Volume 20, Number 4
CaseSoft Maps the Future
Reviewed by Florencio (Larry) Ramirez
Florencio (Larry) Ramirez is a judge of the Third Judicial District Court in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and is a former chair of the GP Section.
CaseSoft's CaseMap suite (CaseMap, TextMap, TimeMap, and NoteMap) has a lot of features that may take a while to master, but it is also the benchmark software for organizing case files. I found the suite to be an outstanding organizational tool for any lawyer-solo, small firm, or large firm-involved in litigation or with a need to organize case files.
The software comes bundled on a single CD-ROM disk that includes CaseMap4, TimeMap2, NoteMap, and TextMap; Acrobat Reader 4.0; and a utility for preparing documents in Acrobat Reader and then importing them into TextMap to use with other software. Each of these products can be purchased separately, although the total suite, at $749, saves you $143. CaseMap4 is what makes the others work, and you would lose a lot of functionality without it.
CaseMap4 is offered separately for $495; it makes it easy to organize and explore the facts of a particular case, the essential characters, and the law. TimeMap2 sells for $199 and prepares chronological presentations of factual information in connection with a case. NoteMap, $99, enables the user to construct complex outlines and use drag-and-drop to modify and organize the outline-features not present in most word processing software. Finally, TextMap, which sells for $99, is a "transcript management utility" that works in conjunction with CaseMap to create databases of electronic transcript files from depositions (imported from an ASCII disk) and other proceedings. The files are readable with TextMap; when you find transcript passages that contain important facts, simply blast them to your CaseMap case chronology with just two clicks. As you send transcript chunks to CaseMap, TextMap automatically creates a source that references the transcript and the page(s) and line number(s) of the selection. TextMap also will create brand-new facts in your CaseMap chronology, or update the sources of existing facts. Updates can be purchased separately or are included in a separately priced maintenance agreement.
Although each utility may be used separately, one of the several outstanding features of this product is that the databases you create can be individualized to your personal organizational style, and they constitute your work product. In CaseMap4 you create a spreadsheet of your case, identifying the important characters, issues, and facts. You can enter questions and add research notes directly linked to the correct legal issues-and creating the spreadsheet is easy using drop-down menus. The software also has an extensive Help menu with built-in tutorials. To edit your spreadsheet you simply use the cut-and-paste function similar to that of many word processing programs.
Another outstanding feature is connectivity between utilities and programs. For example, TimeMap can create chronology visuals in color, which can then be printed for use in jury presentations, depositions, briefs, and so on. You can enter the facts directly into TimeMap or into CaseMap and then import them into TimeMap. Imagine creating a color visual that clearly and concisely demonstrates the conflicting or undisputed facts in your case-we all know that judges are visual learners, don't we? The files can be saved as jpegs and metafiles that can be used in WordPerfect, Word, PowerPoint, and other data processing programs. I've already described how depositions saved in ASCII files can be used in connection with TextMap and CaseMap, and once they're in CaseMap, it's easy to incorporate them into TimeMap.
However, the most outstanding feature of this software might be its product support. Each product comes with an extensive built-in tutorial that anticipates almost every question that might arise. And the Help menu is actually helpful! In addition, every CaseMap license comes with a free one-hour telephone tutorial. (By the way, I don't think they watch the clock that closely. When I called, my tutor was very helpful and patient. We were on the phone for well over an hour, and the person's principal concern was my ability to use all of the product's functions and my understanding as much about the utility of the software as I could absorb.) Like anything, the learning really comes with use, but this is not a program that would overwhelm even a novice. CaseSoft even makes personal follow-up calls, at three weeks and seven weeks post-delivery.
As a judge and an attorney who has been involved in litigated matters for more than 25 years, I would not hesitate to recommend this software to any attorney, in any practice setting. The largest single user of this product is the U.S. Attorneys Office, which has more than 15,000 copies in use. However, over 80 percent of firms using CaseSoft have five or fewer lawyers, and over 50 percent of the total copies in use are in firms of one to five lawyers.
This software is economically priced and as easy to use as a legal pad, with a lot more functionality and the ability to organize, move, and edit data with a few keystrokes. CaseSoft is easily customized and allows attorneys to organize, communicate, and analyze cases quickly and efficiently.