A Collaboration Tool Built for Litigators
By Wayne Nitti
In her book, Smart Collaboration, Harvard Law School Fellow Heidi Gardner documents how, through collaborative work processes, law firms and other professional services providers can improve their reputations, command increased rates, and strengthen client loyalties. Drawing on a decade of research, Gardner illustrates how collaboration improves results, mitigates risks, fosters responsiveness, and increases efficiency. For law firms on the defendants’ and plaintiffs’ side alike, Case Anywhere’s Collaboration Hubs offer all these benefits of collaboration in the form of a secure online platform—one we developed specifically in response to litigators’ real-world requirements. Through one of our secure Collaboration Hubs, lawyers representing common interests can, among other things, discuss strategy, upload and share documents, and coordinate scheduling of case-related events. Lawyers can create a Collaboration Hub prior to filing a complaint or demand, or at any point in a litigation or arbitration.
Although similar in some respects to our Litigation Hubs, which typically involve all parties to a dispute and in some instances the court, Case Anywhere’s Collaboration Hubs differ in that they are created for and are accessible exclusively to one side in a case. While suitable for matters both large and small, Collaboration Hubs can be especially powerful for lawyers running big-ticket suits that involve multiple firms engaged in a coordinated defense. Collaboration Hubs can also be used effectively by plaintiff firms designated as lead or liaison counsel in proceedings to convey case-related information to perhaps hundreds of parties’ attorneys. Additionally, hubs can connect primary and local counsel, or a firm with its clients—akin to a third-party extranet, only focused on a particular case, and steered by lawyers. Once a hub has been set up, a single law firm typically plays the role of gatekeeper in designating access rights, which can be expanded or restricted at any point in a proceeding. Gatekeepers determine who should have site access—an authorized user group that might include consultants, experts, parties, and support staff as well as lawyers. In addition, the firm heading up the hub can grant broad or limited rights to specific hub functionality. Every case unfolds differently, and as collaboration requirements shift, gatekeepers can finetune the hub as they see fit.
Unlike common document sharing and collaboration programs, Case Anywhere’s Collaboration Hubs were designed by lawyers for lawyers, and the litigation-focused interfaces pull together core case management capabilities: document sharing; deposition and hearing transcript hosting; group message board communication; and event calendaring. A bulk transfer platform is also available, for example, to share document productions. As detailed in an earlier blog, we deploy state-of-the-art security across all of our platforms, including two-factor authentication and an encrypted connection.
As a document sharing tool, collaboration hub users enjoy wide latitude in controlling their files. Records can be associated with a particular organization, date, and category in the file structure by the uploading user. These associations can be modified, as necessary, and documents can be deleted from the system by a user granted administrative rights. Comments can also be linked to records, allowing lawyers to quickly access important information or analysis relating to a specific document. The folder structure for any collaboration hub can be customized during the set-up process.
Our targeted software also yields tremendous value as a communication tool. Each hub contains a private, searchable message board where authorized users can post and reply to case-related bulletins. The system automatically dispatches an email of each posting to authorized users, and every email notification includes a convenient link for posting a reply. This enables lawyers to stay abreast of case developments without logging into the site. Within each hub, messages can be viewed in either chronological order or according to subject thread.
The calendar feature completes Case Anywhere’s collaboration offering. Through this functionality, users schedule the date, time, and location of upcoming events and associate each entry with a litigation-specific category. Once added to the calendar, each color-coded entry can be modified or canceled by the submitting organization, which has the option of notifying others on the hub of updates via email. Users can choose when to receive email notifications as calendared events approach. The calendar interface, coupled with Case Anywhere’s email notification system, make it easy for counsel to keep everyone informed and on schedule.
Our Collaboration Hubs enable civil litigators to run their cases at the cutting edge of efficiency while at the same time keeping all team members in the loop. As standalone sites, Collaboration Hubs can be set up either under the Case Anywhere banner, or, through our Private Label option, appear as a brand extension of a law firm, ADR company, or other organization. Contact us and step up your collaboration game today. As Gardner notes, “Your clients, both current and prospective, may well be sizing you up based on your proven ability to work collaboratively.”