10 Things You Should
Know about Case Management Systems
Arita Sims, A.B. Sims Consulting
Originally prepared November 2, 2007 for
CLE Presentation at Seattle University Law School
1. A case management system (CMS) centralizes information.
Firms without a CMS have these characteristics:
Client and other contact information reside in multiple locations
(paper files, servers, workstations, PDA's, etc.)
Time is wasted looking for information.
Over-reliance on specific individuals to store and retrieve
Electronic records of various types for the same client are not tied
Firms with a CMS have these characteristics:
Data is centrally stored on a server and replicated to remote
computers as needed.
All users have immediate access to up to date file information.
Attorneys and staff can easily view each others' calendars.
There is less need to retrieve paper files.
2. A CMS automates the client intake process.
From the first call a potential client is appropriately categorized.
Follow-up assignments are made and tracked with tasks and alarms.
There is a place in the CMS for all important potential client and
Reporting is available to provide new and potential client counts,
referral sources, assigned attorneys and other information as needed.
3. A CMS is a training tool.
New employees can become familiar with office procedures by using the
CMS. Task lists, and workflow navigators and scheduling templates help
to guide new attorneys and staff through common procedures.
The firm can capture its legal expertise by linking data entry areas
to articles, checklists and other resources.
4. A CMS protects your firm.
Firms using a CMS are less likely to
Lose contact with clients
Good CMS includes reminders for upcoming events and inactivity warnings
to keep you on top of deadlines and make it easier to send regular
correspondence to your clients.
5. A CMS ties all office functions together.
Case management technology has come a long way over the past two
decades, moving from case lists and simple calendars to one-click
connections to timekeeping, billing, document production, document
management, email and telephone call management.
6. A CMS is portable.
The top systems offer some level of portability so that data is
accessible to you while away from the office. This may be through:
Replication with branch offices or in-home offices
7. Practice analysis is built in.
The more you use it, the more you will know. A good CMS will provide
practice management reporting to quickly answer questions such as:
How many files were opened this month?
What percentage of prospective clients became clients?
How are most client referred to us?
How many hours have attorneys spent on billable and non-billable work?
What percentage of our cases are in a given practice area?
What percentage of our income is derived from a given practice area?
8. A CMS allows once-time only entry of your information.
Through use of the relational database model, case management systems
provide one-stop entry of client and contact information. A single entry
can then tie to:
Active case files
Closed case files
Billing statements and reports
9. Purchase is only the first step.
So, you have purchased your case management software. What next?
Successful use requires:
Be prepared to make the time commitment to plan your use of the system
and train your attorneys and staff. Include consulting and support in
your implementation budget.
10. A CMS functions best when all participate.
Do not let a hold-outs prevent the firm from taking full advantage of
case management. If you do, departments or offices within your firm will
be split into the two characteristics sets listed in item #1.
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