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Enchanting ISYS: the ultimate indexing software.

First, the bad news. The Y2K "bug" threatens to shut down computers and computer programs in law offices across the nation come midnight, December 31, 1999. Consequently, many lawyers must replace or upgrade their computer systems before then to avoid losing data and to ensure that those systems are up and running on the first business day of the new millennium.

Now, the good news. Prices for computers and related technology have been falling like rocks. There has been, perhaps, no better time to review and overhaul your computer systems. As you do this, you should plan ahead and make changes that will improve productivity for years to come. For example, you should create an indexed library of already-drafted documents that can be easily accessed and referred to when creating new documents.

I, like most lawyers, prefer to use "golden oldies" as templates when preparing documents like pleadings, motions, and briefs. The drafting process is made easier when working from a familiar pleading or document that has worked well in previous cases. But tracking these tried-and-true documents so you know where to find them when you need them is sometimes more work than it is worth.

This is especially true if you have not yet linked the computers in your office via a common network. If that is the case, those computers likely hold volumes of text files--forms and documents that took you or your coworkers thousands of hours to create. If you are still using computers with small-capacity hard disk drives, you probably also have copied lots of documents and forms to floppy disks or another storage medium to conserve hard disk space.

How can you begin organizing this material so you can find what you need when you need it? You could start a project whereby:

* every important form and document is printed out;

* those materials are read, analyzed, and organized by type and author;

* the best of the documents are selected to create an archive of standard forms, which includes a brief synopsis of each document showing the date it was created, the case it pertains to, and who created it; and

* the documents' computer-based versions are placed in a digital library on your file server, and the hard copies are filed in your office library.

Right. If you can do that, you have found a new business to go into that will make you a fortune.

Most of us do not have the time or temperament for such an undertaking, and we cannot spare the staff required for such a dream project. So, while we are upgrading our computers and software for Y2K compliance and networking them, what should we do to organize all those complaints, discovery documents, jury instructions, motions, memorandums of law, and appellate court briefs that are stored on our computer systems?


ISYS to the rescue

ISYS Desktop 5 from Odyssey Development, Inc.--a virtual research assistant, filing clerk, and "paper chaser"--has been a favorite product of mine for years.(1)

It is an unstructured, full-text indexing software system that you can use to search your hard disk or network for any text-based files containing the word or combinations of words that you choose. The software is available on diskette or CD-ROM and is easy to load and use.(2)

Once the software is loaded, you begin by "double clicking" on the ISYS icon. A dialogue box appears, asking you to indicate which directories and subdirectories on which hard disk drives you want the program to index.

To illustrate, I recently gave two computers, a 386 and a 486, to a son-in-law. Before doing this, I put the text files on both computers on a removable hard disk and used ISYS to index the files on that disk. ISYS indexed over 3,000 files--about 500 megabytes of data--in about five or six minutes.

The ISYS program "reads" every word of every text file and can index over 70 file formats, including Adobe Acrobat PDF; ASCII; AmiPro; dBASE III Plus and IV; IBM DisplayWrite; Microsoft PowerPoint;

Microsoft Word for Windows versions 1, 2, 6, 96, and 97; MultiMate; WordPerfect versions 4.2, 5.0, 5.1, 6.0, 7.0, and 8.0; WordStar; and XyWrite. No data preparation or conversion to ASCII text is required before ISYS can do its magic.

Once the words in each file are indexed, you can do text searches for either one word or a combination of words. And you do not have to be an expert at Boolean logic to formulate a search request. ISYS provides a search form so easy to complete, you can formulate a request in a matter of seconds.

After my files were indexed, I clicked on the button that instructs ISYS to search the indexed database, and in what seemed like only a second or two, I had a list of "hits" or file names that contained the word or words I was looking for. I am not exaggerating--the results of the search appeared that quickly.

Once you have a list of files that meet your search requirements, all you need do is click on the document you are looking for, and it instantly appears on your screen, regardless of the format. You can then scroll through the document to be sure it is the one you are looking for.

If you have, indeed, found that long-lost treasure, you can load the applications program that created the file--without first exiting ISYS--and revise the file to fit your current needs. That's power. That's efficiency. That's what you want.

Such a deal

ISYS Desktop's single user price is $435, and it is well worth the investment.(3) I have been writing the Law Office Technology column for this publication since 1988, and during that time I have recommended, at best, a handful of products as "must haves." ISYS is one of them.

The product is reasonably priced, easy to install, fast, and versatile. It is the ideal product to find those gems and golden nuggets in "them thar hills."


(1.) Odyssey Development, Inc., can be reached by mail at 8775 E. Orchard Rd., Ste. 811, Greenwood Village, CO 80111; by phone at (303) 689-9998; by fax at (303) 689-9997; and on the Web at http://www. The company also sells ISYS:Web--an Intranet/Internet information retrieval and management system--and ISYS:Image, which converts paper documents into searchable information by scanning the documents and converting the scanned image into text using built-in optical character recognition resources.

(2.) ISYS Desktop 5 has many features and capabilities. To see what the software can do, download a demo copy from isys5.htm.

(3.) To get a quote for network pricing, contact the vendor at the sources listed in note 1.

Paul Bernstein is an attorney and law office automation consultant in Chicago. He can be reaached on the Internet at The views expressed in this column are the author's and do not constitude an endoresement of any product by TRIAL or ATLA.
COPYRIGHT 1999 American Association for Justice
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Bernstein, Paul
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 1999
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