Case Management Software explained.
Neither practice management nor just a nicety, it’s probably not what you think it is!
Legal practice management software solutions like Clio Manage or myCase help streamline the day to day running of your practice: they track physical files, client and colleague communications, handle document automation, task management, perform billable time tracking, track billable expenses, and take care of legal billing via online payments. Some include marketing automation and provide powerful business analytics, etc. And let you do so from anywhere with an Internet connection.
Ediscovery platforms on the other hand host all evidence related to litigation matters – a universe of legal documents from your client, third parties, documents produced to you, and so on. In the course of litigation, you’ll use ediscovery software to search, review, code, redact and frequently, produce documents with Bates numbers, confidentiality designations, etc. to disseminate, complete with load files. Ediscovery platforms (Check. Like MasterFile – ‘natch, but we’re biased of course!) have long passed the “nice to have” status, and should be a key tool in a lawyer’s arsenal – even in smaller firms or for smaller matters.
Practice management and ediscovery platforms have it easy: people know what they are.
But wait. There’s more!
Case management is a new term that’s being bandied about by all and sundry, thereby causing all kinds of confusion to legal professionals. So let’s look at some aspirants to the legal case management tool space.
- The main culprits are the practice management platforms. Not content with being practice management, or some variant of ‘legal matter management software’, they’ve now taken to calling themselves legal case management software, too.
But that’s not right.
Practice management is about the business aspects of law firms and practicing law, and streamlining legal operations related to the client file: client intake forms, appointment scheduling, client communications, trust accounting, reporting, workflow management, etc. That is, managing the client record and your practice, not actual cases. Case management software is about managing the substance of your cases: key evidence, key facts, key issues, key people and key testimony.* A personal injury law firm or personal injury lawyer does need to deal with filing deadlines of course, but the substantive matter is what happened when, where, how and why!
- Litigation management software: This is an interchangeable term with case management. Perhaps it’s more specific, but litigation management platforms like calling themselves case management software, too. They do make a point of making sure you understand they handle transcripts as well, so there’s that, but essentially they are one and the same. What they usually lack, is precise functionality to manage facts and events, the case chronology and the case timeline; in other words, case analysis and case strategy. (Transcript management software is a thing too and is focused on a very specific aspect of litigation, i.e. managing transcripts for depositions, hearings, trials, etc.). (*Check. Check. All features of MasterFile.).
- And that brings us to case analysis software, which differs from case management software by enabling lawyers and legal teams to dig deeper into case evidence: Case analysis software lets you perform a deep assessment of your evidence, develop case strategies and create actionable work product. (Check. Yes, yet one more feature of MasterFile!).
- Fact management software: This term covers a few products similar to case chronology platforms that, however, deal almost exclusively with manual entry and management of case facts* and are generally not focused on documents or evidence.
- Case chronology software: Another term for fact management software, but for software organized around events, not just key facts. The primary focus is even narrower, letting you build a chronology or timeline of key events and related documents. (*Check, Check. Yes, we handle both in MasterFile.)
Now, you might think the differences between these descriptions aren’t that great, but they are. Only when taken as as a whole, as in MasterFile, do they all point to the same thing: a category or space that’s fundamentally different than – though necessary with – practice management.
What could we call a platform that covers all these things?
How about MasterFile?
Let’s look at five key areas to see why …
- A master file that lets you keep track of and collaborate around all of your case documents: filings, discovery, transcripts, correspondence, court orders, and more – an intelligent system built for simple through complex litigation. Run instant searches by party, witness, filing date, proceeding, document type and keywords. In a click or two, pull up all court orders, all deposition transcripts, all declarations by a particular witness, all filing by a particular party, and more.
- Simplified production and review that lets you easily deal with 10s or 100s of thousands of documents, native emails and files, and respond to requests to produce in PDF, TIF or native format.
- A chronology that lets you dive deep into your facts, key documents and events, to build the story of your case. MasterFile connects key documents, facts, and witnesses in a dynamic chronology that is always up to date. Besides review, you can perform a deeper analysis of your documents, facts and witnesses. Instantly filter the case chronology to just hot documents, key events, or any relevant issue or witness. Analyze connections between events, documents, and witnesses. And preserve your team’s best ideas and work product for everyone’s benefit, throughout the life of a case.
- Incorporating critical testimony into your analysis and preparation is easy. Identify, highlight, annotate, code and discuss key excerpts across all transcripts in your matter – and add them to to the case chronology in one click. When working on a filing and you need to reference testimony, capture a clean extract, along with its page-line citation, in one click too.
- Witness profiles that automatically connect individuals with related evidence and case documents. In MasterFile, witness profiles link with other key documents, such as filings and depositions, giving you a unified picture of witness testimony and its relevance to case issues in the case, making witness preparation easy.
If we had to pick a label, it would have to convey that MasterFile’s an end-to-end, all-in-one team collaboration tool – a cloud solution that helps your team organize, produce, review, analyze and discuss case information.
We’ve not got one yet.
But, for now, whether you use litigation software, litigation support software, litigation management software, litigation fact management software, or case management software, what you really mean, is this: legal software able to manage a litigation file throughout its litigation lifecycle – the critical documents, key facts, key issues, key people, key transcripts and key testimony from onset through depositions, motions, trial and appeals.