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Friday, January 24, 2020

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Cochran Law Firm's Virginia Courts Case Explorer

Ivan Morten, the lead partner in this Cochran Law Firm approached us for a solution that could examine all of the State of Virginia's Civil Courts to find the open cases that met with their business model requirements.

Problem: The Law firm specialized in defending debtors from foreclosures and debt collections. They needed a more efficient way to research the state's multiple civil courts in a timely manner so that they could take action with prospective clients. At the present the Law Firm hired several people to go through the court system's web site manually searching through all cases looking for the right case circumstances.

Solution: The Virginia Court's Case Research site did not provide an api so that attorneys or other entities could directly search their database. Instead they onlu provided the case by case search through their interface. After a discussion with the IT director of the Virginia Courts website, they agreed to let us screen scrape the site's case system if did not tax the system to the degree of interfering with others searches. The Cour System site would deterime  our impact on the system and limit us to so many cases per minute for a given civil court.

We created a VB.Net application that could log on using the Law Firm's credentials then begin a search of the dase files for the desired cases. the details of these cases, inclufing plaintif and defendant information was stored in a local XML file that could be later loaded and searched like a database. When the user completed the selection of the cases to respond to, the application would use Microsoft Word to populate a given template with the information and print the form letters out. 

Over the years, the Virginia Court system made upgrades to their system that required us to modify the Virginia Court Case Explorer to accomodate those changes. The last update we did was in 2012.

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