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    Too Much Information-Too Little Time
(and suggestions on software to ease the burden)

By: Christine A. Gilsinan and Mary V. Toy

Lawyers today are inundated with information-about people, events, legal and non-legal matters. Where do lawyers find what they need, when they need it-and how can they synthesize, understand and manage the mounds of information?

Computers are the solution for many, but efficiency is dependent not only on the hardware but on the quality of the software. In Flying Solo, A Survival Guide for the Solo Lawyer, 2d Edition, (American Bar Association, 1994), David Vandagriff, a frequent speaker on legal technology, notes that

"[Y]our software decisions will be far more important [than your hardware decisions]. Your computer is like your home stereo system. The software is like the CDs and tapes you play on it. A poor computer with good software will always be more useful than a good computer with poor software. If you're looking for Mozart and your computer is playing Guns 'N Roses, you will not make beautiful music together."

What software do you need? You need a good "inside" information management program and a good "outside" information management program. In each of these two categories there are standouts: Time Matters® for Windows acts as an overarching "inside" information management program, and Copernic 99© is designed to streamline and organize Internet searches, or "outside" information.

Time Matters®

Time Matters® software aims to organize your cases, the people you deal with, and the things you have to do. It is an overarching program, from which you can migrate to your other software programs. Any information previously entered into other software programs can be imported into and used in Time Matters, if it can be exported as an ASCII file. In addition, when you change data in Time Matters (for example, the address of a client), the change occurs in all related sections of Time Matters and in other software programs such as Time Slips®. Time Matters® integrates smoothly with Time Slips, HotDocs, WordPerfect and Word, Visioneer's Paper Port Deluxe, 3 COM's Palm Pilot and others programs and peripherals.

Time Matters® is as helpful to an estate planning attorney as to a litigator. To save time and energy and achieve true integration, information should be entered only one time in a system, and be able to be used for many different purposes. Time Matters accomplishes this goal. Time Matters provides customizable forms for data entry regarding contacts (clients and others), cases, events (which have a specific time associated with them) and to do's (which don't have a specific time, but can be accomplished during a time period). The information entered on these, and other simple to develop forms, is automatically changed in Time Slips, or may be merged with document forms created by Hot Docs and a word processor. You can create slips in Time Matters, click a button marked "make slip" and a slip is actually created in Timeslips. Records are related, so that at a glance you can see all the documents associated with a case, or contacts involved in a matter. In addition, Time Matters has calendar features which allow group scheduling and color coding for easy recognition on the daily, weekly, or monthly calendar. The contact data related to a calendar event is available with a click of the mouse.

For litigators two of the most useful features are the date calculator and the legal timetable/chaining feature. The date calculator allows you to enter rules of various courts, such as whether to add days if notice was mailed, and what to do if a due date falls on a weekend. Once so programmed, instead of your manually counting the number of days in which some action is required, the program itself calculates the dates and enters the action on the calendar. For example, you can enter a date of service and Time Matters will automatically calculate the due date. If a form is associated with the action, you can have the form (for example, an entry of appearance) automatically filled out with that case's information. When a trial date is assigned and entered into Time Matters, the chaining feature instantly calendars the several deadlines associated with the trial.

Security can be set to allow a staff member complete access to one attorney's calendar and only "view" or no access to another's.

Time Matters can be used as a single-user program, but its real power lies in its networking capabilities. For example, when working in calendars, there is a drop-down list of every legal professional. To see another's schedule, you simply click on his or her name to view both the calendar and to-do list. You can save a lot of time in phone calls, memos and meetings by having this information available.

For lawyers who are "techies" a technologically important feature (designed to minimize grief) is that when installed, Time Matters does not make any changes to the Windows 95/98 registry, the Windows 3.1 .INI files, or the AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files.

Time Matters® is published by DATA.TXT Corporation of Cary, North Carolina (http://www.timematters.com). Time Matters 3.0, the latest version, is expected to be available later this month and adds many new features such as an integrated e-mail system (local, windows, internet), a new link to QuickBooks, an improved link to Timeslips 9 and a long-awaited spell checker. The new version also involves a new pricing system and will be available in three new editions: Personal, Professional, and Enterprise. The Personal Edition is for the person who needs powerful database management, but who doesn't need networking and links to other software; it costs $150 per license. The Professional Edition is the full featured Time Matters 3.0 with networking and all available links; it costs $350 for the first user per site and $150 for each additional user per site. The Enterprise Edition is the same as Professional except that it uses the powerful Microsoft SQL Server Version 7 Database; it costs $1,000 for the first user per site and $400 for each additional user per site. Discounts are available for Sites over 50 users. For more information, visit http://www.timematters.com.

Copernic 99©

Copernic 99© software aims to streamline and organize Internet searches. Searches queries are entered via a search "wizard" that guides the researcher in constructing queries and selecting topical search engines and directories.

Topical search engines are grouped into categories. Categories in the free version of Copernic 99© are the Web, newsgroups, email addresses and "buy books." Copernic 99 Plus© adds research categories such as business and finance, health, newspapers, newswires, software downloads, tech news and tech reviews. Researchers may customize searches within each search category by selecting search engines and directories from a pre-defined list. For example, search engines and directories in the Web category include AltaVisa©, AOL NetFind©, Euroseek©, FAST Search©, Excite©, Google©, GoTo.com©, HotBot©, InfoSeek©, LookSmart©, Lycos©, Lycos Top 5%©, Magellan©, MSN Websearch©, Netscape NetCenter©, Planet Search©, Snap©, WebCrawler© and Yahoo©. Search engines and software are updated automatically upon connecting with the Internet.

Additional research categories may be added as free software downloads (available for Copernic 99 Plus© only). A legal research category is not yet available. However, an add-on Engine Development Kit allows complete search engine customization. The Kit must be separately purchased and requires some programming skills.

Copernic 99© returns search results sorted by relevancy with duplicate results automatically removed. Search terms are highlighted both in the returned link list and in retrieved documents. At the researcher's option, Copernic 99© will refine search results by searching text within the returned results, validate the search to delete invalid and unreachable document links, sort results by title, address or date found, and download selected pages for off-line viewing. Researchers can also group searches into subject-matter folders and save them for later review and updating.

I tested Copernic 99 Plus© using the following scenario: a client has asked me to draft a lease for a drugstore space in a small strip shopping center. Having never drafted a drugstore lease before, I need to get up to "speed" on drugstore issues.

I hit "New Search" on the Copernic 99 Plus© task bar. The search engine wizards pops up asking me for my search terms. I enter "drug store" business as my search query and select the Web as my search category. Copernic© warns me that some of the search engines in the Web category did not support quotation marks in search queries. I tell it to go ahead and search anyway. Copernic© returns 79 links. I quickly browse the links and select 28 to download (takes about 5 minutes with a 33.6 connection). (Note: Copernic© does not download an entire Website, only the returned page. Returned pages may provide only a links page which requires reconnecting to the Web for access to presented links.)

Of the 28 downloaded hits, I retrieve two extremely helpful articles:

Drug Store Business and Industry Profile from the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and E. Loren Buhle Jr., Ph.D., Online Pharmacies, Potential for Profit, Potential for Real Change.

The Illinois Dept. of Commerce profile is truly a gem, providing me with information on the main lines of business and profitability for drugstores, areas of growth, prime locations, the average rent paid based on amount of assets, zoning and other legal considerations, design and layout requirements (including minimum square footage) and licensing requirements (in this case specific to Illinois).

The Buhle article outlines the new practice of on-line drugstores in selecting local retail outlets to fill prescriptions ordered on-line. Definitely food for thought in drafting the percentage rent clause of the lease!

I next try running the same search on my favorite metasearch engine, Dogpile©. I find the Buhle article in the last set of returned links. The most useful document, the Illinois Commerce department drugstore business profile is not retrieved.

Copernic© reported that Infoseek© had found the Commerce Department article, so I run the same search on that search engine. Infoseek© returns 8,544,584 links! The Commerce Department article is not within the first thirty (the point at which most people stop reviewing results).

Needless to say, both my client and I would have been very happy with Copernic's performance since the Commerce Department article would have provided us with information on which to base negotiations on our exclusivity and radius clauses, base rent, build-out requirements, and zoning and licensing conditions.

Copernic is not the best tool for traditional legal research on the Web (although that could change if Copernic adds a legal research category to its additional search engine downloads). However, for "collateral" research, Copernic is an extremely helpful Web research tool.

Technical specifications: Minimum equipment requirements, 486-33 MHz, 8 MB RAM, 5 MB disk space; requires Windows© 95/98 or later, Windows NT© 4.0 or later; browsers: Microsoft Internet Explorer© 3.0 or later, Netscape Navigator© 3.0 (32-bit) or later. Year 2000 compliant. Integrates most tightly with Microsoft Internet Explorer©.

Copernic 99© is free. Copernic 99 Plus© is currently $29.95 USD (downloadable). For more information, visit the Copernic© Website.

Christine A. Gilsinan and Mary V. Toy are co-owners of Knowledge Management Seminars, designed to help legal professionals deal more effectively and efficiently with information through seminars and individualized training on electronic information databases and software programs for information retrieval, management, processing and organization. Christine is also an Authorized Independent Consultant for Time Matters® software.


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Last modified: November 06, 1999