IS LITIGATION MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE HITTING A TIPPING POINT?
Why are we talking about LMS?
LMS has become an extremely crucial part of not only legal institutions but also to other institutions, including banking, insurance, etc. It improves productivity, expense management, accessibility to legal information, and provides more control over the overall institution so that desired results can be achieved easily. It helps manage multiple litigations constructively irrespective of the field of law.
Drawbacks of the present litigation system
India, being the largest democracy in the world, faces many problems when it comes to dispensing of justice. Presently, especially because of Covid-19, it is becoming increasingly difficult for litigants and judges to present and adjudge a case while at the same time keeping in mind public safety. Even though the courts have taken certain measures, these are some of the major the litigation system in India faces:
- The backlog of cases: Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had announced that as of June 2019 1,58,669 cases were pending in the Supreme Court ("SC") and 43 lakh cases are pending in the 25 High Courts in the country, and over 8 lakh of these are over a decade old. He further stated that out of all the cases pending in High Courts 18.75 lakh relate to civil matters, and 12.15 lakh are criminal cases. There are many aspects that may be contributing to the backlog of cases such as many courts being understaffed, lack of competent employees, etc.
- Lack of accountability transparency: There is a lack of an accountability system when it comes to the Judiciary. It is not only exempted from the preview of the Right to Information Act, 2005, but also the permission of Chief justice of India needs to be taken before a case can be instituted against a sitting judge. This hinders the administration of justice in a big way.
- Technological Issues: Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 physical courts operational, therefore, cases are being heard through video conferencing. As rightfully pointed out the Bar Council of India ("BCI"), some lawyers are trying to take undue advantage of lockdown. The legal profession is gradually being attempted to be highjacked by a few blessed Lawyers and selected Law-Firms who have high-level connections. The entire system is likely to go out of the hands of common advocates-which is a big concern. Keeping this in mind, BCI had decided to have a discussion with various bar councils and bar associations on the resumption of in-person proceedings. However, it seems like a far-off idea now due to the current pandemic situation deteriorating in the country.
- High Fees being charged by Advocates: It has almost become a trend amongst advocates to charge unnecessarily high fees. Even though the SC has been in talks with the government to set a 'ceiling price' so as to limit the fees, nothing yet has come out of the same yet.
What do you mean by litigation management software?
LMS can be defined as tools built to provide efficiency in the management of various aspects related to litigation. This includes but is not limited to the management of ongoing cases, notices, dates, related documents, and other case information. It seeks to provide accuracy and efficacy in respect of litigation management. It is a relatively new concept but has already become a global industry. The rise in the case fillings and the inefficiency of management techniques has necessitated the need for LMS.
Benefits of LMS
- Centralized Repository
LMS streamlines and helps organize all activities related to litigation. It provides for a centralized all the legal data. It helps to schedule meetings, making contracts, and assist consumers in accessing, upload, and retrieve the necessary information.
- Increased productivity
The top priority of every institution is to get higher revenue, and LMS facilitates the same. It helps in increasing productivity and reduces the chances of human error. Sometimes documents tend to get lost or incorrectly filed, which can be extremely detrimental to the users. Since LMS performs multiple functions, it helps save time and money on both sides, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction. All of this translates into more profits.
- Efficient Case Tracking
Meeting deadlines are extremely important, especially in the legal profession. Lawyers, in general, are responsible for multiple cases and therefore experience a lot of pressure, which increases the chances of human error. A good LMS stores documents, dates, set reminders, send notices, and also sometimes helps to generate receipts and reports.
A good LMS tends to adapt to the needs of the institution and provides a level of flexibility that cannot be achieved through the non-LMS approach. A good LMS should give you the liberty to organize the case files, direct workflow, and should adjust to your requirements.
- Safety and Security
Data security is essential to the success of every institution. Usually, manual management leaves room for a lot of room for mistakes. It becomes very difficult to manage multiple cases, to keep the documents safe and is usually extremely time-consuming. A good LMS not only ensures the safety of case files and related documents but also performs data backup.
Examples of LMS
Various software programs such as Freshsales, ServeManager, Rimus, TheLawAssis, etc. are some of the LMS's available for purchase. Big companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers have also entered into the business of LMS by launching its own LMS. Law firms such as Khaitan and Co., Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Barucha and Partners, DSK Legal, etc. use a legal software called Practice League for their legal and financial management.
When it comes to the Indian Judiciary, the Haryana government has set an example for other courts by formulating and implementing its own LMS system to improve the functioning of all the departments and Corporations in the State. It shows various statistics, including the number of users, cases entered, judgments uploaded, etc.
Downsides of LMS
LMS has brought about a lot of positive changes in the litigation system. However, one of the downsides of LMS is that good quality software is usually very expensive. Even though certain LMS systems are available online for free e.g. ClinicCases there is always the risk of data theft. It may be considered as a non-essential expense by some institutions.
Another disadvantage of LMS is the lack of law protecting data stored online. Data protection law is at a relatively nascent stage. In India, there is no law the exclusive deals with data protection yet. This might lead to apprehension in the mind of the users, which might make them skeptical about using such tools for case-management for information entered on these platforms could be extremely sensitive and in the wrong hands can be very harmful.
Even though many big institutions usually have LMS, that is not the case in smaller institutions. This may be due to good quality LMS being expensive, as mentioned above, or maybe because of the lack of amongst legal professionals.
Tools developed to Facilitate Litigation Management
- CLM: Contract Lifecycle Management ("CLM") can be said to be a sub-category of LMS. Similar to LMS, it streamlines the process of contract drafting. By formulating a common language pattern, basic templates frequently used terms and clauses, and regularly used conditions it creates reduces the possibility of errors at the same time helps with standardization and regulatory compliances.
- SUVAS: Artificial intelligence is the future of law, and the same has been even recognized by SC. Keeping this in mind, SC has developed various tools to further the administration of justice. Supreme Court Vidhik Anuvaad Software ("SUVAS") is one of those tools developed by SC. It is a language-translation tool that will help to translate judicial documents from English to nine vernacular languages i.e. Marathi, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Malayalam and Bengali, and vice versa.
- SCI-Interact: One of the downsides of the present litigation system is the generation of a vast number of documents, which becomes increasingly difficult to manage. Keeping this in mind, the Supreme Court has developed a software called SCI-Interact to make all its Benches paperless. Accordingly, this software has five parts, namely canned copies of pending cases, e-filing of fresh cases, IT hardware, MPLS network with dual redundancy, and security audit. This would minimize human interaction and lead to speedy dispensing of justice.
- SUPACE: Another project relating to the software is also in the works. Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Court Efficiency ("SUPACE") is a tool being designed that will perform various functions, including data mining, case query, legal research, among other tasks. It is currently being discussed and developed by the AI Committee.
Modern litigation tools quite ad advanced and his evolving at a rapid pace. Legal technology is an extremely profitable field, with many people investing huge amounts in improving and upgrading various legal tools. In the year 2018 alone, more than 1 billion dollars was invested in legal tech, with very many mergers and acquisitions taking place. Even Judiciary is taking a stride with countries like Estonia working to develop a 'robot judge' to decide petty matters, i.e., below €7,000. There is little to no information available on the Internet about the usage of LMS; however, it is quite clear that it has greatly benefitted many institutions.
There still are many institutions that still operate without an LMS, but that is probably because of the misconceptions about the same. Many lawyers are also skeptical about the same. This is not because of lack of technology, but because such drafting tools may lack a certain direction which the lawyer might like to give, it may lack their individualistic style. They feel that one-size-fits-all might not work in the legal field. However, the flip side of this is that the language used might become easier to understand; it may bring about simplicity. There are software programs being developed to provide for a higher degree of customization so as to be more suitable and acceptable to the legal fraternity. As more and more people are learning about LMS and even though are youth is quite well versed with technology and how to use it, the older generation is also becoming more and more comfortable and benefit from the same. Currently, it is seen that most legal tools, including LMS do not have a comprehensive law to govern them and because of the strides being made in the field, such law may become a reality in the future. For example, the American Bar Association (ABA) has already adopted technology competency requirements in their ethical rules so that there is no unwarranted invasion into the client's information to regulate their working.
In the future, such tools may be used to assess judges, to find appropriate jurisdictions and applicable laws, information about the opposing counsel and parties, to analyze the accuracy of facts, what documents to file, etc. so as to make the case research and presentation more logical and credible. Judges may even make it mandatory to use these tools to bring about consistency in regulatory compliances, amongst other things. Currently, these tools focus on improving the lawyer's efficiency; however, in the future, it will be more client-centric as clients may demand more accuracy in advice through the use of these tools. It will provide a degree of accuracy, speed, and quality, which may be not possible otherwise. Even though it might take years to bring about these changes as a lot of progress has yet to be made, there will surely come a time where it will be unthinkable to litigate without using such tools.
About the author: Akanksha Singh. Studying at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. Currently in 5th year BA LLB. Currently staying in Pune, completed her schooling from St Marys School, Pune, and Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce respectively. Interested in various fields of law including M&A, Competition Law, and Insolvency and Bankruptcy procedure. Hobbies include reading and playing guitar. Primarily worked in Corporate firms.