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In his old job, Randall Burrows became an expert in the inefficiencies of how law firms manage documents in big litigation. As San Francisco managing partner of McKenna & Cuneo, Burrows coordinated defense contract disputes on behalf of Boeing, Lockheed and Rockwell — including one in which each side had roughly 10 million pages of documents. “Boeing actually had to lease a building for us, a two-story building in a business park, the first story of which was dedicated to shelves and shelves and shelves of hard-copy documents.” Now Burrows helps exorcise document demons. Last year, he became the first member of a new five-person senior management team at fast-growing CaseCentral Inc. If not quite the litigator’s Holy Grail, CaseCentral at least claims to be a better mousetrap — a secure, searchable online document repository. Until three years ago, the San Francisco firm was known as Document Repository Inc. Its clients dialed in to document databases on modems, a painfully slow process when images were involved. Owner Chris Kruse realized he was sitting on “an application screaming out for the Web,” Burrows says. Kruse sought and received venture capital funding for an ambitious overhaul. In 1998, the company was reborn as Internet-based CaseCentral. It quickly established a niche serving far-flung joint defense groups in bankruptcy, product liability class action and environmental mass tort cases. “Our sweet spot has been our ability to handle big sets of discovery documents,” says Burrows, vice president for business development. “Any time you’ve got a dispersed set of lawyers and clients, it becomes useful to have this Web tool. What it represents is the opportunity for some economies in terms of how things get served, how documents get produced” — and the chance to cut down on disputes, Burrows says. The firm did undergo a restructuring in the last year and eliminated some positions. But management says that was due to the shifting nature of the business — from modem to Web — and not because of economics. The firm got a boost early this year when a Texas judge presiding over the multidistrict product liability litigation against Firestone and Ford ordered that service lists, calendars and rulings for the litigation be posted on a Web site maintained by CaseCentral. (A judge in the multidistrict liability case against the makers of heartburn medication Propulsid is considering a similar order.) The scope of CaseCentral’s work in the Ford/Firestone case is limited, as discovery documents will still go to a repository maintained by plaintiffs’ counsel. But the judge’s order portends an area of possible growth for the company. “Typically we work for one side confidentially,” Burrows says. “What’s really novel about this is that both sides are using this.” CaseCentral’s ordinary business has grown explosively over the past year. The firm now has 80 million pages under management — a doubling since last year, says marketing vice president Alan Brooks. And its number of customers has grown 300 percent in 12 months to approximately 600. Of those clients, Brooks says, about 70 percent are law firms — including more than 60 of the AmLaw 100. Although corporate customers now make up just under one-third of CaseCentral’s clients, new corporate clients are signing on at a rate faster than the law firm segment, Brooks says. The company’s core constituency, joint defense groups, still makes up 60 percent of clients. In an average case, CaseCentral stores between 500,000 and 1 million documents; 35 lawyers and paralegals from at least five law firms or corporations have access to the password-protected Web site. Customers pay an up-front fee to establish the site — typically about $10,000, depending on the number of databases desired. Monthly hosting fees based on the number of users and pages range from $5,000 to $10,000 for an average case. The company is betting its market will continue to grow, despite competition from online extranets set up by law firms. “There are a number of firms out there that have people internally that are trying to build these things, but we have 20 engineers on staff,” says Burrows. “The question is, can they do it as efficiently as we can? “With us, they don’t need to invest in the hardware, the software, the people to run it,” he says. “When the case goes away, we go away. The firm doesn’t have to make a capital investment. As a former partner at a law firm, I used to hate those capital calls.” From the client’s perspective, it’s not that simple, says Paul Schute, litigation technology support coordinator at San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster. “It’s a mix of issues that firms have to come to grips with,” he says. Each case involves balancing cost, security and client service, among other factors, he says. In some cases, the scale may tip in favor of CaseCentral and competitors like SteelPoint Technologies’ IntroSpect and iCONECT-Concordance — but not always. MoFo currently uses CaseCentral for about a dozen cases, Schute says. “There’s a lot of versatility to the site and a pretty nice user interface,” he says. Plus, having documents available online is an important factor in serving clients in multiple time zones. On the down side, though, MoFo must hire a separate vendor — and cope with the delay — to code and image documents for posting on CaseCentral. And some clients and lawyers remain unwilling to have documents hosted beyond the firm’s firewalls. Though he doesn’t foresee ending MoFo’s relationship with CaseCentral, Schute says, the firm is tooling up to launch its own extranets for certain clients, “imminently.”

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