Legal Case Management Software for the Legal Profession
by Shrisha Sapkota
Introduction to case management as a software tool
Case Management is a legal software tool based on a proactive approach to proceed with any legal matter. Case management in general involves keeping detailed records about a particular incident and taking all of those records through a particular path. In the field of law, it is a judicial process that provides effective, efficient and purposeful judicial management of a case to achieve a timely and qualitative resolution of a dispute. It assists in the early identification of disputed issues of fact and law, the establishment of a procedural calendar for the life of the case and the exploration of a possibility of resolution of the dispute through methods other than the Court trial.
Law firms are equipped with heavy documentation and numerous actions for every legal case they represent. Case laws referred in litigations are hefty and the organisation requires huge manpower and space. Case management software is a data-driven solution that enables to effectively and efficiently execute legal processes by monitoring each step on a data level. It is a software-based solution that can be used by lawyers, law firms, and legal practitioners to manage the day-to-day aspects of their business. Along with the management of cases, such legal software also provides management systems for calendars, documents, clients, and finance. It is designed to simplify, organise and enhance daily procedures and processes in the modern law firm.
The use of software solutions can make legal practice more effective compared to paper based systems. Every industry, including the legal industry was affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting social distancing protocols further emphasised the need to move away from legacy systems to more agile digital platforms. Hence, lawyers and legal professionals started using more digital tools to keep their practice going. Adaptation of legal case management systems and software was deemed beneficial and the usage peaked in the post-pandemic situation.
Elements of Case Management software
The major components of a legal case management system are data collection, contacts, and storage of case-related documents. It also includes administrative tasks as well as legal tasks that must be performed in order to complete legal matters. The following five elements can be pointed out as pre-requisites for a case management software:
- Case intake mechanism for complaints and reports. This includes automatic creation of new case files, assignment of case to the responsible person and case integration process into the system.
- Case management that includes recording notes, setting reminders, sending and receiving emails, assigning tasks etc.
- Reporting mechanism for visualising trends, detecting hot spots and conducting risk management and prevention.
- Workflow including checking into case status and setting alerts and reminders for deadlines.
- Access and control of the owner or law firm to ensure the security and confidentiality of case files.
Case Management systems and their mechanisms:
Case management system is an incorporation of various software associated with the functionality of a law firm. Case management brings together different interfaces using management tools. It allows workflows and tasks to be acted on from a single user-friendly interface. There are several legal case management software solutions available for businesses. The case management process provides a complete view of the information. Logging activities, delegating tasks, and scheduling events can be done in just one network.
An Enterprise Content Management (ECM) or Document Management (DM) system is generally used to manage case information. The information will need to be grouped together and made accessible in a suitably controlled way to all who are involved in the case. The following software are popular in legal case management market:
- Cloud-based case management software
Cloud management combines different software products and technologies together to provide a cohesive management strategy and process. Private cloud infrastructure is operated solely for a single organisation. It can be managed internally or by a third party; Public cloud services are delivered over a network that is open for public use and Hybrid cloud environments are a combination of public and private cloud services from different providers. This allows users to manage all their case data, client information, documentation, milestones, and customer fields all in one place.
- Server-based case management software
Server-based management is hosted on a network, and the server is based on the designated premises. It stores all the data on physical servers located on the site of the legal practice.
- Intuitive case management software
These software have less complexity and allow users to operate through intuitive, automated intelligence of the software. It allows users to define their processes and create forms in an intuitive manner and without any additional technical skills.
- All inclusive legal management software
These are all-in-one legal software that can transform the operation of a given law firm. It accommodates legal practice management, legal billing and payments, case management accounting software, organising and calendaring, legal data analytics etc. This kind of software is beneficial mainly as case management software for small firms.
- On premise legal management software
On-premise solutions are installed and hosted on servers or computers in office locations. This means that every end-user needs a licence and the law firm owner will be responsible for all aspects of maintenance, data security, and availability of the platform.
- End-to-end case management software
End-to-end describes a process that takes a system or service from beginning to end and delivers a complete functional solution, usually without needing to obtain anything from a third party. This is a useful case management software for lawyers and law firms that functions in a holistic approach.
- Generic case management software
The cloud-based aspect of generic case management software addresses some of the server and maintenance issues brought up with on-premise legal software. These legal software solutions might help in some areas of managing a firm’s personal injury cases but won’t offer the specific and tailored case management that is needed.
- Practice focused case management software:
Practice areas like personal injury are very specific and a very specialised vertical, with aspects of cases aligned specifically to injury claims, the software solution for such firms should match that. This focuses on law firm practice management. This means taking particular workflows, templates, and contingency fee arrangements into consideration.
Features of proper case management software
There are numerous case management software in the market. Identification of proper software can be done through the following steps:
- The primary focus should be on analysing the need of the law firm and recognising the type of cases that are more frequent and the strategies adopted into leading them.
- Firms should be mindful of budget and any externalities alongside software that is needed for operation.
After the above-mentioned identifications, software of the following features must be prioritised for purchase:
- Flexible case management software that provided options for customizable workflow.
- Software with greater storage capacity and intelligence alongside having a high-performance rate.
- Remote legal work, access and mobility of the software.
- High search capacity.
- Easy tracking of relevant information related to a case, including edits, e-mails and other information
- Robust billing, accounting and reporting.
- Powerful task automation and document management.
- Ability to incorporate large research databases.
- Third-party integration
Significance of case management software
Case management helps law firms and clients to access up-to-date legal information, communicate, and share knowledge and documents of any case concerned. Despite the additional cost accorded by such case management mechanisms, benefits afforded to both attorneys and clients in terms of speed, consistency, collaboration, and outcomes are undoubtedly overriding the financial cons. Case information in such case management software is accessible to a variety of users so that stakeholders can collaborate on cases and share information in a secure environment.
The uses and importance of a case management software are as follows:
- Digital record keeping:
Case management tools allow for better record keeping because all case-related content and collaborations are stored in a cloud-based data storage system. Cases recorded in databases and software are eligible for remote access, allowing co-attorneys and clients to look into case progress. Quick access to information relevant to a case deems resourcefulness and time management. Digital record-keeping also increases transparency in all processes. Case management software for law firms provides a central location to store and track all client data, facilitating future needs.
The access to the same updated information and ability to communicate and collaborate in a time-efficient manner saves a lot of time and productivity of the given firm. This translates to increased revenue and resourcefulness of manpower and other material inputs. It stores important case details i.e. documents, contacts, calendars, emails, tasks, invoices in a single organised location. Modern systems allow firms to include critical dates at any point in the case management workflow, and the software adds the dates chronologically in the case workflow. This ensures that lawyers and solicitors are updated with an upcoming deadline. A modern case management software will integrate with the current systems and facilitate the creation of business apps that streamline processes throughout the firm.
- Enhanced accuracy
The access to detail and up-to-date legal materials gives attorneys the insight needed to anticipate and minimise problems that may affect their clients’ businesses. It enhances comparative research analysis and allows lawyers to read through litigation strategies of past cases and adopt similar ones for their needs. The analytics in case management software helps to measure every aspect of legal operations, thus improving progress in litigation.
- Better client-attorney relationship:
Case management systems provide a more personalised experience for clients. Clients having detailed and accurate information about matters that affect their business creates a sense of trust and transparency in legal proceedings. Online forms, electronic signatures and an online client portal save time for clients. Through this software, a law firm that can deliver client-attorney dispute solutions is regarded as a true and vital partner. Clients in return can help update communications, remind you of tasks, and ensure the meeting of deadlines, hence forming a participatory environment in the legal case. These case management software, therefore, serve as legal client relationship management (CRM) software.
Many case management software provides lawyers and law firms with the freedom to organise cases based on their usage and criteria. They are flexible for custom organisation and use.
- Security and risk management:
Superior case management system software keeps all files safe and performs data backup automatically and regularly, saving you the hassle of having to do it manually. This secures autonomy and confidentiality of legal disputes and secures legal document security as well as revise the client-attorney privileges. It manages risk and reduces liability with modern legal tech software
- Contact management:
Keeping track of contacts and how they relate to cases, and the creation of a database for purposes such as conflicts and marketing is an important aspect of case management software. This records information, document, and activity of a given case for time immemorial.
- Increased profitability
Legal Case Management increases work efficiency as precedents and workflow are already developed. Although firms will be charging the same flat rate you established in the beginning, it translates to a firm’s profit margin because less input goes into the same level of output with such management software.
The business side of the legal profession is not normally taught in law school; hence, the primary purpose of legal case and law practice management software is to help law firms and legal practitioners run their business affairs smoothly. As such, the software includes features for case management, time tracking (for billing), document assembly, contact and docket management, calendar and scheduling, and client communication, among others. Therefore, creating a truly paperless firm is far into the future, but current document management systems are capable of streamlining workflow processes, integrating with standard and popular business applications, and dramatically lowering discovery costs. Case law management software draws together the list of contacts, desktop calendar, deadlines and to-do lists, time-tracking systems, document files, and wraps them up into a single package, saving time, space, manpower and resources of the firm and lawyer. Information technology requirements can be extremely expensive but the cost savings of storing documents electronically and adopting a good legal software to meet new laws cannot be ignored.
 Perry, S. (July 24, 2006). Even paper tigers need technological taming. New Jersey Law Journal, p.NA. Retrieved August 20, 2007, from Academic OneFile Gale: http://find.galegroup.com.dml.regis.edu/itx/start.do?prodId=AONE