Open Source Case Management System for Law School ClinicsThe push for experiential learning among law schools brought a new set of challenges for faculty and administrators. In a family law clinic for example, law students are asked to collect, process, and securely preserve confidential information. Faculty are expected to effectively assign cases, securely communicate with their clients, and have an effective way to measure and assess the overall operation and productivity of their clinics.

My goal is to build a comprehensive and open source case management system for law school clinics that will increase customer satisfaction, provide students with a complete hands-on-experience, and allow faculty and administrators to make informed decisions.

There are several commercial case management solutions built specifically for law firms. But most of them are extremely expensive and simply out of reach for many law schools and clinics who are already running on increasingly tight budgets.

Faced with this dilemma, faculty and administrators are often relying on a multitude of off-the-shelf solutions to organize and streamline their work. The lack of compatibility between these applications often results in labor-intensive workarounds. Relying on freemium and unvetted consumer applications also increases the risk of inadvertently exposing clients and students' confidential records.

This new system will be built using an open source constituent relationship management program called CiviCRM. CiviCRM is used by thousands of non-profit organizations all over the world. Out of the box, CiviCRM provides core case management features such as intake forms, custom search, contact records, conflict check, document automation, file management, email notifications and custom reporting. However, like many other open source programs, CiviCRM can be overwhelming for first time users, the lack of direct support can also be an issue for certain users. Our goal is to customize CiviCRM by focusing only on the features important to law clinics and making it easy to deploy, operate, and support.

Our plan is to build this new system in three phases:

  • Phase one: build and evaluate the system with core features;
  • Phase two: improve existing features and build new ones;
  • Phase three: share improved and newly developed features;

Phase one scheduled to launch in fall 2018 with the support of UMKC School of Law.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have a question or would like to be part of this exciting endeavor.