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Effective Case Management

A well presented case, like a well built home, must rest upon a solid foundation. Given what is often at stake in these kinds of cases, failure to carefully assess, at least on a preliminary basis, the factual, and legal obstacles involved in the case is bound to end in an unanticipated result. Moreover, when money is an issue, as it most often is, the attorney and the client must have a realistic view of the strategic possibilities within a limited budget.

Effective case management should include: [1] An assessment of the accused; [2] An assessment of the allegations; [3] Initial discovery activities; [4] An assessment of expert testimony; and [5] The formulation of a budget.

The preliminary assessment of the accused should include: [1] An initial inquiry into his background; [2] An assessment of his ability to withstand the "emotional cost" of the case; and [3] The resources available to finance the effort.

A preliminary assessment of the allegations furthers the development of a case management plan. This assessment may be divided or organized into a review of : [1] The components of the allegations; [2] The identification of witnesses; and [3] The identification of "hidden" agenda.

In attempting to effectively manage a case, certain preliminary discovery activities are necessary in order to estimate the kind and amount of work that will be required to properly represent a client. Estimating the number of witnesses to be interviewed, the number and depth of depositions, experts who need to be consulted, and the apparent obstacles to be overcome, will also assist in estimating the cost of putting on a case. Finally, preliminary discovery activities serve as notification to the key players that this case will not be "business-as-usual" for them.

The form that your preliminary discovery activities take will depend upon: [1] Whether this is a civil or criminal matter; [2] The rules of your jurisdiction; and [3] The initial budget available. Generally, preliminary discovery activities will include interrogatories, requests for documents, and informal inquiries. While depositions are sometimes taken, this is generally reserved for the formal discovery process.

In assessing the expert testimony that will likely be present in the case, it is important to begin to conceptualize your case in terms of the currently available research. This is accomplished: [1] By having appropriate research reviews available; [2] By assessing the perceived weakness of the case in light of the research; and [3] Through preliminary consultation with an appropriate expert.

Effective case management requires thoughtful and comprehensive financial management. Almost always an attorney must work within the framework of limited resources. If the resources are too limited, the attorney may have no alternative but to decline involvement in the case. In all other circumstances, the questions become: What activities will have to be eliminated or limited? And, where is the most effective areas to invest resources?

[For complete details, see False Allegations Of Child Sexual Abuse: Attorney & Client Desk Reference, Section B: "Effective Case Management"].