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Chapter 3 - Networking and Group Computing

Workgroup Computing - The Next Logical Step


“Groupware is a core technology that enables users to manage and exploit an organization’s knowledge and expertise. Groupware can be used to preserve knowledge, to develop knowledge, to share knowledge and to apply expertise where - and exactly when - it is needed.” Jim Feuerstein, developer of JFS Litigator’s Notebook.

The emergence of the PC in the 1980’s centered on personal productivity. It has been used mainly to automate the law firm’s traditional individual work processes. Word processing, spreadsheets and graphics were a few applications that improved the quality and quantity of a legal professional’s work product. As these PC’s became linked into networks, users began to share printers and files. However, the focus was still not on the sharing and electronic collaboration of our work. This has changed with the emergence of workgroup computing software (WCS). Now the LAN, WAN, the Internet, Intranet and Extranet, and workgroup computing systems provide the opportunity for attorneys and clients to electronically collaborate like they have never done before. For the first time, workgroup computing allows firms to expand the capabilities of computers beyond glorified typewriters. Now law firm manual processes of sharing information, interacting with others, and collaboration can be automated.

Workgroup computing is particularly useful in the legal profession. Lawyers are constantly called upon to share information, coordinate, and collaborate with many different people on many different cases. Clients, paralegals, secretaries, fellow attorneys, judges, and many others need to communicate on a variety of legal and nonlegal matters. To reengineer these manual interactions and processes onto a computer system will be both cost effective and efficient.

The same time that lawyers migrate to workgroup computing platforms, the legislative, executive, and judicial branches are also moving up the workgroup technology ladder. Eventually, the different components of the justice system will converge into an integrated system that will allow greater access to our justice system.


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