Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Using extranets to facilitate electronic billing

Another interesting use for legal extranets is to facilitate electronic billing. How might this work?

One might, for example, deploy a series of extranets (one for each law firm a client selects to represent them in a case). These extranets can be linked to a main case management database and help to control and manage the billings for a large, mass-tort litigation. Using this technology, one can assist a company in being sure all billings are posted to active claims, that billings are attributed to the appropriate local firm, that billings are associated with specific plaintiffs (rather than to a general number) and that all submitted bills contain no plaintiff typographical errors or any basic arithmetic errors.

The implementation of these management techniques can help to ensure that all the billings received on a case are valid and are in support of open and active cases, all of which might, arguably, be helpful to a client ensuring that the funds allocated to the defense of a set of matters are spent in a wise and appropriate manner.

Task Reminders and Management

Litigation extranets can provide attorneys responsible for litigations with a very helpful task management tool.

Upcoming tasks can be cataloged, assigned to individual(s), and given due dates.
When tasks are assigned the extranet can notify those assigned to complete the task of its' existance. Litigation support extranets can also distribute periodic email ticklers or reminders to those assigned to tasks to let them know a task is coming due (due tomorrow, in 3 days, 7 days, etc..).

Notifications can also be distributed when tasks lapse to either those assigned to complete the task or to the individual(s) managing the litigation.

These task management tools, properly deployed and maintained, can help ensure a litigation support group does not miss court mandated due dates nor tasks a client requested that they complete.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Legal Extranets as basic case management systems

We are seeing a trend where smaller firms see Legal Extranet systems as a way to track the status of their cases and calendars in a manner which allows them to view this information from the office, from home or while traveling (providing some basic remote connectivity to their data).
It is an interesting use of the technology -- more for remote access than for collaboration. And, it eliminates the need for these smaller firms to have to maintain IT staff with expertise in such systems, the entire function can be outsourced rather than having attorneys having to struggle with maintaining and supporting computer systems, which is clearly not their core compentency.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Building for different browsers

Just a quick reminder that it is very important when building web-based systems and legal extranets to be sure that they can be used by a broad cross-section of internet users.

Some basic tips are:

  • Test your application to confirm it operates within both Internet Explorer and Firefox (not to mention Google Chrome and Safari).

  • Be sure it works back a few browser revisions ago (e.g. not all users will have the latest versions of all browsers.

  • Try to avoid having your application require browser plug-ins (whenever possible).

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Using Extranets To Help Coordinate Local Counsel

What is the best way to be sure all local counsel to a litigation are sharing the same documents, exhibits, information and following the same case strategy.

One excellent way is to post sets of documents and instructions on a secure website. These litigation support sites are commonly known as legal extranets or law firm client workspaces. With this technology, multiple law firms can review common document sets so that everyone is 100% certain they are working with and reading the most up-to-date version of documents related to a client litigation.

Attorneys can also manage case calendars, task lists, trial calendars and other date based data using this same technology.

Of course, this also can be accomplished by emailing files around, or by periodic distribution of CD's (if the number of documents is very large). These methods of sharing documents however are prone to confusion, since we are never quite sure that everyone has the latest version of all documents (or have the documents at all). Loading documents sets into secure websites such as client workspaces where authorized attorneys and other individuals can access them is, many would contend, a superior business practice.