CaseMap is one of those rare software programs about which
I would swear that I have actually seen a light go on
in a lawyer’s head when they “get” what
the program can do for them. Litigators drowning a sea
of minutiae and drudgery suddenly see how they can be
free to do what they do best.
Since CaseMap 1.0 debuted in 1998, there has been a
general consensus that CaseMap has been a step ahead
of other litigation software tools. With a steady stream
of improvements, CaseMap has continued to hold its place
as the leader in innovation among litigation software
programs. Now, the newest version, CaseMap 5, moves
CaseMap 5 at least a hop, skip and a jump ahead of the
rest of the litigation software vendors.
What CaseMap Is.
One of the under-recognized reasons for CaseMap’s
success in winning a place at the table with some of
the premier litigators in the United States is the long
experience CaseSoft’s co-founders’ Bob Wiss
and Greg Krehel had as jury and litigation consultants
with some of this country’s leading trial practice
firms. CaseMap grew out of a need to solve real world
problems that hampered the effective preparation and
presentation of cases. CaseMap reflects an understanding
of what lawyers do, how they work and what will help
them work better.
CaseMap has historically been hard to describe in a
few simple words. Bob Wiss calls it a spreadsheet tool
for litigators. I have called it a litigation knowledge
management tool. Others have called it a litigation
However, it is better to describe CaseMap by what it
does than what it is. Jeffrey Lisson, a litigator with
Carter & Boyd in San Angelo, Texas, says, "The
beauty of the program is that you can have this incredible
mess/mass of facts, yet in seconds find each one that
relates to a specific issue, person, or document, and
the fact’s source." CaseMap also works well
for all lawyers – large firm, small firm, solo,
government or corporate.
How Litigators Really Handle Facts.
The fundamental premise underlying CaseMap is that
cases are built on facts.
You might have events, issues, a cast of characters
and the like, but the key to every case is its facts.
Jeffrey Storer, a litigator at Boston's Ropes &
Gray, says simply, "I regularly use CaseMap on
all my active cases, large and small."
Bob likes to ask his audiences what tools they currently
use to collect and manage the facts of their cases.
After an uncomfortable silence, someone might suggest
legal pads or a word processor, but a consensus will
emerge that litigators manage most of the facts in their
cases in their heads.
As Lisson says, "I once relied on my memory and
my notes, consisting of dozens of legal pads and hundreds
of loose pages, to keep track of facts, witnesses, and
important papers. It quickly became clear to me: My
memory is unreliable, and my handwriting is illegible."
I have had more time to think about this question than
Bob’s typical audience, so I have come up with
the following list of places lawyers keep and manage
their facts. They are (1) their Heads, to a surprising
degree, (2) their Email programs, to an increasing degree,
(3) their Legal Pads and word processing documents,
to a degree that may surprise their clients, and (4)
a category I will call “Maybe Elsewhere.”
As a simple mnemonic device, I will refer to this very
common approach by the initials of its components, i.e.,
the “HELPME” approach. This term is useful
because it accurately reflects the feelings many lawyers
have when they honestly describe their current methods.
Making the Case for Any Legal Technology Product.
My approach to technology for lawyers is quite simple.
The first step must be to identify, look at and carefully
describe an existing system or way of working. The second
step is to determine whether a technology you are considering
will either (1) improve the existing system or (2) replace
the existing system with a better one. The third step
is whether the ratio of the value of the improvement
to the price of the technology is acceptable to you.
The critical assumption is that you must accept that
how you currently work, no matter how wacky it might
be, is in fact your existing system and that, as your
first step, you must evaluate it and define it clearly.
Once you accurately describe your current system, look
at CaseMap to determine whether it can either (1) replace
your HELPME system with something better or (2) improve
your HELPME system. You get a clear picture without
much help from me.
The Benefits of the Simplest Uses of CaseMap.
Bob Wiss likes to tell his audiences to forget about
all the other features they might have heard about CaseMap.
Instead, he asks that they focus on the most basic tools
in CaseMap and determine how valuable those basic tools
alone will be. Will they improve your system for recording
and managing the facts of your cases?
Dan Siegel, a litigator at Philadelphia's Anapol, Schwartz,
Weiss, Cohan, Feldman & Smalley, P.C., describes
his use of CaseMap: "I no longer take notes at
many depositions. Rather, I create a CaseMap database
containing relevant facts."
You can use CaseMap to enter information about the
events, dates, key facts, people, issues, research and
questions you have about the case. If you use CaseMap
only to do that, and to add to and update that information,
do you achieve a significant benefit as compared to
the HELPME approach? Siegel says, "During a deposition,
I note the testimony in CaseMap, referencing the deposition
as an 'Event.' Thus, I have an instant summary. When
I receive the transcript, I link it with the references
already in CaseMap."
If you do only that, you have all the key information
about your case collected in one place where you can
easily find it, print it out and share it with others.
As a quick comparison, consider what happens under the
HELPME approach if someone responsible for part of the
case is out of town or the right legal pad can't be
Compare your approach to Storer's description of his
use of CaseMap. "I have now disciplined myself
to enter my notes from witness interviews and telephone
calls directly into CaseMap, instead of into a memo.
Then I can print out the new facts I have added to the
chronology and distribute that printout to my colleagues
and clients to keep them informed of the progress of
The cost of a CaseMap license is $495 for a single
user license, with volume and product combination discounts
available. I believe that there is at least $495 of
value for the improvements in fact management alone.
The Second Step – Linking.
CaseMap does much more than let you gather and organize
the facts in your case. Your next step is to use CaseMap’s
simple tools to associate facts with each item related
to them. For example, you can quickly and easy link
Witness A to the May 15 Memo to the Harassment issue.
You can also link your questions or notes about any
of these items to the appropriate item or even link
research you have already performed. Lisson notes, "CaseMap
links important facts to issues and the sources of those
facts, whether people, documents, or statutes."
It may surprise you how powerful this simple step is.
With only this information, you could see all the facts
and issues related to a particular witness. When preparing
for a deposition or court testimony, you would have
a complete list of all the areas that you needed to
cover with that witness’s testimony rather than
risk overlooking a key fact and needing to rely on a
more tangential witness to offer proof of the fact.
You might also see gaps in what facts you had for each
issue and spot areas you needed to develop in discovery.
Lisson says, "I have used CaseMap in large class
actions, including one with several hundred plaintiffs
claiming damages for FLSA (overtime) violations. I could
enter facts and filter to find those regarding John
Doe and his unpaid OT hours (John Doe the object, unpaid
OT hours the issue). I also made 'paydays' an issue,
with individual dates of each payday a sub-issue. The
payday issue helped to show how much the employer benefited
every 2 weeks."
You also have easy access to the questions we want
to remember and even to research about issues that might
come up with a particular witness or issue. You can
also use this information to create a timeline for our
case and note gaps, patterns or other useful points.
Storer says, "Linking the issues to facts lets
me quickly filter a large fact database down to just
those facts related to a particular issue."
What if you could add a link to a copy of the actual
May 15 Memo so that I could pull it up immediately when
I wanted to see it? CaseMap can do that. You might even
link to a copy that you have annotated, a relevant case,
a specific portion of a transcript or pleadings in the
Edmond Martin of Sage Investigations, LLC in Austin,
Texas, notes, "In money laundering investigations
and income tax investigations, the chronology of events
is very important. The ability to link scanned documents
to various sources of facts and sources of facts throughout
CaseMap is the future of investigation, and invaluable."
CaseMap offers a growing number of conduits that let
you bring in Word Documents, PDFs, Summation database
files, materials from Fios and other electronic discovery
tools, and elsewhere. Pillsbury Winthrop's Mary Pat
Poteet says, "One of the reasons that Pillsbury,
Winthrop has made CaseMap one of its core tools is that
it plays nicely with others, and saves us a lot of time.
We can take a case from beginning to end using CaseMap
and the various integration partners."
Storer singles out the "Send to CaseMap"
plug-in for Adobe Acrobat as "a great way to get
facts into a chronology and link them to their source.
I print a related set of electronic files, sorted chronologically,
to a single PDF, read the documents on line, and send
facts and links to CaseMap using the plug-in as I read
the documents. Later, if I have any question about the
accuracy of the summary I entered in CaseMap, I can
instantly bring up the source."
Note that you have not even reached some of the tools
that first made CaseMap famous and you can create a
very organized case file, with copies of the relevant
documents and files linked to appropriate facts and
available with a click or two of a mouse. You can also
print, copy, share and transport the CaseMap file over
a network, by CD-ROM or any other standard fashion.
Taking a Giant Step Forward – Analytical Tools.
Now, let’s move to the signature CaseMap analytical
tools. If there is any area in which Bob and Greg’s
experience and sharp observations come into full play,
it is in these analytical tools. The key point, which
has become clearer to me with time, is that CaseMap
has always focused on simple evaluative tools that produced
the most practically useful results.
The simplicity is deceptive. What might we really like
to know about our facts?
I would like to know which ones I needed to prove and
which ones I did not. CaseMap lets me flag facts as
disputed or undisputed.
I would also like to know whether a fact is favorable
to my case or unfavorable. CaseMap lets me flag facts
as highly favorable, somewhat favorable, neutral, somewhat
unfavorable or highly unfavorable. Although you might
think that you want more granularity in these rankings,
for a more than "good enough" assessment,
these five categories will do the trick. You can also
change the ratings as you learn more about the case
or give it more thought.
Compare your HELPME system. What can you do now along
these lines? Let’s face it, you are lucky if you
can collect all the facts, let alone capture any kind
of rankings for evaluation purposes.
Let me illustrate the benefits of using these simple
analytical tools with two examples. First, think about
how you would do this under your current HELPME system.
Then consider the CaseMap approach.
Example 1. You want your associate
to prepare a motion for summary judgment on a specific
issue. With CaseMap, the associate can easily get a
package of materials that includes a list of all the
undisputed facts that relate to the issue, any research
that has been done on that issue, contact and other
information for opposing counsel and courts, copies
of pleadings and documents related to the facts, a timeline
of the events in the case, a cast of characters, a list
of all issues, all your questions related to the issue
or the applicable facts, and ready access to all other
information necessary to understand the case. In fact,
the associate can even get started before talking to
Most lawyers know all too well the old approach of
coming into a partner’s office, scribbling notes
on a legal pad during the partner’s stream-of-conscious
disgorgement of everything he or she remembers about
the case, and then leaving the office to try to track
down the relevant pleadings and files to work on the
Example 2. Your client wants to discuss
the value of a case and whether it makes sense to settle
it or proceed to trial. With CaseMap, you could quickly
print out a list of all of the undisputed facts that
are strongly in your client's favor for each issue and
a list of all the undisputed facts that are strongly
unfavorable, for each issue in the case. With your client,
you could focus on the weakest points of the case, accurately
discuss worst case scenarios and reach a solid decision
about whether to proceed or settle.
Assume that you decide to try to settle the case. You
then take a list of undisputed facts strongly in you
favor and hammer on those facts as you negotiate the
settlement figure. Your first round in the settlement
discussions is going to feature some haymakers using
your best facts, fully organized and marshaled, before
opposing counsel finishing sifting through his notes
on a legal pad. This approach greatly improves your
odds of getting a favorable result.
Your evaluations can be used in a variety of ways.
In cross-examination, you might prepare by identifying
the witness’s weakest facts and issues and focusing
on them. In contrast, you might use a light touch on
the unfavorable issues and pour withering fire at the
witness’s best facts and issues. You might make
tactical decisions about how to question your own witnesses
based on your evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses
of the facts. You might also use the strongest witness
to introduce a fact if you see that several witnesses
could prove up the fact.
What all of these examples and suggestions have in
common is that they use easy-to-enter evaluation and
tagging tools to generate information that can be used
strategically and tactically to your advantage in your
cases. Technology is cool, but it makes no sense if
it does not produce results. These examples show real
The Network Effect – Collaboration.
What about collaboration? CaseMap allows whomever you
want who is working on the case to enter, assess and
use information, subject to the limitations you might
set for them.
You can compare your assessments with those of your
colleagues. Why do you think a fact is strongly in our
favor and I have called it neutral? Let’s see
if we can understand the reasoning and get ourselves
on the same page. Bringing in new members of the team?
Put them on the case in CaseMap and they can quickly
get up to speed on the important elements of the case.
Someone leaves the firm or is out of town? You still
have access to their work because it is in CaseMap.
Didn’t we have a similar case last year? Let’s
look at the CaseMap information for that case and see
what we might learn or reuse. How was that deposition
yesterday? Use CaseMap as your summary tool, link transcript
entries, add new facts, update information and generate
a report that others on the team, including your client,
can use to understand exactly what happened.
Jonathan Soroko, at Global Evidence Control in Greenwich,
Connecticut, says, "No single attorney can handle
large-scale complex cases along; nor can two or more
lawyers or investigators work together without some
means of integrating their work, sharing knowledge,
and eliminating duplication of effort. CaseMap is an
excellent tool both for coordination between lawyers,
or between counsel and investigative team and for managing
New Features in CaseMap 5.
You could do all of these things before the release
of CaseMap 5. What does CaseMap 5 bring us for the $199
CaseMap has been able to link to Adobe Acrobat for
a long time. In CaseMap 5, you can actually create PDF
files using CaseMap 5. If you do not already have the
Adobe Acrobat Writer, you can avoid the cost of an Acrobat
license, or roughly $250. If you are in that category,
you are ahead of the game already with CaseMap 5.
There are other new features that PDF users will like.
A toolbar button allows you to create and send email
PDF attachments. Lawyers who import large numbers of
documents will appreciate the ability to do “bulk”
importing of PDF files by simply selecting all of the
documents they want to import at once.
CaseMap’s high-profile, evangelistic customer
community is the envy of its competitors. It is no surprise
that other enhancements reflect the wishes of CaseMap
users. CaseMap 5 has added Rich Text Format (RTF). As
a result, you can now use more formats (e.g., bold),
font colors and other simple adjustments to make your
CaseMap entries more readable and customized. Jeffrey
Storer notes, "I like the ability to change fonts.
Now, when I read and highlight a chronology in hard
copy, I can have my secretary bold the text that I highlighted
in CaseMap file and throw away the hard copy I marked
Along the same lines, the “Send to Word”
function has been enhanced – another example of
the way CaseSoft is building greater linkage with commonly-used
third party programs. CaseMap 5 also brings the often-requested
“Send to TimeMap (and back)” function.
It is important to note that while CaseMap 5 files
differ in format from CaseMap 4, CaseMap 5 automatically
converts files created under the older format.
ReportBooks – Turning Your Clients into Your
For existing users, the set of enhancements I discussed
in the preceding section might well have justified the
price of an upgrade. However, there is one more big
development to consider.
Let me say this as clearly as I can – ReportBooks
will revolutionize the way clients expect to receive
status and other reports about their cases from their
lawyers. Used effectively, ReportBooks will help enhance
existing client relationships, win new clients and create
new business and revenue streams. ReportBooks will also
allow you to bring new members of the team up to speed
quickly, minimize the losses of team member leaving
your firm and ensure that all team members are on the
Assuming that any of those benefits might interest
you, let’s take a closer look at ReportBooks.
The concept is quite simple, but the potential power
is immense. A ReportBook is simply a compilation of
your CaseMap reports that is automatically assembled
and generated on the fly. CaseMap has created a number
of templates for ReportBooks. You can customize ReportBooks
or create your own version from scratch, but I expect
that most of you will find that the standard templates
will work well for you.
Here is an example of how ReportBooks work. You receive
a call from a client who wants to know what is happening
on a certain case. Using the HELPME method, you will
likely stammer, delay and buy some time to try to remember
the case and what might be happening in it. You will
likely offer your client something like, “We’re
on top of it,” or “We have a status meeting
scheduled next week and I’ll give you a call after
that.” Essentially, you buy time, make vague comments
and bland reassurances, or you change the subject as
quickly as you can.
Here is what you can do in the same scenario with ReportBooks.
You can say, “Give me about twenty seconds and
I’ll email you a full report that we can talk
about while we look at it together. Let me do that while
you are on the line.” You are already opening
CaseMap, and finding and opening the CaseMap file for
the case. You choose to create a ReportBook with a default
template. A ReportBook is generated and you send it
to an email attachment in PDF. A new email message appears
with the ReportBook attached. You type in the email
address and write a short note. You send the email.
In a second or two, your client has the message and
opens the attachment. Now, you both have the ReportBook
to serve as a basis for discussion.
Here are just a few of the ideas I have had for using
ReportBooks: creating ReportBooks for the trial (maybe
with a nice binding) for everyone on your team; sending
your clients weekly or monthly ReportBooks on their
cases; getting new associates up to speed on the case;
giving a tax or corporate partner from whom you want
advice about a specific issue a quick way to become
familiar with the case; creating useful overviews for
expert witnesses; and much more.
However, there is no need to rely on my hypotheticals.
Let's see what David Wolowitz, of McLane, Graf, Raulerson
& Middleton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has actually
done with ReportBooks:
"I have found the new ReportBook feature to be
of great benefit in unexpected ways. In one matter,
I had a mediation to prepare. I was dealing with my
clients, two highly educated professionals, a member
of their board who is a very astute attorney in NYC
and a savvy insurance adjuster, also an attorney. I
needed to educate all of them on the facts and the issues
and to determine what information was missing. So, I
sent them a CaseMap ReportBook of the key facts and
also three reports by key issues.
I created a very impressive cover sheet in about two
minutes. I then revised the confidentiality statement
to meet my needs and created an intro page explaining
how to utilize the reports and the status of the case.
From that point on, everyone responded with ideas and
missing information. On a weekly basis, I sent them
updated ReportBooks, including a report on what was
new (a standard CaseMap saved report.) The mediation
went well. I gave the mediator a TimeMap report of key
dates. I noticed he kept referring to it throughout
the mediation. Throughout the process, everyone involved
commented on my thoroughness and the usefulness of the
What’s in the ReportBook? The standard “Case
Summary” ReportBook contains a customized cover
sheet, a confidentiality statement, a table of contents,
introduction, issue outline, cast of characters (persons),
cast of characters (organizations), fact chronology,
document index, list of open questions, research authorities
and research authority extracts, all generated automatically
in seconds from your existing CaseMap file. Other templates
include (1) a summary of issues, cast of characters,
facts and key documents, (2) key issues fact chronologies,
(3) key players fact chronologies, (4) summary list
of key players, facts and documents, and (5) what’s
new in the last 14 days.
The utility of these reports, both externally and internally,
should be clear to you. Compare the impact of sending
any of these ReportBooks to a client to the traditional
HELPME method. As Wolowitz concludes, "I prepared
these ReportBooks with very little effort but received
far more attention than if I had not used this feature."
The beauty of ReportBooks is that they can be created
in seconds from existing data (and you can even refresh
an old ReportBook with new data). You can provide them
at no cost to your clients just as part of your standard
service. When your client, who probably uses other law
firms for other cases, starts to ask its other firms
for similar reports. They will probably get some pushback
and, more than likely, will see time charges for the
creation of reports. Take a look at a sample ReportBook
and try to estimate the cost of producing something
similar by hand.
In the CaseMap tradition, ReportBooks allow the experienced
lead lawyer to move away from spending too much time
on the drudgery parts of cases and move toward spending
time do what he or she does best and probably enjoys
most – analyzing and evaluating cases, planning
strategies and tactics, dissecting the strengths and
weaknesses of cases, and preparing to be devastatingly
Conclusion – Is Now Too Soon?
Let’s now review. We defined our existing HELPME
system. Then we determined that not only was the CaseMap
approach more effective than what we have, but CaseMap
probably runs rings around our current approach. Finally,
we discussed a few financial and other benefits arising
out of moving to CaseMap that you will have to apply
to your own situation. We both know what you will conclude
when you run your own numbers.
As Dan Horowitz, a solo litigator in Oakland, California
says about how CaseMap helped him in a very complicated
case, "I consider that having CaseMap was like
having an extra attorney in the courtroom."
With CaseMap 5, the best litigation software just keeps
getting better. Even if you use it at its lowest level,
you will get significant benefits. If you move up to
using ReportBooks, they had better start engraving your
name on that “litigator of the year” award.
Best of all, you might start hearing your clients introduce
you to others as “my favorite lawyer.” Or,
you can choose to keep plugging away in the same way
that you have been for years. It’s your call.
As Jeffrey Storer says, "CaseMap is a tool that
I would not practice law without. It is a brilliant
concept that has revolutionized my case preparation
Dennis Kennedy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is a well-known legal technology expert and computer
lawyer based in St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning
author and a frequent speaker, he was named the 2001
TechnoLawyer of the Year by TechnoLawyer.com for his
role in promoting the use of technology in the practice
of law. His blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)
and web page, (http://www.denniskennedy.com/)
are highly regarded resources on technology law and
legal technology topics. Dennis is a member of the
American Bar Association Law Practice Management Section's
Council, ABA TECHSHOW Board, and Webzine Board.