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What is the biggest mistake small firms make with litigation support technology? The following comments were compiled by Monica Bay, editorial director of Small Firm Business magazine. Alan Nye Law Offices of Alan Nye Portland, Maine Relying too heavily on technology and thinking that litigation support software or hardware is all you need to win a case. Too many lawyers are so caught up in the flash of technology that they forget the basics. Cases are about people — take the time to carefully prepare your witnesses to testify. An impressive witness will win out over cutting edge software every time. For example, CaseMap, from Bowne DecisionQuest, is a fabulous litigation database that helps you examine the facts and issues of your case and link them to your people, documents, and the law that pertains to your controversy. But it doesn’t work by itself. You must manually enter data before you reap its benefits. CaseMap helps you understand the nuances of your case — but you still need to pick your jury, conduct your discovery and make your arguments. Bruce Dorner Solo Londonderry, N.H. There are three: Spending too much money on hardware and software and not enough on adequate training; placing too much emphasis on flash and glitz, when the focus should be on simple, direct presentation of the case; and purchasing technology in a rush and not taking time to determine how it will integrate into the rest of your practice and information flow. Bruce Olson Davis & Kuelthau Green Bay, Wis. Thinking litigation technology only applies to big cases and is not cost justified for smaller cases. This results in a failure to use the technology on a regular basis, which, in turn, means that when it is needed for a big case no one knows how to use it successfully. Using litigation technology on a daily basis, particularly on smaller cases, is the best way to learn how technology can help win your case. J.R. Phelps Florida Bar Tallahassee Too often, lawyers feel that just signing the check for the product is the answer. They fail to obtain buy-in, conduct training, and get a commitment from everyone to update the database, ultimately dooming the project. J.L. Huddleston Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley Atlanta Buying software that (a) has a short product life cycle and (b) does not fit into the long range plans of your firm. Avoid a knee-jerk reaction to grab the newest, greatest tool. Your software needs to fit within the framework of your firm, and aid both your firm’s and your clients’ goals. It also must fit the overall culture of your firm. For example, if your firm focuses on personal injury, using powerful packages like Summation (Summation Legal Technologies Inc.) or JFS Litigator’s Notebook (Bowne Litigation Solutions) is questionable — Microsoft Corp.’s Access should suffice. Conversely, if you routinely defend class action suits, Dataflight Software Inc.’s Concordance may be the better choice. Dennis Kennedy The Dennis Kennedy Law Firm St. Louis Throwing away your hard-earned money on technology projects that will not work for you. If you don’t do your homework on the front end, your odds of wasting money go up exponentially. Hanging on to outdated technology or, worse, continuing to pump money into technology that will not work for your needs will drain away cash at an alarming rate. Ask two questions: 1. Does the technology improve an existing system/process, or does it replace an existing system/process with a better one? 2. If so, is the cost acceptable for the results you get? No lawyer ever likes to admit making a mistake, but sometimes pulling the plug on existing technology can be the wisest choice and save you tons of money in the long run. Craig Ball Law Offices of Craig Ball Montgomery, Texas Thinking that you can open the shrink wrap the night before trial and work wonders tomorrow. There’s a learning hurdle for any new program or device — allocate both time and money for training. Be wary of unrealistic expectations. Everyone wants the one button “solution,” but it rarely exists. Applications that try to do it all usually require you to adapt your way of doing business to their operation. That’s a blueprint for failure. Tom O’Connor Legal Electronic Document Institute Seattle Lack of training … and waiting until the last minute. Litigation support software is not a magic wand. Is it faster than manual review of documents? Yes. Is it faster than the Star Trek Enterprise? No. You simply cannot wait until two (or even six) weeks before trial to start entering documents into the software. Data entry takes time. Reviewing the database takes time. Organizing your trial notebook takes time. Jim Calloway Oklahoma Bar Association Oklahoma City Using litigation tools in the same wrong way that some lawyers do final trial preparation — all in a rush, at the last minute and under the gun. It is far better to enter the exhibits, depositions, witness statements and other information from day one as you prepare your case, so you can use the tools to help analyze facts. As the experienced trial lawyers say, “prepare every litigation case as if it will be tried.” Ellen Freedman Pennsylvania Bar Association Ambler, Pa. Lack of training … and due diligence. Too often, decisions are based almost entirely on what a peer uses. Look to colleagues, but also examine the software’s capabilities. Compare alternatives to understand the nuances. Conduct a thorough needs analysis — don’t make a decision based on one glaring need. Andy Havens Sanestorm Marketing Columbus, Ohio Trying to do things with technology that you weren’t doing before. If you attempt to use a piece of technology to do something new, you’re not increasing efficiency, you’re just adding new work. You should be using technology to improve current processes, not give yourself whole new bags of stuff to do. Phil Shuey Shuey Robinson Greenwood, Colo. Attempting to use litigation support software, for the first time, in complex litigation already well in process. The convergence of learning a new application, dealing with case deadlines and complexities makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the firm to obtain the training, skill and commitment necessary for success. William Smith Abramson Smith Waldsmith San Francisco Surrendering the creative process to a consultant. You have to take an active role in thinking through the presentation including the details of the set-up in court. Do not be afraid to jump right in and be creative.

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