Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Downloading Data From Extranets (or from any internet site)

Varios versions of Excel, beginning with Excel 2002, deliver a neat tool that allows one to download a HTML table directly into Excel. All one needs to do is to right click on the HTML table (within legal extranets this could be a master list of all documents, all tasks, all calendar items, etc...) and use the "Export to Microsoft Excel" option. It launches Excel and imports the data, including the headings, for the client.

This can be used to provide a client with access to data, which they can then further massage for their own reporting requirements, in areas such as litigation settlement lists, case listings by docket number or by state or by any other case management tracking field, trial calendars, litigation document lists, litigation costs incurred by law firm, or any other litigation case management information stored in a litigation tracking system.

For legal extranets, or any web application, this feature has the potential to lessen the need for complex reporting solutions to be deployed along with a web-based application. If clients have the ability to export lists of data from their application (assuming the software company is smart enough to provide clients with views of the data that include all the fields required for reporting purposes), they can then use and work with their data using applications such as Excel and preventing that they generally prefer to use for reporting purposes anyway.