Peer to Peer Magazine

March 2012

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 99 of 103

In the Beginning… In 2008, we wrote out our requirements for a truly global, functional system. We took all the issues from our initial deployment into account, surveyed the marketing staff, and carefully listed out the business needs in detail. After looking at existing systems, we decided to build an in-house system from the ground up, and work began in early 2009. The first big issue was how to manage such a large inventory. We needed a handful of people with overall administrator rights, but ownership of the documents needed to reside at the local level. People with larger practice group, industry or regional responsibilities would also need to be able to easily review and update collateral. And we wanted everyone in marketing to be able to grab a single document 24/7 without having to go through a full proposal generation process. The solution was to use our DMS and store everything as Word documents in a separate library. This also addressed language issues. The second issue was how to get all those documents to use the same styles and branding rules when combined into one document. Templates were developed and code was written to override the settings from the original files. A Web interface was built so users could very intuitively choose basic settings up front, such as U.S. Letter or A4 paper, vertical or horizontal format. Having all the original documents created locally in different formats — and sometimes different versions — caused a lot of issues. We couldn't rely on everyone to be consistent in how they applied styles, set margins or even which fonts they used. And, of course, we were dealing with two different paper sizes. In addition to the Web interface and templates, special code needed to be written that could force the documents to adopt a global standard. Once the system applied all of these settings, users could navigate the Web interface to select collateral either through a keyword search or navigating a folder tree. Lawyer bios and resumes were fed from a website where they were already housed and made available in the Web interface through a name-based search. A summary screen gave users final feedback on the choices they had made, allowing them to reorder the chosen collateral items, and then all of the pieces were stitched together into a final document. The third big challenge was delivering the final document. One key issue we identified from our earlier system was performance. For several of our more remote offices, it could take several minutes to generate. So in our new system, an option was included to have the proposal delivered as an attachment to an email message once it was completed. There Was Darkness The proposal generator launched in the fall of 2009, and initial reactions were very positive. However, like any system, the "if only it could" requests started right away. We offered different color options (or "colour" options for those in the U.K. — another culture Peer to Peer 101

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