I’m looking forward with great anticipation to hearing Jim McMillen’s Keynote Address at ImageSoft’s Justice Summit on June 8. His topic kind of reminds me of the “Superhero Meets Superhero” genre, like Batman meets Superman or Spiderman meets The Hulk. Jim will be addressing the present and future of Caseflow Management. And the exciting news in Caseflow Management is the nexus of Electronic Case Management Systems (CMS) and Electronic Content Management Systems (ECMS).
As a dyed-in-the-wool techie type, Jim was among the first to realize back in the early days of Electronic Case Management Systems implementation the power of being able to utilize the metadata captured by the CMS to streamline and improve the task of getting timely, accurate, and meaningful court productivity data. Over the years, Jim has literally helped to write the book on Court Statistics and Caseflow Management.
Jim and I remember the days when such information was laboriously obtained through manual counts. The advent of CMS was like manna from heaven, because a CMS is very good at keeping track of events, making them easy to count. Thus, not only was counting rendered orders of magnitude easier, it became possible to count many things that previously were not trackable as a practical matter. As a result, far more sophisticated measurements have been developed. CourTools, developed by NCSC, is one excellent example.
As powerful as tools relying on CMS-generated data are, it is like surveying the ocean’s surface: Useful; but the key content lies below and out of sight. Even the most powerful CMS tracks little, if any, actual “content”. Indeed, the profligate use of “comment fields” in CMS systems is proof of this fact. Users, to avoid having to go to the files, documents, or recordings that hold the content, will put some extract of the content into a CMS comment field, so it will be easily accessible when working the case. Comment fields, though, are less than useless as sources for machine-derived information and as such are essentially inaccessible for purposes of Caseflow Management in any automated sense.
Jim’s theme involves how the advent and increasing ubiquity of Electronic Content Management Systems is radically changing the game in the area of Caseflow Management. Think of the change as moving beyond knowing the timing, volume, duration, and frequency of court activities to know what is happening, why it is happening, and what action judges, managers, and staff should take to optimize results. In short, Business Intelligence is coming to Caseflow Management in a big way.
Think of a retail store. Stores have always had to keep inventory records. With automation, the ease of keeping track of inventory became far easier, cheaper, and more current. While that’s really nice, what the store REALLY wants to know are things like, WHO is buying what; WHAT ELSE is each buyer buying; how often and when does each buyer come to the store; where do the buyers come from, and on and on.
Thus Jim will be talking about tools and business applications to leverage the massive volume of data being made available as courts increasingly store their documents and other content (like court audio and video recordings, as one example) in electronic format that is now searchable with modern tools. From Decision Support to Smart Documents to XML-based Legal Informatics, to E-Discovery, to name a few, Jim will talk about where the industry is and where it is poised to go, with an eye toward current and emerging tools such as Genograms, Sentencing Support, and pattern-recognition based Predictive Analytics, all intended to improve outcomes and not only measure, but constantly improve, court practices.
All and all, I look forward to a VERY stimulating session. And I expect to shamelessly rip off quite a few ideas from Jim’s talk to write about in future postings.