 900 mobile apps. Click the app title and view the full information on the app maintained in the database. Not a bad way to stay up to date on the latest legal-mobile tech.

Why DuckDuckGo?

I have featured DuckDuckGo here in the Studio before, but this article at MakeUseOf has prompted me to bring it up again. That, and the fact that I always run substantive searches in DuckDuckGo as well as that other search engine everyone “flocks” to. Seems redundant, sure, but there are plenty of good reasons to do so if you want to make certain you are really getting the goods.

 

DuckDuckGo has the ubiquitous search box on its main page and a results page full of links. But it also has zero click pages which permit you to instantly access sources by the type of term you enter in the search box. Type “define” and a word and you will get a Merriam Webster definition. Or a name, and access Crunchbase. Or a song lyric and access LyricBase. And numerous other databases of information. Zero click allows you to get an “answer” rather than links – you will see results to queries that give answers from Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia, and many other reputable sites, enabling you to collapse your search efforts and answer questions from the results page. If your term is more on the ambiguous side, DuckDuckGo will respond with variations on the theme, broken out by category, to help direct you to the right results. You can even enter emoticons into the search box and get back their meaning in the results.

 

Click the down arrow next to the search icon, and you can feel “ducky” instead of Google’s “I feel lucky” instant results. There are other prompts in the drop down as well.

 

Check out the Goodies page on DuckDuckGo for more search tools (there is also a Tech Goodies page, with more technologically specific data and tools).   You will boxes for entering searches for Calculations, Conversions, Dates, Entertainment, Facts, Finance, Food, Geography, IDs, Language, Random, Time Sensitive, and Transformations. There are some location aware searches that will pull relevant information from your locale in responding to your search request. For example, type in “Is it Raining?” and get a local weather report discussing the chances of rain in your area.

 

DuckDuckGo has built-in syntax for searching that will assist in formulating queries. Related to this, the search engine features a tool called !Bang – there are hundreds of sites that the engine will search directly when you precede the search term with an exclamation point. Such as typing in !Amazon portable basketball hoops and go straight to Amazon’s search results. This covers most major sites and most general terms. For a complete list, check out the !Bang page here.

 

If you are missing Google’s auto-complete, a DuckDuckGo user has created a browser add-on that combines the search engine with Google’s auto-complete – check out DDG + Google Suggest.

 

Private browsing is enabled by default, which is a nice change of pace. Furthermore, and this is the reason I like it for searching, it does not attempt to tailor results to your interests – you will get results based solely on your search terms. DuckDuckGo’s results are a compilation of many sources, including Yahoo! Search BOSS, Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha and its own Web crawler, the DuckDuckBot. As I previously reported, the engine automatically deletes results from sites believed to be “content mills”, ostensibly improving the quality of the results. While Google recently has made attempts to cull out similar sites, DDG has been doing it all along. You can also employ voice search on DuckDuckGo with the Chrome browser, with another user submitted add on.

 

There are mobile apps as well:

Check out the add-ons page for more tools.

 

People tend to default to Google because it’s there. But there are so many other great search options out there – you may be missing some key information. Check out the browser comparison charts here to get an overview of some of the other choices you could make when searching your terms.

 

Broaden your search and broaden your horizons. DuckDuckGo is a great place to start. Load it into your browser using the instructions at the Tools page and you’re good to go.