When I was a young lawyer learning how to try cases, s senior partner would always tell me: start every case by developing a chronology. What he meant was you can always better understand the case and see things you might otherwise miss if you look at the timing of the underlying facts.
My mentor’s advice was sound, at least in simple cases. The problem was that, especially in complicated cases, the chronology or timeline–which in those days was always done on paper—quickly became so long and complicated. As the case progressed, it tended to collapse of its own weight. To make it usable, you had to either put everything on the timeline or risk putting too little on it. Either way, you risked making it incomprehensible or irrelevant. Trying to use it in the courtroom (or anyplace else for that matter) was difficult. As a result, I gradually moved away from and forgot about the value of timelines.
But today, in the virtual world, the interest in a sophisticated multi-use timeline is surging. In the virtual world, there is ample room to put everything you want on a timeline. And can use tags, filters, and search capability to extract and filter all types of information. This information and form the basis of separate stand-alone timelines and documents. These separate “timelines” can then be used for different and individual purposes. This ability empowers timeline use, much like Excel spreadsheets have a tremendous number of varied uses and capabilities.
This ability is what Leb Borgenson, COO of TrialLine, a timeline software provider has discovered. TrialLine describes the product as is a cloud-based mediation, trial presentation, and storytelling legal timeline software for lawyers. Leb and the founder and CEO of TrialLine, Travis Luther, originally created the software to help lawyers communicate in the courtroom.
Unlike some other timeline offerings, the TrialLine software is sophisticate. It can, for example, house the critical details of a case, and then display them in easy to understand, event by event detail. It allows supporting documents and even video to be attached directly to each event on the timeline. The software allows collaboration with others.
But the real strength and potential of TrialLine is its ability to allow tagging and searching by subject so information can be extracted from the timeline and displayed to others. It thus provides information to be extracted and shown to others while keeping all the other details on the timeline private. It also allows for the use of folders to house certain types of information.
Because of these capabilities, Leb and Travis found that customers were doing such things as allowing clients to add events to the timeline. The lawyers could then evaluate these additions and advice the client as to their importance. This process, says Leb, enable the lawyer and the client to understand better what was and was not important and why. (This collaboration is precisely the kind of thing Jack Newton, CEO of Clio emphasized in his recent book, The Client-Centered Law Firm. It enables clients to understand better the why and how of the legal work being done.
And when you think about, this kind of interactive, virtual timeline lends itself all sorts of other uses outside the courtroom. By tagging billing entries, for example, and sharing those with clients, lawyers could create a real-time bill. This bill would let clients see real time what the lawyers were doing and understand why. And because the TrialLine platform links with Clio software, the timeline can show such and assist with management of team tasks, calendaring, and file management.
The TrialLine product could serve as a complete case file with everything being in one place. Leb perceptively calls it a “fact management tool for the case.”
The product is not just a demonstrative trial aid. At trials, depositions, and even hearings, the software would allow participants to pull out portions that relate to what they want to use. It can also serve as a training and educational tool for others who work on a case and for the client. It’s an excellent tool to prepare for depositions. It can even help visualize what proof is needed on particular points and then pull that required proof up with the tagging capability. The same is true for mediation prep and presentation. It could be used to manage expectations about such things as workflow and, combined with analytics about a particular judge and court, could show the likely timing of upcoming events. This timing could then be compared to the typical timeline of a typical case in a particular judge’s courtroom.
The TrialLine product could serve as a complete case file with everything being in one place. perceptively calls it a “fact management tool for the case.” These things save time and make for better lawyering and client experience. (TrialLine recently announced it was going to a subscription pricing model instead of a per case or use model).
Timelines. They aren’t just timelines anymore.