22 Discovery: Information Organization

It isn’t just about organizing the documents. Trials frequently involve distilling a variety of viewpoints and facts down to a coherent story. The more organized you are, the better you will be able to prepare for the trial. Litigation support tools can create timelines, highlight and manage important portions of deposition transcripts, and link between different documents to contrast points of view or incompatible narratives.

You can create timelines using Microsoft Excel templates as well, of course, or use general business software for managing your case. Research notebooks like Evernote or Microsoft’s OneNote can provide a binder-like digital equivalent that are multi-purpose, for litigation and your other practice matters. The right tool for you will depend on how you practice and the other tools you own. For example, Macintosh computer users may find fewer options of dedicated litigation support tools they can install as native applications. If you run Parallels or some other option to enable Windows apps on your Mac, or are willing to use cloud-based tools, you may find you have different options.

The other thing to keep in mind is that litigation support is often done by staff, not by lawyers themselves. If the technology gets in the way of you organizing and presenting your case, it may be something you want your own staff or a consultant to handle for you. You will gain greater facility by doing it yourself but you may find that you only use litigation support for certain cases and lack of use makes it hard to feel expert at it.

The world of litigation support tools is vast, with many large comprehensive applications but also lots of small, niche utilities. The best recommendation I could make is to use Web search or a directory like the ABA or American Lawyer Media’s legal technology ones and look for a tool that matches your need.

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