REVIEW OF MYCASEONLINE (ONLINE DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT)
By Chandra Lewnau, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Forensis Technologies’ MyCaseOnline <http://www.mycaseonline.net> is an online document management system that you can also use for discovery documents thanks to specialized tools for document review and production. The company has more than 10 years of experience in document scanning, litigation support, and online document management. MyCaseOnline offers a strong feature set, an impressive degree of flexibility, and the ability to add unlimited users at no additional cost. I received a free subscription for the purposes of this review in SmallLaw. http://www.technolawyer.com/smalllaw.asp
ORGANIZING YOUR DOCUMENTS
MyCaseOnline provides a surfeit of features to help you organize your documents. You can organize documents by case, add unlimited custom fields, place them in folders or subfolders, flag them, add notes to them, or mark them as reviewed. And you can identify them as key documents and organize them into categories and topics. With all these choices, it can be daunting to determine the best feature to use for any given task. New accounts include a sample case that will give you ideas about which fields to add and generally how to use the system. Careful advance planning, especially of the fields, will yield the best results.
One of the great strengths of MyCaseOnline is that you’re not limited to a predefined set of coding fields. You can create as many fields as you like to track whatever information is important to your practice. Anyone who has ever worked with an off-the-shelf solution that didn’t quite meet their needs will appreciate the customization options. I’d like to see MyCaseOnline include a predefined set of commonly used fields to select from, and enable you to save and reuse the sets you create.
Each case also has a default set of three status fields: Reviewed (a checkbox), Flag, and Notes. The flag field is another example of the flexibility that MyCaseOnline offers. Nine different flags are available, each with a different color icon. Add a name to each flag to customize the system.
You can attach any number of notes to each document. Notes can be associated with an entire document or a page range.
USERS AND ACCESS CONTROLS
You can tailor MyCaseOnline’s document access options to suit your policies. You assign users a permission level for each case. Options include No Access, Guest, User, and Editor. Guests can only view specific files or folders assigned by an Editor. Users can view and search all case
documents. Editors can upload and edit fields, save searches, and use a host of more advanced tools like create new cases, add or delete case fields, and add or manage users. Oddly, there is no permissions level between User and Editor. I’d like to see a new user level that can view and
upload documents and enter field data, but has none of the more supervisor-like powers.
You can also assign permissions for each individual folder, subfolder, document, or note. Items can be public (viewable by all users above the guest level), limited to a subgroup
of users you create, or viewable only by you. By using groups, you can extend access to guests, or limit access to those with user and editor permissions. Groups you create for notes are separate from groups for documents so that one can’t be used in the other, a decision that makes little
sense to me. You cannot manage Groups from the MySetup section where you create users. However, a handy feature enables you to see each user’s access rights.
WORKING WITH DOCUMENTS
Working with documents starts from the MyFiles screen. Editors see a control panel at the top of the section where you must turn Editor Mode on to do anything more than look at files (a “feature” that I found annoying). You can create folders and subfolders to organize your documents by
clicking the Main Folder Options button. You can upload documents to an individual folder or subfolder by clicking the suitcase icon next to that folder.
Other folder options include renaming, deleting, manually sorting, copying, printing, file permissions and guest permissions. You can also choose to email individual documents or extract pages from documents. A nice feature of the MyFiles list view is that icons for the status fields
appear after the name of each document, providing useful at-a-glance information. If a note is linked to a page or page range, that number is shown as a hyperlink that takes you to that page when clicked.
Clicking a document name in MyFiles opens a two pane window with the list of file properties on the left and a preview of the document on the right. In the properties pane, you can edit the fields and add and review notes. When you upload a document, a similar window appears but with options to check a box to OCR the file and to set file permissions. The upload process itself is fairly standard. There’s an option for uploading multiple files. You can upload a variety of file types, and convert them to PDF format. To view your new file, you must return to MyFiles and select it
from the list.
Search is an area where MyCaseOnline really shines. From the MySearch screen you enter search text for any field. The full text of each document is also searchable. You can search for Notes by author. There is even an advanced Boolean option with which you can set up complex searches.
Searches are fast, at least in the modestly sized cases I used. Results appear in a sortable table below the search criteria. If you’re an editor, you can save searches or export them as a PDF or zipped excel file along with the field information. The export function also provides you an
exit strategy if you switch to another provider.
MyCaseOnline doesn’t publish prices. But the pricing model is very compelling. Usage fees are based on the storage used. Unlimited users are allowed at no additional cost. Also, each “case” in MyCaseOnline can be billed separately, or can be billed directly to the client. The unlimited users
alone could result in tremendous savings, enabling small law firms on a tight budget to provide case access to everyone who needs it, including clients.
MyCaseOnline should meet your security needs. The servers are kept in a secure Category 5 data center and protected by two firewalls. All information sent to MyCaseOnline is encrypted with 128-bit SSL. You can optionally encrypt each case at rest with 256-bit encryption for added security. User passwords are also encrypted by two methods so they can’t be intercepted in transit (this security may interfere with password manager applications).