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Winning software for winning cases. (Law Office Technology).

Many worthwhile software products can help trial attorneys handle case management, graphic presentations, document management, and real-time court reporting. However, only a handful of these programs generate documents and other work product you can use to beat the opposition.

These tools help you find, organize, visualize, and evaluate the critical facts and issues of your case. Remember: Facts win cases; documents alone don't.

Three such "beat the opposition" products are CaseMap, TimeMap, and NoteMap, all from CaseSoft. Many ATLA members, as well as savvy defense lawyers, already use these software packages to great advantage.

CaseMap is an analytical tool that focuses your thinking about key elements of cases. Its specialized database makes it easy to organize different types of case knowledge into useful tools: a fact chronology, a cast of characters, a document index, an outline of issues, and a list of questions in need of answering.

You can use the program to capture your client's story and focus your discovery efforts from the first meeting. CaseMap replaces the legal pad, word-processed chronologies, and many other documents you may currently create for each case.

You can build a separate chronology of key facts, with or without noting the sources. Then use CaseMap to drive the discovery process, organizing what you know for sure and identifying what you're hoping to find as discovery proceeds.

For lawyers who handle particular types of lawsuits, CaseMap makes it easy to apply years of accumulated knowledge in new matters. For example, if I handle nursing home litigation, I can create a template case file that includes the facts I expect to see in this type of case, an outline of common issues, and a list of questions for the initial client interview.

CaseMap also generates valuable work product for a settlement conference or trial. For example, imagine the reaction of the insurer's representative when, during the conference, you present a series of reports that show, issue by issue, the key facts you plan to present at trial and the sources for them. With the facts on your side so well organized, you're no doubt far more prepared than defense counsel.

An optional transcript-management feature called TextMap makes it easy to create a digest of facts from transcripts and put it into CaseMap. Similar functions, usually labeled something like "Send to CaseMap," are already available in LiveNote and e-transcript binder, and one is in the works for Summation, another document management program.

CaseMap costs $495 per user license. Each license comes with telephone support (also available for TimeMap and NoteMap). Purchasers receive a 60-minute phone training session.

TimeMap creates visual chronologies. You can generate charts by entering facts directly or by passing facts you've organized in a CaseMap chronology to TimeMap.

The type of chart that TimeMap creates used to take specially skilled artists many hours to produce at a cost of $1,000 to $2,000. Generally, you would consider using this type of tool only at trial and only when the case had sufficient potential to justify the substantial investment.

TimeMap changes the cost-benefit ratio of this approach. Your $199 license lets you create an unlimited number of time lines, and you can generate one in minutes--no artist required. You can print and enlarge your graphs and, with a couple of clicks, pop TimeMap charts into word-processing programs, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Corel Presentation software.

At trial, you can create chronologies at a moment's notice. Suppose you have a case before a judge who reads instructions before the parties deliver their closing arguments. As the judge begins to read, you envision a time line you could use during closing. You open your notebook computer, create the chart, and "send" it to the PowerPoint software that is also on your computer. When the judge finishes, you rise to make your closing argument, incorporating the newly created time line.

But don't let my example make you think that these visuals are useful only at trial. The beauty of TimeMap is that it allows you to use these charts all the time. For example, create a chart during the initial client interview. As your client tells you his or her story, you can quickly build a graph so you can see the flow of events and help your client fill in holes that otherwise might not have appeared until later. You can also use chronology charts at depositions, at hearings, at settlement conferences, in briefs, or for pretrial organization.

Outline with NoteMap

You have your chronology, cast of characters, and issues organized in CaseMap, and your key facts are visualized in TimeMap. Now you can use NoteMap to create deposition examinations, trial notebooks, opening statements, and closing arguments. All of these documents begin as outlines.

NoteMap is really a throwback to the pure outlining tools--like Grandview, More, and Maxthink--that used to be available for PCs and Macs. You may ask, "Why do I need an outlining tool when I can make outlines in my word processor?" That is like asking, "Why do I need a car when I can get places on my bicycle?" Bikes will do, but cars have many additional features--they get you places faster and require much less work by the driver. The same is true of NoteMap--you'll do far less work and finish faster than you would using your word processor.

You'll probably feel you've recovered your $99 investment in NoteMap the first time you use it to outline a deposition and realize you have organized your questions well and added a few you might otherwise have forgotten.

An upcoming version of NoteMap will integrate with CaseMap, creating new ways to get practical benefits from the knowledge you've organized in CaseMap.

CaseSoft products come with a yearlong guarantee. The vendor says, "Please put [our products] to work for a year. If they don't provide an excellent return on your investment, simply contact us for a full refund."

These powerful, albeit simple, tools level the playing field for any sole practitioner or small firm. You can download test versions and learn more about these products at www.casesoft.com.

Paul Bernstein is an attorney and law-office automation consultant in Chicago. He can be reached by e-mail at paulbern@interaccess.com. The views expressed in this column are the authors and do not constitute an endorsement of any product by TRIAL or ATLA.
COPYRIGHT 2001 American Association for Justice
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Author:Bernstein, Paul
Publication:Trial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Words:1057
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