Professionals in the legal industry have especially busy schedules and deal with lots and lots of documents. When you’re a lawyer with a hectic schedule, having to save and sift through tons of data every day is the last thing you want on your plate. Migrating your data to the cloud and using a cloud-based data management and collaboration system will make your life much easier. Here, Microsoft Office 365 emerges as an obvious choice. Let’s take a look at benefits of Office 365 for legal firms.
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1. Mobility and scalability
The cloud provides the most important facility of mobility, allowing you to work on documents from anywhere and anytime. With Office 365, documents can be accessed from your office, home, a client’s location, a coffee shop, and pretty much any other place you can think of.
If any of your legal team members forgot to bring along copies of important documents, they can always view the most up-to-date version from their cloud storage. They can also access the same document from multiple devices. If they lose some data from the version they are working on, they can simply access the cloud and get the original version of the document.
Cloud solutions are also very cost effective. The scalability of Office 365 allows Legal firms to add and remove resources as needed to meet operational needs.
2. Diverse and modern functionality
Office 365 products offer a wide range of functionality that legal firms can use to get work done quickly and efficiently. While OneDrive provides online content storage, SharePoint provides content sharing solutions. In addition to its security and compliance features, SharePoint also provides the benefits of version control and full records management. Its metadata model helps you conduct enterprise searches and in-depth legal analyses efficiently.
Going one step further, Delve helps you analyze data collected from various Microsoft products. Other Office 365 products like Yammer and Microsoft Teams enable collaboration with colleagues and team members to create, edit, and share important documents. Office 365 also provides products like Microsoft Flow to build workflows and automate business tasks, as well as Power BI to visualize and analyze data efficiently and quickly. All of these apps contribute to streamlining your legal work and analyzing user data to derive important insights.
And if you need to conduct meetings with team members or clients in different parts of the world, you can easily set up Skype for Business web conferences.
3. Document management
Some of the most popular tools in the legal profession for content management are iManage and NetDocuments, but Office 365 is also now being widely used. The latest statistics show that Office 365 now stores more than half of all the sensitive data that is stored in the cloud in the form of Outlook email content, Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets. Also, Office 365 products like SharePoint, Exchange, and OneDrive are increasingly being used to save and share documents remotely from any part of the world. These apps help you centralize legal template management and keep a track of how confidential files are being used by team members.
Keeping up with the industry demands, Microsoft Corporate, External, & Legal Affairs have developed Matter Center for Office 365, which is a SharePoint-based document management and collaboration solution. Matter Center was developed to integrate with existing Microsoft products like Word, Outlook, SharePoint, Delve, Power BI, and OneDrive to provide all their intrinsic features and more. It goes beyond these apps to provide legal teams with new benefits, such as ease of organizing legal documents by client and matter, searching and reviewing legal documents, extensive legal compliance, and management and security features.
4. Security and compliance
With increasing awareness of security and compliance concerns, many legal firms are transitioning to the cloud. According to an IT services survey by Clutch, 90% of businesses in the USA are now using cloud infrastructure, and overall, 64% of enterprises believe that the cloud is more secure than on-premises systems.
According to Duane Tharp, Vice President of Technical Sales and Services at Cloud Elements, “The cloud vendor will have good, if not better, security and support for security than any one company. Because of this, moving to the Cloud would increase the company’s overall internal security, as opposed to relying on its IT department only.”
When selecting the right service, your law firms needs to be sure that its data management systems and data storage have robust security and comply with the latest regulatory requirements. You also need to ensure there are no loopholes that pose a threat to breaches of client data. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect across the European Union as of May 25th, 2018, legal firms need to double-check their IT systems and cloud services.
Fortunately, Microsoft is considered one of the most secure cloud service providers. A few of the legal regulations that Microsoft meets are ISO 27001, EU Model clauses, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Business Associate Agreements (BAAs), and the Federal Information Security Management Act. Microsoft also provides features like records management, compliance capability, improved threat protection, tracking of unusual activity, information rights management, and much more. Typically, other vendors charge a high subscription fee for these services.
So exactly how safe is cloud computing? While the cloud does not completely eliminate the risk of data breaches, it does significantly reduce it—at least by minimizing online threats. According to Jason Reichl, CEO of Go Nimbly, “Many recent data breaches have been reported incorrectly. For example, the security breach at Target occurred because a vendor who had access to the company’s portal left a computer on and walked away. No one was hacking the Cloud. It was human error, and the Cloud cannot protect you from that.”
5. Client relationship management (CRM)
It is becoming increasing important for sales and marketing teams of legal firms to use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms to collect and process client data, handle client interactions effectively, tweak marketing campaign strategies, track client feedback, and keep clients happy. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online can be integrated with Office 365 products to provide your firm a reliable legal CRM platform.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM can also be used with SharePoint to access dashboards and advanced search and portal functionality. For in-depth monitoring and tracking of important business performance indicators, Dynamics CRM can be integrated with SQL Reporting Services, SQL Analysis Services, and Performance Point. Microsoft Outlook can also be integrated with Dynamics CRM to launch email campaigns and track email activities. You can even use Dynamics CRM to report the overall performance and track lead-generating referral sources.
Since tracking and analyzing customer data involves sales, marketing, and operations teams, integrating Dynamics CRM with SharePoint and OneDrive helps create a repository of all important information in one place for everyone to share and update responsibly.
With its many advantages, products, services and add-ins, Office 365 is an obvious choice for legal firms, big and small, that are keen on increasing their work efficiency and reducing operational costs while keeping their clients happy and their data secured.
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