Order in the court: digital justice

By Kirk Arthur as written on enterprise.microsoft.com
From my previous 19 years in law enforcement, I’ve spent a lot of time in courtrooms. When I think about all the courtrooms I’ve seen, they’re more or less the same as they were 200 years ago, except for adding computers and monitors.
Court systems around the world traditionally have run on paper-based processes—and the vast majority still do—yet that’s beginning to change. Judicial systems in the United Kingdom generated a million pages of documents a day before moving to a Microsoft cloud-based digital justice platform. In addition to saving significant costs of producing, transporting and storing large quantities of paper, the best outcome of going digital is the data becomes easily accessible, free from paper silos, and available for analysis and interrogation to find relevant judicial hearings and decisions, case law, legal trends and more. (See more details in my blog on e-justice.)

Digital justice—a trend around the globe

I’m pleased to see digital transformation is a growing trend in courts around the globe—and producing results. After just 12 months, the U.K.’s digital justice platform has reduced more than 18 million paper documents related to 100,000-plus cases involving 18,500 registered users. In addition to moving from paper to a digital environment, courts also are innovating with other modern technologies:

Cybersecurity: the foundation of Microsoft court solutions

Court IT systems and legal records need to be protected from cyber-attacks just the same as court buildings, staff, attorneys, case participants and visitors need physical protection. Microsoft takes cybersecurity very seriously, investing a billion dollars each year to make sure our cloud ecosystem is secure. Our cybersecurity experts in the Digital Crimes Unit and the Cyber Defense Operations Center monitor information to identify real threats, and they also develop tools and techniques to track and catch cybercriminals, and share with law enforcement from around the world.
Microsoft is enabling digital transformation across government priorities while helping to ensure that organizations, such as the courts, have the trust, security and compliance they need for sensitive data. We build security into Microsoft products and services from the start. Here are a few examples:
  • Microsoft Azure is the global, trusted, hyper-scale cloud, providing the most comprehensive compliance coverage of any cloud provider.
  • Office 365, which is widely used by courts for scheduling and communications, provides control over data security and compliance with privacy, transparency and refined user controls built right in. Advanced Security Management also offers enhanced visibility and control.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps manage and visualize the judicial process work flow—one of the biggest workloads for courts.
  • Azure Media Services, which is part of the Buenos Aires solution, delivers content more securely.
It’s exciting to see courts around the world embracing digital transformation to become more efficient, productive and cost-effective while delivering a better experience to citizens.


Tech Sector Nonprofit Saves 79 Percent, Gains Global Market Access with Cloud Hosting

As written on customers.microsoft.com
Pro Bono Net provides web-based technology services that support law firms, courts, legal aid, and individuals throughout the United States. So when some of its own, on-premises servers reached end of life, what technology did the organization choose to replace them? Windows Azure. The nonprofit reduced annual cost after payback by 79 percent, made its service faster and more reliable, and has access to a global marketplace that was previously out of its reach.

Business Needs

Companies of all sizes are turning increasingly from on-premises IT infrastructures to cloud-based services for obvious reasons: they cost less and make it possible for companies to focus on their core strengths, rather than on commodity IT maintenance. But what do the providers of those services do when they face the same choice as their customers—and should those customers care?

A case in point is Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to justice through innovative uses of technology and increased volunteer lawyer participation. The organization meets this mission, among other ways, through its Pro Bono Manager™ service, which boosts a law firm’s pro bono program management capacity. Operating as a secure, seamless extension of a law firm’s intranet, Pro Bono Manager integrates content from the public-interest legal community with reporting, knowledge management, and lawyer-and-case matching tools that draw on a firm’s own human resources and time keeping systems.

Pro Bono Manager is a web-based, or software-as-a-service, solution—and the low-cost and minimal management required by the law firms that adopt it has been one of its selling points. But the cloud that hosted the service was a very physical set of servers owned and managed by Pro Bono Net. When those servers reached end-of-life, Pro Bono Net faced the same choice that their customers had answered by choosing Pro Bono Manager: Should Pro Bono Net refresh its hardware installation, or migrate Pro Bono Manager to a cloud platform?

The organization had to consider the economics of its choices, as any enterprise would. But, as a service provider to others, it had additional considerations: Would a move to the cloud affect the prices, availability, reliability, and speed that Pro Bono Net offered its customers and, if so, how?


Pro Bono Net already had experience with the cloud; some of its other solutions ran on Amazon Web Services. But when it came time to migrate Pro Bono Manager, the organization chose Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud computing platform.

One reason: Windows Azure was built from the ground up to support the same Microsoft technologies—Microsoft SharePoint Server, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (in the cloud: Windows Azure SQL Reporting), and the Microsoft .NET Framework—that Pro Bono Net already used. Another reason: Microsoft offered Windows Azure Virtual Machines, which provided the flexibility and availability that comes from the use of virtualization technology.

Pro Bono Net used Windows Azure Virtual Machines for persistent virtualization in support of SharePoint Server, which serves as the foundation for Pro Bono Manager. If the organization had been moving between more consistent platforms—say, two virtual platforms, one managed on-premises and one in the cloud—it would have been easier to estimate cost. Going from a physical/on-premises platform to a virtual/cloud platform required some experimentation in preproduction environments, which the organization and Microsoft completed successfully.

Pro Bono Net eventually decided on a high-availability infrastructure that replicated domain controllers, front ends, application servers, and Windows Azure SQL Database instances on virtual machines. It also adopted Windows Azure availability sets to further mitigate risk and promote reliability. And as its use of Windows Azure grows, the organization expects to adopt geo-colocation features that will further increase fault tolerance and business continuity.


By using Windows Azure, Pro Bono Net gains lower cost, greater reliability, faster performance, and new business opportunities. The organization plans to move its Amazon-based sites to the Microsoft cloud platform, too.

Avoids 79 Percent Cost of On-Premises Solution

Cost was a key factor for Pro Bono Net in deciding between an on-premises and cloud-based platform for Pro Bono Manager. By choosing Windows Azure, the organization avoided a US$25,000 investment in production hardware and services, plus $8,300 in maintenance and system administration. It also avoids another $25,000 investment to replicate the environment for the sake of business continuity.

For its specific configuration on Windows Azure, Pro Bono Net spends $11,000 annually—and saves 79 percent over comparable cost for an on-premises infrastructure and support, after a 1.4-year payback period.

Uptime Rises to 3 “9s,” Users See 20 Percent Faster Loads

Pro Bono Net now pays less to support Pro Bono Manager while gaining more, particularly more reliability. Since the move to Windows
Azure, uptime for the application has increased from 99 percent to 99.9 percent. “That’s a significant increase for us,” says Alec Rosin, Consulting Engineer for Pro Bono Net. “On-premises, if we had a disaster, we could be out for a week. We don’t anticipate that happening on Windows Azure.”
Pages and reports now load about 20 percent faster on Windows Azure, creating a more natural user experience.

Gives National Organization the Tools to Go Global

Pro Bono Net expected lower cost and better service from Windows Azure. What it didn’t expect was new business opportunities—but it now has them, too. Many countries or regions require that sensitive data, including legal data, remain within their borders. Pro Bono Net, with its US-based data center, couldn’t go after this business before.
Now, using Windows Azure’s global data centers and Content Delivery Network, it can. “We can go from being a national service organization to a global service organization, by using Windows Azure,” says Adam Licht, Director of Product Management at Pro Bono Net.


Small Law Firm Improves Client Service and Saves $3,200 Annually with Hosted Services

As written on customers.microsoft.com
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Mark Nikel Professional Corporation is a small law firm that specializes in personal injury claims. As a small firm, it wanted to provide solutions that supported its email and legal case management requirements but did not need much administration. To provide capabilities such as remote access to email, calendars, and case information, it decided on Microsoft Office 365, a cloud-based service that offers web-enabled business productivity, collaboration, and communication tools.


Established in 1998, Mark Nikel Professional Corporation represents injured clients in personal injury legal cases in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The firm is comprised of Mark Nikel, its founder and lead attorney, a paralegal, and several attorneys who are engaged on a contract basis.

To support clients, employees frequently traveled to hospitals, clients’ homes, and courtrooms to advise clients, gather statements from witnesses, and argue cases. Mark Nikel, Founder and Lead Attorney at Mark Nikel Professional Corporation, says, “The largest challenge for us was remote access and sharing of information. As a lawyer in a small law firm like mine, being able to be out with clients and being able to work away from the office is survival.” The firm’s email and case management solutions were not providing the remote access capabilities that employees needed to stay productive when they were away from the office.

For messaging, the firm used a POP3 email and calendar service that cost CDN$50 (U.S.$50) per month and presented several challenges. Employees found it difficult to synchronize email and calendar information with mobile phones. The POP3 service also had limited functionality for updating calendars and tasks. Because the courts set deadlines for when attorneys can file lawsuits or make motions, calendars changed frequently, and legal professionals had to track updates manually. Additionally, the amount of spam that employees received each day was unmanageable.

To store client and case information, the law firm used Amicus Attorney Small Firm Edition, a third-party legal case management software solution. The software was installed on the law firm’s server and client information was backed up to an external hard drive. Since legal professionals must access legal case information from remote locations like the courthouse, the firm set up a virtual private network (VPN) with a dedicated IP address, but remote performance was slow and unstable. Amicus Attorney worked great when employees accessed it from the office, but poor remote access was affecting productivity and employees’ ability to provide information to clients in a timely manner. The firm expected to spend CDN$1,000 (U.S.$1,000) to upgrade to Amicus Attorney Premium Edition and Amicus Mobile for remote access to case information. In addition to problems with remote access, the firm was also concerned about the security of data, stability of backups, and downtime.

Nikel explains, “I was the IT person, so if something did not work, I had to fix it or pay an IT consultant.” If he was at the courthouse or working from home and the server went down, which happened three or four times a year, he would have to go into the office to restart it, taking time away from important legal business.


The firm learned about Microsoft Office 365, which brings together trusted business productivity, collaboration, and communications products as cloud-based services. It joined the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program (RDP) to pilot the solution and address challenges with remote access, security, downtime, and IT administration. Office 365, the next-generation communications and collaboration cloud-based services from Microsoft, combines the familiar Office desktop suite with cloud-based versions of Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online. Nikel says, “The setup of Office 365 was very simple. From the moment we received the invitation, we simply spent one hour getting SharePoint Online and Exchange Online set up. After that it was a matter of migrating the data, which in our case took three or four hours at the most.”

As current users of the latest Microsoft Office suite, Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010, Nikel and his associates were able to seamlessly connect to the communication and collaboration services of Office 365 to provide exceptional legal advice. Nikel says, “The Office applications like Outlook and Word work great with the online services like Exchange Online and SharePoint Online.” By using Office 2010 and Office 365, the firm began to fully benefit from the combined capabilities of the rich client desktop suite and the hosted services of Office 365.

By replacing the POP3 service with Exchange Online, employees can access email, calendars, and contacts from almost anywhere with a mobile phone or a computer with a broadband connection. Nikel says, “With each device—my tablet, a Windows Phone 7, an Android phone, and even my iPad at home—the synchronization works.” Attorneys use tasks and calendars in Microsoft Outlook 2010 to manage schedules of cases and deadlines. The firm also receives less spam and believes the up-to-date antivirus and antispam solutions make email more secure.

With SharePoint Online, the legal professionals can easily access files and case information remotely without logging onto VPN. The firm also decided to switch from Amicus Attorney to Credenza, made by Credenza Software, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. Credenza is an Outlook add-in that captures client and case information and works with SharePoint Online to provide a legal case management solution that attorneys can access from anywhere. The firm can synchronize SharePoint libraries with Outlook 2010 so attorneys can access case-related documents even when working offline. The firm also uses SharePoint Online to host its external website because it’s simple and easy to set up for a small business.

The firm uses the Microsoft OneNote 2010 note-taking program to capture information into an electronic notebook that attorneys can save in SharePoint Online to share with paralegals. With OneNote 2010, author indicators capture who wrote what. Legal professionals frequently research previous cases, and they can copy relevant information into the notebook with a web link to the case. In Outlook 2010, Nikel can send an e-mail message to a OneNote notebook for a specific client. Nikel says, “With OneNote and SharePoint Online, I was able to create shared notebooks to capture research, links to prior cases, maps of accident scenes, medical records, photographs, and contact information related to a case. I can access this information from almost anywhere from my mobile phone with Microsoft OneNote Mobile or with Microsoft OneNote Web App.”


By moving to Office 365 hosted services, Nikel has significantly reduced the time he spends on IT issues, strengthened security of data, stabilized backups, and reduced downtime. Attorneys have better remote access to case information. With these advances, the firm has improved client service, reduced IT costs, and increased profitability.

Improved Client Service

The firm has improved the ability to access emails, calendars, contacts, tasks, and legal case information from remote locations with Office 365. Attorneys frequently speak with accident victims in hospitals, and now they can access clients’ case information from a mobile phone. Nikel says, “This puts information at my fingertips, allowing me to make recommendations to clients immediately rather than taking down the situation and then spending time later to make a recommendation.” Attorneys often only have one opportunity to question witnesses, and with easy access to case information, they can ask more pertinent questions to help improve the testimony for clients’ cases.

Nikel himself has redirected time from IT issues to serving clients. “With Office 365, my [IT] role is almost nonexistent. Once it’s set up, it’s working. I need not worry about it and the time is mine to devote to the law practice.” Also with reduced spam and reduced downtime, Nikel can devote more time to client activities.

Reduced IT Costs

With Office 365, Nikel estimated he has reduced IT costs by CDN$3,200 (U.S.$3,200) annually. He expects yearly savings in the following areas:
  • Saved CDN$1,000 (U.S.$1,000) in IT consulting costs by switching to a Microsoft-hosted environment
  • Avoided CDN$1,000 (U.S.$1,000) in annual software subscription costs for an upgrade to Amicus Attorney Premium Edition and Mobile Edition
  • Saved CDN$600 (U.S.$600) in fees to an IT service provider for POP3 email service and external website hosting, because of functionality built into Exchange Online and SharePoint Online.
  • Saved CDN$600 (U.S.$600) in costs for a dedicated IP address because security is built into the Office 365 solution

Nikel says, “On a per-lawyer basis, my IT costs will be a fraction of what any of the other law firms’ IT costs are. We pay less than $100 per month per lawyer compared to thousands of dollars per lawyer at a large firm.”

Improved Profitability

Nikel expects a significant increase in profitability, supported by the Office 365 deployment. By improving client service, Nikel expects an increase in client referrals and revenue. He has reduced his firm’s IT costs by reducing contractor, software, and other related IT costs. Nikel has also improved efficiency when working remotely. “Office 365 has helped give me back the time I was spending on IT. We’ve been able to increase the volume of work without increasing staff.”

Nikel says, “I used to be a partner at a large firm, where we had IT staff and large budgets. There was no way a small law firm could afford these advanced capabilities like access-from-anywhere. But with Office 365 it makes it possible for a small firm like mine to have these same capabilities without a large IT investment.”

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products—Microsoft SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online—with the latest version of our Office desktop suite and companion web applications for businesses of all sizes.

Office 365 helps save time and money, and it frees up valued resources. Simple to use and easy to administer, it is financially backed by a service level agreement guaranteeing 99 percent reliability. Office 365 features robust security, IT-level phone support, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and the business-class privacy controls and standards that you expect from a world-class service provider.


Law Firm Enhances Courtroom Storytelling, Daily Productivity with Microsoft Surface Pro

As written on customers.microsoft.com

"I now have all my Microsoft OneNote notebooks stored on OneDrive for Business, and I can access them from anywhere using my Surface Pro or my phone. It’s really pretty amazing to have my entire office at my fingertips wherever I am." - Brian Prestes: Partner at Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott

Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP is one of the most successful trial law firms in the United States. To help attorneys tell more compelling stories in the courtroom and be more productive every day, it is deploying Microsoft Surface Pro 3 devices. In a profession where time is money, Bartlit Beck attorneys use the Surface Pro 3 to save time throughout the day, be more effective in court, and operate cost-effectively.

Be More Effective In Court and Out

Storytelling is not only important in Hollywood; it’s important in the courtroom, too.
No one has perfected the art of courtroom storytelling like Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP. Known as Bartlit Beck, the law firm specializes in complex courtroom litigation. It has achieved an enviable record of courtroom victories in high-profile cases of all kinds, including antitrust, class action, intellectual property, product liability, fraud, and securities.
To help its attorneys tell more compelling stories, and to help them be more productive and effective during workdays that extend well beyond typical office hours, Bartlit Beck is giving interested attorneys Microsoft Surface Pro 3 devices.

Use Technology Effectively

Bartlit Beck has always used technology to maximum effect. An early adopter of the alternative fee model, which rewards the firm according to results rather than hourly billing, Bartlit Beck aims to do superior work with fewer lawyers and layers in less time. Smart use of technology facilitates this efficiency.

“We encourage our attorneys to use the technology tools that make them most efficient,” says Alexandra Buck, Chief Operating Officer and Special Counsel at Bartlit Beck. “We pioneered the use of trial presentation software, and we continually test new technologies that help us present our arguments as clearly and persuasively as possible.”

Most of the firm’s 77 attorneys used thin and light laptops but still found them too heavy and clunky for their on-the-go lifestyles. They took too long to turn on and shut down, which attorneys did multiple times a day as they moved between offices, meetings, homes, airports, airplanes, and customer sites.
“I would take my laptop into a meeting, fire it up, go get coffee, have a hallway chat, come back, and it would still be loading,” Buck says. “That wasted time adds up throughout the day.”

Brian Prestes, a partner at Bartlit Beck, shared Buck’s frustrations. “I really wanted a tablet to make it easier to do all my reading, but I didn’t want to juggle multiple devices. From a lifestyle standpoint, I wanted a device that I could pick up and put down frequently to check email, play music, read a brief, and chat with my family via Skype, all more fluidly than I could with a laptop. I also travel constantly, and I found it increasingly difficult to have enough space on an airplane to open a laptop.”

Tell More Compelling Stories

In the spirit of staying current with new technology, several attorneys acquired an earlier version of Surface Pro, and the firm got hooked. “No one here likes to be left behind!” Buck says. The number of devices continued to grow, and the firm expects to have nearly 40 Surface Pro 3 device users by the end of the year.

With their Surface Pro 3 devices, lawyers have immediate access to all pretrial discovery materials, deposition testimony, legal analysis, and everything else related to the case, which can be sorted and analyzed instantaneously. “This gives us a tremendous advantage over firms that may have access to similar information but that require layers of support to access, manipulate, and present it in court,” Buck says.

Using a combination of touch, the Surface Pen, and Type Cover, lawyers can quickly move around within a document, highlight or underline language, or otherwise manipulate presentations with total ease. “With the Surface Pro 3, our attorneys can more flexibly control their stories in the courtroom, which gives more authenticity and credibility to our presentations,” Buck says.

Make Every Minute Count

Apart from courtroom effectiveness, attorneys use their Surface Pro 3 devices to be more productive every day. “The main advantage of the Surface Pro 3 over a laptop is in the transition points—the startup and shutdown times that happen throughout the day,” says Buck. “The Surface Pro 3 is blazingly fast. This time saving adds up throughout the day and week.”

Prestes loves the “lapability” of the Surface Pro 3—the ability to use it comfortably on his lap, on an airplane tray, or in other tight quarters. “After using my Surface Pro 3, I can say that it has delivered on the promise of being the tablet that can replace my laptop,” he says. “I can set up shop and be productive anywhere, in small slivers of time. If I only have five minutes, I can check my email and respond to questions, whereas before I lost that time.”

With its practice of results-based billing, Bartlit Beck prizes efficiency—thus its penchant for technology. “Our bread and butter is being efficient,” says Buck. “The Surface helps us do the best possible work in the least amount of time.”
Bartlit Beck uses Microsoft Office 365 to give employees access to cloud-based email, instant messaging, videoconferencing, productivity applications, and more. Prestes and others say that the combination of the Surface Pro 3 and Office 365 is a powerful productivity enhancer. “I now have all my Microsoft OneNote notebooks stored on OneDrive for Business, and I can access them from anywhere using my Surface Pro or my phone,” Prestes says. “It’s really pretty amazing to have my entire office at my fingertips wherever I am.”

Save Money, Too

While many Bartlit Beck attorneys use Apple Mac computers, Thomas Mensch, IT Director at Bartlit Beck, says the Surface Pro is more cost-effective. “The Macs are about $1,000 more expensive for each user, because the Mac hardware is more expensive and doesn’t run our legal software, so we have to install a virtual machine that can run Windows,” he says. “I think the Surface is a great addition from Microsoft; it’s a complete computer in a little box.”

"After using my Surface Pro 3, I can say that it has delivered on the promise of being the tablet that can replace my laptop. I can set up shop and be productive anywhere, in small slivers of time." - Brian Prestes: Partner at Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott



Azure Import/Export Service is now available in Microsoft Azure Government

By Brenda Lee as written on blogs.msdn.microsoft.com
We are excited to announce the general availability of the Azure Import/Export Service in Microsoft Azure Government. The Import/Export service allows migration of large amounts of data in and out of Azure blob storage by shipping hard disk drives directly to the datacenter. This service is suitable in situations where you want to transfer several TBs of data in or out of Azure Storage, but uploading or downloading over the network is not feasible due to limited bandwidth or high network costs. Some scenarios where this service can be used are data seeding, content distribution, recurring data update, offsite backup, disaster recovery.

Benefits of using Azure Import Export

  • Fast: We recommend using Azure Import/Export if loading data over the network would take 7 days or more. Shipping disks directly to the data center can save weeks or more off of network transfer time.
  • Secure: Data is secured by Bitlocker encryption. The keys are securely uploaded using SSL REST-API and do not travel along with the disk.
  • Reliable: The client tool has internal checksum logic to maintain data integrity. Various verbosity of logging is available directly in customer storage accounts making this process highly reliable.
  • Azure Backup Offline Seeding: Azure Import/Export Service for Azure Government will enable government customers to seed initial backups to Azure Backup service.


While all import/export functionality is available, we currently only support the REST API interface for creation and management of import/export jobs in Azure Government. The Portal experience for Import/Export jobs will come in the new portal later this year.  See below for details and samples for getting started with import jobs via the REST API.  


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Today’s Tech: How A Startup Attorney Uses Cloud Computing

By Nicole Black as written on abovethelaw.com
Cloud computing used to be a foreign concept to many lawyers, but these days most lawyers are working in the cloud whether they know it or not. Cloud computing offers so many advantages over traditional on-premises software — including convenience, mobility, flexibility, affordability, and 24/7 access — that it’s hard to avoid using cloud computing for work-related purposes. That’s why so many lawyers start using cloud computing services like Dropbox to share documents — oftentimes after being prompted to by other lawyers involved in a case — without even realizing they’re collaborating on documents in the cloud.
But not all lawyers stumble into the cloud unknowingly. Some choose cloud computing with their eyes wide open, after carefully researching their options. Steven Ayr is one such lawyer.
Last year Steven joined Fort Point Legal, a Boston law firm that focuses on representing small businesses and startups, after practicing law as a solo practitioner for a number of years. As a solo, his law practice was 100% paperless and all of the firm’s data was stored in the cloud. So when he started at Fort Point Legal, he was first in line to help move the firm into the cloud: “When I got here, the firm was on its way to a cloud-based practice but I nudged it along. For a firm like ours that’s growing quickly, it’s scalable and it takes out a lot of the management costs since we don’t have to worry about having an in-house IT department. And, from a productivity and security standpoint and the built-in ability to have 24/7 access from anywhere, it just makes sense for us.”
But according to Steven, it’s not just cost savings and convenience that make the cloud so appealing; the cloud also allows them to compete with larger law firms.
“We use the cloud-based software since it’s a relatively inexpensive way for a smaller law firm to get the capabilities that used to be reserved for larger firms. Whether it’s data management or security, the cloud really is the great equalizer,” he explains. “There aren’t many law firms our size in Boston that do what we do. Instead you typically find small departments within very large firms. So web-based software levels the playing field for us.”
The firm uses a number of different cloud-based tools. First, there’s Google Apps. “We use Google Apps for our email contacts and calendars. It’s the hub of our practice. We share calendars amongst team members so we can see what’s going on with everyone’s schedule and we can create specific calendars to keep track of different issues. So, for example, we have a calendar to keep track of corporate filings throughout the year that is accessible to everyone.”
The firm also uses Asana, which provides web-based task management software. “We can forward emails into Asana and it will create a task using the body text of the email and will also add any email attachments to the newly created task. Team members can then comment the task as well. And over time you can follow each matter as it progresses and tasks are checked off.”
Dropbox is another web-based tool that the firm relies on. “We use Dropbox as our central file repository. We use it to collaborate, but it’s not ideal for collaboration since it doesn’t update in real-time like Google Drive’s collaboration. We use Dropbox Pro because of the higher level of encryption it provides, since in Massachusetts we have very strict data privacy laws. Another reason we prefer Pro is because you have access to more security features when it comes to team members, including the ability to remotely wipe devices.”
Another cloud-based tool the firm uses is Phone.com. “We recently switched from Ring Central to Phone.com because we were seeking a more user-friendly interface and better customer support. Another reason we really like this service is because there’s no limit to customization you can set up in terms of how you want phones to ring and at what time of day and in what order.”
Cloud-based tools benefit their firm in many ways. Not only do they provide convenience and save their firm money, they also make the firm more appealing to their target market. “Our startup clients would be put off if we didn’t use these tools with them. We use them regularly with clients and many of my client interactions take place online now.”
Of course there can be drawbacks when collaborating with clients online, as Steven acknowledges: “There is arguably lack of human touch when a lot of client communication occurs online. So it’s important when using cloud computing tools for client communication to be cognizant of that fact and to take steps to maintain those connections.”
His advice to lawyers seeking to use cloud computing software in their practice? Plan carefully. “Think through your needs before you start implementing different types of software. Take the time to research your options and sit through demos with sales reps. Figure out what you truly need ahead of time so you can avoid wasting time by constantly switching between systems and software.”


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Empowering attorneys and staff with Office 365 helps Kelley Drye transform into a digital workplace

By Judith Flournoy as written on blogs.office.com

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The legal profession stretches all the way back to the orators of ancient Rome. The field has come a long way since then, with attorneys often working together across geographical and organizational boundaries on behalf of their clients. That idea of teamwork—collaborating with colleagues, outside consultants and even clients—needs to be at the core of what we do so that we can take advantage of areas of expertise and facilitate efficiencies.
As law firms have expanded to handle matters across the globe, they’ve needed to change the nature of collaboration, which has evolved tremendously over the last 50 years or so. For most of the history of our profession, attorneys relied on face-to-face meetings and documents shared via human messengers. The telephone and fax machine began to alter that communication landscape, but the first major game changer was email, which is still heavily used today to exchange documents, images and other information related to client matters.
At Kelley Drye, we’re continuing that evolution by embracing new avenues of collaboration through Microsoft Office 365. Rather than sending long email threads, we rely on Microsoft SharePoint Online. We use its project and team sites to manage issues, contacts, project tasks, links to internal and external content, timelines and document access—all in one place and accessible from anywhere. Adopting modern capabilities like SharePoint Online helps us maintain a comprehensive view of a project and all its moving parts.


Having the capabilities is one thing. Embracing them is another. Some industries more readily adopt new technologies than others. Although the legal field can be conservative when it comes to using technology, we’ve found that giving our attorneys the ability to work together more seamlessly has had a big impact on client service at Kelley Drye. The attorneys control how much visibility into the drafting process they share with clients and other stakeholders, depending on their comfort level and the sensitivity of a given matter. They definitely appreciate the ease with which they can now facilitate the sharing of information among colleagues, clients and outside consultants.
Of course, one of the huge side benefits of using SharePoint Online for collaboration is that our data stays more protected. We know exactly where it is, who has access to it and who has actually viewed it. Client confidentiality is always a prime concern in the legal field, and it was tough to know what happened to documents if we emailed them to a client or outside partner. But now, that valuable data stays more secure, with relevant parties given access to documents but not necessarily the power to change them.
We’re getting feedback from clients that they’re pleased with the steps we’ve taken to improve our service to them. That tells us we’re evolving the right way and making strides in the right direction.


legal professionals with matter center - managed solution

Matter Center Helps Legal Firms Do Better Business

As you might imagine, Microsoft employs one of the largest corporate legal teams in the world. Having access to Microsoft’s development team, the legal team has used tools such as Office 365 extensively and has benefited from customization of those tools to enhance their utility in a legal environment. If you’re legal professional you’re probably asking yourself how this helps you. Well the great news is that Microsoft is now making these enhancements more broadly available to their legal professional customers through an add-in called Matter Center.
By working with a Microsoft partner, like Managed Solutions, your firm will be able to enjoy the enhancements made possible through the work of Microsoft’s Legal & Corporate Affairs (LCA) team. Once installed, Matter Center allows your team to create or view legal matters right from Outlook; tie Word, Excel, OneNote and other files to those matters; and securely collaborate with other legal professionals inside or outside your organization.
By working with nearly 200 law firms and partners in the legal industry, the LCA team was able to solicit feedback and input that went into building a world-class solution for the legal profession. Learn more about the development of Matter Center by the LCA team in this short video.

Here’s a quick rundown of the key benefits that will make Matter Center a game-changer for your legal practice:
  • Complete integration with Office 365 – Create and view right from Outlook, Word, Excel, OneNote and all the tools your team already has experience with.
  • Seamless mobile experience – Access Office 365 and Matter Center across all devices – PCs, Macs, tables and phones whether using Windows, Apple or Android OS.
  • Powerful and intuitive search and data visualization – You can easily and quickly search, find and retrieve matters and related documents across all cases.
  • Pinning and tagging – Track and pin frequently used matters and documents for easy access.
Learn more about boosting productivity for your office, both your team of legal professionals and for any IT professionals you employ or contract, with Office 365 and Matter Center.
Running Matter Center in the cloud will require Office 365 and Azure subscriptions. Matter Center has been designed to support multiple deployment configurations as well, whether on-premises or hybrid cloud. Managed Solutions can help your firm implement Office 365 and Matter Center quickly and cost-effectively. You can scale up and out at a pace that makes sense for your practice.

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