Four years ago, the computer system at Hinmann,
Howard and Kattell, LLP consisted of 10 or 12 PCs that couldn't
talk to each other. The law library -- one of the largest in the
region -- consumed three and a half rooms. Today there are well
over 100 networked PCs serving the Binghamton office and a great
number of legal reports and statutes are duplicated on an NSM CD\DVD
library, with plans to dispense with hard copies in the future.
Back in the days before the firm had CD\DVDs,
maintaining the law library was a time-consuming and expensive proposition.
"Because we had so many attorneys, we had multiple subscriptions,"
said Mitchell, the firm's information systems administrator. Not
only was this expensive, it was difficult to keep everything updated.
"The publishers made it economical to get
their libraries on CD\DVDs," said Mitchell. "What used
to fill an entire room now fit on 10 discs. And of course there
were big time savings. The browsers that come with the publishers'
CD\DVDs make it fast and easy to find what you want. It was a better
solution than paper, but there was important element missing.
"That element, Mitchell explained, was multiple
access capability. If one attorney was using a certain CD\DVD at
his desk, or worse yet, had taken it home, the information was unavailable
to any of the firm's other 50-some attorneys. Mitchell decided that
instead of each attorney having a CD\DVD reader on his desk, they
needed to find a way to spin the discs over a Windows for Workgroups
network, which the firm had installed and continues to use to this
day as its only network.
"The first solution that came to our minds
was something with multiple CD\DVD readers, like a tower. But we
had more than 100 CD\DVDs, so I envisioned replacing the library
with walls of towers. But it was an expensive solution in every
"For many years, Mitchell has attended two
computer shows: PC Expo and Legal Tech. While browsing through Legal
Tech, he saw an NSM demo. "The jukebox was just going bananas
in the booth," Mitchell remembered. He stopped and asked how
many CD\DVDs it held. "When they told me 150, I knew it was
exactly what we needed." Because the law library was so critical,
Mitchell wanted to make sure he wasn't betting its integrity on
a new, unproved technology. "The representative explained that
the technology was basically the same as the one that's kept jukeboxes
playing in diners for years," Mitchell said.
"It was time-tested. It wasn't going to melt
down." What impressed Mitchell most was the fact that NSM's
simple, time-tested technology was coupled with a sophistication
unparalleled in the industry. "There were other players in
the market, but none matched the NSM volume or flexibility,"
Mitchell said. To assist with the Mercury 40 installation, the firm
contracted with MicroNetworking Systems, a consultant they'd used
before. The consultant implemented Logicraft LAN CD as the software
tool, and the system has been functioning beautifully for the year
and a half since it was installed.
In addition to storing their law library on the
NSM system, Hinman, Howard and Kattell, LLP has plans in place to
archive documents, as well. The firm has budgeted to purchase a