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The Law Office Network/Linux Server Trial
Getting Started with a Small Business
April 4, 2002
Doing computer work for a relative or friend can be a win-win situation. They appreciate your commitment to do a good job and you can usually put in the right equipment. In this case, my attorney relatives knew they needed a network to tie their practice together. You might think this type of project is a cakewalk for a moderately technical Linux enthusiast...continue reading, do a project, and then send me an email with your story.
For some reason, these projects never really get "finished". Your client could be your kids on a home network, your sister-in-law with DSL or a close accountant friend. The formal project management process, with heavy emphasis on documenting everything, goes out the window quickly. You can use planning meetings and checklists to help track the myriad of details. Did I mention that YOU are now the "project team".
Attorneys need various types of tools to accomplish legal work. They need to write and assemble complex multi-page document packages, track their billable and overhead time, collaborate with each other, and bill for their services. This particular office had two attorneys and five staff people on various Windows 98 client machines.
The attorneys wanted to use ProDocs and Word Perfect for their document assembly and Timeslips for their timekeeping tasks. The staff had some experience with these programs in a single-user Windows 98 environment. We had to obtain network versions for our implementation. Unfortunately, Timeslips didn't support running their programs on a Linux/Samba server. We took a chance to see if we could make it work. Collaboration would come from using networked applications with a central server and finally abandoning the "floppy shuffle" for file transfers.