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When Duane Morris decided, in January 2002, to conduct an overhaul of our desktop technology, I prepared for an enormous undertaking. Having joined the firm as chief technology officer the month before, I knew that this would be a “baptism by fire,” requiring extraordinary effort to install technology, train staff (who were not looking forward to any interruption of work), and integrate the technology into our culture — all without disrupting ongoing work. Duane Morris is an international, full-service law firm based in Philadelphia. With 18 U.S. offices and one in London, we have nearly doubled in size in the past three years, through non-merger growth. In addition to expanding geographically, we have broadened our practice, in intellectual property, telecommunications, Internet and other emerging areas. We plan to continue our rapid expansion, and expect to double again during the next three years. With more people, offices and services, we must use the most up-to-date, legal-appropriate technology to maintain productivity and efficiency. DESKTOP 2002 We dubbed our project “Desktop 2002.” The first step was to assess the firm’s changing technology and determine what software packages we would need to get in sync with our clients. Some needed changes were obvious: For example, we did not have a firmwide client relationship management program; we were still using Corel Corp.’s WordPerfect while virtually all of our clients use Microsoft Corp.’s Office Suite (Word). We wanted up-to-date, user-friendly products with a relatively short learning curve for minimal interruption of work. Our goal: to complete the entire rollout in nine months. We did all product evaluations internally, and completed decision-making and purchasing within 45 days. We chose Microsoft’s Windows 2000 for our new desktop operating system, after learning that Windows XP might present some integration challenges with some of the legal-specific software we wanted to use. Because we set a short turn-around time, we needed to spend a minimal amount of time dealing with integration. We did, however, choose Microsoft’s XP Professional Suite rather than Office 2000 for our primary word-processing tool, because XP’s development was influenced by Microsoft’s Legal Advisory Council. Switching from Word to WordPerfect required a reliable conversion program, because we had hundreds of thousands of files that we would still need to access. We chose CrossWords, a conversion program by Levit & James Inc., of Leesburg, Va. We also purchased CrossEyes, a program that reveals everything in a word document in one window, including all the hidden codes — a very valuable tool in a legal environment. To remove the unwanted data or hidden information (metadata), we chose the Metadata Assistant from Seattle’s Payne Consulting Group. It combs Word documents for the hidden data that a client might see, reveals its findings, and offers the ability to clean the document by selecting a variety of options. For our law firm such a tool is an absolute necessity, as metadata can raise security concerns for word processing in the legal industry. The technology project that consumed the most time was the installation and integration of InterAction 4.5, a client relationship management program from Interface Software, of Oak Brook, Ill. We chose InterAction because we found that it offered immense access to information about clients and partners that was previously unavailable with a regular contact program. We felt that the instant access to this data would help our attorneys and staff value the maintenance of their contacts as relationship intelligence, not just contact management. We chose the Firm’s Assistant, an automated template tool also from Payne Consulting Group, to integrate with InterAction and allow for quick development of letters, memos, faxes, etc. Because we didn’t previously have a firmwide CRM program in place, every attorney and staff member had his or her own method for keeping contacts. To be sure we included everyone’s contacts, we scheduled an individual conversion appointment for each of the 1,100-plus employees of the firm. We converted contacts before we trained employees, so that everyone could use their contacts as soon as they returned to their new desktops after training. TRAINING HURDLE Training was another major hurdle. To meet our time goals, we would have to train users in 19 offices over five months. To ensure a smooth training and maintain efficiency, we planned extensively and used outside resources. We enlisted the help of two outside firms who specialize in the legal industry, Payne Consulting and New York City-based Perfect Access Speer, as well as several local independent trainers at each site. We prepared internally by “training the trainers” in our own IT department, and setting up and scheduling training for our users. Before we started training, we notified attorneys and staff via e-mail that the changeover was approaching, and that training was strongly recommended and supported by firm management. We set up an e-learning program through TutorPro, a U.K.-based company that produces customizable courses, authoring tools and student management systems. TutorPro is accessible via our Intranet or the Web, so staff could brief themselves on the new products prior to training. This e-learning program proved enormously helpful to those who viewed it and reviewed it prior to training. We offered two levels of training: a three-day long seminar for heavy document producers, i.e., administrative assistants, secretaries and attorneys who do the majority of their own document work; and one-day sessions for all other attorneys and staff. We followed up the training with extra support, dedicating a special phone line for training inquires and setting up temporary IT support stations throughout the offices. This extra support encouraged the attorneys and staff to use and experiment with the new software with the confidence that help was merely seconds away. OTHER TECHNOLOGY While we were updating, we decided to make some other changes and provisions to ensure the overall reliability of our technology. We upgraded to the latest version of iManage Inc.’s Worksite suite, which combines document management, collaboration, portal access, knowledge management, workflow and business process. We also upgraded our time entry system with DTE Enterprise and DTE Everywhere by Advanced Productivity Software, Inc. Realizing our need for a business continuity plan, we also created a redundant data communication infrastructure in our Chicago office. Because Philadelphia is our headquarters and communications hub, all lines of communication ended in the Philadelphia office. The creation of the redundancy center allowed us the ability to operate from the Chicago office in the event of a blackout or other emergency in Philadelphia. OVERCOMING RESISTANCE When we decided to upgrade, we expected to meet some initial resistance, as we faced a significant learning curve. Indeed, our busy staffers were not pleased to have to take a day (or three) to learn about technology. The training eliminated some fears, and once our users realized how much time would be saved, and work processes improved, they became less resistant to the change. They became excited about the improved speed, flexibility and features of “Desktop 2002.” The learning curve, although hefty, was a small price to pay for the vast improvements that allow us to better serve our clients. We are now starting to see a major difference in the way attorneys and support staff process documents. They can use legal-specific software, such as DeltaView, Workshare Technology’s red-lining tool, to complete tasks in a fraction of the time that they used to take. We now can communicate better with clients and colleagues, who often had been frustrated with the inability to open our documents. As our rollout continues, we plan to keep our training stations and special dedicated hotline in place through November to ensure the success of Desktop 2002. John Sroka is chief technology officer at Philadelphia-based Duane Morris. E-mail: [email protected]. Web: www.duanemorris.com.

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