Working from home saves some people from near death experiences.  And by some people, I mean attorneys. Okay, attorney. One attorney … for now.

We have a case getting ready for trial.  You’d be surprised how seldom this actually happens.  It takes literally years for the most straightforward cases to get to trial; and cases that end up in court are seldom straightforward.

Trials require piles of paperwork. Yeah, that whole paperless office thing – that doesn’t include law offices.

Like many law firms, we have a document management system.  Document management systems are great for … I don’t know … managing documents?

One of the most important uses of a document management system is to make sure people are working on the correct document. 

One might see how that could be useful.  Wouldn’t one?

Let’s say, you have a document, and you want to update it – but not copy over the old document – you can save the revised document as a version.  It then retains the same document number – except it’s now version 2. And you have both documents and the system will actually warn you if you try to use an earlier version! 

Trials require Jury Instructions.  These are the instructions the judge reads to the jury – hence the name.  Jury Instructions are pages and pages long. 

Used to be there were two kinds of Jury Instructions BAJI and CACI (you can’t make this shit up). CACI is the only show in town now.

We have a program prepares Jury Instructions.  The attorney gives me a list of the Jury Instructions they want to use, I open the program, set up the program with all the information from the case, and then I select the appropriate CACI – and voila, the program assembles them and sends them to MS Word.  And then I spend the next couple hours formatting them into a usable (and visually pleasing) format. 

Soooooo …. This case has a set of proposed Jury Instructions that one attorney put together, and another attorney has been working on.  Now a third attorney starts working on them.  The third attorney has created a list of instructions, adding some and deleting some and I’m asked to format it all.

Okie dokie.  Open it up.  Do the work. Discover for unknown reasons the CACI program is refusing to assemble Series 5000 instructions (because computers can never do everything right), so I go to another site and get the text and copy those over. Do the formatting and a couple of hours later it’s done!  And I save it as Version 2 – in case there is content in Version 1 that the attorneys want to refer to. 

I send an e-mail to all the people involved.  I WARN THEM – this is version 2.  Don’t use version 1. 

A while later, I get an email from the third attorney with Jury Instructions attached, telling me to add and delete some of the CACI, and to add the 5000 Series. 

I’m like …. Wait, what?  I already added the 5000 Series.


I open the Jury Instructions. 


So now we have THREE different versions of the Jury Instructions floating around – the original, my version 2 and now this one! 

This is the stuff of my nightmares. 

This is how the wrong document gets sent to opposing counsel, or the wrong document gets filed with the court, or you’re sitting in court and find document in your files doesn’t match the document the court has. 


I send off another (less pleasant) e-mail about this issue. 

You know what the third attorney had to say about it?

“Oops. My bad.”

OOPS??????  MY BAD????????


So then, not only did I have to do the (new) adds and deletes.  I had to check for the old set of adds and deletes, and do another hour and a half of formatting.

Oops, my bad, indeed.

This is why we have gun control laws.

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