Litigation document management is central to a trial-ready law practice. In a previous article, I proposed that trial lawyers need to think about the stages of that process and not simply let documents and data meander through the practice and get lost along the way. The ultimate objective is to categorize and tag evidence for quick retrieval to prepare for depositions, hearings and trial. There are a variety of software solutions to accomplish these tasks.
There is no “one size fits all” software solution for all trial lawyers. There are simply too many practice variables. Consider the following approaches in deciding what works best for you.
1. Practice Management Software
All leading cloud-based packages offer a “documents” module. Case documents are tied to “matters” allowing users to “live” inside the software during a typical office day. Leading cloud-based packages include:
- Rocket Matter
- My Case
Without a doubt, trial lawyers need to have practice-management software to maintain office calendars, contacts and essential case information on a practice-wide basis. Nonetheless, the “documents” module within these solutions may not be capable of issue coding, tagging or other sophisticated exhibit handling options.
2. Case Management Software
These packages drill down on specific cases to help trial lawyers generate factual chronologies, witness summaries and a list of case exhibits. CaseMap has been around for years (it’s Windows only). Cloud-based solutions include FactBox and CaseFleet.
One cool feature of the best packages is that you are a click away from reviewing the source document itself. Since trial lawyers must manage information at both a practice-wide and case-specific level, I consider these packages a “must have” too. Still, one must consider that the documents and data being stored and tagged will eventually be presented to a jury. These solutions don’t come with sophisticated presentation tools like exhibit “call outs” or other markup features. Nonetheless, they come with the tagging and coding tools that practice management software lacks.
3. ESI-Specific Solutions
Electronically Stored Information (ESI) poses its own unique challenges, due to the sheer volume of data that may be involved in a case. No trial lawyer has the time to wade through thousands of e-mails on a daily basis. A cottage industry of E-discovery vendors has arisen to deal with this challenge. These vendors don’t come cheap thus do-it-yourself solutions have appeared on the market. Two of the better-known software solutions are Logikcull and Everlaw. These packages are a solution within a solution: potentially great to handle ESI, but not intended to organize paper evidence.
4. A Tablet Solution
The packages mentioned above are accessible on a desktop or laptop computer. A growing cadre of trial lawyers rely primarily on tablets in their daily practice. LitSoftware, LLC sells several tablet apps for trial lawyers with a wide following including Trial Pad and Transcript Pad.
A somewhat lesser known app also sold by the company: DocReviewPad, is an intriguing exhibit management alternative. This app allows you to import a set of documents, assign Bates numbers, tag the documents, generate reports and create production sets. The “hot documents” can then be exported to the TrialPad presentation app. There are a few notable limitations with this app, including the inability to store audio or video files. These apps are worth a close look IF you are willing to manage your practice primarily on a tablet.
Case exhibit-management solutions are as varied as the practices they support. If you’ve made the commitment to “up your game” as a trial lawyer, then you’ll have to think about exhibit handling pending trial. It’s a vital aspect of your practice.