Litigation tech

 Posted By: je froilan m. clerigo
08-Dec-2007

Technology has certainly invaded the law office: keep up or get behind. Going paperless is becoming vogue, not only because of the efficiency but more because of the effectiveness it offers. Truly, technology is a great equalizer, giving small or solo law offices the confidence to accept and handle complex cases it would have otherwise thought of as reserved only for the larger firms.

In our firm, we digitally file our case files by scanning into pdf documents that goes in then storing them in a network server. The software has an automated indexing so we are able to find documents with just a click. And, since we networked our computers, everybody has access to everything, unlike before when we had to spend precious time looking for files in filing cabinets, or asking them from other team members working on the case. All we need to do is click on the case folder in the network server, locate the appropriate folder inside, click on it and a list of documents filed under headings of pleadings, correspondence, court orders, etc. appears. Double click on the file name that you are looking for and the documents appear on your screen. If you do not have an idea where it was filed, just type in a keyword or phrase in the search box, hit go, and the document pops right up.

And, as team members have their own computers or laptops, they can work on one case simultaneously, unlike before when we have to wait for our turn on the file folders while a member of the team is still working on it.

We also use a case management software which has proven extremely useful in litigation. The software enables the lawyer to have literally a 360o view of his case anytime, just by clicking his mouse. The documents that were scanned into pdf are entered into spreadsheets, and are linked with the issues and facts to build a case file. Then, if you come across a fact and you want to see the document from where you sourced it, you just click and the document comes into view. Or, if you are reviewing the issues of your case, and you want to see who the witnesses are to prove the elements of your claim, you just click and the names of the witnesses, the abstract of their testimonies, the documents that they will identify, are all there. No more flipping manually through the pages of a file folder.

If your laptop has enough hard disk space, you can store all the contents of a case file to it, and work even out of the office. Or, if needed, your notebook is all you have to bring to a client meeting, or even to court (just be aware that there are judges who may not like it when you appear to be too slick).

Convenience and speed, indeed.