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

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

By Nicole Black as written on
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 “We recently switched from Ring Central to 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.”


Cloud computing is innovating the way the legal industry conducts business


Cloud Computing Brings Innovation to the Legal Profession – Work Smarter

Cloud computing is innovating the way many industries conduct business. The legal industry is no different and is taking advantage of powerful new technology to change and improve the way it brings legal services to its clients. Cloud computing helps firms connect legal professionals, improve communication and collaboration, and reduce IT expenses while improving scalability and security.
How is the legal industry benefiting from cloud computing innovations? Let’s take a look at some specific ways legal professionals are leveraging powerful new enhancements in information technology.

Secure access and strict data controls

Naturally, the first concern with storing data in “the cloud” will be with security and privacy. Cloud computing basically takes data, financial records, legal documents and other information and stores it offsite on a remote server. Some debate has risen around this subject which questions the ethics of storing data remotely. A recent article in the American Bar Association Journal concluded that there is no specific ethical concern or prohibition against legal practices using cloud computing. Fortunately, security is one of the strengths of the cloud. All data and documents are automatically protected by attributes, permissions and version control. Additionally, access can be tightly controlled by access that can be either granted or denied to internal and external individuals by system administrators.

Increased productivity for your firm and team

Your team has secure access to all information anywhere, anytime and from any device. Working the cloud reduces the amount of administrative resources needed to manage matters and documents, allowing your team of professionals to spend more time on cases and less on pushing paper. Internal team members can securely share and edit documents with colleagues or clients – with all changes tracked through automatic version control. Productivity is the name of the game when your firm is working in the cloud.

Finding, researching and managing documentation

Robust search capabilities allow maters and documents to be found quickly. Less time searching means more time working. Frequently used matters or documents can be marked or pinned for easy access later. Legal professionals deal with massive amounts of information; the cloud makes finding that information routine and as easy as using a search engine on the Internet. Not only that, transporting documents is as easy as moving them into the cloud for instant access in or out of the office from a laptop, tablet or even mobile phone.
Today’s powerful cloud computing tools are enabling companies to innovate just about every facet of their business. Innovation can take the form of simple improvements on existing processes and workflows, or they can be as significant as inventing entirely new ways of getting work done. What is clear is that the power is now in the hands of your entire legal team and can help you transform the way your firm does business instantly.
At Managed Solution, we know exactly what your firm needs to automate previously manual and disparate tasks to increase efficiency and productivity of your firm. We provide a secure file sharing, mobile productivity and collaboration technology solution specific to your firm’s needs. Learn More >>

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Why Office 365 for Legal Firms?


Office 365 is the Ideal Cloud Solution for the Legal Industry

The power of working ‘in the cloud’ is changing how business runs by increasing productivity, reducing costs and resource expenditure, and enhancing collaboration and teamwork. Legal firms are looking to reduce overhead, increase the billable hours, increase efficiency so that its team can spend more time meeting their clients’ needs, maximizing revenue and securing client referrals.
This is where Office 365 becomes the ideal technology partner for any firm. Cloud-powered Office 365 not only has the standard office applications everyone knows such as Word and Excel, it includes enterprise-grade services such as online storage, secure document sharing, real-time co-authoring and collaboration, along with content, search and social communication tools.

Why Office 365 for your firm?

Secured Enterprise-Grade Cloud Platform

Office 365 is compliant with all industry standards with built-in capabilities such as permissions, version control, eDiscovery and records management. Learn more about reducing costs and challenges with Office 365 eDiscovery.>>>

Ultimate Mobility – Work from Anywhere, Anytime

There is virtually no need for new hardware to maximize productivity and collaboration in your office. Get to your applications and files from anywhere on just about any device, whether Mac, PC, iPad, tablet, iPhone or Android smartphone. Better still, collaboration can take place between teammates, clients and lawyers from other firms. Criminal defense firm RTR in Miami, Florida switched from a dated workflow of fax machines, couriers and a suspect in-house server to Office 365’s powerful cloud platform – read the case study and see how their productivity jumped by 25%!

Store, Access and Share Securely from Anywhere

With 1TB of cloud storage, OneDrive becomes your online briefcase. You can store and access your matter documents online or offline with the ability share them securely with internal or external team members. Be more productive by reducing the time it takes to find documents and reduce expense by cutting back on paper needed to print version after version. Learn more about OneDrive’s capabilities.>>>

Simple Administration and Rock-Solid Security

Protect your data and control access – everything is done from a single admin portal. The built-in security of Office 365 deflects malware, spam, phishing attacks, and any other threats your team might come in contact with.

Scale at Your Own Pace

Whether you’re a large firm, a small practice or a solo practitioner, your journey into the cloud can happen at your own pace. You can choose from a full-scale deployment, hybrid system or a la carte services as needed.

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Microsoft’s In-house Legal Software, Matter Center For Office 365 Now Available For Public

Microsoft’s In-house Legal Software, Matter Center For Office 365 Now Available For Public

Over the past two years, Microsoft’s legal department set out to create an internal tool that didn’t exist—a way to organize its legal matters and collaborate on documents within the familiar Office 365 tools attorneys use most. So last year our Legal & Corporate Affairs Group (LCA) shared its vision for an Office 365 Add-in that would do just that. Since then, LCA has worked to turn this concept into Matter Center for Office 365, an Office 365 Add-in currently in use internally at Microsoft, and is becoming available to legal professionals at law firms and in-house departments of all sizes.
In fact, we have already shipped Matter Center to IT solutions providers who specialize in serving the legal community. These Microsoft partners are now offering Matter Center on a limited basis, and will begin offering it broadly in the coming weeks. Microsoft Services will also offer for-fee consulting and support services for Matter Center beginning in September. And finally, we’ll be making Matter Center available broadly through GitHub this calendar year.
Once installed, Matter Center allows people 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 their organizations. There are a few benefits that make Matter Center stand out:
•Access anytime, anywhere—Like Office 365, Matter Center is available across PCs, tablets and phones, across Windows, Apple and Android devices, and allows you to access matters and documents either online or offline using OneDrive for Business.
•Real-time collaboration—Using the automatic version control feature of Office 365, you can simultaneously edit documents with multiple people inside or outside your organization.
•Intuitive search and data visualization—You can easily search, preview and find matters and related documents across all cases directly within Outlook and Word. Power BI can be configured to visualize your matter data.
•Pinning and tagging—You can track or pin frequently used matters and documents and connect to Delve to provide personalized experiences about who on your team is working on them.
•Compliance with security standards—Matter Center allows you to control who can access, review or edit a document and provides all the same enterprise-grade security, management and administrative controls as Office 365.
•Better flexibility and control—By offering Matter Center through an open GitHub repository, customers and partners can build or extend the solution to meet specific customer needs faster.
As part of developing Matter Center, LCA conducted a preview program with nearly 200 law firms, partners and others in the legal industry, as well as our in-house counsel. As a result of the feedback we received during the preview, we have improved the solution over the last year. And LCA currently has early pilot customers including Olswang; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Ragen Swan; and Shook, Hardy & Bacon.
LCA is committed to continued investments in this modern, world-class collaboration solution. And as we make Matter Center available to our customers and partners, we are also rolling out the latest version to more than 1,200 Microsoft legal professionals globally. This is only the beginning. You can expect additional capabilities and features to be delivered over time.
Visit the Matter Center website for more information on the solution and how you or your organization can start using 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. You can find additional information on Matter Center capabilities, case studies from partner law firms, and a complete list of partners making Matter Center available here.