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New LibGuide: Fastcase

It’s Halloween, so what could be scarier than legal research?  Luckily, the Library has How-to Guides to our legal databases for those new to research or those looking to brush up on their database skills. Our latest guide is How to Use Fastcase.

Fastcase is a legal research service which provides access to state and federal law documents including federal bankruptcy, tax courts, US Supreme Court, federal district and courts of appeal cases as well as federal and state statutes and regulations. This guide focuses on how to use Fastcase on the Library’s public computers, though there is also a Fastcase mobile app available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone devices as well. Fastcase is available on all of the Library’s computers.

Use this guide to learn the fundamentals of Fastcase, from accessing the database in the Library to finding and saving cases, statutes, regulations, and more. There are step-by-step instructions for:

  • Searching Cases
  • Searching Statutes
  • Refining Search Results
  • Printing/Saving Documents

For more database help, check out our How to Use CEB OnLAW, and look for our upcoming How-to Guides on Westlaw and Lexis.

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Ravel View Now Available on Lexis Advance

Lexis Advance case law searches now have a new, time-saving feature: Ravel View. This revolutionary search visualization tool instantly provides a sort of bird’s eye view of the research forest. Ravel View maps the top 75 case search results on a grid, so it visually explains the relationship between cases, the importance of each case, relevance to search results, and Shepard’s treatment.

Here’s how it works. Each case on the grid is represented by a circle, and the bigger the circle, the more times the case has been cited. This means that seminal cases are quickly identifiable, saving considerable time and effort for the harried researcher. The grid’s horizontal axis represents time, and shows the progression of cases from old to new from left to right. The vertical axis represents jurisdiction, with the highest federal court at the top, followed by other federal courts and state courts at the bottom. Cases that are more relevant to the search query are positioned higher within these jurisdiction segments. It is also possible to sort the results along the vertical axis by relevance alone—simply switch the “Sort by” option from Court to Relevance. When there is a citing relationship between two cases, lines connect the circles to one another. Hover over one of the circles, and color-coded lines reveal Shepard’s treatment. The result of putting all these features together is that instead of spending hours scrolling, sifting, and sorting through search results, researchers can see the big picture with a click of the Ravel View icon. It’s located in the upper right corner of the case search results and looks like this: RavelBelow is an example of mapped case search results after clicking on one of the cases in the grid:

Ravel View

After selecting one of the cases, hovering over another case displays a pop-up box that explains the citing relationship between the two, as well as a snippet of the relevant section of the opinion. All the usual filters are also available, so the results displayed on the grid can be searched for additional key words or narrowed to a particular jurisdiction or date range.

Come to the Law Library to see Ravel View in action! The Library provides two hours per day of free access to Lexis Advance and other research databases.


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New LibGuide: How to Use CEB OnLAW

Did you know that the San Francisco Law Library offers free online access to CEB titles? OnLAW includes over 150 Continuing Education of the Bar, or CEB, publications, including practice guides, action guides and downloadable forms. OnLAW can be accessed from within the library.

New LibGuide: How to Use CEB OnLAW

SF Law Library’s new LibGuide, How to Use CEB OnLAW, provides step-by-step instructions for using OnLAW, including how to:

  • Find a specific CEB title, chapter, or section
  • Search by keyword or phrase and narrow search results
  • Limit searches to specific CEB titles
  • Search by case name or citation
  • Search by statute
  • Find downloadable forms

Find a specific CEB title, chapter, or section

In addition to OnLAW, SF Law Library offers free access to Westlaw, Lexis Advance, HeinOnline and more.


Need help searching Westlaw or Lexis Advance? Check out these PDF guides:

Introduction to Legal Research on Westlaw

Lexis Advance User Guide