If there's an advocacy topic you want to see discussed, or about which you wish to contribute, contact one of the blog administrators - see the list on the right side of this page. Lonely thinking changes nothing, sharing your thoughts may start a trend.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Case Analysis and Case Map Software--Request for Information

I'm sitting in the lobby of a hotel in San Francisco, where I am attending the AALS Annual Meeting. It's been a good meeting so far; I've attended some thought-provoking panel discussions. More importantly, I've been able to spend time with valued friends and colleagues, talking about things that matter.

By the way, the Golden Gate University Advocacy and Skills Reception, hosted by Wes Porter and Bernie Segal, was a tremendous success. For those of you who supported Wes and Bernie by attending it, allow me to thank you on their behalf.

I also spent some time wandering through the exhibit hall at the meeting. I was intrigued by the Lexis case map software. I've personally never used it, but I did read about it in David Thomson's book Law School 2.0: Legal Education for a Digital Age.

It seems to me that the software might be quite useful for helping students conduct case analysis in a trial advocacy class or in preparation for a mock trial. The software keeps track of information, organizes it by issue, and links it to other related exhibits and information. I think that some of our Millenial students, who love anything digital, could benefit from the software.

I plan to learn how to use the software when I get back home to Carbondale.

In the meantime, I'm curious to know whether anyone else has used this software (or anything similar to it, if such software is available) to help teach case analysis and assist students in conducting case analysis. If you've had experiences with it, please share them in the comment section of this blog.

Basically, what I'm trying to decide is whether the time investment to learn the software (and teach its use to students) is worth it. I personally consider case analysis to be one of the most important things I teach in an advocacy class. I'm all for improving the process, but if the software is not really amenable to the task, I'd like to know about it.


  1. I teach an advanced trial and appellate advocacy course that takes a civil case from initial interview of the client through the oral argument and decision of the court of appeals. Several years ago I invited the Lexis rep to conduct a training session on CaseMap to my students and I required everyone to use CaseMap as their case moved through the system. The software is very powerful, but the learning curve is rather steep. For most students, the time spent learning the software detracted from their substantive work on their case. If I were king I'd provide the software to students before they arrive at law school their 1L year and use it throughout the curriculum. The Lexis folks have some interesting applications of CaseMap in legal research and writing. By the time they arrived in my course their third year they would be proficient in the software and I think it would help their case analysis and case preparation a great deal. Bottom line: for most students the time investment in learning the software for use in a 3L course was not cost effective.

  2. Woody:

    Your experiences mirror mine almost completely. I found the software to be hard to learn, but once you learned it you could do an awful lot with it. I think that the bottom line is that you can't teach the substantive law, practical skills and a particular computer program all at the same time. I do have some case files now that WEST sells through Law School Exchange that have some stripped down management functions embedded in the software platform they use to deliver the files. We've had some interesting success with those tools, but those are only going to be available for specific products. A good "intro" case management system that works the same as the full versions but is geared to the school experience would be a wonderful thing, but alas, like you no one has yet made me King!