It's so funny because when I initially tried to use the new case, it didn't seem quite right. A small gap along the side really bugged me so I reached out to the support line for Max cases and Grady Austin came to the rescue. Guess I'm not the first to wonder if the space is supposed to be there. Here's what Grady told me, "The one side of the Max Educator case is not designed to be snug on your iPad. It is intentionally left open with a slight channel through it in order to accommodate an Apple "Smart Cover". You can also see the notched above and below it where the cover attaches. We get this question a lot, you are not the first. Hope you enjoy the case and let us know if we can be of further assistance. Thank you."
OK, that was icing on the cake for me. I got out my apple green Smart Cover and it was a perfect fit. Sweet. Thanks to Elizabeth Calhoon, @ecalhoon, who recommended this Max Case during her ISTE 2013 presentation.