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Our current in-house secured network consists of a 100 MB switched multi-mode fiber optic backbone, using Compaq servers and workstations running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 2000/NT domain. All systems are equipped with Microsoft’s Office software suite, which includes Outlook 2000 for e-mail and intra-office collaboration. The SQL-based Juris product is used to capture our billable time and expenses. Symantec System Center is used on all servers and mail gateways for virus protection. While inevitable, the addition of new software is rarely embraced by our staff, even our IT leadership. After all, besides the process of becoming acclimated to new technology and processes, someone has to take the time to interview suppliers, sit in on demonstrations and most importantly, become trained to carry out a smooth installation. Nonetheless, our 2003 decision to invest in HTML EDGAR conversion software was not a terribly taxing debate, particularly in light of the heightened corporate reform set in motion by Sarbanes-Oxley. When the Securities and Exchange Commission embraced the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval (EDGAR) system in April 1993, its goal was to ease the burden on filers by enabling the submission of documents via a convenient electronic tool. Little did anyone know the next decade would bring about a sea change in the manner in which companies and their insiders file their disclosure documents. For example, under the new reforms, directors, officers and 10-percent shareholders must report the sale of their insider stock transactions to the SEC within two business days, a far cry from the previously granted maximum of 40 days. Furthermore, the SEC adopted rules effective June 30, 2003, requiring all filings under Section 16 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to be made electronically. These include Form 3, the Initial Statement Of Beneficial Ownership Of Securities; Form 4, the Statement Of Changes In Beneficial Ownership and; Form 5, the Annual Statement Of Changes In Beneficial Ownership Of Securities. In addition, most domestic public companies are now required to post on their Web sites Section 16 reports relating to their securities that are filed on or after June 30, 2003. As evident by these and a host of other reforms, the new law paved the way for an increased volume of electronic filings and hence, a demand for the software to complete them. The increased emphasis of filing documents via the EDGAR system wasn’t going away. While our firm wasn’t handling a large number of disclosure documents at the time, our team, like most law firms, was apprehensive about adding a new responsibility. The staff in charge of “EDGARizing” client documents understood the benefit of controlling the EDGAR conversion process. Still, we were skeptical about the time it would take to become proficient in converting documents from Microsoft Word or Excel, Corel Corp.’s WordPerfect, Adobe System Inc.’s Adobe PageMaker and other programs to SEC-compliant HTML. No one within our administrative ranks had experience in HTML coding. What followed in the weeks ahead changed everyone’s perceptions. Working with Kim Lorence, administrative assistant to managing partner Alan Hyatt, in June 2003 we began the process of selecting a vendor to help us process EDGAR documents. Recognizing the importance of securing the buy-in of firm client Severn Savings Bank (because it was a publicly-held company), we included its vice president, Scott Kirkley, on the selection team along with his administrative assistant, Lisa Langer. During the research phase, Lorence and the rest of the EDGAR team emphasized the need for a supplier to provide a software package that did not require HTML coding experience. We looked for a system that needed minimal training time, because our administrative team simply could not be tied up through days of software training. Finally, our budget was limited, so training and renewal costs would have to be considered. The beauty contest came down to a two-team race between EDGARfilings Ltd., with its EDGARIZER HTML product, and CCH Inc.’s EDGAR Ease. Having narrowed down our search to two companies, the next phase in the selection process was an evaluation of their respective EDGAR conversion demonstrations. Both offered demos, but only EDGARfilings could conduct one in HTML. For the EDGARfilings demo, our team logged onto a WebEx interactive online demonstration where we witnessed an HTML conversion by Scott Schwarz, our EDGARfilings account representative. Without an HTML demo from CCH, our diligence on the company was limited to calling its references. Without question, the demonstration was the clincher. We settled on EDGARfilings (www.EDGARfilings.com) and purchased its HTML software for $3,795 with a $1,200 annual renewal fee. Training was under $1,000. We were further persuaded by the fact that our staff would not have to train off-site over multiple days. Schwarz came to our office for a half-day training session on EDGAR and the EDGARizer HTML software. During the demo, our staff was able to work right at their own desks. The training was easy to follow, and our staff was able to refer to their existing client documents during the session. It covered an introduction to the EDGAR system, preparing a document to be “EDGARized,” creating a submission, converting and editing, error checking and submitting. Schwarz arrived at 8 a.m. By 12:30 p.m. he was on a plane back home. How smooth was the installation? We opened the box, dropped in the CD, double-clicked on the icon and it was installed. In fact, a third-quarter 10Q for 2003 was converted into S.E.C.-compliant HTML without a problem. Hard to believe something perceived to be such a challenge could turn out to be such a headache-free process. Since then, Kim Lorence has trained a second administrative staff member, Lisa Langer, so she can handle one of our publicly filing clients in the event Lorence is unavailable. By all accounts, the search, installation and training were a complete success. Our administrative staff, once hesitant to even address the issue of converting SEC filing documents to HTML, now finds the process effortless using EDGARizer HTML. Dale Camara is the chief information officer at Hyatt, Peters & Weber, based in Annapolis, Md. He can be reached at [email protected]. Founded in 1979, Hyatt, Peters & Weber (www.hpwlaw.com) is a boutique firm with 14 lawyers and 40 support staff based in Annapolis, Md.that focuses on banking and business law, commercial real estate, land use, family law, personal injury and medical malpractice.

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