Miller Johnson Information Officer brings the firm impressive honor


by Cynthia Price
Legal News

The law firm of Miller Johnson Snell and Cummiskey has joined a short list of companies populated by such well-known large corporations as AFLAC, Dell, Dow Chemical, IBM and Wells Fargo.
The reason? The 95-attorney firm developed an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution which is normally reserved for much larger companies.

And CIO magazine recognized that achievement by giving Miller Johnson a CIO 100 award, recognizing “the highest level of operational and strategic excellence in information technology (IT),” from among thousands of nominees.

The credit for this transformation goes to Chief Information Officer Erik B. Goltzer. He led a team in addressing three goals: to unify systems and content typically disconnected from end users; to show practice and administrative data in a way that adds “meaningful context” to the display; and to increase the efficiency of end users and reduce risk in the IT system, resulting in a favorable impact on the firm’s bottom line.

The ECM solution as developed uses Microsoft SharePoint, SQL Server, InfoPath and Handshake Software’s Relationship Framework, with an emphasis on SharePoint used “pervasively, successfully and cost effectively,”  according to Goltzer. It is a web-based system as opposed to a desktop-applications-based system.

Goltzer has spoken at the International Legal Technology Association’s (ILTA’s) annual SharePoint symposium for the past three years. Miller Johnson’s SharePoint efforts made it to the finals of the ILTA 2010 SharePoint Innovator of the Year award.

The primary success of the ECM is that it allows Miller Johnson users to collaborate and access information across a wide variety of practices, including key accounting data, practice management systems information, client statistics and scheduling. Since some of this was formerly done by opening and closing a lot of different programs as well as through phone calls to different departments, the system saves users time and the law firm money. Goltzer says it is more “consumable,” meaning that it eases the process for the 95 different “businesses” that the firm’s lawyers comprise.

Goltzer says that this ease of use may not even be fully apparent to the attorney. For example, with just one click, all the aspects of a case will appear before him or her, including  the people involved, next court dates, next steps in the court process, and the latest invoices. This facilitates liaison with clients and reduces error, all in an unobtrusive way.

An additional area where Goltzer’s efforts have paid off is in allowing timely sharing of information with client “extranets” (about which Wikipedia says, “An extranet can be viewed as an extension of a company’s intranet that is extended to users outside the company...”)

The ECM solution reached by Goltzer is flexible and adaptable to serve the company into the future.

CIO  magazine chooses the recipients of the CIO 100 award by having a team of judges review the online application which offers companies the opportunity to tell about their innovative IT work. Based on the judges’ recommendations, the CIO editors make final choices.

“To receive this elite distinction is a testimony to the creative work we have done as a mid-sized law firm with limited resources in comparison to some of the big name honorees we’re sharing this honor with,” comments Goltzer.

CIO is a multi-pronged service which publishes the CIO magazine, hosts, and provides programs and conferences which help IT executives make use of latest IT trends and resources, as well as network with each other.

It is part of IDG Enterprise, a subsidiary of International Data Group, the world’s leading media, events, and research company.

According to Maryfran Johnson, CIO magazine Editor-in Chief,  “This year's CIO 100 awards draws well-deserved attention to companies that are not only innovating with IT but creating genuine business value as well. These winning companies and their IT organizations are an inspiration to businesses everywhere.”

The 2011 awards will be presented in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the sixteenth annual CIO 100 Symposium® and Awards Ceremony in August. Goltzer will attend, as may Miller Johnson Chief Operations Officer Betsy Raymond. The event will be covered online at, as well as in the August issue of CIO.

The award is, however, not the only payoff for Goltzer’s work. The ECM work has made a difference in how reports are generated, using Microsoft SQL Server versus Excel, increasing the efficiency of creating them as well as their accuracy.  One of the firm’s practice groups reported a 90% reduction in the time it took to generate monthly reports.

Another practice realized a 20% increase in revenues and a 60% increase in client base during 2010 during the sytem’s initial rollout.

The year the system was rolled out, 2010, also saw an expansion from zero Extranet clients to 75, which still continues to grow. This allows better and more frequent communication with those clients.

Goltzer says his next project is to “push a tremendous amount of content” into the system, and work on the user being able to pull pertinent documents up seamlessly.

Erik Goltzer had the full backing of the Miller Johnson management team in moving from a reliance on “unstructured” or widely-scattered text-based data to the more strategic “structured” data using specific fields in databases.

Goltzer, who currently lives in Belmont with his wife and two college-age children, was in the United States Army from 1982 to 1998, ending up as a Chief Warrant Officer. Concurrent with his discharge in 1998, he received bachelors and masters degrees in Information Management from Cal Southern University.

His final project with the Army was the conception, implementation and oversight of the technology operations of the Army and Navy, including the Marines, Gulf War Declassification System. He received the Army’s Legion of Merit for his service.

Because he was part of the Judge General Advocate (JAG) Corps, he wanted to continue doing IT work in the legal field. Goltzer has been Miller Johnson’s Chief Information Officer since 2004.
He works with an IT team which includes Bob Chauvin and Kevin Adams.

Goltzer indicates that winning is “a very good feeling,” particularly considering the ‘Goliath’ nature of the competition.