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Cottage Industrialist, a founder or top executive of a leading vendor to law departments: Frank Orzo of LTOnline

I thought it would be interesting to ask senior leaders in the cottage industry(thus, Cottage Industrialists) that serves legal departments – other than law firms – to describe the early history of their company, offer some metrics about it today, and give a specific example from a client about some management practice. Frank Orzo, the co-founder and long-time leader of LTOnline, prepared the first post.

The Lawtrac product was first introduced in 1984. Since its inception, we focused on in-house law departments, and to be candid, this was by accident, and it probably helped that I was not an attorney. My background was in software development. I worked for a national software development company in New York.

When hard drives were first introduced to personal computers, a colleague and I decided that this device could be a useful computing device. We approached several of our existing customers, and one – a large insurance company – said we could help them in their law department. At the time, the only product that offered the functionality that they required was developed for a Wang VS. Since they were an “IBM” shop, this was a non-starter. We agreed to build the product to their specifications for a nominal fee, provided we would retain intellectual property rights. The result: Lawtrac 1.0, based on the DOS operating system. Our customer was thrilled when we delivered a working product, only to then ask us how multiple users could share the information simultaneously. We said, “Oh, you want to share this information? Let us get back to you.” And that is how we developed the first PC-based, networked matter management system for law departments in January, 1985.

Twenty six years later, we are still focused on supporting the needs of in-house law departments. Our largest customer has 400 internal law department users in 22 countries, and we have several law department customers, such as Harpo Productions, with two to three users. We have some customers with over 100,000 matters in Lawtrac, ranging from litigation, contracts, intellectual property and M&A. Over 2,300 law firms submit more than $300 million annually in invoices through Lawtrac’s e-billing module. One customer processes 5,000 invoices per day.

Our client Systemax, Inc., has gone “paperless” in their law department as a result of implementing Lawtrac.. When a paper document comes into the department, it is scanned, and then thrown away. From that point forward, when information or documents are needed, Lawtrac is the centralized source to which law department personnel and their business partners go to retrieve what is needed.