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Chapter 7 - Managing Litigation Information Using Technology

Generating Reports on Database Information.

Database software report generating features provide you with printed reports, on-screen reports, or reports saved to disk of your information for review and analysis. Database software should give you the capability to generate numerous reports in a variety of report formats.

The reports that you generate will generally be based upon records you have searched and retrieved using the search commands previously discussed in "Searching and Retrieving Records for Editing and Reports." Again, it is important that you become familiar with the search commands, so you can retrieve the records that meet your report needs.

After you have retrieved specific database records, you can generate reports in a variety of formats based on those records.Four sample reports that you could generate are listed below:

1. Document Number Report - Includes information about the document number, date of the document, type of document, and summary of the document.

2. Chronological Document Report - Includes information about the document date, document number, summary of the document, and the names of the persons and their connection to the document.

3. Persons Connected with Document Report - Includes information on the document number, persons connected to the document, document type, and document summary.

4. Legal Issues Document Report - Includes information on the legal issues, document date, and a summary of the document.



This is an example of a database and reports created using Microsoft Access. These are a few of the reports that will be generated automatically by double clicking on the report name. The reports are all based on the design of your database and the data that is entered.







For example, the following trial exhibit report can be generated on-screen or printed in a few seconds, since the underlying data was previously captured in the document data fields and the report was set up for automatic printing. 







Another report that can be easily generated is a chronological report. Once you enter the dates of documents in the document date field, you can then retrieve all documents connected to a specific date or prepare a chronological date report of all the documents in the database. This information is extremely important in order for you to "analyze" the significant facts relevant to a case. 




Integrating Images with Your Database. One of the early and major considerations is to determine whether you should scan your documents so that you can electronically retrieve them later as "document images." An image is simply a photographic reproduction of a document stored on a CD-ROM or hard disk available for instant retrieval for viewing on a monitor. A single CD-ROM can hold up to 15,000 document pages, depending upon the resolution or dpi at which it is scanned. The image picture contains words, but you cannot search the individual words on the image. For this reason, to locate an image you must index and link the document to a document index or database. The database can then be searched and the image retrieved, since it is linked to a database record. However, if you use OCR software and convert the image to machine-readable text, then the individual words can be searched.

There are two choices when faced with the task of managing documents. You can manually handle, organize, and retrieve the paper. Paper has to be copied, documents have to pulled off shelves or out of boxes, files are misplaced or lost, storage is inconvenient and banker boxes are not easy to take on the road. The other choice is to scan the documents as images or as machine-readable text using OCR software and control your information digitally.

There are several benefits for scanning your documents in order to digitally control the documents and other information in your cases:

  • Instant access to your documents;
  • Serves as a quick, informational source to defend against any early motions to dismiss or motions for summary judgment;
  • “Imaging technology has reached the point where a team can gain economic as well as strategic advantage by using imaging, even on cases with an average number of documents.” After analyzing the scanning, image retrieval, dedicated printer, coding, software, and training costs offset by savings in paper, space and personnel savings, it was more cost effective to use imaging technology. “You can reduce costs by using an image retrieval system and work more effectively . . . legal assistants and attorneys can spend less time on the tedious mechanics of maintaining paper sets of documents and getting their hands on copies of the documents they hope are of interest and more time on analysis and synthesis, the areas where the greatest gains can be found and the greatest value is created for the client’s money.” - George Socha, litigation attorney with Halleland, Lewis Nilan Sipkins and Johnson, Costs and benefits of Image retrieval: A Case Study, Socha, Hennepin Lawyer, Jan. 1996.
    Can be used to prepare for witness interviews and depositions;
  • If you are the plaintiff in a case, you can acquire a significant preparation and organizational advantage by imaging all the relevant documents in your case at the outset. For those states, like Arizona, which have mandatory disclosure rules, it would give an advantage to the plaintiff to quickly respond to court imposed disclosure rules;
  • For defendants, the rapid "imaging" of its documents by an outside service bureau or in-house could enable them to "catch up" to a plaintiff who had the luxury of months of preparing his case prior to filing his complaint;
  • If multiple members of your litigation team, in-town or out-of-town, need simultaneous access to the documents, then using CD-ROM or an Internet document depository may be the answer. Once the documents have been scanned, they can be reproduced on a CD-ROM for a very low cost. Co-counsel or other members of your litigation team will always have access to the documents without the necessity of copying, shipping, and organizing the documents. Also, consider using an Internet accessible document depository for your documents. For further information, see Chapter 3, Networking and Group Computing.
  • Text Box:    Below is an example of a document that has been abstracted and linked directly to an electronic reproduction of that document.  NOTE:  The “link” between the two programs is the image filename” DROTT”.The documents your expert needs could be easily printed, sent to him on disk or by e-mail, or made available to him using an Extranet;
  • Automatic creation of witness and trial notebooks is much easier;
  • Provides for easy redaction of privileged material;
  • Imaging, hardware and software costs have dropped considerably. Using images has moved from the “special” case to within the financial reach of most law firms. Also, remember that the same hardware and software can be used for other cases;
  • Fewer personnel needed, reduction in storage costs, shipping costs decrease; and there are no loss or misplaced documents.

The decision to image your documents should be made at the outset to ensure that a proper link is set up between your database and imaging software program. Depending upon the imaging program, images can be linked to any DOS or WINDOWS-based program. For example, if you are using Microsoft Access, the image can be linked to a particular database record. Then, when you search for and view the abstract of a record, the image can be viewed at the same time. Also, from this image, you could obtain information to put into your database record or block text, use OCR to convert it to machine-readable text, and transfer it into your database record.


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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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