During my visit to Utah last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Lehi headquarters of NetDocuments and sit down with Alvin Tedjamulia, cofounder and chief technology officer, for a briefing on the company’s road map for 2019.

Among the features planned for release later this year is a governance module that effectively embeds governance policies in the document at the platform level, circumventing the Achilles’ Heel of end users whose carelessness or naivete can expose documents.

Other enhancements in the works for this year include  improved ShareSpaces, new document binders, contextual annotations, project management, mobile predictive filing, and expanded Workspaces.

I provide full details in my column this week at Above the Law: On NetDocuments Roadmap: Embedding Governance Policies Within Documents.

When Alvin Tedjamulia cofounded NetDocuments in 1998 as the first cloud-based platform for document and email management, few lawyers had any concept of what it meant to work in the cloud. Today, NetDocuments has grown to become one of the leading DMS systems in legal, counting some of the world’s leading law firms and corporations as its customers.

Now chief technology officer at NetDocuments, Tedjamulia is in charge of strategic planning, cloud engineering, research and development, and SaaS software development, as well as for overseeing the company’s data centers in locations around the world.

During NetDocuments’ recent ndElevate customer and partner conference, Tedjamulia sat down with me to discuss the development of NetDocuments over the years and how lawyers came to love the cloud.

Before cofounding NetDocuments, Tedjamulia was a cofounder in 1989 of SoftSolutions, an early DMS system popular with the legal profession. After WordPerfect acquired SoftSolutions, he became CTO at WordPerfect, and after Novell acquired WordPerfect, he became VP in charge of the Advanced Technology Group.

He was also the original chief designer for Comprehensive Law Office (CLO), an accounting and time & billing system for Law Firms which is now with Aderant.

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At its ndElevate partner and customer conference taking place this week in Park City, Utah, NetDocuments today announced that it has acquired Closing Room, a deal-management application developed by the Am Law 200 financial services law firm Chapman and Cutler.

The application is designed to streamline transactional closings by enabling deal teams to coordinate and automating manual closing binder processes, thereby eliminating the need for physical closing rooms and reducing the time, cost and effort of producing closing binders for clients and third parties.

Closing Room will be integrated into the NetDocuments platform in the first half of 2019, the company said.

In a statement provided by NetDocuments, Eric Wood, Chapman and Cutler’s practice innovations and technology partner, said that in the two years since his firm launched the application, it has been used on over 5,000 closing sets and has “completely transformed the way our firm manages closings.”

“We built Closing Room to work seamlessly with NetDocuments,” Wood said, “and we’re thrilled to partner with them to deliver this proven technology to the broader legal market.”

Last week, I attended ILTACON, the annual meeting of the International Legal Technology Association, where I sat down with a number of legal technology companies for briefings on their latest news and products. I’m posting a four-part roundup of those companies. I started Monday with Part 1 and yesterday with Part 2. Here is Part 3.

NetDocuments

If you are still afraid of the cloud, don’t be.

That, in so many words, is the message being delivered this year by NetDocuments, the cloud-based document and email management platform. At ILTACON, I met with Marriott Murdock, head of global product marketing, and Bradlee Duncan, senior product manager, who said that the company’s messaging this year is emphasizing three value points:

  • Safe, meaning all the security, data protection, governance, infrastructure, encryption, policies and other protections that NetDocuments incorporates to protect client data.
  • Proven, meaning that the company, now 20 years old, has withstood the test of time and is now the custodian of some 10 billion files. While other companies are now trying to play catch up with the cloud, Murdock said, “It’s our DNA.” Putting its money where its mouth is, so to speak, NetDocuments recently launched global trust pages to provide real-time transparency on service health and performance. “We’ve pulled back the curtains on what’s going on,” Murdock said.
  • Ready, meaning that NetDocuments is a global platform that is ready for the end user to work from anywhere and using any of a variety of tools.

The company is maintaining a growth rate of 40 percent or more, Murdock said, adding at least a firm a day (including some in other verticals). Its customers include 20 of the AmLaw 100, and 10 firms this year moved from iManage to NetDocuments, he said. “Ten years ago, we were the underdog. Now it’s a two-horse race.”

As I reported last month, NetDocuments went through a leadership change, naming a new CEO, Josh Baxter, who had been president and COO since joining the company last year, so that Matt Duncan, who had been CEO since 2014, could step into a role that would allow him time to care for his father, NetDocument cofounder Ken Duncan, who is battling late-stage Parkinson’s disease.

On the day before ILTACON, at an event sponsored by the Global Legal Blockchain Consortium, NetDocuments demonstrated a proof of concept for email attachment encryption using the blockchain to publish the email identity and public key. I was not at the event, but Peter Buck, VP, product strategy at NetDocuments, told me in an email that the tool, while still in early development, is “super simple and pretty elegant.”

Also at ILTACON, NetDocuments was demonstrating ndThread, a social collaboration and matter-based messaging tool built within the NetDocuments platform, which it released in May. The product is based on the ThreadKM collaborative messaging technology that NetDocuments acquired last November.

WindTalker

Making its debut at ILTACON with a document-security product unlike anything I’ve seen was WindTalker, a company that has an interesting and unique take on providing security for privileged, confidential or sensitive content. At the conference, I spoke with its founder and CEO, Christopher Combs, who explained that the key difference between his product and others is that, while others secure the container — in other words, the entire file –his secures the content, natively.

What that means is that the product allows a user to protect a document granularly — by the paragraph, by the line, or even by the word. Protected content is encrypted, not redacted, and others are allowed or denied access based on rights-based permissions. Its encryption can be applied to both Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat documents, and it follows the documents, so that if one recipient forwards it, the permissions still apply. A single document can contain multiple sets of permissions.

A document can be granularly encrypted with different sets of permissions for different types of users. Some sections might be viewable by members of the legal team, while different sections might be viewable only by a CEO. These permissions can be turned on or off remotely and WindTalker automatically logs events for auditing purposes and supports creation of privilege logs.

Introduced at ILTACON, the product will officially launch within the next month or two.

American LegalNet

Given that it has been in business since 1996 and released its first product in 2001, it was surprising that I had never before met with American LegalNet. At ILTACON, I had the opportunity to sit down with its founder and CEO, Erez Bustan.

The company’s product is an end-to-end application for managing litigation dockets, deadlines and documents. One platform includes docketing and calendaring, court rules for all federal and state courts, PACER/ECF automation that automatically downloads and stores the free “first-look” documents, a collection of over 100,000 court and agency forms, and court data feeds for calendar entries and court appearances.

It ILTACON, its major news announcement was a new alliance partnership with Thomson Reuters Elite that will allow American LegalNet’s product to be available to customers of the Elite products 3E and Enterprise.

Bustan described his company as being in the risk management business. Noting that 40 percent of malpractice lawsuits result from calendaring mistakes and missed deadlines, he said that American LegalNet has developed a complete workflow that takes law firms away from risk and that increases their efficiency around the management of litigation documents.

Right now, most of the company’s customers are top-500 firms, Bustan said, including a number of prominent large firms. However, it is working on the release of a cloud product that will allow it to sell to smaller firms.

AdvoLogix

AdvoLogix is a cloud-based, enterprise-level law practice and legal matter management platform for law firms and corporate legal departments. At ILTACON, I met with Steve Stockstill, vice president, product development, who told me that what makes AdvoLogix unique is that it is built on the Salesforce.com cloud architecture. “Our customers are using the same Salesforce cloud that Salesforce uses,” he said.

That means that customers can buy AdvoLogix in either of two configurations — as a standalone or as an addition to an existing Salesforce application. The latter is often how corporate legal departments deploy AdvoLogix, since they are likely to be already using Salesforce within their organizations.

Because it operates on the Salesforce platform, AdvoLogix also integrates with a wide range of other applications that work within Salesforce — more than 3,000, it says. These include applications such as DocuSign, HotDocs, Worldox, NetDocuments, Contract Express, Box, and many others.

At ILTACON, AdvoLogix was highlighting its summer product release, with a number of new features and enhancements related to client intake, matter timelines, conflict checking, billing and timekeeping, calendaring and scheduling, document management, document assembly, and more.

The document-management company NetDocuments today named a new CEO, Josh Baxter, who has been president and COO since joining the company last year.

Matt Duncan, who had been CEO since 2014, is stepping into the role of executive chairman, where he will continue to help drive the company’s strategic objectives while also taking time to care for his father, NetDocument cofounder Ken Duncan, who is battling late-stage Parkinson’s disease, the company said.

Josh Baxter

Marc Duncan, long-time sales leader, has been promoted to strategic sales VP.

“Those in the industry who know Ken, and the special relationship Matt and Ken share, won’t be surprised to hear that Matt feels the need to support Ken during this very difficult time.” cofounder Alvin Tedjamulia, company CTO, said in the announcement. “As executive chairman, Matt will remain involved with NetDocuments and continue to help with strategic planning and corporate initiatives.”

Before joining NetDocuments, Baxter was with IT company Ivanti, where he was vice president, customer success and services. Since joining NetDocuments, he helped lead the recent acquisition of ThreadKM.

The legal profession’s move to the cloud has been a slow transition, in large part due to fears about control and security. In no sector has this been more true than among the world’s largest law firms.

It is therefore notable that Hogan Lovells, which The National Law Journal ranked in 2017 as the world’s fourth largest law firm in lawyer headcount, and which has more than 7,000 legal professionals in 49 offices, today announced that it has moved to cloud-based NetDocuments as its document management platform.

In a press release announcing the move, Ash Banerjee, Global CIO at Hogan Lovells, said:

Replacing our two document management systems with one global platform to leverage our worldwide network and improve our client service is a key part of our strategy. We believe the NetDocuments platform to be a modern and feature-rich platform that delivers on our current and future business requirements.

In a blog post today, Alvin Tedjamulia, chief technology officer at NetDocuments, said that many factors played into Hogan Lovells’ decision to go with NetDocuments, including the product’s maturity, scalability, and business focus on Software-as-a-Service and multi-tenancy.

But he says the move has broader importance for the legal market in that it reflects cloud acceptance by a global firm.

According to ILTA’s 2017 Technology Survey, 77% of firms with ‘700 or more attorneys’ indicated increased cloud technology adoption for 2018. In terms of barriers to cloud adoption, these same firms are a lot less concerned about cloud security, cloud reliability and management acceptance of cloud technology. The legal cloud computing is no longer focused on why? But rather how? And how deep? We have collectively come a long way from 1999 and NetDocuments 1.0.

Tedjamulia also said that this demonstrates that cloud providers may be best suited to address the challenges firms face around compliance, especially in the face of the GDPR. “Law Firms like Hogan Lovells are positioned to challenge the legacy practice of having multiple DM collections in multiple independent libraries as the only way to comply with data location requirements,” he said.

 

The California investment firm Clearlake Capital Group yesterday announced that it has acquired NetDocuments, the cloud-based document and email management company that specializes in serving law firms and corporate legal departments.

Clearlake is purchasing the stock of NetDocuments’ previous investor, Frontier Capital, for undisclosed terms. The acquisition is being done in partnership with the current NetDocuments management team, who will maintain “significant ownership.” The company will continue to be led by its current CEO, Matt Duncan, and CTO, Alvin Tedjamulia, and they will both join the board of directors.

Frontier had invested $25 million in NetDocuments in 2014 and named Duncan as the CEO. Duncan is the son of the company’s former CEO, Kenneth W. Duncan, who founded the company in 1999.

Clearlake’s announcement describes NetDocuments as the “only cloud-first and cloud-native content management solution purpose-built for the legal industry.” It says that the platform is used in more than 140 countries and by over 20 percent of Am Law 200 law firms, as well as numerous corporations and legal departments.

The founders of NetDocuments had previously founded SoftSolutions in the 1980s, a document management system that achieved wide popularity among law firms. In 1994, WordPerfect acquired SoftSolutions. The next year, Novell acquired WordPerfect and discontinued SoftSolutions as a product, although it incorporated much of its technology into its GroupWise product.

Kenneth Duncan and Tedjamulia, who had also been a founder of SoftSolutions, then founded NetDocuments as one of the first cloud-based document management systems.

In January 2015, the company acquired Recommind’s Decisiv search and enterprise email management system.

Clearlake is a private investment firm whose core sectors are software and technology, industrials and energy, and consumers. Its varied investments include the apparel site Bluefly, the communications provider ConvergeOne, the energy services companies Globe Energy Services and IronGate Energy Services, the hot tub company Jacuzzi, to the data-processing company Syncsort.

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NetDocuments
, the cloud-based document and email management platform for law firms and corporate legal departments, today announced its integration with Microsoft Office 365. The integration allows users to create or open Word, Excel or PowerPoint files stored in NetDocuments using Office Online web apps or Office mobile apps, and then save them back to NetDocuments without using OneDrive.

NetDocuments users will also need an Office 365 subscription to take advantage of the integration.

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The integration offers users the advantage of incorporating NetDocuments’ security and information governance initiatives, by keeping content centralized in the firm’s DMS, while also allowing them to securely interact with Office 365, and to do all of this via the cloud, so they can work from any device.

Key functionalities of the integration, according to a NetDocuments announcement, include:

  • Work within Office applications from any browser and any device, including the ability to open, edit and create from any iOS device.
  • Collaborate with real-time co-authoring and editing capabilities, eliminating the need to check documents in and out.
  • Maintain a consistent interface regardless of location or device.
  • Benefit from improved security and compliance by keeping documents within the DMS while using Office 365 applications.

The integration allows users to both edit and create Office documents from within NetDocuments. To edit a Word document, the user would right click on the document name within NetDocuments and select Open > Microsoft [Word] Online. The document will open in the Office Online app directly, in a separate browser tab, and be checked out in NetDocuments.

To create a document, the user would select New in the upper left corner of the NetDocuments web interface, give the document a name, select the Office format, choose a filing location, and then click OK. The new document will open in the Office app directly and be checked out in NetDocuments.

Of course, some document information is shared between NetDocuments and Microsoft in connection with the integration. A support article explains that both user metadata and document content flow through the Office Online servers.

“This data lives in memory and travels back and forth between Office Online and NetDocuments through HTTPS,” the article says. “Office Online goes to great lengths to scrub all personally identifying information (PII) from its logs. This scrubbing process is regularly audited to ensure Office Online is compliant with several different privacy standards such as FedRamp in the USA.”

Read the support article for more information on data sharing and also on using the new integration.