Case Chronologies Help Attorneys Win

Case chronologies are powerful tools that can help attorneys win for their clients. A well designed, and well utilized chronology is a compelling and engaging way to clearly communicate the details of your case. But they also offer a number of very useful, and less obvious advantages: 

  • A good fact chronology can work as a conceptualization tool and thinking aid. Just by putting the facts of your case down onto paper, or into a program on your computer, you are helping put the facts straight in your mind, and this can help clarify your thought process.
  • A thorough chronology can not only show you where your case is strongest, but also where it’s weakest, and where you need more information. That can help make sure you get all of the documents and testimony you need while still in the discovery phase of your case.
  • Chronologies can be extremely helpful when collaborating. A well constructed fact chronology can quickly get your staff up to speed on a case, and it can serve as a central place for everyone to work, and share information and ideas.
  • Chronologies can also be very helpful for communicating with the client, in settlement discussions, during depositions, and can even be used in trial to convey important information to a judge and jury. 

Despite all of the benefits that can be obtained by using a fact chronology in a legal matter, many law firms either don’t use them, use them incompletely, or start them and abandon them later on in the process, once they’ve become too big and difficult to manage.

Getting the most out of your fact chronology depends on choosing the right tool to build it, and utilizing that tool in such a way as to maximize your results. 

Case Chronology Best Practices

  • Start Right Away

Start your fact chronology right when you first start a case, don’t wait. If used correctly, your chronology will be a valuable asset throughout the life of your case, so make sure you are using it throughout the life of your case.

By incorporating your chronology at the very beginning, you’ll set yourself up to be organized from the outset. 

  • Use the Right Tools for the Job

Don’t use word processing software like Word or Google Docs to build your chronology, there are other options that will give you more control.

Case chronology software like TrialLine, offer a wide variety of features that will give you greater control over how you view and present the facts in your case, how you interact with your documents, and how you can collaborate with others.

  • Be Thorough 

Create fact entries and make them as specific as possible. Each fact entry should include all of the knowledge that you have about that entry:

Attach each important document to each event, but don’t hide why the document is important, include it in the description for that fact entry:

Leave notes on each entry that remind you and your staff of key issues associated with that entry:

Add tags that connect each fact entry to the case as a whole:

  • Include the Unknown

Don’t limit yourself to just including the actual known facts of the case. Include facts that you don’t have the supporting documentation for yet, and other prospective facts that you are working on finding evidence for. Also be sure include disputed facts. 

Give fact entries that have uncertain dates broad date assignments by using the ‘Show only year and month’ option, or by assigning a longer date range by adding an end date to the entry. Once you have more details or evidence, you can correct the date:

Designate disputed entries by attaching a ‘DISPUTED’ tag to them:

That enables you to filter your TrialLine and quickly see which facts are in dispute, and all of the information you have associated with them. 

Remember, this chronology is not only going to be used to show exactly what happened, you’re using it to better understand your case.

Including the facts that you don’t have evidence for yet, will help keep them front of your mind and keep you focused on finding the information you need.

  • Use Your Case Chronology in Depositions 

Create a separate tag in your TrialLine for each individual witness, and attach that tag to each fact entry that is associated with each witnesses.

Then, create a view of your TrialLine that is customized for each witness by filtering by that tag, and then saving the view for later use during deposition.

That way, during questioning you’ll have all of the facts and documents relevant to that witness ready to go.

After the deposition be sure to update all of the fact entries based on any new information that you have learned. 

  • Use Your Case Chronology When Communicating 

Use your chronology when you are communicating with everyone else involved in your case.

Use it when meeting with your client to confirm case details, but also to see if it jogs their memory.

Use it with your staff to make sure they know the important details, and are up to speed on the case.

Use it with expert witnesses wherever they may be, and keep a living record of the conversation you’re having about the case.

TrialLine makes it easy to share views with the people you’re working with, directly from within the TrialLine itself. 

Simply click the ‘Share View‘ button and add the appropriate information. The email address you enter will receive a password protected link that will display the TrialLine right in the person’s web browser.

  • Use a Consistent Naming Scheme 

Make a list of all of the people, organizations and evidence you’re using in your case, and create a single alias for each. Make sure everyone on your team uses those aliases and create tags or categories in your fact chronology that use them as well. Keeping consistent will help you avoid confusion, and from wasting brain power on trying to navigate miscommunications. 

TrialLine Attorney Timeline Software

TrialLine is a cloud-based mediation and trial presentation timeline tool for attorneys that want to create efficient and easy to use legal chronologies for their cases. With TrialLine, you can easily organize and share your case events and related documents with staff, experts, juries, opposing counsel, and other attorneys. It’s completely web-based, and can be accessed and shared through any internet connection on any device. Sign up now to try it FREE FOR 14 DAYS!

Author: Travis Luther

Travis Luther is the founder of