California Academy of Appellate Lawyers

California Academy of Appellate Lawyers

The California Academy of Appellate Lawyers is an election-only organization devoted to excellence in appellate practice. In late 2016, the CAAL Board of Directors sought to re-design and update an antiquated website in accordance with current industry standards and best practices. There were standard and custom feature requirements for the project (such as secure member login to access membership resources and to make profile updates), and it needed to remain within a pre-determined fixed budget.

Scope of Project

The scope of the project was a full website re-design with standard and custom feature requirements, such as:

  • Standard: Informational pages
  • Custom: Secure login that authenticates users for access to members-only resources
  • Standard: Membership directory
  • Custom: Members-only user interface that allows authenticated users to update their own profiles in the membership directory
  • Custom: System for uploading membership applications
  • Custom: Calendar that allows authenticated CAAL administrators to make updates
  • Custom: System that allows authenticated users to RSVP for events and pay dues through the website

Many business websites will have basic informational pages deployed along with business-specific unique functionality. To reduce costs of deploying such a website, we offer a unique solution. We implement the basic informational and standard components in our Blue Core CMS™ system (which has many pre-built common components); and then develop a completely custom web application for only the custom features needed. We then integrate the two websites such that that they present as one coherent website to the end-user. We proposed this unique solution to CAAL, a solution available exclusively through Smart Access IT, Inc.

The standard informational pages and website features (such as forms) of this website are delivered and managed via Blue Core CMS™.

The custom features developed specifically for CAAL were implemented in a custom ASP.NET Core web application integrated with its own SQL Server 2016 database. Security is implemented partially using IdentityServer4.

The custom features include administrative support for CAAL’s unique onboarding process; custom member profiles, advanced modern security implementation for authentication and authorization; and a few publicly visible CAAL-specific features, like the member directory.

Built-in Website Features
  • Responsive Design
  • Informational Pages
  • Forms
Custom Website Features
  • User Authentication / Secure Login via IdentityServer4
  • User interface for making updates to user profile
  • User interface for uploading membership applications
  • Calendar
  • Custom event notification engine to send automatic notifications to administrators for website activity of interest
  • Advanced modernized security implementation for both authentication and authorization
  • Custom onboarding process for processing new membership applicants
  • Modern technique for password reset request and for email address validation
  • Custom member directory, including search feature for finding members by zip code, practice area, etc.
  • Blue Core CMS™ 
  • jQuery 2.x
  • Bootstrap 3.x
  • HTML 5
  • CSS 3
  • JavaScript
  • SSL
  • IdentityServer4
  • SQL Server 2016
  • ASP.NET Core
  • Adobe Photoshop CC

Built-In Website Features

Responsive Design

All websites hosted on Blue Core CMS™ are cross-device and cross-browser compatible. Each website is integrated with jQuery 2.x, Bootstrap 3.x and supplemental JavaScript and CSS libraries. These open source libraries provide a useful balance between support for modern mobile-friendly website features and backwards compatibility with older browsers.

Informational Pages

Informational pages house static content on the website that may be permanent or routinely updated. The self-service administrative features on Blue Core CMS™ make it easy to safely perform these updates yourself. Alternatively, our support team can perform updates for you, and typically at no additional cost.


Choose anything from a basic contact form to a full custom application form that can be submitted online.

The forms delivered via Blue Core CMS™ are easily customized. Each form is backed by a database where the data provided by your website visitors is stored permanently. When visitors submit a form, the data is automatically written to the database, and then sent to you and/or others in your organization as an email message.  

Advanced security features built into our Forms component prevent automated form spam from being submitted through our system.

Custom Website Features

Advanced Modernized Security Implementation

IdentityServer4 is used to facilitate authentication.

Authorization, internal security conventions, email validation, and password reset implementations are implemented according to current industry best practices and standards.

Custom Member Profiles

Member profiles have only the data elements CAAL needs and wants. Membership profiles are stored in a custom SQL Server 2016 database.

Custom Member Directory

Selected elements from the custom member profiles are presented in the member directory.

An advanced member search is available to help the general public locate a member of interest.

Custom Database

The CAAL-specific features are all supported by an SQL Server 2016 database that runs in parallel to the Blue Core CMS™ system.

Other Deliverables

Data Migration

CAAL had an existing website solution replaced by our hybrid solution. To minimize disruption to the existing user community, we migrated data from the legacy system to the new hybrid system; preserving as much historical data as possible.


The legacy system was not protected with SSL. The new system, including IdentityServer4 implementation, Blue Core CMS™ components, and custom ASP.NET Core web application are all protected by SSL.