Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Casemaker Shines!

As most of our members know, Casemaker is just one of the many benefits provided to VBA Members at no extra cost. Casemaker is a comprehensive on-line research library featuring Vermont state and federal court decisions, statutes, codes, rules of procedure, Green Mountain Care Board and Labor Relations Board decisions, state agency decisions, advisory ethic opinions and much more.  VBA members have exclusive access to a huge library of materials from twenty-eight other states, including every New England jurisdiction, the United States Supreme Court and Circuit Court of Appeals opinions.  With complimentary Casemaker Pro (under the "features" tab), members have access to the Casemaker Digest, Case Check (a citator) and Citecheck, where you can upload a brief and have every citation analyzed!

What our members may not know is how Casemaker outperforms the alternative research library provided in a similar fashion in other states. This news just came to us from Casemaker:

"In a landmark study circulated at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries in Baltimore..., Casemaker consistently outperformed Fastcase across multiple areas of comparison.

In “Database Evaluation: Drawing The Silken Thread,” three highly respected Connecticut law librarians set out to objectively evaluate seven legal databases by researching six topics. They performed identical searches on each service, and then assessed each result set against five pre-determined criteria.

The study showed that Casemaker consistently returns more relevant results than Fastcase, our data is more current, and our citator, CaseCheck+®, is more precise and less cumbersome to use than Fastcase’s Bad Law Bot.

At several junctures, the study’s authors remark upon the evident shortcomings of Fastcase’s “AI-based approach” to harvesting, interpreting and manipulating data, and contrast it to the editorial processes of Casemaker, Westlaw, and LexisNexis, which entail a greater degree of human involvement.

The numbers speak for themselves: Across 30 potential points of comparison, Casemaker outperformed Fastcase 20 times, often producing results at a par with or even superior to those of the leading high cost services. By contrast, Fastcase outperformed Casemaker in just one area (the result of an oversight we have since addressed)."

Casemaker distilled the study’s findings into a simple table, that we can provide on request. The full study can be found at

As always, we are standing by to provide personal Casemaker training for any VBA members who request it.  Just drop me a line. The video tutorials on the Casemaker homepage are also quite helpful.

 Happy researching!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Successful 2nd Annual VBA Trial Academy!

Over 40 volunteers made the VBA’s Second Annual Trial Academy a huge success!  We were so fortunate to have invaluable contributions from presiding judges from the federal, state and Vermont Supreme Court benches; Vermont Fellows from the American College of Trial Lawyers and Members of the American Board of Trial Advocates; VBA Young Lawyers Division members serving as witnesses; and volunteer student timekeepers from the Vermont Law School.  Participating lawyers and all who were involved in the day-long program at the Vermont Law School on July 13 have given the event high praise.

The VBA was delighted to organize an opportunity for lawyers to present a variety of trial segments in criminal, civil and family mock trial settings. Each participating lawyer was critiqued in individual courtrooms by either U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss, Vermont Supreme Court Justices Harold Eaton and Karen Carroll, or Vermont Superior Court Judges Mary Miles Teachout, Helen Toor, Thomas Zonay, Cortland Corsones, Kevin Griffin, Samuel Hoar and David Fenster, who each served as presiding judges in the mock courtrooms. American College of Trial Lawyers Vermont Fellows David Cleary, Tom McCormick, Karen McAndrew, Ritchie Berger, James Murdoch, Bill Leckerling, Jim Spink and Mary Kay Lanthier and Vermont Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates Dan Burchard and Bill Counos  joined the judges in offering thoughtful and detailed personalized critiques of the lawyer participants as they presented opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations and closing arguments in classrooms and mock courtrooms at VLS.  VBA YLD members Charles Romeo, Justin Brown, Cary Dube, Jessica Bullock, Elijah LaChance, Alycia Sanders, Bonnie Badgewick, John Pritchard, Rachel Strecker and Matt Ferrigno portrayed the witnesses being examined with wit and enthusiasm, while VLS students Laura Lee, Terry Campbell, Ian Blackwelder, Emma Okell, Kat Kral, Alex Steinbach, Allison Rogers, Leah Burdick, Anders Newbury and Debby Pakbaz served as timekeepers to ensure equal time for the presentations and critiques. During the intervening plenary sessions, the judges and fellows gave the attendees tips and tricks for the courtroom.

Vermont Law School Dean and President Thomas McHenry commenced the event by welcoming all to the Trial Academy and Judge Dave Fenster closed the event with final remarks and kudos to all of the participants and volunteers. Just before closing, Mary Kay Lanthier treated us all to a chillingly-good closing argument of her own.  VBA Executive Director Teri Corsones thanked everyone for their generosity of time and expertise with her signature baked goods.  The VBA has been more than pleased to receive all the positive comments and the requests for a 3rd Annual VBA Trial Academy next year!  We love hearing from our attendees and strive to make each event better than the last.  Please keep the comments and suggestions coming. You’ll want to join us next year; it is sure to be a success!

Please enjoy pictures of the event below...