Unnatural Practice Of Case Management Revised 0610


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Civil Case Managment instruction for paralegals. Accepted as CLE credit seminar by the N.C. Bar

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Unnatural Practice Of Case Management Revised 0610

  1. 1. The Unnatural Practice of Case Management Deborah M. Welsh, MPA, NCCP Lawyers East Greenville, North Carolina June 14, 2008
  2. 2. Is this how you feel?
  3. 3. Why is good case management “unnatural?”
  4. 4. <ul><li>“ Sharing and using knowledge are often unnatural acts.” Thomas Davenport, Ph.D. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>One of the most important qualities of a great paralegal is the ability to locate a document or piece of information for a file quickly and accurately . </li></ul><ul><li>The ability to do this depends upon the system you have in place to store and save documents and information to a case. </li></ul>
  6. 7. <ul><li>We must consider how others will look for information such as : </li></ul><ul><li>To and from client </li></ul><ul><li>Research relative to the case </li></ul><ul><li>To and from opposing counsel, courts, administrative bodies, experts, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Upcoming events, court dates </li></ul><ul><li>Deadlines </li></ul><ul><li>Outlines of facts in the case </li></ul>
  7. 8. Why is good case management necessary?
  8. 9. Have you considered how much time it takes you to find…. <ul><li>A document </li></ul><ul><li>A telephone number </li></ul><ul><li>A form or example </li></ul><ul><li>Your expert’s CV </li></ul><ul><li>An invoice that needs to be paid </li></ul><ul><li>The name of the court reporter your attorney really likes to use……. </li></ul>
  9. 10. <ul><li>A typical law firm “loses in excess of six weeks per year hunting for files.” </li></ul>
  10. 11. Wise words about good case management <ul><li>“2 ever-present elements of any legal practice are ‘documents’ and ‘time constraints.’” Lawyers Mutual </li></ul><ul><li>“ Case management = knowledge management = the creation of a system or process in an environment that allows all employees to have access to information they need to develop the knowledge to do their jobs.” Nina Platt </li></ul>
  11. 12. <ul><li>“ Attorneys who have quick and easy access to the right information will have strong advantages with regard to performance, providing high quality services, and facilitating a better functioning practice .” Lawyers Mutual </li></ul>
  12. 13. What Advantages? <ul><li>Cross-examination and re-direct </li></ul><ul><li>Mediation </li></ul><ul><li>Arbitration </li></ul><ul><li>Trial </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Judge John W. Smith awarded $14,793.75 for paralegal time prepping for and assisting at trial </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advantage for Jury </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advantage for Court </li></ul></ul>
  13. 15. How to Organize Paper Files <ul><li>Shared resource </li></ul><ul><li>Conformity to process </li></ul><ul><li>Why still have paper? </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic or paperLess case management will mirror paper files </li></ul>
  14. 16. Materials <ul><li>Redwells </li></ul><ul><li>Manila Folders </li></ul><ul><li>Labels </li></ul><ul><li>Number Tabs </li></ul>
  15. 17. On the outside of the redwell, use your 1” x 3” label to identify the following: Client’s name Case Number Date of Occurrence SOL Atty/Paralegal JOHN A. DOE 08 PI 123 2/14/08 2/14/11 RAP/DMW
  16. 18. <ul><li>Label manila folders as follows: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Correspondence </li></ul><ul><li>2. Contract/Authorizations </li></ul><ul><li>3. Attorney Work Product/Notes </li></ul><ul><li>4. Incident Report </li></ul><ul><li>5. Investigation </li></ul><ul><li>6. Advanced Costs </li></ul><ul><li>7. Photographs </li></ul><ul><li>8. Insurance/Med Pay </li></ul><ul><li>9. Medical Records </li></ul><ul><li>Medical Bills </li></ul><ul><li>11. Plaintiff’s Discovery </li></ul><ul><li>12. Defendant’s Discovery </li></ul><ul><li>13. Pleadings </li></ul><ul><li>14. Pre-Trial </li></ul><ul><li>15. Experts </li></ul><ul><li>16. Trial </li></ul>
  17. 19. File Documents <ul><li>Correspondence should be filed with the most recent document on top. </li></ul><ul><li>Do the same with Pleadings and Discovery documents. </li></ul><ul><li>When you receive incoming mail, check the date on the envelope to be sure it matches the certificate of service or date on the correspondence. If it is the same, throw the envelope away. If not, staple it to the document and keep it in the file. </li></ul>
  18. 20. Medical Records and Bills <ul><li>As you send for and receive Medical Records and Medical Bills , however, keep the envelopes and any introductory correspondence. You may need these if your attorney has to depose the custodian of records for that medical facility or if there is a dispute regarding the authenticity of the documents or the chain of custody of evidence, such as pathology slides. </li></ul>
  19. 21. Experts <ul><li>In the Experts file, keep curriculum vitae, invoices, research, and the correspondence to and from the expert and the firm . If you do this, the attorney will have a complete record, from beginning to end, of all communications with the expert and you will not be looking in several places for each piece of information. </li></ul>
  20. 22. Table of Contents- Pleadings 6/2/08 Reply 5 4/29/08 Answer 4 3/31/08 Affidavit of Service 3 2/1/08 Complaint 2 2/1/08 Summons 1 Date Document Item
  21. 23. Medical Records and Medical Bills <ul><li>Medical records and medical bills are each kept in separate files. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the Table of Contents for each folder should mirror each other . </li></ul>
  22. 25. Medical Records and Bills Table of Contents <ul><li>Note the “NR” notation = “not related” </li></ul><ul><li>Note the “missing bill” or “missing record” notation </li></ul>
  23. 26. Table of Contents = Working Documents <ul><li>Pleadings: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When documents are filed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are Answer, Responses to Discovery, due? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Medical Bills/Records: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ongoing amount of client’s damages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Potential liens </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are documents/bills complete? </li></ul></ul>
  24. 27. Table of Contents: What else can they do? <ul><li>Cut and paste relevant information into discovery responses, mediation and arbitration notebooks. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>List of providers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>List of medical bills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Omit columns not needed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use for list of exhibits in Pre-Trial Order </li></ul></ul>
  25. 28. Case Management Principle : <ul><li>Record information once, use it several times, in several different ways </li></ul>
  26. 29. Medical Timeline <ul><li>Medical records are kept in order by provider, with the most recent treatment/visit on top, providing a sequential record of treatment from each provider. </li></ul><ul><li>The Medical Timeline , however, integrates all treatment as it occurred , on a day-to-day basis. </li></ul>
  27. 31. Timeline <ul><li>Medical Timelines: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Uncover trends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Highlight the complexity and coordination of treatment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Show disruption of client’s life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integrate prior medical history into current damages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facilitate understanding of the integration of client’s medical treatment by all providers </li></ul></ul>
  28. 32. Timeline <ul><li>Helps you determine relevant bills </li></ul><ul><li>Is a place you can highlight important information for attorney </li></ul><ul><li>Is a place you can provide definitions and examples in footnotes for attorney </li></ul><ul><li>Is helpful for expert review </li></ul><ul><li>Is helpful for attorney in depositions </li></ul><ul><li>Is helpful in mediations, arbitrations and trial </li></ul>
  29. 33. Electronic Case Management
  30. 34. Still same system, only on computer <ul><li>A good case management system means “thinking less about knowledge management and more about knowledge partnering.” </li></ul><ul><li>Generally, will still be doing 1 of 3 tasks: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating or receiving documents/information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Saving/filing documents/information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Notifying other staff members of the existence of the information </li></ul></ul>
  31. 35. Paper File….. <ul><li>Incoming mail copied for supervising attorney and original placed in file </li></ul><ul><li>Outgoing documents created and saved on computer, copied on photocopier, and hard copy saved in client’s file. </li></ul>
  32. 36. … Vs. Electronic Case Management <ul><li>Incoming documents are scanned, creating a digital (PDF) file that is saved to client’s computer file </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic message is sent to supervising attorney and all persons involved in matter notifying them that document is here and ready to view on their own computer. </li></ul>
  33. 37. Same… but different  <ul><li>In both systems, original documents saved to paper file. </li></ul><ul><li>If you think of electronic case management as mirroring your paper file, start up will be easier and consistence can be maintained. </li></ul>
  34. 38. Advantages of Electronic Case Management
  35. 39. Some advantages of using an electronic case management system: 1. Lower copying and mailing costs. 2. Lower file storage costs. 3. Instant access to a client’s file from offsite locations, such as courtrooms, other law offices, libraries or home. 4. Lower cost for production of documents 5. Instant and convenient way to send documents and information to reviewing experts.
  36. 40. <ul><li>Multiple users can access information in a client’s file at the same time, facilitating collaboration. </li></ul><ul><li>Provides instant access to a client’s file when they call for information such as upcoming court dates, the status of information gathering, or whether or not you received records and bills from their last medical visits. </li></ul>
  37. 41. <ul><li>8. Timely receipt of attorney requests and information and notification to attorneys of completion of tasks or requests for assistance or clarification. </li></ul><ul><li>9. Ease of collaboration on documents- share both incoming and outgoing docs. </li></ul><ul><li>10. Efficient and effective transference of knowledge to those who need it. </li></ul>
  38. 42. 11. Provides efficient tracking of events. 12. Becomes a repository of important original documents that have been scanned. Critical in the event of loss of documents due to weather, fire, etc. 13. Allows instant redacting or marking of documents at trials or hearings.
  39. 43. <ul><li>14. Part of good risk management practices since documents on an electronic case management system can backed up and saved at off-site locations. </li></ul><ul><li>15. Provides integrated calendaring system, with alarms and reminders accessible to all persons on a file. </li></ul>
  40. 45. Equipment
  41. 46. Equipment** <ul><li>Implementing a paperLess office requires hardware and software that will convert documents to digital images and then store them on your computer hard drive or server. </li></ul><ul><li>The purpose of this paper is not to discuss individual technical requirements, but to explain the general way in which the system can work in a legal office. </li></ul><ul><li>** Talk to your IT expert before purchasing any hardware or software for your firm. </li></ul>
  42. 47. Equipment <ul><li>Scanner </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can be stand-alone at each computer station, OR </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Usually is already included on most office-sized copier machines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The average copier-scanner will perform 90% of the functions you will need, but keep in mind that images will be black and white. For colored documents, consider purchasing a stand-alone color scanner. </li></ul></ul>
  43. 48. Software
  44. 49. Imaging software <ul><li>Most paralegals and attorneys I have talked to use Adobe Acrobat as standard for document imaging. </li></ul><ul><li>State and NC Federal court also uses Adobe </li></ul><ul><li>Important: Not talking about Adobe Reader which is a free, downloadable product. </li></ul><ul><li>In order to scan, save, retrieve, fill-in, mark and convert documents, you will need a full version of Adobe Acrobat. </li></ul>
  45. 50. The way it works… <ul><li>Generally, an incoming document is scanned into copier/scanner </li></ul><ul><li>Adobe Acrobat converts the document to a PDF file. </li></ul><ul><li>Save the PDF file to your computer case file, the same as you would a Word document. </li></ul><ul><li>Once saved, anyone can access the document from their own computer, review it, print it or even mark or Bates stamp it. </li></ul>
  46. 51. How does this help me? <ul><li>Example: Discovery production of documents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Choose client’s medical records saved to your electronic case management software </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click on that group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use Adobe to Bates stamp the pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Print out full set, OR </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copy/write full set to CD, label CD and send to opposing counsel. </li></ul></ul>
  47. 52. How does this help my attorney? <ul><li>Attorney can see/read/mark any and all documents at their own computer </li></ul><ul><li>Has access to entire client file while away from office </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Depositions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meeting with Experts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mediation, arbitrations, trials </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Can redact documents at trial </li></ul>
  48. 55. Coding Documents <ul><li>The codes you implement into your program should match the ones you use in your paper files (ex: Correspondence, Photographs, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>The “Description” is where you fully identify the document (date, author, subject, etc.) </li></ul>
  49. 56. Notify <ul><li>Now, tell your attorney the document is here </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Choose their name from the drop-down Staff box </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click on “Notify” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Title the message with enough information so that they don’t need to open the message unless they want to review the document at that time. (Ex: “1/29/08: McDonnough- wants available dates for mediation.” </li></ul></ul>
  50. 57. What else can I do? <ul><li>Phone calls and emails </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Document incoming and outgoing calls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Notify attorney or staff member that call came in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Save to client’s file </li></ul></ul>
  51. 58. Work product <ul><li>Make a note about the call, email, or document </li></ul><ul><li>Share with attorney/paralegal </li></ul>
  52. 63. Add a new client <ul><li>Include all relevant information in one spot </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Adjuster </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opposing counsel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Insurance information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Statute of limitations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Date of birth, social security number </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Court jurisdiction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Co-counsel </li></ul></ul>
  53. 66. See information at a glance
  54. 71. Calendaring
  55. 72. How afraid are you that you might miss a court date or other important event?
  56. 77. Billing
  57. 81. Software- What it can and cannot do <ul><li>Software is only as good as the people who use it and the information that is put in it. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider what YOUR firm’s needs are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does your firm bill? Look for software that integrates with Quickbooks, TABS, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does your firm do a lot of class action matters? Look for system with unlimited searchable fields that can be customized and creates reports easily. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do you use a lot of forms in your practice? Look for a system with good merge features. </li></ul></ul>
  58. 82. Support <ul><li>Are you fairly comfortable with using other case management programs? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you have a lot of data to transfer into the new system? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you need help deciding which hardware to purchase? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you a networked firm? </li></ul>
  59. 83. Evaluate your needs FIRST, then call for demonstrations <ul><li>When sales reps come with their demonstrations, they will give you tons of great information. It will be overwhelming and enticing. </li></ul><ul><li>But it can become an expensive failure if you are not very clear on what your firm needs </li></ul><ul><li>You may not need all their bells and whistles…or you may need MORE ! </li></ul>
  60. 84. Comparing products <ul><li>The American Bar Association created a comparison chart of case management/time and billing software chart and posted at www.aba.net.org/tech/ltrc/charts . </li></ul><ul><li>You and your attorney may want to consider some of the questions mentioned previously and then choose those programs which seem to fit your needs </li></ul><ul><li>Then call sales representatives </li></ul>
  61. 86. Transition Time <ul><li>Once you choose, purchase and install new software, then transition period begins. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning new program </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transfer huge amounts of information from old system to new one </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Still keeping up with your work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good software companies anticipate this period and should be on-site and on-hand to help with this period. </li></ul></ul>
  62. 87. Summary <ul><li>Whether you organize your files manually or with an electronic case management software system, the system will only be as good as those who are using it. </li></ul><ul><li>Consistency, accuracy and patience are keys to successful case management. </li></ul><ul><li>Good luck! </li></ul>