eDocFile offers the expertise a court needs in order to create an electronic filing system. Our ultimate service would be an automated document management system and hosting relationship with the courts, in which the court only needs a Web browser to log on to an extranet site customized to their needs. eDocFile would also provide high-level retainer consulting, market research reports, or project-based consulting in an effort to bring the courts up to speed with technology and to integrate existing legacy systems.
Secondary services will be focused on lawyers. eDocFile will offer lawyers the ability to use our extranet as an affordable alternative to costly in-house networking and document management. We are confident a focused marketing campaign will convert a significant number of e-filers (lawyers) into long term hosting relationships. This would pave the way for eDocFile to move from a lucrative niche e-filing market to the broader global services market of a legal portal.
An electronic filing project should demonstrate new efficiencies in court administration, and fully leverage investments in computerized back office technology such as case management systems to better serve internal users. Goals should include designing an approach to electronic filing that gives filers the same range of services they have today, but with optional computer-based efficiencies. For instance, eDocFile together with individual courts can expect to work toward the following service goals:
- Provide e-filing/retrieval access to many divisions of law. Ensure security of court back office.
- Utilize advanced architecture and integrate disaster recovery.
- Ensure accurate and timely electronic court fee payment.
- Maintain high availability and accuracy of filing confirmation.
- Require quality support and service.
- Include government agencies needs in development process.
- Develop open standards for electronic filing and retrieval.
- Develop the appropriate pro se e-filing modules and the appropriate exceptions to mandatory e-filing.
- Maintain the high quality of services provided today.
- E-Filing Extranet: Our secure extranet gives courts the ability to manage cases, complex legal documents and processes, internal and external communications, scheduling and calendar services, internal resource management, and integrate existing legacy systems. The extranet will be the primary platform for lawyers to access e-filing features and will become the central repository for all court documents. Revenue will be generated per transaction by lawyers and through hosting agreements with courts.
- Consulting and Training: eDocFile offers consulting and training to courts as they adopt technology enabling the move from their paper system to our electronic system. This begins with a complete understanding of each individual court’s situation; objectives, goals, and constraints. Our solution suggests ways for the court to upgrade in a manner most conducive to individual court’s needs with the least amount of disruption.
- Storage Repository: A central repository makes accessing and customizing judicial information efficient and cost-effective. Initially this would be a per transaction based service. eDocFile will strive to offer this service on a subscription basis, once we have defined the type of information that could be customized by user segments.
3.1 Competitive Comparison
eDocFile products and services include several important features that set them apart from other products and services that may be considered competitive:
Integrated Centrality and Convenience:
- eDocFile offers a simple turnkey solution that only requires an Internet browser. Point and click simplicity and convenience.
- eDocFile makes filing, storing and retrieving convenient and simple by offering a centralized extranet with Web-based capability.
- Value added services such as automatic forwarding of documents to necessary parties, hosting, and central accessing, creates an integrated and seamless repository where searching cases and precedent becomes effortless.
- Since the system is designed around an extranet with a Web based interface, the courts would not have to purchase new equipment, hire IT specialists, nor have to constantly upgrade their systems. These systems can be run efficiently on current computers.
- Hardware and software upgrades become obsolete with our Web based hosting model.
- Collateral building costs associated with introducing an IT system will not be necessary.
- Storage costs will decrease with increased use of electronic storage.
- Actual cost of our system when compared with competitors is also lower.
- eDocFile will customize the extranet to fit around the needs of the individual courts and will provide complete training.
- Our open architecture system encourages innovation and adaptation from our clients, and easily integrates with existing legacy systems.
3.2 Sales Literature
eDocFile will begin with a general corporate brochure introducing the company and the products/services offered. This brochure will be developed as part of the start-up expenses. The second phase of our sales cycle will use a CD that contains a short message about the product and will contain a library of resources to support an interest in a sale.
Our sales literature will focus on eDocFile’s ability to customize its services. We will also outline cost versus return, and risk versus benefit. A clear benefit message designed to convince the constituent groups of the value of the technology could be crafted in several parts.
- First, it is necessary to explore the benefits of electronic commerce to the courts, and lawyers using it, the parties involved in cases, and the citizens of the state, and their representatives, who must pay for the system.
- Second, it is important to assess the technology and services that are available for implementation, and the vendors that supply it. In most cases, there are several alternative approaches to implementing electronic filing. Each should be explored with the individual court system.
- Third, it is essential to document the life cycle costs of the specific approach or approaches under consideration. With a complete business case, the court is in a better position to sell the project internally and externally. Our success depends on implementing a customized solution to each jurisdiction.
The logic behind eDocFile’s outsourcing, is the ability to take advantage of partners who are industry leaders in core competencies, which are complimentary to eDocFile’s products and services.
- Programming: Immediately we will outsource our programming needs. We will use the services of Array Inc., a company that exports programming to Eastern Europe, thereby taking advantage of exchange rates and local economic conditions. Strategic and proprietary programming will be done in house after a beta version is completed.
- Hosting: US Web/CKS is recognized in the industry as a leader in secure site hosting.
- Security: Will be offered through our relationship with a company called VeriSign, using a public/private key system.
- Monetary Transactions: CyberCash will handle our credit card billing.
- Traffic and Systems Monitoring: Webtrends will monitor usage of the system together with a licensing agreement with Net Perceptions, who will help us develop an intelligent and learning database required for data warehousing.
A certain amount of work must be performed whenever information is submitted to the court. The data must be read, analyzed, stored, acted upon and distributed to others. eDocFile achieves these requirements through an extranet using Web based technology. Copyright law protects the software that allows for our extranet functionality and trademark law protects our brand equity.
In general, the court needs a good case management system that can function as an index to documents. A document management system also is necessary. In the real world, most courts cannot afford to manage electronic documents without electronic filing. The paper handling costs are just too high.
Integration of case and document management is necessary. Experience with imaging technology has shown that if the document management system has its own index, then data storage, and possibly data entry, will be duplicated and the systems will never get synchronized.
The electronic filing components that are “behind the scenes” are essential. Though there are other options, this is typically a server (server hardware and server software), or group of servers, inside and outside of the court security firewall that accepts and does initial processing of the documents. The other critical component is the network connection to the outside world. This can be a private network or regular phone lines with dialup modems, but the Internet has become a superior choice in almost every circumstance. A user interface with a World Wide Web browser makes the entire system user friendly.
Our extranet will be the primary platform to offer these services. Functionality for e-filing will be designed and programmed in-house, integration between eDocFile and other software vendors will be accomplished through a collaborative effort between eDocFile and these vendors.
3.5 Future Services
The Internet seems to reinvent itself quickly. Our strategy for future development is to remain positioned with enough flexibility to adapt new technologies, and adapt to changes quickly.
In the future, eDocFile will broaden its product and service base by adding more functionality to our clients needs by developing modules specific to each client. These modules will be developed from eDocFile’s insights into trends within e-commerce as it relates to the legal profession and from the unique challenges faced by our clients. Repackaging these solutions would lead to more value added services for our customers. Best practice techniques learned from monitoring our database and usage patterns can be redistributed proactively to our customers at no charge to them and with little effort on our part, leading to greater usage of the system.
Our long-term goal is to create a legal portal to the Web, thereby, broadening our services and allowing access to more end-users. A portal business model will be successful by creating alliances and partnerships with other Internet service and content providers. The transactional revenue generated from e-filing would make the company cash rich in a relatively short span of time and will fund expansion, leading eDocFile to become the gateway to the Internet for the legal profession.