Microsoft, CHOICE Information Systems, PC DOCS and Focus Systems Join Forces to Digitally Link the Legal and Justice Communities

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 4, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced it has formed a strategic alliance with CHOICE Information Systems Inc., PC DOCS Inc. and Focus Systems to promote an electronic legal and justice system that will digitally link law firms to courts, as well as law firms to each other. As part of the alliance, Microsoft, CHOICE and PC DOCS will set up electronic filing systems in courts throughout the United States, using the SUSTAIN® eCourt
™solution from CHOICE. Focus Systems has a legal management application built on Microsoft® BackOffice® Small Business Server that will integrate with these systems, making the benefits of electronic filing available to firms of all sizes.

SUSTAIN eCourt from CHOICE provides a direct digital link between lawyers and courts, enabling them to save time and money by conducting business electronically. Through tight integration, documents can be filed directly into each firms’ PC DOCS system – allowing attorneys to immediately access documents using search and retrieval capabilities.

Unlike document-imaging-based electronic filing systems, SUSTAIN eCourt interacts directly with a court’s database, eliminating data entry, reducing lead times, and providing judges, court administrators and lawyers with the practical tools they need to access court data, file legal documents, and distribute documents to other lawyers. They benefit from direct online access to a central repository of court records, including the full text of filed documents.

“Few industries transfer as many physical documents as the legal and justice communities, making them ripe for electronic filing and electronic document distribution,” said Cory Linton, professional services marketing manager at Microsoft. “Built on Microsoft’s proven BackOffice family platform of Microsoft SQL Server
, Microsoft Exchange Server, and BackOffice Small Business Server, SUSTAIN eCourt, PC DOCS and Focus Systems make the perfect combination to revolutionize the way lawyers and courts conduct business.”

Toronto Metro Court Sets Bold Example

Courts of all jurisdictions and sizes are using SUSTAIN to manage their case loads. Recently, the General Division of the Toronto Metropolitan Court (Canada) – which handles more than 50,000 civil cases per year in cooperation with more than 11,000 lawyer members – implemented SUSTAIN eCourt to reduce the time and costs of filing and handling legal documents.

According to Ontario Attorney General Charles Harnick, “The current paper-driven system for filing court documents is outdated and costly. With 225,000 documents filed in civil cases in Toronto alone each year, we will eventually reduce the estimated $9 million per year it costs taxpayers for the courts to store the millions of civil documents in the system.”

In addition, Rob Russell, the partner responsible for technology at Borden & Elliot, a Toronto-based law firm, said, “The days of having to pay someone to rush down to the courthouse by one o’clock and wait in line to file documents will be a thing of the past. Now lawyers can file documents from their desks at virtually any time of the day or night, which translates directly into more efficient use of resources and lower bills for clients.”

“This collaboration affords the justice community with the greatest opportunity for success,” explained Michael Payton, president of CHOICE Information Systems. “In addition, because more than 1,000 courts already using SUSTAIN, including installations in California, Georgia and Illinois, are committed to implementing advanced Microsoft technology like Microsoft SQL Server, we are confident that this alliance will very quickly produce significant, tangible and measurable results.”

“Through the ease of integration afforded by Microsoft BackOffice technologies that link PC DOCS with SUSTAIN eCourt, law firms will not have to change to take advantage of electronic filing,” said Scott Kadlec, president of PC DOCS Inc. “And now, when a law firm receives a document from either the court or another law firm, that document will immediately and seamlessly be indexed and catalogued in PC DOCS.”

With Focus Systems’ legal management system based on Microsoft BackOffice Small Business Server, even smaller firms will be able to realize the vision of a fully integrated legal office system. “Today’s law firm must rapidly deploy new technology to respond to customer demands and competitive pressures,” said Neil Iscoe, CEO of Focus Systems. “Electronic filing is one of the tools that will allow law firms to meet this challenge.”

About CHOICE Information Systems

CHOICE Information Systems Inc., publisher of SUSTAIN, Justice Edition and SUSTAIN eCourt, has installations in more than nine states and three countries, and its clients have more than a decade of experience with the SUSTAIN family of products. The SUSTAIN family of products provides powerful solutions to all aspects of the justice community, and its open architecture invites extension by third parties using Microsoft development tools.


PC DOCS Inc. ( is a leader in enterprise document management solutions, managing information assets throughout their life cycle, across mixed networks, databases, corporate intranets and the Internet. PC DOCS sells its software through a channel of authorized resellers, integrators and distributors worldwide. PC DOCS’ open architecture enables best-of-breed partners in key technology areas to integrate their products seamlessly with DOCS Open, providing solutions to a variety of industries including manufacturing, finance, government, insurance, legal and other professional services.

About Focus Systems

Focus Systems ( is a full-service technology solutions provider for the legal industry. In addition to system integration and complete outsourcing services, Focus assists legal technical staffs by remotely monitoring and managing their networks and servers. By integrating remote connectivity directly to the desktop, Focus is able to offer legal-specific Web and phone help services directly to attorneys, paralegals and secretaries.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft and BackOffice are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

SUSTAIN is a registered trademark and eCourt is a trademark of CHOICE Information Systems Inc.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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