ECM goliath Open Text has just announced the development of a fledgling integrated solution with Microsoft. The pair hope to build an offering for matter lifecycle management and practice support, targeting global law firms.The solution marries Open Text's history with legal practice to the doc management capabilities and collaboration friendliness of SharePoint. Before an enterprise CMS offering can make life easier for a law firm, the vendor needs to imagine the unique challenges that legal practices face in terms of information retrieval, privacy and other considerations. But there's no reminding Open Text and Microsoft, who feel (and perhaps are) especially suited for the job. "A law firm, like any organization, is looking for new ways to increase productivity and reduce risks," said Managing Director Brian Zeve for Microsoft's Professional Services Industry Solutions. "We've seen a strong reception for SharePoint Server 2007 in the legal market and Open Text is adding even more value to help customers address the twin concerns of compliance and productivity. By offering Open Text's legal capabilities within SharePoint Server 2007, we'll be able to offer customers the kind of integration they need for a truly comprehensive ECM strategy." The solution will address law firms' needs to control and manage sensitive client information without deviating from firm policies. Email will also be managed through a defined set of lifecycles. Additionally, it will allow for growth, something Open Text and Microsoft certainly know a lot about. Law firms must be allowed to scale globally, a process that may add potentially complex new policies, privacy issues and regulations to the mix. SharePoint Server 2007 is already popular with a number of law firms, with its intranet, extranet and collaboration capabilities. Meanwhile, Open Text's ECM solutions have long made themselves amenable to the unique needs of legal practice. Put together, SharePoint Server '07 can serve as a central repository for content, while Open Text brings forth a menagerie of useful tools, such as virtual file cabinets. The as-yet unnamed offering will: * include complete matter lifecycle management, from inception to closure * the ability to navigate between new business and potential conflicts of interest * build "ethical walls" to separate client cases * provide records management and archiving for meeting compliance requirements The solution is targeted mainly to firms seeking an "improved user experience" with a "matter-centric approach" to managing content. A white paper on the solution will be published at Open Text's LiveLinkUp 2007 conference in October. A market edition of the offering should be available in early '08. Learn more about going legal with Open Text and Microsoft. Think it's a star-crossed match? Let us know.