Interview w/ Rex A. Ewald
of Voegeli & Ewald Law Offices
1. What is your title at Voegeli & Ewald?
I am a Lawyer and Shareholder at the Voegeli & Ewald
Law Offices in Monroe, Wisconsin.
2. Tell me a little about the law firm
Voegeli & Ewald Law Offices, S.C. is a 4-lawyer firm
in Monroe, Wisconsin. The firm is a general practice law firm representing
a number of financial institutions and the City of Monroe [about 10,000]
3. Approx. how many people use ISYS in your organization?
4 Lawyers and 2 support staff.
4. What do you use ISYS for?
We have saved all our work product from the firm and its
predecessors for the past 20 years. This includes all correspondence,
documents, memoranda, email, spreadsheets and recently a variety of
Adobe PDF forms. All prior work product is stored in a carefully organized
system of separate client folders contained within a single work product
directory located on the firm's network server. We probably have between
8,000 and 10,000 separate folders, each containing anywhere from a few
to several hundred files.
Using ISYS we have indexed the work product directory
thereby allowing us to research anything we have done in the past 20
years. With this search capability ISYS allows us to make the cumulative
knowledge of our law firm available to lawyers and support staff. This
is particularly valuable for new associates looking for an example to
follow from a prior case. However, because all lawyers produce all of
their own work [we have not used a dictation machine in over 10 years]
the ability to quickly locate, and adapt for a current project, even
the simplest of transmittal correspondence is a powerful productivity
tool for myself as an experienced lawyer [I have practiced law for 21
We also use ISYS for a variety of administrative functions.
Conflicts checking is the most obvious but arguably a still more valuable
application in our firm is a daily work check. Since lawyers produce
their own work and deliver it electronically to support staff for proofing
and printing, we needed a way for support staff to check to make sure
that all work produced by lawyers was in fact delivered for review by
the support staff. We use ISYS for this purpose. The support staff simply
enter as search parameters a couple of words that always appear in a
letter ["Dear" and "June 7, 2001" for a letter produced
today] and ISYS identifies all work on the system meeting these criteria.
Staff then browse through the projects to make sure that everything
from the prior day has been reviewed.
I probably use ISYS between 3 and 5 times each day.
5. Approximately how many GB of data does ISYS index
for your firm?
About 6GB and 118,000 files.
6. What caused you to make the decision to invest in
We evaluated, but did not implement, WORLDOX. However,
while we did not implement WORLDOX as a file management system, I noted
that WORLDOX uses ISYS as its search engine and researched on the internet
to see if ISYS could be purchased as a stand-alone product.
7. What problem is ISYS solving?
Without ISYS our extensive body of prior work product
would have only negligible value.
8. How has ISYS affected your business? Benefits?
I rarely draft a document from scratch. I start with a
form in no more than 10% of my drafting projects. In probably at least
75% of my projects I start with a document produced for another client.
Without ISYS I would have great difficulty finding good documents to
use as a base for my project.
9. What do you like about ISYS?
ISYS is extremely intuitive and easy to use. I like that
it displays the full path for the location of documents because we store
our paper files using a system that mirrors our system of directories
for closed files. For example, a file closed today would be saved in
the directory 2001/0607/15111 representing the year and day closed followed
by the client file number. Paper files are stored on the shelf in the
same filing order. Thus, if I find a document in ISYS I can easily go
to the closed file shelves and pull the paper file.
10. Can you provide me with a scenario or story in
which ISYS helped your business?
It is difficult to provide a scenario because your search
engine is integrated into the very fabric of our firm. As you can probably
tell from the above, we use ISYS for a variety of both administrative
and productivity functions. The examples of documents located using
ISYS that we would not have been able to find by other means undoubtedly
numbers in the thousands and the list grows daily. What is the value
of being able to quickly find a lengthy legal description that has already
been proofed and then simply pasting it into a document without further
proofing? The time savings is considerable.
Perhaps the core difference between our use of ISYS and
many other firms is that we use it daily as a productivity tool rather
than intermittently as a conflicts checking tool.
11. Can you provide me with a quote on how you
feel about ISYS?
I firmly believe that lawyers cannot produce their
own work effectively without sound legal skills and quick and easy ways
to electronically find and retrieve their prior work product. ISYS certainly
has been a solution for the latter.