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Application programs widely used in legal organizations:
- Word Processing
- PDF Creation and Document Assembly
- Timekeeping and Billing
- Case Management
- Docket Control
- Electronic Discovery and Electronic Mail
- Presentation Graphics/Trial Software
Project Management Software
Tracks the sequence and timing of the separate activities of a larger project or task.
Ex. Tracking tasks that must be completed before a case is ready for trial.
Accounting software used by legal organizations might include general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and trust accounting.
Document Management software
The electronic equivalent of a file room filled with filing cabinets.
Organizes, controls, distributes, and allows for the extensive searching of electronic documents, typically in a networked environment.
Files documents electronically so that they can be found by anyone in the organization, even those in other parts of the country.
(ASP) Application Service Provider
- Supplies software or a service application through the internet directly to the user's computer.
- (Hosted software)
Ex. LexisNexis and Westlaw. Also have ASP applications for timekeeping and billing, document management, and litigation support.
How the Internet is used by Paralegals:
- Instant Messaging
- Conducting factual and legal research
- Accessing listservs, blogs, and newsgroups to gather info and communicate with groups of people
- Maintaining a legal organization's website
- Purchasing legal-related services
- Gaining continuing education
General and Factual Research on the Internet:
- Conducting background information research on parties to cases
- Locating expert witnesses throughout the world
- Finding newspaper, online, and technical articles related to cases
- Locating the current whereabouts of people for service of process
- Researching information about witnesses
- Discovering financial information about corporations, including accessing SEC filings
- Finding public records about people or businesses
- Finding co-counsel in another jurisdiction
Legal Research on the Internet:
www.findlaw.com and hundreds of others provide access to federal and state cases and statutes, provide a portal to other legal research sites on the Internet, and generally offer a wealth of free legal-related info.
Fee-based sites, including LexisNexis and Westlaw, allow users to electronically search the full text of cases, statutes, and documents.
Listservs and Electronic Mailing Lists:
- Listservs send email messages to people whose names are on a list.
- Paralegals use these to communicate with other paralegals, other legal professionals who practice in their legal specialty, and others.
Ex. Legal Assistant Today -- specifically for paralegals who want to share info about paralegal issues, idea, and experiences or who have questions about practice issues. (www.legalassistanttoday.com)
Litigation Support Software:
Organizes all the documents for trial or settlement negotiations. Helps the legal professional to electronically search through the litigation documents to find what they are looking for in a timely manner.
Can be made available to staff, clients, or co-counsel, so that they can access the information from remote locations.
Collecting and Organizing Data: Database Management Software
Stores, searches, sorts, and organizes data.
Ex. List of names of witnesses and their probably testimony, list of all documents in a case, a chronological listing of major events in a case, list of all cases being handled by the firm including: name of client, adverse party, case number, court, and name of the presiding judge.
Mathematical Calculations: Spreadsheet Software
- Adding up the amount of damages a party has asked for in a case
- Preparing a case budge for a client
- Calculating principal and interest payments in a real estate transactions
- Analyzing statistics for trends
- Calculating lost wages in a workers' compensation case
Timekeeping and Billing Software:
- Stores client information: Name, address, billing rates, time attorneys and paralegals spend on the case.
- At the end of the billing period it automatically calculates and generates invoices.
Tracking Appointments and Deadlines: Computerized Docket Control and Case Management Software
Docket Control software - primarily tracks appointments and deadlines in legal matters
- Case Management software - typically controls docketing of a case,
- also helps to track and control the entire case:
- Tracks client's name, address, phone numbers, makes notes about each phone conversation with the client, tracks appointments and deadlines by case, automatically schedules deadlines by type of case, performs conflict-of-interest searches when new cases are entered, produce letters and notices depending on the type of case, etc.
Presentation Graphics/Trial Software:
Used to prepare charts, tables, video clips, evidence and other information for juries and factfinders; to present information to clients; and to present information to colleagues, such as an in-house training program, a marketing plan for the law office, a proposed budge, or a new initiative.
Supplying electronic versions of legal documents to a court, via the Internet or other electronic means, when the court does not require the hard copy of the document.
Firm in which all hard-copy documents are converted into electronic form(s) for storage, processing, and distribution.