How to shepardize a case

Subject Area(s):

  • Higher Ed: Law

Grade Level(s):

  • Graduate


This lesson is designed for first year law students in their second semester of school. It is the second task of a semester-long project culminating in the writing of a “Memo to Partner”. The lesson will take place during one Legal Writing class period, which is 90 minutes long. However, due to the difficulty of the subject matter, and in an effort to provide more individualized attention to the students to increase their motivation, the class will be split in half, so there will be two classes teaching the same lesson. The class will take place in one of the law school’s library. Each student will be required to use a laptop computer during the task. Students will work their way through the buILder, which contains a tutorial on how to Shepardize a case. Students will complete an accompanying worksheet, which will measure their ability to evaluate a case for validity and persuasiveness. Students will improve their reading comprehension skills as they compare the cases, they will have to compare the rulings of different courts and judges. At the end of the lesson, students will turn their worksheets into the Reference Librarian who will review the answers with the class.

Goals & Objectives:

Instructional Goals

§ Students will learn to Shepardize a case using books rather than an on-line service.

§ Students will learn to evaluate whether or not a decision is still good law (validity).

§ Students will learn to evaluate how their case has been treated by other courts in their jurisdiction (persuasiveness).

§ Students will improve their legal reading comprehension skills by comparing case law

Learning Objectives

  • First Year Law Students will:

· Successfully Shepardize their assigned case

· Successfully evaluate the validity of their assigned case

· Successfully evaluate the persuasiveness of their assigned case

Motivational Goals

§ Generate interest in the research process

§ Generate interest in doing research using books rather than an on-line service

§ Build confidence in evaluating case law for validity and persuasiveness

§ Promote satisfaction in search accomplishments

How do you brief a law case example?

  • Title and Citation. The title of the case shows who is opposing whom. …
  • Facts of the Case. A good student brief will include a summary of the pertinent facts and legal points raised in the case. …
  • Issues. …
  • Decisions. …
  • Reasoning. …
  • Separate Opinions. …
  • Analysis.

How do you write a case summary?

How to Write a Case Summary

  1. Title and Citation. The title should immediately identify who is opposing whom. …
  2. Facts of the Case. This includes the summary of the pertinent facts legal points raised in the case. …
  3. Issues. …
  4. Reasoning.

Why do we brief cases in law school?

Case briefs are a necessary study aid in law school that helps to encapsulate and analyze the mountainous mass of material that law students must digest. The case brief represents a final product after reading a case, rereading it, taking it apart, and putting it back together again.

How do you brief a case using the IRAC method?

Follow the “IRAC” (Issue; Rule; Application; Conclusion) Method. Facts: For case briefs only (not exams), write a brief synopsis of the facts as the court found them to be.

How do you write a brief law?

Generally, it includes: the court name, jurisdiction, case number, title of the case (the names of the parties), title of the document, name(s) and address(s) of the lawyers filing the document, and the date filed. A short trial brief may not require a title page.

What is rule of law in a case brief?

The rule of law is the legal principle or black letter law upon which the court rested its decision in the case. A single legal opinion may contain numerous rules of law or legal principles that impacted the court’s final decision.

What does a legal brief look like?

Every standard legal brief has a few basic elements: An Introduction that articulates the party’s claim and introduces the party’s theory of the case and the procedural history of the case. A Table of Authorities (TOA) section that describes all sources of legal authority used in the brief.

How do you Shepardize a case?

Shepardize a Case: Westlaw

  1. Find a case; go to the full text of case.
  2. Look in the left-hand area of the screen for KeyCite.
  3. Top of screen should have a brief note that states if the case is overruled, superseded, etc.
  4. Click tab for Negative Treatment (to see if still good law).

How do you draft a case?

How to Prepare Yourself to Present Your Case

  1. Read the Complaint. …
  2. Find copies of contracts and any other written communications between you and the other side. …
  3. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your case. …
  4. Prepare your documents and evidence for trial. …
  5. Identify and prepare any witnesses. …
  6. Practice, Practice, Practice your presentation.

Is case briefing a waste of time?

While it sounds like a great idea, it becomes incredibly tedious to do. The time you have to spend to do your homework is finite, and in reality, briefing cases in law school is a waste of that precious time. It is just not a practical strategy – there are much better ways to succeed in law school.

What is rule in IRAC?

The rule section of an IRAC is the statement of the rules pertinent in deciding the issue stated. Rules in a common law jurisdiction derive from court case precedent and statute. … The rules help make a correct legal analysis of the issue at hand using the facts of the case.

Why is case Briefing important?

Case Brief Case briefing is a long-used method of studying law. Its purpose is to have students identify the rules of law found in court cases and analyze how courts apply these rules of law to the facts of a case in an objective and rational manner.

How do you write a rule in IRAC?

  1. Issue: State the legal issue(s) to be discussed.
  2. Rule: State the relevant statutes and case law.
  3. Application: Apply the relevant rules to the facts that created the issue.
  4. Conclusion: State the most likely conclusions using the logic of the application section.

How do you respond to IRAC format?

An easy way to explain the IRAC method is to talk about the things that are most likely to trip you up when using it.

  1. Don’t write an introduction. …
  2. Don’t pad your answer. …
  3. Don’t revisit your answer in your conclusion. …
  4. Be flexible with the rule and analysis sections, and structure your answer to help the reader.

Fastcase’s popularity is on the rise. Is it right for your firm?

For years, Westlaw and LexisNexis were the two leading online legal research tools. However, a 2017 survey of Clio users indicates the emergence of a third legal research tool. Of the respondents, 20.58 percent said Westlaw was their research tool of choice, 20.35 percent reported that Fastcase was their top choice, and 20.21 percent chose LexisNexis. Google Scholar received 13.6 percent, and Casemaker had 10.22 percent. The three top legal services were within eight votes of each other among the 2,162 people who participated in the survey – Westlaw with 445, Fastcase with 440 and Lexis Nexis with 437.

Fastcase may have an inside track with Clio users. The two companies have an exclusive integration agreement that allows Fastcase users to track their legal research time and record documents with the Clio dashboard in Fastcase.

Nonetheless, Fastcase has made remarkable progress in the legal market and is a free service offered by many state bar associations.

Review of Fastcase

Fastcase provides access to court opinions from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Supreme Court, federal Courts of Appeal, U.S. District Courts and U.S. Bankruptcy Courts. You also get statutes, regulations, court rules and constitutions from the 50 states. You can get most of the same information from Google Scholar or the Public Library of Law for free, but you do not get the search tools and other features offered by Fastcase.

• Locating cases

You can locate cases on an issue in Fastcase by using keywords and Boolean searches. You can search for code sections cited within cases. You can sort your results by date, relevance, authority or alphabetically. Your results show the name of the case, its relevance ranking, how often it has been cited and a brief excerpt. You can filter your search results by document type, jurisdiction or level of court. Also, you can save your search for later reference.

You can easily locate a case the other party cited that you want to read or print. You type in the names of the parties or the style of the case, or the citation of the case. You can save, print or email the case.

• Checking authority

Fastcase lets you view a list of cases that cite the case you are viewing. An Authority Check Report gives you a list of subsequent cases that cited the case you are viewing. A Bad Law Bot alerts you to a case with a negative citation. The service is similar to Shepardizing a case to make sure the case you cite is still good law.

• Browsing documents

Fastcase displays a list of cases matching your search. You can hover over a case to see the first paragraph of the case. Fastcase highlights your search terms, so you can jump to the relevant part of the case. You can browse statutes and regulations using an outline.

• Printing

To print a document from Fastcase, you click on the print icon and select the format you prefer, for example, PDF or Microsoft Word. You download the document to your computer or mobile device. You can choose whether to have one or two columns and whether to have your search terms highlighted. You can add multiple documents to your print queue so that you can print them at the end of your research session.

• Research tips

Fastcase provides a series of online webinars to make your research more efficient. The courses qualify for continuing legal education credit. You can consult a short reference guide for assistance, or you can take a quick tutorial in Fastcase. You can click on the Fastcase chatbot if you need immediate help.

• Mobile app

The Fastcase app can be downloaded on iPhones and Android devices. The app allows lawyers to perform legal research from anywhere and on any device.

Disadvantages of Fastcase

Westlaw and LexisNexis include a case summary and headnotes with court decisions. WestlawNext classifies the headnotes in the key number system, while Lexis Advance uses the Lexis Topics system. Fastcase does not offer proprietary secondary sources. LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters (WestlawNext) and Bloomberg BNA publish treatises and form books. Some courts require Lexis or Westlaw citations when a lawyer references an unpublished court opinion in briefs or other legal documents.

Public records search

In March 2019, Fastcase announced that it had partnered with TransUnion to give subscribers access to public records information and analytics for individuals and businesses. The service is offered through TransUnion’s TLOxp platform. Fastcase subscribers get access to information such as addresses, phone numbers, places of employment, professional licenses, criminal records, bankruptcies, liens and assets. Lawyers can use the information to perform due diligence, locate witnesses, track assets and perform other investigations.

The integration is available through Fastcase 7. When a Fastcase subscriber performs a search that involves an individual or company, Fastcase offers the subscriber the option of extending the search to TransUnion’s public records. To get access to the public records information, the subscriber needs a separate subscription to TLOxp.

Expert witness profiles

In April 2019, Fastcase announced partnerships with JurisPro and Courtroom Insight, companies that provide expert witness profiles and information. The move allows Fastcase to provide subscribers access to over 100,000 expert witness profiles when using the Fastcase 7 platform.

Lawyers performing searches on Fastcase will be able to view JurisPro profiles at no extra cost. To see full Courtroom Insight profiles, a subscriber must pay a separate monthly subscription fee. JurisPro’s expert witness information includes the expert’s background, contact information, areas of expertise and testimonial background. Information on Courtroom Insight includes a full profile of the expert, the number of court challenges to the expert’s qualifications, the name of each case, the type of case and an analysis of the challenge. A lawyer may discover that a court has specifically accepted or rejected an expert’s testimony and why.

Many lawyers belong to state or local bar associations that offer Fastcase as a part of the membership. Does what Fastcase offers satisfy a lawyer’s research needs? A law firm can compare what Fastcase offers to what other companies provide and make an informed decision.

How to shepardize a case

Yes, Casetext has a citator! Like Lexis’ Shepard’s and Westlaw’s KeyCite, Casetext’s citator, called “SmartCite,” uses a system of flags to indicate the treatment of cases.

However, SmartCite is more than just flags. SmartCite is a collection of features that help you evaluate whether a case is good law and find other relevant cases citing that opinion.

It has two overarching objectives: (1) to alert you to bad law, and (2) to alert you to other cases that you should read before deciding whether to rely on a case.

To learn how to use SmartCite to determine whether a case is good law, please see the following article:

To learn how to use SmartCite to see how a case has been treated on appeal, please see the following article:

To learn how to use SmartCite to to see how a case has been cited by other cases, please see the following article:

Please note that, at this time, SmartCite does not cover minute orders indicating whether a California case has been depublished. To learn more, please see the following article:

*Shepard’s and KeyCite are trademarks and intellectual property of LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters, respectively. Please note that Casetext is not affiliated with LexisNexis or Westlaw.