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Making the Case: Online Case Management in Dispute Resolution

Kushal Gandhi - CMS

In today’s global world, collaboration across cities, states, and even national borders has become increasingly important, especially in the world of legal technology. Now more than ever, dispute resolution has become an international affair with participants from many different geos. 

With this in mind, a working group of lawyers and law firm leadership have collaborated to create a protocol for online case management. We recognised a need for a standard protocol for online case management. There is increased value in tools that enable collaboration for dispute resolution across many different countries, and it’s important for teams to understand how to tap into as much of that value as possible.

“Online case management platforms drive both time and cost efficiencies and savings,” said Charlie Morgan, senior associate and digital law lead (UK) at Herbert Smith Freehills and chair of our working group. “It is the best and most secure way for arbitral participants globally to collaborate online during a dispute.” 

Together, our working group—consisting of representatives from CMS, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Latham & Watkins, Ashurst, and DLA Piper—have worked to publish the Protocol for Online Case Management in International Arbitration. The protocol seeks to help standardise the process of using online case management, as well as encourage people who haven’t used it before to take advantage of the solutions out there. 

The Why 

We’ve organised our protocol into two sections: the what and why, and the how. Everyone in our group has noticed their disputes becoming more globalized. There are some real concerns that come with the way we’ve noticed organisations handle international disputes right now.

1. It’s not efficient. 

We have seen so many different workstreams for collaborating on international cases. There are many different modes of communication, data storage, and factual reference. When this occurs, teams are not finding ways to streamline collaboration or integrate with other pieces of software in law firms’ tech stacks. Online case management tools can solve all these problems by, for example, connecting directly to teams’ e-discovery solutions and fostering real-time collaboration.

2. It’s not transparent.

When case teams are constantly moving native files around in the course of case strategy discussions, the audit trail of communications and changes made to those documents can be difficult and time consuming to follow. Keeping everything in one secure, online case management system can help parties know where the latest case data is stored at all times.

3. It’s not secure. 

Transferring native files and printing out documents is far from the most secure way to manage your most sensitive case data. Effective online case management solutions come with the promise of data security, allowing you to feel confident that your clients’ most sensitive information will be protected. 

The What 

Our group is calling for more widespread adoption of online case management tools. As detailed above, we believe it is the most efficient, transparent, and secure way to handle disputes. In order to help teams achieve that ideal, we created this protocol to outline best practices for adopting online case management tools.    

We also laid out the different types of online case management tools and highlighted what solution might work best for different dispute needs.

The How 

The second part of our protocol was written to help case teams evaluate what solution is best for them and how to streamline collaboration and other processes with an online case management solution. 

We identified a list of “must-haves” for all solutions, including a robust security posture, state-of-the-art user experience, and strong collaboration tools. We also identified a list of “nice-to-haves,” including multi-factor authentication, document management built in, and advanced AI functionality. The protocol is solution-agnostic, as there are several software offerings in the market that fit the bill.

“This protocol for online case management is exactly the use case we had in mind when we developed Case Dynamics and Transcripts for Relativity,” said Tony Velikova, product manager at Relativity. “Legal teams are finding it increasingly difficult to stay connected across every stage and geography encompassed by their projects. We’re here to help bridge the gaps and foster the type of real-time collaboration that will lead to more successful outcomes.”

All of the members of our working group hope that this set of guidelines will be valuable for firms evaluating new case management software and making informed decisions to foster stronger global case collaboration in the future. If all firms adopted online case management protocol and tools, we feel strongly that the dispute resolution processes would be much more streamlined and effective. Our group is excited to see what is to come with the future of online case management. 

Access the protocol here and share it with your team.

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Kushal Gandhi is a partner at international law firm CMS in London, specialising in Finance and FinTech dispute resolution.