California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 2000
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - February 2000
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News Briefs
Appeal court denies bar's petition to reverse Brosterhous
Fee bill introduced
Bar fee arb program gears up
David Bryson, Loren Miller recipient, dies at 58
Board to name one to Judicial Council
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You Need to Know
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Opinion
From the President - For our system to work, we need to be involved
Let's let public lawyers take a seat at the table
The illusion of a cosmetic fix
Letters to the Editor
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MCLE Self-Study
The Supreme Court and the ADA
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Appointments
Access commission seeks members for 2 positions
Apply to serve on a bar committee
Bar seeks applicants for ABA delegates
Judge evaluation positions open
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - 'Rampant' conflicts in a new economy
Attorney suspected of soliciting murder of bar prosecutor
Attorney Discipline
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Legal Tech - If the hype is right, ASPs are H-O-T
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Public Comment

LEGAL TECH

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If the hype is right, ASPs are H-O-T
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By DANA SHULTZ
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Dana ShultzJudging by the recent hype, Application Service Providers (ASPs) are the best thing that ever happened to the Web. This month’s tech column examines what an ASP is, the benefits ASPs offer, limitations on the suitability of ASPs and examples of cross-industry and legal-specific ASPs.

Definition

An ASP is a vendor who makes application software available to multiple customers via the Internet or another wide area network. The user typically gains access via a standard Web browser.

Do not be confused by Microsoft’s recent announcement that ASPs can rent MS application software to users. Renting software is not part of the definition of an ASP! The key is that the software resides at the ASP’s data center; how users pay for the software is irrelevant.

Benefits and limitations

The ASP is responsible for installing, managing and maintaining the software and backing data stored at the vendor’s site. As a result, ASPs offer quicker use and lower costs than are possible if the software must be installed on the user’s network.

However, to reduce set-up time and cost, an ASP may limit software configuration options. Because they are so complex, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) packages, such as SAP and Baan, are prime candidates for this type of simplification. Users must be willing to give up features in exchange for time and cost savings.

Furthermore, some applications cannot run as well remotely as they do on a local PC. Perhaps the best example is word processing (WP). With the rapid entry of keystrokes and edits that are the heart of WP, a local PC can keep the display updated more quickly than a remote server can.

Examples

Many ASPs provide services that are of value to companies in different industries. Among the most popular applications are ERP and customer relationship management (CRM).

AristaSoft (www.aristasoft.com) and USinternetworking (www.usinternetworking.com) are two ASPs in this category. New, rapidly growing companies are likely to be some of their best customers. These companies have enough challenges just trying to recruit and manage personnel; for them, outsourcing administrative tasks makes sense.

Some ASPs focus on specific industries. The following ASPs offering services of specific interest to law firms and departments:

Casecentral.com (www.casecentral.com) — The core is Document Repository Incorpora-ted’s document and transcript (litigation support) repository. Other services include document sharing, calendaring, service-list management and collaboration.

Elite.com (www.elite.com/elitecom.htm) — Elite Information Group’s bill presentment and financial management site for small law firms.

Interliant (www.interliant.com) — Primarily a cross-industry ASP, Interliant also offers intellectual property registration, collaboration, case management, litigation support and invoice delivery software for the legal community.

Legal Anywhere Collaborator (www.legalanywhere.com) — Legal Anywhere markets Collaborator to law firms as a way to enhance relationships with clients. Capabilities include document exchange, conferencing, contact management and calendaring.

Serengeti (www.serengetius.com) — Developed by ELF Technologies, Serengeti helps law firms and corporate counsel work together. Services include electronic invoicing, case management, financial management, collaboration and document management.

If you want more information about ASPs, check out the ASP Industry Consortium (www.aspindustry.org) or WebHarbor.com (www.webharbor.com).

Dana Shultz is an Oakland-based certified management consultant, speaker and coach specializing in office technology. He may be reached by e-mail at dhshultz@ds-a.com and on the Web at www.ds-a.com.