When it came to the time-consuming work of dealing with asbestos-related matters, it became clear to Husch Blackwell Partner Joe Kilpatrick and his colleagues that a more efficient means of case-management and analytics was necessary.
“The question came up: ‘Could we do better than the tools we are currently using?’” he said.
The firm initially considered purchasing software, but ultimately the answer lay not in a third-party application. Why buy when you can create?
Thus, the HB Vault was born.
“It supplies a single view for our attorneys, clients and third parties to efficiently consume matter-specific content and data,” said Gene D’Aversa, the firm’s senior director of knowledge management and technology innovation. “This results in a highly efficient, legal project-management matter plan that is delivered using highly effective and efficient workflows and processes.”
The Vault handles all aspects of matter management while storing all relevant data and documents for cases. It also syncs with the firm’s proprietary e-billing portal.
Kilpatrick said the primary goal was to combine an electronic case file with document management and a scheduling and deadline component. While he couldn’t say for sure that such a product didn’t exist prior to the creation of the Vault, he said the firm researched the concept.
“We could find different versions of products in programs that would have combinations of those things, but not all in a one-stop shop that was particularly designed for the legal world,” he said.
That’s where the good work of the firm’s application-development architects came in. They began by exploring the breadth of the project.
“That scoping phase was really critical because when our IT members were working on how to scale and build it out, they wanted to know so much about the users’ objects,” Kilpatrick said. “What is it you are actually trying to do from an input side, from an information-flow standpoint and from the output side?”
Although the Vault originally was designed for use with asbestos matters, Kilpatrick said the firm already is discussing its other potential applications in different areas. The Vault eventually may help lawyers dealing with everything from litigation to intellectual property.
Its key benefit: It conveniently displays everything an interested party wishes to know about a case on a single screen. That could contribute to a boost in productivity for its users, who don’t have to click between programs.
“Efficiency breaks down even measured in matters of seconds or minutes,” Kilpatrick said. “I’m switching between platforms and not seeing it integrated as a whole. At the micro level, that’s just small units of time, but it adds up when you are multiplying it over thousands of instances and thousands of transactions.”
The Vault even offers a feature that generates reports, but it is good for viewing single case files as well.
“At that stage, what you are looking at is the complete picture for that claim,” Kilpatrick said. “You can drill down on the data side through a series of different screens to see the types and categories of data that are of use to you.”