Casemaker—FREE Legal Research

Free Casemaker ResearchCasemaker, provided FREE to you as a member of the State Bar of Michigan, will save you hundreds of dollars every month on legal research.The State Bar of Michigan has partnered with Casemaker to bring premium state and federal research materials to its membership. This service provides case law, constitution, and statutes for all 50 states, including the District of Columbia. In addition the service provides Michigan primary law, administrative code, state court rules, federal court rules, attorney general opinions, and the model civil jury instructions.

Casemaker offers features that Michigan attorneys have been asking for:

  • Live chat is an instant messaging system that connects with Casemaker customer support, find the live chat link at the top of the screen while logged in
  • Get faster search results with a more intuitive interface
  • Personalized search history, save & reuse your research
  • Save research in folders organized your way

Members also have access to several advanced legal research tools, including a case citation tool that simultaneously runs a search for secondary and/or third part treatises and publications, and a tool capable of searching all customized books within any state and/or federal library in a single query.

Accessing Casemaker

To access this member benefit simply log in to the member area and select the Casemaker tab on the right. There are several helpful user guides published within the Casemaker system. In addition, you can click on Webinar at the top of the Casemaker site to sign-up for online training.

Search Operators in Casemaker

Casemaker has a number of search functions that allow you to create complex searches to locate the information you are looking form. Let's have a quick review of them!

AND searching—Example: Contract Binding
To perform the AND search, simply leave a space. Casemaker sees the space as the AND operator. Our example will give us documents that have the word contract as well as the word binding.

OR searching—Example: alimony OR support
Using OR as the operator will find documents that use either word in the query. In our example, this query will pull up documents mentioning either alimony or support anywhere in them.

NOT searching—Example: property NOT commercial
Using the NOT operator will tell the system to find the documents that mention the first term but do not mention the second. In our example, the query will pull up documents that refer to property but do not mention the term commercial

Grouping searching—Example: (alimony OR support) AND divorce
This would be the one case where you should use the word AND in Casemaker. Using the parentheses tells the system we want to group these queries. In this example, the system will return documents that mention alimony or support but also mention divorce.

Phrase searching—Example: "right of way"
This search type tells the system to treat everything in the quotations as if it were one search term. In our example, this means it will only pull cases that mention right of way but not cases that mention the words right, of and way by themselves.

Thesaurus searching—Example: ~parole
The thesaurus search not only locates your search term but also words with the same meaning. In our example query, the search will pull up documents that mention the word parole as well documents that mention any synonyms of the word parole.

Suffix searching—Example: run*
This search will pull up documents that mention terms that begin with the letters prior to the asterisk. In our example, the query will find documents that mention not only run, but also any words that start with run such as runner, runs, running and so on.

Proximity searching—Example: tax w/10 property
This search will pull up documents that mention your first term within the number of words you specify of the other term. In our example, this will bring us documents where tax is mentioned within ten words of the term property.

Learn About Subsequent Treatment of Cases

There are two ways to see if a case has been treated negatively by subsequent cases in Casemaker. The first way is a feature called Citing References. Citing References provides a list of every case in Casemaker that has cited the original opinion and is available in the gray navigation bar displayed while viewing a case. You would need to review each of these cases to see if any case treated the original case negatively or not.

The second way is CaseCheck+. CaseCheck+ takes the Citing References feature one step further and will automatically indicate if any subsequent cases have negatively treated the original case and what the treatment is. A green thumbs up symbol indicates there is no subsequent negative treatment and a red thumbs down symbol indicates there is negative treatment in subsequent cases.

Downloading Documents

Of course, you can access Casemaker from anywhere in the world with internet access—but sometimes you may find you need to download a copy of a case. Casemaker allows you to do just that.

While reading a case in Casemaker you will notice a set of icons on the far right in the gray toolbar area—a printer, an envelope, a folder and a floppy disk. Click on the floppy disk icon. After you click on the floppy disk icon you will see a pop up offering you a number of options. You can select various formats for the document such as word or PDF and how many columns per a page. You can also attach any notes you have made and including treatment, citing references and highlighting. Once you have selected the options you want—just click download. The document will save on your computer or laptop. Now you can access the case—no internet required.

Emailing Documents

Have you ever viewed a document in Casemaker and wanted to email it to your client or colleague? You can do that! To email a document, click on the envelope icon in the upper right-hand corner of the document in the dark gray bar. A pop-up window will appear, then select the document format (PDF, Word, or WordPerfect). Choose dual or single column format, and decide if you want to include your notes, any highlighted terms, or if you want to attach the list of citing references and any negative treatment found. Next, enter the recipient's email address (or addresses), a subject for the email, and a short message. Finally, hit the blue email button and Casemaker will email the document for you.

Make a Note of it!

You can add notes to any document you find in Casemaker. The note is unique to your account and cannot be seen by anyone else. To do so, view a document, click the “Notes” drop-down in the light gray bar, select “Add Note,” type your note in the new window that opens, then click save. Your note will be stored at the top of the document. You can use the same notes menu to determine if notes are visible or hidden. To edit the note, click the pencil icon and to delete it permanently click the “x” icon.

Statutes & Administrative Code by Citation

Below the search bar, you will find small buttons labeled Keyword, Citation, Party, Section, and Docket. If you click on the button for Section, you can then enter the citation for statutes or administrative codes and Casemaker will pull up the code section you are seeking. You can also browse administrative codes, statutes, and other materials by clicking the appropriate link under the state or federal library of your choosing.