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Chapter 7 - Managing Litigation Information Using Technology

Digital Case Management/Trial Notebook

Both a case management plan and a trial notebook should be set up for your cases. The case management plan will generally handle the non-litigation information, such as billing, docketing, and so forth. The trial notebook will contain the litigation information, such as document abstracts, legal issues, and witnesses. Both are essential to the effective control of your case.

The purpose of a digital case/trial notebook is to provide ready electronic access to the non-litigative and litigative facts and law of your case. It should literally be your command post to locate and retrieve the relevant information in your case.

Setting up a Case Management System

Case management is one of the most important, yet often overlooked aspects of a lawsuit. When a new case comes into an office, a flurry of activity surrounds the case. A case file is opened, billing arrangements are set up, address books are filled with the client’s information, conflict checks are performed, a complaint or an answer is filed, and the case is forgotten. Usually, until the court or the opposing party prompts us, the case will grow old in the file cabinet.

To prevent this from happening, a case and litigation management plan should be set up. A case management plan is important for all of your cases. Case management systems generally control the non-litigation aspects of your cases and focus on calendaring/docket, personal and firmwide scheduling, conflict checking, case accounting, time and billing, and tracking daily case activity. These important law firm functions will reduce your malpractice exposure while also providing automated case action plans. The newer versions are incorporating essential integration features that enable the user to customize the interface screens and to easily link with your favorite word processor, such as Microsoft Word or WordPerfect, and other case management software.

To create case management plans, many attorneys use case management software or Personal Information Manager Systems (PIMs). These systems have generated substantial development over the last few years. They generally consist of a calendaring system, address file, and other personal information tools for your practice. They can be set up to provide a case action plan for your cases.

You should also set up a litigation case management plan. It should include a plan of action tied to dates of when certain legal or discovery events will be completed. When should discovery start? Should I interview the witnesses now? When should depositions be scheduled? These questions and others can be addressed by automating a litigation management plan and following it. Such a plan will assist in ensuring that the case is being properly prosecuted and will prevent the situation of always having to put out fires.

See Chapter 6 for further discussions on Case Management Software and Personal Information Managers.


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Digital Practice of Law Book

Digital Practice - TOC
Ch.1 - Automating the Practice
Ch: 2 - Computers
Ch: 3 - Networking and Group Computing
Ch: 4 - Internet & Telecommunications
Ch: 5 - Management and Personnel Considerations
Ch: 6 - Computer Concepts and Legal Applications
Ch: 7 - Managing Office and Litigation Information Using Technology
Implementing Litigation IT
Ch: 8 - Using Multimedia in Legal Proceedings

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