How the Browning Law Group helps safeguard client trust with Office 365

By John Browning as written on blogs.office.com
To succeed in almost any business, you need the right technology. So in 2015, the Browning Law Group adopted Microsoft Office 365 to manage collaboration and communication from the Microsoft cloud. Allow me to explain why we made that choice and how it’s helped us protect our relationships with our clients.

The right technology for today’s connected business world

Running my own practice is very rewarding, but it’s not always easy. I have to manage cash flow, keep track of payables and receivables, make payroll and at the same time make sure that my clients are happy with the work we produce and with the efficiency of our communication with them. In today’s connected business world, that means putting technology systems in place that allow our lawyers and staff to collaborate effectively.
But we’re a small business. I do not want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on servers or spend time managing a technology infrastructure and solving IT problems. I want to spend my effort practicing law, so I can help my clients avoid problems and be successful. I needed one integrated technology environment that would work for me, rather than make me feel like I was working for it.

Safeguards that my clients and I can trust

The biggest consideration for any attorney, however, is security. All lawyers routinely deal with confidential and potentially sensitive client information. I need to do everything I can to assure that every area of my practice is secured—especially when we communicate with clients over email or share documents over the Internet. It’s more than just a moral or ethical obligation; lawyers are required by Bar Association rules to maintain client confidentiality, and any technology I use has to meet those standards. I can’t allow the integrity of my firm to be compromised by technology that’s not secured.
After I added all that up, Office 365 was an easy choice. When we communicate through Outlook or Skype for Business Online, collaborate using OneNote or SharePoint Online, or share documents on OneDrive for Business, we can rely on security tools in Office 365 to help safeguard those communications and control access to that information. We have set up 15 separate portals on SharePoint Online that contain more than 30,000 documents. Almost every day we store and share letters, transcripts, pleadings and other documents or files on OneDrive for Business. With Office 365, I have complete control over who can access any of that information. I can set controls that let clients or their authorized agents access their files at any time, and I can give my staff access to the information and documents they need, while at the same time I can keep my administrative files private and safeguard my clients’ confidentiality.

A versatile, highly secured environment—and healthy relationships

A large part of my business is developing trust with my clients. If that trust is broken, then my entire practice could be in jeopardy. When a client provides us with confidential information, it’s critical that we work to protect that information. But with Office 365, we have an agile, versatile and highly secured environment that helps us compete with larger firms, protect client confidentiality and maintain healthy client relationships.
In the same way that my clients have to trust me, I have to trust the technology my firm relies on. I know that I can with Office 365.


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case study dr. oetker -managed solution

Case Study: Dr. Oetker

As written on whymicrosoft.com
Consumers know Dr. Oetker as their favorite baking goods, cereals, and pizza brand. The German food company is rapidly expanding and is using Skype for Business to bring employees in 40 countries closer together. Using Skype for Business, employees develop products, interview job candidates, and provide tech support more efficiently and often without time-consuming travel. The software works well with the other Microsoft tools staff use every day, and conversations are more secure within the corporate IT infrastructure.
Dr. Oetker is a household name in Germany and is fast becoming one in 40 other countries. In business since 1891, Dr. Oetker ranks among the leading branded goods companies in the German food industry, with its baking powder, cake mixes, frozen pizzas, cereals, and snacks as well as dairy products. It is headquartered in Bielefeld, Germany, and employs more than 11,000 people.

Needed: one tool for everything

As the company expanded globally, Dr. Oetker shored up its technology tools for communicating and collaborating. “The Dr. Oetker brand prides itself on quality, and achieving consistent levels of quality when manufacturing products all over the world is impossible without tight communications among global teams,” says Frank Pickert , Senior Executive Manager IT Services at Dr. Oetker.
“The company had standardized on Microsoft Lync Server 2013 as its technology lingua franca, but that software was limited to communications within the company and with partners that also used it. The human resources (HR) staff members could not use Lync Server 2013 to interview job candidates, so they ended up using third-party web-based conferencing products that were outside the governance of the IT department.”
“We had to pay for multiple tools, employees had to learn different tools for internal and external communications, and we didn’t have control over the conversations that happened on these unsanctioned tools,” says Christian Plitt, IT Manager, Infrastructure and Shop Floor Solutions at Dr. Oetker. “We wanted one tool for everything.”

A tool that everyone knows

Dr. Oetker found that one tool in Skype for Business Server 2015, the successor to Lync Server 2013. “We really like Skype for Business because of its full integration with the Skype consumer product and the ability to search for contacts in that product,” says Kathrin Worner, IT Specialist, Infrastructure and Shop Floor Solutions at Dr. Oetker. “Our employees and outside partners immediately knew how to use it, and this was not the case with other tools that required a big investment in user change management.”
“By using Skype for Business, we can bring colleagues together who would probably not otherwise meet.… This is very useful in helping people feel like they’re part of the same organization.”
-Christian Plitt, Dr. Oetker, IT Manager, Infrastructure and Shop Floor Solutions
Also, Skype for Business is under the control of Plitt’s team, unlike the other collaboration solutions that employees had been using. “With Skype for Business, our data resides on our servers,” Plitt says. “It’s critical that we keep conversations about strategy, pricing, new products, and other topics confidential.”
To date, about 200 employees at Dr. Oetker already use the Skype for Business client, and the company plans to roll it out to all 3,000 employees who are currently licensed for Lync Server 2013. “Skype for Business use is spreading by word of mouth,” Worner says. “We’ve received very enthusiastic feedback. It’s become an indispensable part of daily communication for the teams that use it.”

Better collaboration across global teams

Here’s a sampling of how various Dr. Oetker teams are using and benefitting from Skype for Business:
  • Human resources. The HR department uses Skype for Business to conduct video interviews with job candidates. Previously, these interviews were performed as regular phone calls, and the addition of video has been significant. “It’s very important that our HR staff members see the candidates to get a better sense of each person’s demeanor,” says Plitt. “It’s a big advantage for candidates, too, to see who’s on the other side. Loyalty and long-term relationships are a core part of our culture, and this starts at the beginning, with hiring. With video interviews using Skype for Business, we can set the appropriate tone with prospective employees.”
  • Product development. Dr. Oetker has cross-geographical teams all over the world in product development, marketing, customer support, IT, and other areas. These teams use Skype for Business to work together more efficiently. For example, although product development teams can’t use Skype for Business to taste products, they can collaborate more closely when manufacturing the same product in different countries using regional ingredients. The marketing team at headquarters can see pizza boxes and other packaging that different regional teams propose and make sure that they comply with corporate branding standards. “With Skype for Business, we increase knowledge transfer across the company, from person to person and team to team,” says Pickert.
  • IT. The company’s IT Services team works worldwide, providing technical support wherever there are Dr. Oetker employees. Communication and collaboration is key for this team so that it can provide good, consistent IT support for employees. Recently, this team needed to connect a new pizza plant in Canada to the corporate network and had three months during a cold Canadian winter to set up the necessary IT infrastructure and train the local staff. “We ordinarily would have had to fly team members to Canada for several weeks, but instead we used Skype for Business video calls to handle most of the prep work remotely, which minimized the time that the team had to be away from their families,” Pickert says.
  • Executive staff. Dr. Oetker executives have fully embraced Skype for Business and now use it to stay in closer touch with their far-flung staffs. “Our executives use Skype at home, so having Skype for Business at work is a big advantage for them,” Worner says.
Plitt is excited about the role that Skype for Business will play in mobile scenarios, such as supporting the company’s hundreds of sales representatives. By outfitting all salespeople with a camera-equipped laptop or tablet PC, Dr. Oetker could help them react faster during the sales process. They could quickly place video calls with corporate support teams to resolve sales blockers or even show supermarket product placement to marketing colleagues to optimize merchandising.
Video is particularly valuable in an internationally operating company, because meeting participants can see facial expressions and reactions of other participants, which helps bridge cultural differences. “By using Skype for Business, we can bring colleagues together who would probably not otherwise meet,” Plitt says. “For example, it’s very difficult for employees in less developed or more remote parts of the world to fly to Germany for meetings. With Skype for Business, they can participate in international meetings and meet their colleagues, and this is also very useful in helping people feel like they’re part of the same organization.”
Dr. Oetker even foresees using Skype for Business with consumers. “At baking fairs and other events, or from their homes, consumers could meet a Dr. Oetker baking expert over video chat and ask questions,” Plitt says. “Skype for Business opens up new communication channels with our customers.”

Consistent interface

In addition to the ease-of-use advantages that Skype for Business offers, Dr. Oetker appreciates the fact that Skype for Business works so closely with the other Microsoft desktop tools that employees use every day. “Microsoft is one of our two strategic software partners,” Plitt says. “We use Microsoft Office and SharePoint Server, and all our desktop computers run the Windows 7 operating system. When we upgrade to Windows 10 and the latest version of Office, Skype for Business will be part of that whole picture and help our employees be more productive. It’s of enormous value to our employees to have consistency across desktop tools and be able to switch quickly and easily from one to another.”
Pickert adds: “As we continue to grow internationally, we’ll use Skype for Business to make it faster and smoother to integrate new employees and offices into the business. Because it’s so easy to set up communications with new employees, we can make them part of the company right away. This helps the business be more agile and responsive to local customers and markets.”

Less time-sapping travel

While Dr. Oetker cannot estimate Skype for Business–related travel savings at this early stage, the company does have a new policy: before purchasing an airplane ticket, all employees should ask themselves, “Could I use Skype for Business for this meeting instead?”
“Communicating using desktop tools saves our people a lot of time, which is more valuable than the actual travel costs,” Plitt says. “Travel kills a lot of productivity, and we can recoup those hours by taking widespread advantage of Skype for Business.”
As Skype for Business use expands across the company through grassroots adoption, the Dr. Oetker IT staff is already eager for upcoming features. “One of the reasons we chose Skype for Business is the fact that Microsoft is innovating in ways that no one else can match,” Plitt says. “A good example is the Skype Translator technology currently in beta testing with consumers. This has the potential to completely change the communications landscape, especially for companies like ours with colleagues in 40 countries.”

RTR - managed solution

Legal firm embraces cloud computing, wins case for mobile productivity

As written by Office 365 Team on blogs.office.com
Lawyers at RTR, a criminal defense firm in Miami, Florida, had been using faxes, couriers, and an unreliable server—which impeded productivity. Then one of its lawyers introduced Microsoft Office 365, mobile devices, and smartphones. Now documents are stored online, lawyers access case files in court and at home, on any device, and they use simultaneous coauthoring to create briefs. Productivity is up by an estimated 25 percent.
During the last hurricane season in South Florida, a lightning strike destroyed the server that stored every electronic document ever created at the office of RTR, one of the largest criminal law firms in the southeastern United States. While this IT crisis caused some anxiety and embarrassment for the firm’s seven attorneys, it also served as an unexpected stroke of good fortune for one of them.
“Since joining RTR in 2008, I’ve been trying to bring the firm into the twenty-first century, technologically speaking,” says Joe Nascimento, the newest member of the firm. “Our senior partners are highly respected and have successfully argued cases in front of the US Supreme Court, but their understanding of business technology was a little behind the times. I wanted to improve mobility and productivity at the firm by introducing better business tools for the workplace.”
None of the attorneys used laptops or smartphones to access emails and documents while working on cases in courts across the country. They carried paper files and waited for faxes to be sent to hotel rooms. “We had already gone through three servers when the lightning struck,” says Nascimento. “We realized that something had to be done to safeguard our documents. I jumped on the opportunity to introduce cloud computing and the idea of mobility to the firm. It’s made a huge difference to productivity and efficiency at RTR.”
Nascimento chose Microsoft Office 365 for the firm’s cloud-based business productivity tools. Office 365 unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with the power of Microsoft Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online. No on-premises server is required. RTR worked with ConQuest Technology Services to deploy the solution. “The transition to Microsoft Office 365 would not have been so smooth without the training and around-the-clock support of its IT service provider, ConQuest,” says Nascimento.
“Office 365 kick started our adoption of twenty-first century IT,” says Nascimento. “I’ve introduced my colleagues to laptops, mobile devices, and smartphones. I’d estimate that we are at least 25 percent more productive when working inside and outside of the office.”

Anywhere Access to Files

Today, RTR has a better disaster recovery solution: all electronic documents have been uploaded to SharePoint Online for more reliable storage at a Microsoft data center. No one is worrying about the safety of their case files when the next lightning strike hits. Lawyers and staff can search for and access files they need on any PC, laptop, mobile device, or smartphone, anywhere they are connected to Internet. This flexibility benefits RTR lawyers who must comply with different courthouse policies: some courts allow the use of phones during proceedings, while others allow tablets or laptops.
“While my partner is questioning the witness, I can use my phone or my tablet to retrieve a required document, edit it, and email it to my assistant in the office with instructions to file it electronically,” says Nascimento. “Five minutes later, the judge’s assistant receives the file, prints it, and brings it up to the bench. Before, I would have left the courthouse to find a lawyer I knew in the area and borrow a computer. With all our information at our fingertips, we’re providing more efficient and effective services for our clients.”

Round-the-Clock Productivity

Criminal law does not follow a nine-to-five routine. Nascimento often gets a phone call following an arrest in the middle of the night. Instead of having to go to the office to prepare the Notice of Appearance for his client and file it in court the next morning, he can access the relevant documentation from home, prepare the paperwork, and file it right away.
The tight deadlines of criminal appellate work mean that Nascimento’s colleague, Criminal Appellate Specialist and RTR partner, Benjamin Waxman, often emailed files to himself to work at home. Then he would email the latest version back to himself to resume work at the office the next morning.
“Sometimes, Benji opened the wrong document and begin reworking an older version,” says Nascimento. “Now he’s saving five hours a week because he saves his documents on his personal site and uses Office Online to edit the document from home. When he saves the document back to OneDrive for Business and starts work the next morning, he’s always using the latest version. With Office 365, Benji can take on a larger caseload, and spend more time with his family.

Search Saves Time

Previously, RTR lawyers relied on their memory of past cases and manually searched files to find particulars of existing appellate work that could be reused when starting similar appeals. Today, they are saving 10 hours of work every week by using search to look through old emails and files in SharePoint Online and quickly retrieve case law, statutes, and prior successful arguments that have relevance for a new appeal.

Seamless Collaboration

Waxman’s new work habits have a positive effect on productivity and teamwork at the office. His assistant, Elizabeth Hernandez, is relieved that when RTR lawyers work from home, they access and edit documents online instead of on paper. She no longer faces 50-page documents covered in handwritten notes waiting for retyping in the morning. She’s saving several hours of copy editing every week and working on more important projects.
RTR lawyers collaborate on the hundreds of pages of briefs that are necessary to appeal a case through state, federal, and supreme courts. Previously, coauthoring was an iterative process fraught with versioning issues.
“Collaborating on briefs is so much easier thanks to the simultaneous editing that we can do using the Microsoft Word app in Office Online,” says Nascimento. “I am in my office, Benji is in his, and Elizabeth is in hers, and the three of us can edit a single draft at the same time. This was an amazing eye-opener for everyone. Office 365 has completely transformed how we work at RTR.”
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Source: https://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/yelp-docker/?pg=main-customer-success-page
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