There are lots of legal case management tools for lawyers. Litigation is a hairy business, and it’s easy to get lost in reams of legal research, sloppy billing records and missed filing deadlines, especially when you have multiple cases to handle. Pro se litigants need help managing their cases too, but the needs are very different. Our Courtroom5 Toolset is designed to meet those needs, but does it do the job?
We have 40 years of collective pro se experience on staff. We’ve been in the trenches on many types of cases, in various jurisdictions, from small claims and magistrate courts all the way to the highest courts in the land. We’ve lost some, won some, and learned a little or a lot from each experience. The biggest lesson we’ve learned is that a little information often stood between us and victory.
What We Learned
We learned the hard way how to quickly find the information needed to support our positions or make the right procedural moves. A close second lesson was the power of keeping the various pleadings and motions in the case organized and close at hand, ideally in electronic form.
The structure of a good legal argument, one that follows and connects the most relevant facts and law, is also important to know. We learned the priceless value of laying out a strategy and keeping it updated with tasks on a calendar, and we learned the necessity of keeping track of our costs so we could get them back whenever we won a case.
We learned how important it was to have a basic understanding of the phases of litigation, from the moment a complaint is filed until it is settled, won, or lost on appeal.
Our Toolset for Legal Case Management
So we developed a set of tools to make all this easier for first-timers, and we called it Courtroom5 Toolset. The toolset is designed to help self-represented litigants be more knowledgeable, organized and effective in court. Check it out.
For litigation, standard court clerk forms won’t do. They’re developed by the courts to streamline the filing process, not to help you advocate for yourself. Like forms, our document templates guide you through each section of a document. Unlike forms, they provide the flexibility you need to write strong documents customized to your specific case, issue, and needs. Complete the template, produce a .pdf in one click, print, sign, and file.
Use a database of more than 6 million appellate cases to find support for your oral arguments, motions, and pleadings. There’s nothing like good supporting case law and statutes to persuade a judge to rule in your favor. Though our law tool is not a question database, you can also answer the bulk of your questions by using it. Case law is about everyday life, so our database is bound to have situations similar to what you’re facing
Use the Counts Tool to analyze your case. From the start, you need to understand the elements in all the claims and defenses involved in your case. If you’re a plaintiff, for instance, the Counts Tool can help you determine the elements of your claim so that it can’t be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
If you’re a defendant, the Counts Tool helps you identify and store the elements of all your affirmative defenses so the plaintiff cannot strike your affirmative defenses and get a summary judgment. In discovery, the Counts Tool can help you determine questions to ask on interrogatories and which documents are likely to lead to admissible evidence.
It’s important to stay organized and on top of your case. The Filings Tool allows you to maintain a case record and have it at your fingertips at any time. You simply upload and tag .pdf versions of documents filed in your case.
That way, if you want to know the contents of a document that’s been filed, you can easily find it in Filings, along with any descriptive information you’ve input about it. Then, download the document as an exhibit if you like.
The Damages Tool calculates the costs of injuries or damages you suffered. Whether you’re a plaintiff with a complaint or a defendant with a counterclaim, you can use the Damages Tool to upload receipts and estimate actual, punitive, or other damages.
As a plaintiff, one of the most important things you have to prove for your case is damages. If you have no damages or injury, you have no case. The Damages Tool helps you calculate and keep a running total of dollar amounts for your damages.
You need the Task Tool to plan major tasks at each stage of your case. Track the progress of your tasks (In Progress, Completed or Deferred status). Schedule events like hearings and filing deadlines, and set reminders as needed. Keeping abreast of deadlines can save your case.
Use the Evidence Tool to upload and organize all the evidence you’ve collected in your case. Store your discovery results in .pdf or image formats, with notes on related facts and elements. All your evidence is at your fingertips. When you need it in your documents, attach it as an exhibit.
In litigation, you sometimes need notes to capture thoughts and miscellaneous details about your case. You may not know, for instance, what to do with additional facts or pieces of law you’ve collected. So you put it aside as notes. After discovery, you may have a use for those facts or laws. You can easily look that information up and paste it into other areas of your case.
Using the Expenses Tool, you can keep a running total of your court costs. Upload receipts for each expense, or simply estimate the amount you spent. Then, categorize expenses for copies, parking, postage, so you can get your money back when you win.
Members tell us they’re putting the Courtroom5 Toolset to good use to manage their cases, but they want more of what we have, like more templates, more features on the Laws Tool, and so on. Still, we’re exhilarated to know we’re at least on the right track. Stay tuned.
Pssst! Hey, you there, struggling to win your case. Isn’t it time you gave Courtroom5 a spin? We publish articles like this to help you level the playing field, but it’s sometimes too late to save your case. Stop trying to catch up. Get ahead of the game and start driving your case to the judgment you deserve. See how it works today!