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Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Guide to Using Case Map Software in a Teaching Environment

This post is courtesy of Nicholas Caputo, a Chicago attorney and adjunct professor of law at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

We teach Case Map in the Rogers Litigation Technology class at Chicago-Kent. Overall, the students are receptive to this software and I would recommend that you consider teaching it. Some of our students are already encountering this software at law firms where they clerk so knowing how to use it gives them another selling point in this very tough job market. We introduce this software over the first two classes of the semester. It makes sense practically, because as you point out, this is mainly a pre-trial case organization/case analysis tool. However, the software does have add on features for preparing demonstratives for use at trial (such as timelines). So the conclusion of our Case Map class then becomes a natural segue into our next lessons regarding use of the technology for trial presentation.

Here are ten steps for using Case Map in a trial advocacy teaching environment:

1) Contact your school’s Lexis Rep and see if your students can get a free trial license. We have this option at Kent so it does not cost the students anything extra.

2) Before your first class, have your students download Case Map and make sure it is working. They should also obtain a copy of Adobe Acrobat. There are free versions of Adobe Acrobat, but the Professional version can be obtained with student discounts for about $100 and is worth every penny.

3) Consider a basic lecture on turning all hard documents into electronic format and setting up and organizing electronic files. I can send you a separate discussion on this. This is also a great time to introduce some of the features of Adobe Acrobat that are a must for litigation. Adobe is also integral for using Case Map. I can send you a separate discussion on Adobe Acrobat in a future email.

4) Distribute or make available an electronic mock case file for your students. Using a trial competition case file is perfect. You want a case file with a nice cross section of various types of evidence and documents (i.e., statements, letters, police reports, deposition transcripts, letters). The more dates, times, people, and issues, the better---it will help them see the capabilities of the software.

5) Walk through the set-up of a Case Map file with the students, having each student follow along and set up an identical file on their own computer. The software will walk you through adding the names of the key parties and witnesses during the initial set up. Additional names can be added at any time later.

6) Show them how to import one of the electronic documents (i.e., a police report) from the mock file into Case Map. You can then show them how to go through the contents of the information contained in the first document adding and tagging each piece of information and assigning issues, etc. This process should be repeated until all documents and information contained therein are added to Case Map.

7) You can now show them how the information can be displayed (using various reports) or sorted, etc. This will also help them to realize the importance of carefully entering and tagging the information into Case Map. The old “Garbage In, Garbage Out” adage applies well.

8) The pay-off is finally showing the students how they can quickly make some powerful timelines (by using Time Map) in a matter of minutes.

9) Assign your students another case so that they can go home and try all of the above steps on their own. I have invited students to use a real case that they may be working on as a clerk and have allowed trial team members to use the case file from their competition. This gives them a little more incentive to build a robust file.

10) The following class can be used to have each student show various portions of their case map file, any case map reports you may designate, and of course, their demonstrative timelines.

The above steps are designed to give the students a basic understanding of the software and an opportunity to explore some of its features. You can of course go much deeper with this program if you want to devote additional classes. I would be happy to discuss this in further detail with you or any of those that follow your blog. If anyone is interested in more specifics or some sample materials, I would be happy to share them.

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