Q&A With Fastcase CEO Ed Walters

By Catherine Sanders Reach
NCBA members have access to Fastcase, a robust 50-state legal research database, as a membership benefit. Soon Fastcase will be rolling out a new default version to all members. Fastcase 7 brings all sorts of new features and upgrades. We sat down with Ed Walters, CEO and co-founder of Fastcase, to talk about what’s new and the ever-expanding offerings from the platform.

Q: Ed, tell us a little about yourself
A: I’m a storytelling lawyer from Louisiana. After law school, I was a patent litigator in Washington, D.C., but my job really was to tell stories about science for judges with liberal arts backgrounds. My next-door neighbor at the firm (Phil Rosenthal) and I left Covington & Burling in DC almost exactly 20 years ago (!) to start Fastcase.

Up until last year, I got to be a soccer coach for my son, which was a delight!  I’ve also been teaching a class called The Law of Robots at the Georgetown University Law Center in the fall, and at Cornell Law School’s new campus in New York City in the spring. This fall I’m teaching The Law of Autonomous Vehicles at Georgetown Law.

Q: What are the enhancements to Fastcase in version 7 you are most excited about?
A: I like being able to search across cases and statutes at the same time, or across everything in a state. Type-ahead search is great, too, especially when you’re trying to look up a case by its name or citation, and the search engine just autocompletes it. We’re pretty excited about the hundreds of new expert treatises we’ve just launched. And we’re just about to roll out our gigantic briefs, pleadings, and motions database – a great place to find templates for state and federal litigation.

I also like the Cloud Linking feature – you drag a Word or PDF document into Fastcase, and we automagically find all the caselaw citations and link them to a public version of the case, then return the document back in the same format, but with all the citations hyperlinked. It’s great when sending a brief to a court, or a marketing e-mail to clients, and they don’t need to be Fastcase subscribers to view the linked cases.

Q: How can Fastcase be used beyond legal research?
A: We’re rolling out some new alert services that can be used for business intelligence or marketing. So you can pull all the briefs filed by your firm in state or federal courts; see what kinds of litigation prospective clients have been engaged in, or what firms typically represent them. Or you can set alerts to find out immediately when clients have been sued.

Fastcase is launching a legal news service this fall called Law Street Media, focused on the business of law. And now we’re publishing original books like Joshua Walker’s On Legal AI, as well as deskbooks from bar associations such as the North Carolina Bar Association. And now, with our recently announced acquisition of bankruptcy forms tool NextChapter, we’re looking forward to expanding into more forms and workflow tools. We’re growing all the time, and there’s a lot more to Fastcase than just legal research.

Q: How is artificial intelligence impacting legal research? In Fastcase?
A: AI is great at bulk data operations and in finding patterns in large libraries of documents, as we’ve seen in e-discovery. Now you can see companies using AI to find answers to research questions or to run smarter natural language searches, or to understand the arguments in briefs.

We’re using AI on a lot of projects at Fastcase and Docket Alarm. In our Docket Alarm group, we’re pulling hundreds of millions of documents from PACER and state courts, converting them to text so that they’re searchable, and then extracting things like the judges, lawyers, and parties. Now you can full-text search documents from multiple PACER courts at once, or search by law firm, party, lawyer, or judge, because of information we’ve extracted using AI.

We’re also using AI at Fastcase to upgrade Authority Check and its negative history service, Bad Law Bot. We’re using AI to identify cases that have been reversed or overturned, using the language that courts use in those opinions. Independent research benchmarks the incumbent citators at about 67% accuracy – it will be interesting to see if AI can achieve higher accuracy than our current gold standard in citators.

Q: What is next on the horizon for Fastcase for NCBA members?
A: Our team is really into analytics right now – we’ve been building out analytics in our new Docket Alarm service as a way of understanding judges, law firms, and parties in a case. We’re looking forward to making these analytics available to everyone. We’re also excited about the briefs, pleadings, and motions database. At large firms, lawyers will search their document management system for sample motions before a certain court – we’re working on a similar system for small firms. Watch for some innovations in Fastcase online forms soon, too! I suppose after that, it’s time for Fastcase 8!


Join Fastcase expert Erin Page on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at noon to find out how you can take advantage of AI enhanced searching, saved searches and jurisdiction defaults, and even tweaking the algorithm to get the best search results for you. Lots to learn and more to love with the new enhancements of Fastcase 7. Click here to register.


Catherine Sanders Reach serves as director of the NCBA Center for Practice Management.

Pro Bono Spotlight: Kate McCullough

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Pro Bono Volunteer Spotlight: Kate McCullough
Pro Bono Project: NC LEAP

By Caroline Trautman
For attorneys working in business law who want to give back, it’s hard to think of a better opportunity than the NC Lawyers for Entrepreneurs Assistance Program (“NC LEAP”).

And when it comes to attorneys who have taken that opportunity, Kate McCullough immediately comes to mind.

Kate has been an active NC LEAP volunteer since she graduated from Elon University School of Law in 2017. NC LEAP, which is the only statewide program of its kind, provides legal services to low-wealth entrepreneurs. Through her work with NC LEAP, Kate has assisted business owners with a wide range of topics including contracts, trademark registration, company handbooks, operating agreements, and formation. She sat on a panel during the 7th Annual Business Summit – Business Q&A at Vance-Granville Community College.

Having a background in business, Kate knew that she wanted to focus on corporate, business, and contract law. Volunteering for NC LEAP helped Kate build experience in these practice areas soon after graduating while also doing something she has always loved – helping others in need. “NC LEAP provides an opportunity for individuals who may not have finances to seek financial or legal advice about building a business,” she said. She pointed out that starting a business requires a great deal of work, time, and resources that many people don’t have and that NC LEAP “really empowers people” through its services.

Kate has first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to start a business with limited resources, and this also drew Kate to NC LEAP. Kate started a non-profit of her own when she was living in Boston several years ago. Her charity, Wrapped Up in Sports, Inc., made nearly 1,000 sports-themed quilts out of Red Sox and other sports team jerseys and apparel for needy and sick children. The non-profit was such a hit that it even partnered with Fenway Park, which offered free space to women to make the quilts. The charity donated the quilts to hospitals and homeless shelters. Kate recalled that she got her non-profit off the ground with the help of a pro bono attorney who schooled her on things like Employee Identification Numbers, business incorporation basics, and contracts. She says that the dedicated attorney who helped her set up Wrapped Up In Sports inspired her to pay it forward once Kate earned her law degree.

Volunteering with NC LEAP also enhanced Kate’s career in business law. After graduating, she started working for the NC Community College System. Because NC LEAP clients are often from the Community College Small Business Center, she was able to help NC LEAP partner with community colleges throughout the state and also connect with entrepreneurs and talk with them about their legal needs. Kate now works in Winston-Salem as an in-house Contracts Manager with Collins Aerospace, a large company serving the aerospace and defense industry around the globe. Kate is a member of the NCBA Government/Public Section and also volunteers with Legal Aid.

Want to get involved with NC LEAP? Learn more at https://www.ncbarfoundation.org/our-programs/nc-leap/.

 

Caroline Trautman is a partner at Oak City Law and a member of the NCBA Pro Bono Committee.

Checking In: September 23, 2019

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Wilson law firms Thomas Law Attorneys and Farris & Farris, P.A., will consolidate effective Oct. 1, managing partners Allen Thomas and Bob Farris announced recently. The firm will be named Farris & Thomas and operate at the current location of Thomas Law. The consolidation reunites the managing partners, who began their legal careers in practice with Robert Farris, the father of Bob Farris and the uncle of Allen Thomas. (Photo: Allen Thomas, left, and Bob Farris, courtesy The Wilson Times.)

 

Constangy, Brooks, Smith and Prophete has added a new office in Raleigh to complement North Carolina offices in Asheville and Winston-Salem. In tandem with its opening, the Raleigh office has welcomed its first partner, Justin Coffey, who worked previously for Ogletree Deakins. Coffey has more than 14 years of experience in immigration law, including serving as Chair of the Board of Directors of the International and Immigration Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association.

 

 

 

Zachary Underwood has been promoted to Litigation Partner at the Raleigh office of Cordell & Cordell. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield and a Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest University.

 

 

 

 

Jeffrey Tyburski and his staff have joined the Raleigh office of Geosyntec Consultants after previously working for McAdams. “This was an amicable decision between McAdams and Geosyntec,” Tyburski wrote, “recognizing that McAdams Civil Engineering/Land Development environmental needs are better served from a separate closely aligned partner. This will create a win-win situation for both companies.”

 

 

 

Steven Bader has joined the Raleigh office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog as an Of Counsel attorney. Bader’s practice focuses on appellate law, and his experience includes arguing cases before the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals. He holds a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Saint Cloud State University, and a Juris Doctorate from Gonzaga University.

 

 

 

Grace Kays has joined the Wilmington office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog as an associate attorney, focusing her practice on medical malpractice defense. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, cum laude, with a major in criminal justice and a minor in political science, and a Juris Doctorate from Elon University.

 

 

 

Lori Fuller has joined the Technology practice at Smith Anderson in Raleigh. She brings with her a wealth of experience from previous positions, including serving as General Counsel for the North Carolina Department of Information Technology and as the first and leading advisor from the Attorney General’s Office for the State Information Processing Services and Information Technology Services.

 

 

 

Colin J. Tarrant has joined Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed in Wilmington after working previously for Smith Moore Leatherwood and Fox Rothschild. Tarrant’s practice focuses on business and commercial litigation, real estate development, land use, and zoning. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from North Carolina State University and a Juris Doctorate from the New England School of Law.

 

 

 

Megan Cook has joined the Raleigh office of Teague Campbell. She focuses her practice on issues of liability, including motor vehicle negligence and wrongful death. Cook holds a Juris Doctorate from North Carolina Central University School of Law.

 

 

 

 

Carmelle Alipio joins the Raleigh office of Teague Campbell. Carmelle holds a Juris Doctorate from Emory University, where she was the first woman and the first woman of color to be elected Director in Chief of the Emory Law School Supreme Court Advocacy Program. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Fordham University.

 

 

 

Patrick Scott joins the Raleigh office of Teague Campbell after participating in the Teague Campbell Summer Associate Program. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a Juris Doctorate from Campbell University.