Legal case management systems (CMS) are software programs that are designed to help lawyers and law firms manage their cases. They provide the firm with one central location to store and track all client data. This includes things such as contact information, case notes and documents, appointment scheduling and history, client communications, and billing.
If you are a Legal Secretary working in a law firm, you may find a large part of your work is associated with one of these programs. Programs will differ from firm to firm depending on the company’s specific needs, so rarely are two programs exactly the same, although there will be similarities.
In this article we talk about the uses and benefits of case management programs, with the aim to help new Legal Secretaries understand them better.
One of the main uses for a CMS is organisation. Legal cases can stretch on for a long time and will often create a large amount of paperwork. Having a central program where you can have easy access to all the details, case notes and documents is essential for the smooth running of the case.
Another important benefit of a CMS is communication, as it makes collaboration between those working on the case simple. Anyone who is part of a case can be given access to the information they need. Communications regarding a client can often be sent through the software and automatically attached to the case file. Communication is automatically tracked, so you never have to worry that something is missed. A CMS allows all the people assigned to work on a case to complete and track their own and other people’s tasks easily.
Legal procedures often have certain stages that need to be followed during the life cycle of a case. A good example of this is the conveyancing procedure, which has set steps to follow and multiple documents and searches to complete during the process. A CMS allows the Conveyancer and the Legal Secretary to know exactly what has been completed, what is outstanding and what stage the transaction is at.
Using one system to organise and track a case is also very useful in regards to billing. Most CMS will log hours worked for each user in order to create accurate and quick reports that can be used when creating the invoices to send to the client. Using methods such as these for billing and invoices saves time and increases accuracy.
And finally, a CMS also ensures compliance with policies and requirements laid down by judicial and legal authorities. It is important to remember that mistakes or errors during a case can create big problems, especially if that mistake meant that a legal requirement was not followed. A CMS can be programmed with these requirements to make sure that everything is present and correct and that policies have been followed, giving firms extra security and reassurance.
We hope this article has explained what CMS are and what they are used for. As mentioned previously, most firms will have their own individual programs, and training on the specifics of their programs will normally be provided for new employees. When you start work, the important thing is to be able to show that you understand the concept and uses of a CMS.
If you would like to further your understanding of case management systems, you can read this article from our Legal Secretary Journal archive.