Just in Case: Case Management Software

A lot of people use the phrase, legal case management software, incorrectly. Many think legal case management software handles the inner-workings and document production of a law firm.  That's a big misnomer. And there are plenty more.

So, let’s start with what legal case management software is NOT.

  • Legal case management software is NOT firm-management software.
  • Legal case management software is NOT firm-operations or time-and-billing software.
  • Legal case management software is NOT document-management software (Now this phrase is often confused as well, but we'll talk more about that later.)

So what is legal case-management software? It's the software application used to manage a particular legal matter, a particular case, if you will. 

Legal case management software applications are designed specifically to oversee litigation matters. In other words, they are used to manage a particular legal case, including all the information garnered in discovery, all evidence, and any other information gathered from involved parties and/or opposing counsel.

Legal case management software organizes all of this information – oftentimes hundreds of thousands of documents, depending on the situation– so legal teams can easily access and use working documents to win.

It's easy to confuse legal case-management software with document-management applications. In fact, document-management programs are sometimes used to manage a case, and this mistake could cause – and has caused – fundamental problems detrimental to a legal case.

First of all, using a document-management application to oversee a case could possibly expose your litigation database, in some circumstances. The last thing you want is a court order to image your entire legal document-management system because of one single matter. 

See, unlike case-management applications that store information specific to a single legal case and thus protects other information during discovery, document-management systems pertain to the entire law firm and don’t distinguish from one legal case to another. 

This means document-management systems are NOT the best tool to handle evidence. Another reason is the transitory nature of evidence pertaining to specific cases. Evidence typically must only exist for the life of that case and isn’t needed when that ends.   

Case management software is case-specific by design. These applications center on the transitory evidence in the case, allowing you to manage either or both native-file and image-file evidence items.

Finding the right legal software is critical for your firm. Your choice could literally make you win or lose in court. So you can see why they are vital to the life of a law firm.

When shopping for these applications, first assess your firm on the following:

  • Technical proficiency
  • Number of users
  • Number of cases

These are key considerations in determining the right application for you and your firm. Next, analyze the product itself. Look for the capabilities that run a full-text search and to associate issues, documents and witnesses. These qualities empower legal teams to put evidential pieces together.

More advanced applications allow you to create calendars, build a timeline, and even more specific functions.

The first step is realizing the importance of legal case-management software, and next, finding an application that fits your firm’s needs.

electronic document discovery