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Late last year, Hummingbird Ltd. announced it would no longer continue to sell LawPack, a popular software used to manage litigation. This was a blow to its stable of Fortune 500 customers. Law departments use case- and matter-management software to keep track of outside counsel and events in cases and to organize billing information. For many in-house law departments, LawPack is to managing cases what word processing is to writing documents. LawPack’s withdrawal from the market will create big problems for in-house lawyers and a large opportunity for LawPack’s competitors. General Motors Corp., The Walt Disney Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had all spent time (sometimes months or years) and money (often six figures) installing LawPack. Many of them had been using the software for five or 10 years. The 80-lawyer legal department at the California Department of Insurance, for example, has been using LawPack to manage litigation and insurance policies since 1997. When attorney Daniel Goodell learned that he would have to find a new solution, he was taken aback. “My reaction was disappointment,” says Goodell. “At the same time, I wasn’t overly surprised.” Hummingbird, which is based in Toronto, has always had an ambiguous relationship with LawPack. It acquired the product when it bought PC Docs Group International Inc. three years ago. LawPack’s founders, Joseph Bookman and Yiorgos Athanassatos, sold LawPack to the company that became PC Docs in 1991. LawPack never quite fit into the strategies of PC Docs — a document — management vendor for firms, not clients — or Hummingbird, a software company trying to help companies manage content across the enterprise, not just within a single department. Corporations have until December 2004 — when Hummingbird says it will stop providing support for the software — to find a new product. This isn’t as far away as it sounds. Many companies already have their 2003 budgets in place, and it takes time to select and install software as integral to a department as LawPack is to in-house counsel. Large corporations often have thousands of matters in litigation. LawPack or one of its competitors — like Law Manager or Corprasoft — helps in-house lawyers keep straight the court dates, billing information and contact information for outside counsel. “It’s something that’s at the heart of this department,” says Allen Howe, manager of legal information systems at Franklin Lakes, N.J.’s Becton, Dickinson and Co. “I would never have gotten rid of the software.” LawPack was relatively easy to use and highly customizable. General Motors, for example, tailored LawPack to track cases by vehicle type, so it could see which products were involved in litigation. Occidental Petroleum keeps track of distinct categories of matters, like chemical exposure cases. By looking at one category in depth, attorneys can see trends in litigation, says James Hall, corporate applications team leader at Occidental. The California Department of Insurance uses LawPack to manage a whole spectrum of legal work — not just litigation. It is installed on every computer of all 80 attorneys at the agency. It tracks thousands of matters, as well as the insurance companies it oversees. Goodell, for example, can track every application that an insurance company files with the agency. In addition, the department has customized the system to show the levels of complexity of a case, says Goodell, as well as whether the case is deemed a priority. Goodell estimates that the agency spent “hundreds, maybe thousands” of hours customizing and tailoring LawPack. Many companies, like Occidental Petroleum or GM, use LawPack to keep track of how much outside counsel is spending. Lawyers, for example, can view all of the cases handled by one law firm or a single type of case — say products liability — handled by all its firms. As much as their customers like LawPack, Hummingbird never saw it as a key product. “It was not part of our core business strategy,” says Hummingbird president Barry Litwin. Litwin says that LawPack was almost an afterthought in the acquisition of PC Docs, a collection of disparate back-office software. Hummingbird wanted the document management system, Docs, and the search tool called Fulcrum. After buying PC Docs, Hummingbird quickly sold the time-and-billing product called CMS Open that it had acquired. It held on to LawPack only because it wanted the customer base, says Litwin. NO WEB-BASED VERSION Over time, Litwin says, LawPack became increasingly expensive to keep up, especially after the economy cooled. Customers began itching for a Web-based version of LawPack. At a user group meeting in Las Vegas two years ago, Hummingbird gave demonstrations of a Web-based version. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. was banking on the Web version, says Ruth Baldwin, a systems analyst at Honda, where about 80 lawyers, paralegals and administrators use LawPack. Litwin acknowledges that the company put out the word that a Web version was under development. “There were some commitments made,” he admits. Back in Toronto, however, there was growing reluctance to create a Web version of LawPack. Late last year, word leaked out that Hummingbird would not release a Web product, and that it would stop supporting its software altogether. Some customers were livid. A Yahoo message board filled up in mid-December with rumors and riled commentary. “The crime is that Lawpack could have been, could still be, a real money maker if they would give it the attention it deserved,” says one message. Hummingbird has considered selling LawPack to another company. But LawPack’s customers can’t plan for the future hoping for a white knight to appear, so they are talking to other vendors. “There’s a lot of confusion in the industry,” says Scott Rosenberg, a technology consultant with Baker Robbins. COMPETITORS MOVE IN At the LegalTech trade shows in New York and Los Angeles this year, case-management vendors appeared for bake-offs, pushing their products to LawPack’s customers. (LegalTech is owned by American Lawyer Media, the parent company of law.com.) Options abound. (No company will discuss its pricing information, but most of the products mentioned here have promised discount offers for former LawPack users.) Elite Information Group Inc., the giant time-and-billing vendor, sells Law Manager, which has both a server and a Web product. The Web product has just been released. Elite has three different offers for LawPack users, depending on how quickly they want the new product, how much information they want to convert and how much they want to shell out up front to get it. ProLaw is another established player trying to sell case management. ProLaw, a unit of the West Group, sells the same practice-management tool to corporate in-house lawyers as it sells to law firms. It also includes a portal, time-entry models and document-generation features. As with its law firm product, ProLaw offers an all-or-nothing deal: A legal department cannot simply buy the case-management aspect. Brook Boehmler, ProLaw’s vice president of business development, says ProLaw is more than just a replacement for LawPack. And then there are a host of smaller companies that offer case-management products. They may be lesser known in the overall legal market, but their niche in case management may play to customers just burned by a company for which case management was not essential. Dallas-based Corprasoft Inc., for example, sells Legal Desktop, a Web-based product. Corprasoft has been in matter management since 1991. It decided to develop a Web product in 1998, says Chief Executive Carl Lee Sutherland, well before many of its competitors. Legal Desktop has a section for collaboration with outside counsel, who can log in over the Internet. The software will also deliver e-mail notifications of important events and automatically generate reports about the status of different matters. Sutherland says two former LawPack clients, The Boeing Co. and The Williams Cos. Inc., have already made the transition to Legal Desktop. Mitratech also offers a Web product, called TeamConnect. It also has a built-in function to help generate summaries and reports. Mitratech is offering free licenses of TeamConnect for former LawPack users through the end of June. Bridgeway Software Inc. of Houston also has a special deal for LawPack users. Its eCounsel product comes in both a server and a Web-based form. Like LawPack, it offers a number of ways to customize its product, allowing customers to change their tabs and views. Goodell of the California Department of Insurance says he is looking closely at Web-based products for the “simplicity of maintenance and access.” The state is facing budget constraints, so he’s not sure when the agency will choose the next vendor. But it will certainly be “before [LawPack] goes out the window,” says Goodell.

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