News today from Fastcase will knock the socks off of some lawyers: free advance sheets on your iPad, Android, Kindle, Nook, or any other device that can use the epub format. As lawyers know, advance sheets are the paper soft-cover publications that contain early publication of court opinions. Those published opinions later show up in a hardbound book. Because the law is constantly changing (albeit slightly), advance sheets have been a necessary tool to keep up with new appellate opinions. I recall in law school hearing one lawyer observe that it was automatic malpractice to not subscribe to the advance sheets.
Today, courts continue to churn out opinions, but we can get them much faster. In my practice, I read the Indiana Law Blog daily to get legal news and see what new opinions (published and unpublished) have been handed down that day. In addition, I get an email each day from another publication that highlights a few notable opinions. These are great services because they are timely. The only disadvantage is that I need to be connected to the Internet to use them. I also scan the West’s Indiana Cases weekly advance sheets that cross my desk to make sure I don’t miss anything. They are slightly untimely (paper publication will do that), but a good compendium. The one problem is that they can pile up quickly and become a source of procrastination: who wants to tackle a pile?
What intrigues me about Fastcase’s electronic advance sheets is that they will be released monthly yet once I’ve downloaded them, I can review them at my leisure—regardless of whether I’m online. I will also be able to carry a number of them around with me on my iPad. That will make any pile seem less daunting.
Another good thing about these electronic advance sheets is that I can quickly take the paper advance sheets and pass them on to other lawyers in the firm. There will be no more backlog on my desk—of advance sheets, anyway.
Kudos to the team at Fastcase for coming through with an excellent idea. Once I manage to get my hands on a few of them, I’ll share my thoughts.