Power over paper
- By Patricia Daukantas
- Aug 08, 2002
Antitrust lawyers rein in their documents
Justice's Lisa Sarubbi says document management software will give Antitrust Division lawyers secure control over their paperwork.
The Justice Department's Antitrust Division has made a case for document management.
Systems analyst Lisa Sarubbi, office automation chief Cheryl Porpora and co-workers are testing DeskSite 6.01a software from iManage Inc. of Foster City, Calif., in preparation for use throughout the Antitrust Division later this year.
Porpora's office is responsible for PCs, software, servers, and metropolitan and wide area links between the division's Washington headquarters and its seven field offices. There are about 900 computer users, 250 in the field offices and the rest spread out among six buildings in Washington.
Document management will streamline the division's paper-intensive case handling, particularly when the lead attorney works in, say, San Francisco but needs to share documents with a university economist who is advising about a case and with another Justice attorney in Washington.
The case paperwork starts with a preliminary investigative memorandum, followed by masses of long documents. Under the existing process, the lawyers must ask the division's IT staff to create a directory for their case-related documents and set up the relevant permissions for group members.
With document management, "all of that control would be directly in their hands," Sarubbi said.
The tech team looked at leading products and checked the vendors' references at law firms, Sarubbi said. IManage had a good reputation for support and a secure, three-tier architecture, she said.
The Antitrust Division is in the midst of migrating from Novell NetWare 4.11 file and print services to an application server running Microsoft Windows NT, Porpora said. The iManage system stores documents in a Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 database.
The division uses Corel WordPerfect 10 for word processing, running under Windows 2000 Professional. A file-open command in WordPerfect will launch the iManage client, which is integrated with the word processor.
"If users hadn't seen WordPerfect before, they would never know the difference," Sarubbi said.All in one
One screen displays all of a user's documents and spreadsheets, regardless of the applications in which they were created.
The user interface resembles a cross between a browser and an e-mail client, with one window showing the hierarchy of public and private document folders available to each user. DeskSite organizes documents by case, project, author, filename and document type. A user can request all memos about a specific case or do full-text searches for words in the body or footnotes.
By default, each document is marked private for its creator's eyes only, Sarubbi said. Search results reveal only the documents to which a user has read-only or full access rights.
A check-out feature lets users download a document from the database and work at home or on the road. The office copy is marked "read only" while checked out, "so nobody will make changes you're not aware of," Sarubbi said.
After two or three weeks in pilot mode, Sarubbi's team will implement the software throughout the division with help from Younts Consulting of Glen Burnie, Md.Tested first
"We wouldn't put anything into our environment unless it's been tested in our lab," Sarubbi said.
Deployment of another iManage application, WorkSite, is on the schedule for early next fiscal year, or as soon as the DeskSite deployment is finished.
Sarubbi said she thinks the division's users will like WorkSite because it "gives them independence from the IS staff."
Porpora added that lawyers could use WorkSite to create "basically a home page for each case or investigation" on the division's intranet.
The division is paying about $500,000 to license DeskSite for each user and purchase Compaq ProLiant ML570 servers for the seven field offices plus one for Washington.
Eventually the document management project will pay for itself in increased productivity, Porpora said. Private law firms have taken to document management, she said, and the money comes out of their bottom lines--a good indication of value to the legal community.