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The Law Offices of Braverman & Rossi specialize in family and marital law, criminal law, education law, personal injury, appellate practice and general trial practice, — all practice areas that generate massive document production. Until recently, the files and documents generated from our cases had been kept in filing boxes, which were becoming arduous to navigate. We knew we needed to find a better way to handle all this information, and transition to a less paper-dependent office. Our firm, based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., prides itself on using the latest technological research tools for case organization, management and research. In April 2003, we began to explore alternatives to our paper-based document management system for three primary reasons: 1) The size of the files alone created huge problems. They were unwieldy to work with, especially in the courtroom. 2) Transporting the files to and from the storage archives cost us a great deal of time and money. 3) Logistically it was time-consuming to search the files for information. We could spend hours, in some cases, days, searching for a relevant document. Michael Hymowitz, Steve Rossi, our IT manager Tekin Akyurek, and I began by looking at five different systems: Summation, from Summation Legal Technologies Inc.; Concordance, from Dataflight Stofware Inc.; Worldox, from World Software Corp.; IKON, from IKON Office Solutions Inc., and Alchemy, from Information Management Research Inc. We compared cost, ease of use and how they would serve our purposes, and we narrowed the field down to IKON Office Solutions and Alchemy. We ultimately chose Alchemy because we found it the most user-friendly, cost-effective, easy to manage and maintain. It was customizable, required a small learning curve, and included a search engine, which was vital to our needs. We went through three training sessions at our office by the local vendor, CyberNET Infosystems Inc., of Lauderhill, Fla. Each of the three sessions consisted of five individuals who were trained over the course of five to six hours. Everyone in our office who would use the system was trained in just a few days. Back at the firm, we configured Alchemy so it mirrored our old paper filing system. Staffers scan in each document, note the type of document (e.g., pleadings, correspondence, depositions), and store each one in Alchemy. Once the document is scanned and indexed, we use Alchemy in many ways. One crucial use is trial preparation. Before we purchased Alchemy, we would open the trial notebook, photocopy all the material, and replace the documents in the same order. The process took hours, we risked misplacing documents or filing them out of order, and it often took precious time to track down the proper notebooks. Now, we access all the files we need and quickly print them out in minutes. Before, during and after trials, Alchemy makes it easy to search our records. The software acts like a PDF reader; users search and browse files but cannot change them. Still, they can add notes for themselves or others to view. If opposing counsel needs access to our records, instead of photocopying and shipping the documents, now we copy them onto CDs. We track the CD shipments, so there’s no question the recipient actually obtained the requested information, and because all the data is in one place, miscellaneous files can’t be misplaced or lost. This process saves our clients a great deal of money formerly spent on photocopying, shipping, and staff and attorney time, especially when the CDs are shipped to multiple parties. In addition, we’re often required to show our billing records, for instance, when opposing counsel is ordered to pay attorney fees. With Alchemy, we easily censor out private information and send the pertinent billing records to the requestor. Alchemy protects the privacy of data in other ways. We set up networking so that our attorneys can view the files from remote locations. For example, if an attorney receives an emergency phone call from a client, the attorney can look at pleadings, depositions and other relevant files from a home computer rather than make a trip back to the office. This currently takes place through remote access applications such as PC Anywhere, from Symantec Corp., and Gotomypc, from Citrix Systems Inc. The use of Alchemy has also saved us in support costs. Secretaries use Alchemy to send e-mail messages, rather than faxes, directly to the client. What used to take 15 or 20 minutes, sometimes hours, now only takes about a minute, so our support staff works more efficiently. If we need a document from storage, we don’t have to pay costs for retrieval from the archives. Staff members can access the files in minutes, instead of waiting a day or two for files to arrive from storage, and they know exactly where to search. We enter all new client matters on the Alchemy server and are in the process of adding active and archived cases, to ultimately eliminate document storage fees. Behind the scenes, our technical support and secretarial staff scan an average of 700 to 3,000 pages per day, in which we use a heavy-duty scanner, the Fujitsu M4097D, to add files to Alchemy. In addition, each of our five secretarial desks has a Fujitsu fi-4120C image scanner connected to their PCs to scan documents and images. Recently, we closed a case that produced almost 80,000 documents. Instead of sending boxes upon boxes of files, we produced CDs for several co-counsels and opposing counsels. Finding the documents we needed worked like magic. In most cases, attorneys were able to locate the document in Alchemy and copy, print, read, or add notes to it themselves. We saved thousands of dollars for our client in terms of billable time, storage and producing discovery documents. To sum up the overall benefits, Alchemy saves us and our clients money and time by decreasing time needed to access, copy and distribute documents, lowering the risk of misfiled documents, and eliminating new storage needs. One improvement we would like to see in Alchemy is a more efficient way to copy and burn a new database to CD. Currently it is a two-step process that we think could be minimized to one step. The first step is to select the data you want to copy from an existing database and move it to a new database. The second step is to burn the data onto the CDs. Hopefully, a future version will eliminate that extra step. In the future, we anticipate using Alchemy to integrate with electronic courthouses. Because every scanned document in our office now has an electronic stamp, we hope to bring laptops instead of paper files to court, which will further save us and our clients time and money. Alan Jay Braverman is a partner with Braverman & Rossi, www.bravermanrossi.com, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He can be reached at [email protected]

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