Who Owns Data in Your UniVerse?

Thursday, June 13th, 2013 | Legal Insight Case Management | Scott Randall

While it’s OK for accounting systems to be self-contained, sometimes lawyers want to move their financial data out of their accounting systems.

For instance, they might want to synchronize data with things like their case management systems or a firm intranet. After all, nobody wants to double-enter data.

They may also want to migrate their data to another accounting system. (Hey, it happens).

But law firms running older “legacy” accounting systems can run into challenges when they try to move their numbers to other systems.

We should know. We’ve been asked to extract data from five Legal Insight systems over the past two years. (Right now, we’re extracting data to facilitate a move from Legal Insight to Aderant. In four previous cases, we migrated firms from Legal Insight to ProLaw.)

Pulling data out of Legal Insight isn’t much fun. We started by doing the obvious: we used an ODBC driver from Rocket Software to tap into the UniVerse database that houses a law firm’s Legal Insight data.

Here’s what we found:

  • Versys wrote ODBC data dictionaries for Legal Insight client, matter and billing tables.
  • In some instances, data dictionaries required for ODBC drivers to do their jobs were not working properly.
  • In other instances, like for accounts payable, checking and the general ledger, the data dictionaries did not even exist.

Depending on what we found, we either fixed existing data dictionaries for UniVerse or wrote our own. (Note: This utility made the job easier.)

We also developed a custom process called “hsscrub” to migrate data out of Legal Insight. Five successful extractions later, we have this problem under control.

Understanding the obstacle: multi-value fields

Unlike SQL-type databases, the UniVerse database used in Legal Insight is a multi-value database.

Most ODBC drivers expect to find single values in each field. That’s why we could read fields like the client ID and client address, which contained single values. But if, for instance, a client has multiple phone numbers – fax, main, direct and so forth – Legal Insight keeps all those numbers in one field.

The typical single-value connector in ODBC drivers doesn’t even recognize the existence of multi-value fields. Even though we checked the Legal Insight application, which showed the information, we couldn’t find it in the client table. That’s why we researched the problem, came up with these answers and developed hsscrub. Problem solved.

If you’re having difficulty extracting your Legal Insight data, give us a call.

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