The software that I will be reviewing belongs to the Lexis Nexis CaseSoft legal suite of software, focusing specifically on CaseMap 8, TimeMap, & TextMap. All of these programs are designed to help you organize and manage case information in a savvy, linked database that syncs online and allows for real-time group collaboration.
Probably the most impressive of the programs is CaseMap which allows you to literally “map” your case by using a linked database structure. You can enter in the issues your case rests on, the people involved in the case (“Cast of Characters”), and the evidence you’ll be using. For each object added, you can enter in as much detail as you like, including a witness’ role in a case, and any pertinent notes. The real power of this application comes in its ability to cross-reference entries. You can link a witness to an issue in the case as well as to what their testimony concerns. In this manner, you can see at a glance who & what will come into play when reviewing the case issues and evidential matters. It truly is a “smart database” and uses hyperlink technology to create a virtual “mind map” of your case and every detail involved. Evidential documents can be easily imported, Bates stamped, and linked to the issue in question. Happily, you can sync the entire file, export to other file types, and print. By allowing formatting customization, the reports look very snappy and will easily impress you and more importantly, your clients!
I should include some disadvantages to CaseMap since I’m an adherent of Westlaw products and this software is developed by LexisNexis. I can’t, however. I simply love the practicality and utility of this program. It is intuitive to use and easy to learn, and very well thought out in terms of design and ease of use. I was truly blown away by this software and I can’t wait to use it every day in my legal work. If the firm I’m with isn’t using it, I’ll definitely recommend it. CaseMap receives my highest praise. Perhaps the only reason more legal practitioners don’t use this software is the prohibitive cost.
Another application in the CaseSoft suite which I found to be useful is TimeMap. Where CaseMap helps you to organize your case and the legal issues therein, TimeMap focuses on helping you to organize the timeline of events. Everybody knows a graphical representation can lend readability and comprehension to a dry list of dates, but TimeMap goes a step further by allowing for a high level of customizability which breathes a whole new life into timeline presentation. Once again the software is very intuitive and easy to use. You can quickly create events called “timeboxes” and set them on a customizable timeline. The beauty and ease of the program are enhanced by the “drag and drop” nature of its functionality. You literally drag the timeline and timeboxes where you want on the screen and you can customize font, colors, gradient, length of timeline, line compression for long lapses, etc.
A flaw I found with TimeMap which I truly hope CaseSoft addresses in future releases is that your input doesn’t “stick” if you edit the timeline. Once the timeline is moved or dragged, your timebox placement is forgotten and they must all be repositioned. In the application webinar, the speaker mentions that you should finalize your customization and placement of the timeline before spending a lot of time manipulating timebox placement. The application obviously utilizes layers, perhaps in the future they will figure out a way to anchor some of the points between layers so a small edit doesn’t wreck your timeline completely. I can too easily imagine an unknowing intern toying with the settings and possibly mangling a timeline—hopefully not right before a client arrives to review the file!
The third software from the CaseSoft suite that I enjoyed using was TextMap, which imports ASCII deposition files for easier reading and tagging. Sometimes the simple features make for the best utility and TextMap does just that with the sidebar page and line ruler. This makes even long depositions easy to read and even easier to summarize. An even more impressive feature of this program is that you can select portions of the deposition text and link it to any of the elements in CaseMap. What better way to highlight important testimony and have it instantly accessible by calling up the witness or issue to which it pertains?
I’ve been really delighted to see some of the features LexisNexis offers in its CaseSoft software suite. While the programs are useful on their own, they really shine when they are used in conjunction; the ability to link facts with legal matters at issue in the case, other information, and imported documents or evidence files adds another level of function and sophistication to the suite. Being able to run data reports, print, and export to PDF means you and your clients will have easy, quickly comprehensible information that will allow you to see the strengths and weaknesses in your case will not only allow for more efficient case management, but a higher ratio of success for yourself and your clients. I look forward to working with LexisNexis software products in the future and am excited to see what new features develop over time.
By: Cynthia Montoya, 12/2012.