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Remember SoftSolutions, the document management software that owned the legal market in the early and mid-1990s? The software has died, but not the developers who made it. They’re still selling document management solutions, this time over the Web. NetDocuments, based in Orem, Utah, is the latest home for the founders and key employees of SoftSolutions. The company’s main product is NetDocuments, a service that lets computer users view, edit, and share documents from any Internet-enabled computer in the world. Rather than residing on a user’s hard drive or a firm’s network, the documents live on a protected NetDocuments Web site, accessible only to those with the authority to see them. NetDocuments recently inked two deals aimed largely at the legal profession. The first deal was with Elite.com, one of several Web sites that offer time-and-billing services to lawyers and other professionals. Users of Elite.com’s Timesolv service will be able to share and store documents for free. NetDocuments is also providing the technology behind Pitney Bowes Inc.’s new Web-based expedocs service. This site is also aimed at busy professionals who share documents with others. The basic expedocs service, with limited storage, is free. For $39.95 a year, 100 megabytes of storage are available, and for $199.95, the storage limit is 500 MB, which is a lot for a single lawyer. NetDocuments is not intended to be a replacement for traditional document management programs like PC DOCS, iManage, or the late SoftSolutions. NetDocuments does not have full-text searching capabilities, and you can’t profile documents based on author, subject matter, client, etc. Even so, Salt Lake City’s Nielsen & Senior, a 20-lawyer firm, is likely to adopt NetDocuments as its document manager, says partner David Hartvigsen. Document management programs are too expensive for the firm, and NetDocuments does most of what it needs. When he’s working with clients, Hartvigsen says, NetDocuments is much more flexible than traditional document management software. The client doesn’t need special software to access a document — just a user name, password, and browser. Hartvigsen and a client can view and modify a document on the NetDocuments server. Every time there is a modification, anyone else authorized to see the document will be notified via e-mail that it has been changed. While a fax may sit for several days on a desk, with NetDocuments anyone who is authorized to see a document can, 24 hours a day. “If I am out of the office, it doesn’t hold anyone else up,” says Hartvigsen. The original SoftSolutions had a commanding share of the legal market when WordPerfect Corp. bought the company in 1993. But two weeks later, Novell Inc. bought WordPerfect and didn’t want a stand-alone document management program. Novell folded some of SoftSolutions’s features into its GroupWise program. Before long, Ken Duncan, one of the SoftSolutions founders, had started NetDocuments, hoping to transport document management onto the Web. He was eventually joined by other members of the original SoftSolutions team. Says Leonard Johnson, vice president of sales and marketing: “Our vision is to capture the entire life cycle of a document, from creation to archiving.”

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