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International law firm Baker & McKenzie is piloting a support system it hopes to use in much of its litigation.
Under a £100,000 contract, the firm is testing Litigator's Notebook, an American litigation support system based on Lotus Notes. The software will be piloted by 30 users, currently working on one big case.
Litigation partner Andrew Keltie said he was attracted to the product because as well as offering the usual search and retrieval functions, it allowed members of a team to communicate and organise information on the case. "Compatibility with Lotus Notes was quite a high criterion for us," he added.
Litigator's Notebook allows a team of lawyers to work together in a shared "case notebook". Copies of a case notebook can be held in several offices so that lawyers, clients and counsel can talk about the case, even though they are in different locations. The software keeps all the copies synchronised, so that notes or amendments made by one lawyer can be seen by everyone working on the case.
The notebook can hold all relevant case documents, from letters and witness profiles to scanned images of discovery documents. It also includes a pleadings database and email. Information can be organised any way the user chooses - by witness, issue, date or task.
Baker & McKenzie has already used the Litigator's Notebook in its Chicago office. Now the product has a UK support partner, the Business Systems Group, the firm is trying it out in London.
"Clients are becoming more demanding of lawyers," said Keltie. "They want cases to be managed, to know how long a case will take and how much it will cost at each stage. Using this sort of system requires a move to doing more work upfront. It is very much consistent with Woolf's proposals."