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Fortunately, the discussion of Extranets has moved from the “why” to the “how.” In answering the question of how to implement one easily, securely, and at a nominal expense, the most straightforward solution is to use an ASP (Application Service Provider). Over the last two years, a range of law-related Web products have emerged. There are even sites that tell you how to find out about some of the products available. See, for example, the Association for Legal Administrators Web site; Findlaw; and, of course, Law Technology News. There’s also Yahoo’s groupware listing, (search for “ASP Groupware.”) However, some of the most interesting opportunities for the solo and small firm practitioner are the new “digital workplace” ASP providers. Although most of these do not have a legal industry focus, many of them are very reasonable in price because of their broad markets. A great place to begin looking into these products is PC Magazine‘s recent review. As an example, PC Magazinegave its Editor’s Choice to HotOffice.com. For $13 per user per month, you can get online document management, group calendars, e-mail, bulletin boards, and simple project management. This sounds like pretty powerful Extranet-ing for a reasonable price. Huddle247.comoffers equally excellent tools, though it charges $50 and up (based on storage needs). But it allows unlimited numbers of users. Even iManage, the document management company, is trying to get into this business with its QuickTeam.comsite. Finally, some of the law-related applications are being provided on an ASP basis as well by hosting companies. For example, ConnectSite.comoffers Documentum’s product at $60 per month and more (depending upon storage needs). Tymetrix.comis offering an Extranet system targeted to in-house counsel; Datacert.comis offering Mitratech’s technology. If you want to go after one of the Web-only products that has been around for years, then take a look at www.Eroom.com’s technology. Eroom appears to have moved upscale over the years, now focusing on the Fortune 1000. Although its site does not indicate the price tag associated with all this groupware power, the guided tour certainly shows how they can pursue the very top-end market. Finally, at the “free” end of the market, a number of years ago I developed an application called “Pure Oxygen,” that has helped a number of law firms get off the ground in implementing Intranets and Extranets. It requires a ColdFusion Web server (which can be rented via an ASP), and I made the software available free of charge to the legal profession. The legal profession is clearly at the “how” stage of Extranets, and the online providers can provide turn-key solutions. John Hokkanen is an e-strategist based in Austin, Texas.

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