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Law Technology Today by Law Technology Today - 17h ago

In our increasingly mobile world, lawyers face many new challenges in digital forensics for their practice. In this episode of Digital Detectives, hosts Sharon Nelson and John Simek talk to Brett Burney about what lawyers need to know about digital forensics on mobile devices. They discuss Brett’s mobile data collection spectrum, which outlines methods of data collection and preservation for lawyers and their clients. Brett gives tips on what lawyers should consider in these processes to ensure the best results, including the importance of hiring digital forensics technologists when lawyers are uncomfortable with technology.

Brett Burney is Principal of Burney Consultants LLC, and focuses the bulk of his time on bridging the chasm between the legal and technology frontiers of electronic discovery. He is also the author of the free download, eDiscovery Buyers Guide, at www.ediscoverybuyersguide.com.

The post Digital Forensics on Mobile Devices appeared first on Law Technology Today.

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Billing clients for your legal work seems simple. But if done incorrectly, it can hurt your clients, your reputation, and your bottom line. Join us as we explore what a law firm’s billing workflow should look like, and discuss ways to overcome five of the legal industries most common billing pitfalls by using modern technology. By the end of the presentation, you will learn what it takes to turn your firm’s daily legal billing tasks into profit-building tools.

Join this webinar as we teach you how to identify the 7 most vital trust accounting reports for any law firm and walk you through a simple way to prepare each of them that will keep your books current, clean, and compliant.

Learning Objectives:

  • Defining a law firm’s billing workflow
  • Overcoming 5 billing pitfalls which can threaten your bottom line
  • How can modern technology help?

Speaker:

Erica Birstler – Director of Strategic Communications at CosmoLex

Erica Birstler is the Director of Strategic Communications at CosmoLex — developers of an all-in-one cloud-based legal practice management, billing and trust accounting system specifically designed for solo and small law firms. Erica’s degree is in Business Administration and she has over 6 years of experience in the legal software industry, catering to the specialized technology needs of small to mid-sized law firms. She has given numerous presentations across the country on legal technologies such as law practice technology management, cloud computing, and legal billing and trust accounting compliance.

Join Us:

Wednesday, April 24th
2:00pm – 2:30pm ET

Free Registration

Sponsored by:

*Please note that this is a non-CLE webinar.

The post Boosting Profitability Through Better Legal Billing appeared first on Law Technology Today.

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By now, you’ve likely heard people talking about shows like Serial or S-Town. Perhaps you are even subscribed and listen to these podcasts. Have you considered one for your law firm? No, you likely won’t have millions of listeners, but you also don’t have millions of website visitors – and you don’t need that many, either.

Podcasting can be a great marketing and branding tool for your law firm. This blog outlines 4 reasons why:

They are actually pretty easy to create

Technology is moving fast these days and you might feel like undertaking a podcast project requires you to learn a bunch of new software, but that’s not necessarily true. A podcast is only as complicated as you make it.

While the most polished shows include music beds with intros, outros, and segment breaks, you don’t necessarily have to do that if it doesn’t fit the format of the show you want to create. Maybe your show is a few minutes long and covers a legal concept. If it’s longer, you can easily hire a creative freelancer to create short interludes for you.

All you need is a microphone and a computer. From there, you can upload your episode to a host like Libsyn, which syndicates it to podcast platforms like iTunes and Stitcher. From there, you just spread the word.

It helps build your credibility

You know you’re well-versed in the law, but does your community know that? A podcast is a great way to show off your expertise. You don’t need to tell someone how to represent themselves in court, but you can break down the pros and cons of different business entities (if you’re a business lawyer) or explain the various custody options available in your state (if you’re a family lawyer).

Also, I know all of you lawyers are perfectionists, but you don’t need to have a polished show that is free of errors. A podcast is a live show with natural conversations. If you stumble a little bit, that’s okay! Keep going, because it actually makes the listener feel more connected to you as if you’re talking directly to them. I promise no one will think you’re unprepared or don’t know what you’re talking about.

It’s a solid alternative to video

Not all of us are professionals in front of a camera. If you’re not comfortable on video or you’re self-conscious about your appearance, a podcast is a great alternative! You can cover the same legal concepts on a podcast just as you do in a video. You could arguably expand more in a podcast since most people listen to podcasts while driving, working out, or sitting at their desks doing other things. A video, on the other hand, usually requires someone’s full attention.

It can improve your speaking skills

If a lot of your casework involves litigation, you may already be a seasoned speaker. But for attorneys who do a lot of transactional work, there is value in having your own podcast. As you build your reputation and your credibility, other opportunities could arise, such as being asked to speak at an event. If you have several episodes of a podcast under your belt, you could feel more comfortable getting in front of a group of people.

The post Four Reasons Why a Podcast Could Be a Great Branding Tool for Your Law Firm appeared first on Law Technology Today.

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There are various technical and legal challenges faced by an in-house legal team due to the enormous data incoming from various other enterprise applications. It becomes even more complex when the task of sifting through data is combined with the need to interact with those entities. Therefore, legal professionals are now looking for a tech-enabled solution that helps them face these challenges more efficiently and systematically.

With the explosion of data, it is becoming increasingly complex and difficult to manage the governance, risk, and compliance functions within an organization. As reported, in-house legal teams are now looking at regulatory issues as their biggest litigation threat and are closely working more than ever with their compliance organizations at efficiently identifying and mitigating risks. As opposed to the past, the corporate legal team and their compliance counterpart are no longer separate entities with isolated and siloed functions but a complementary body that coordinate their efforts to achieve the organization’s business objectives.

A quintessential legal and compliance team at any given point is laden with managing almost three or four dozen discrete and complex processes that require technological support. This includes processes such as matter management, e-discovery, claims litigation management, incident tracking, legal risk management, contract management, etc. which include an interplay with other IT-driven, in-house enterprise software applications such as accounts payable, HR systems, and more. Without an integrated enterprise management solution, it can become very difficult for any organization to handle these processes and interactions while managing them effectually.

Modern-day GCs working with their legal and compliance team aim for total visibility into their operations sans the burden of unsynchronized interaction with various software/enterprise systems and processes. Pioneering in-house teams are seeking an integrated Enterprise Legal Management platform that comprises not only enterprise-class core legal and compliance applications but also robust, open integration capabilities with packages connectors to compatible third-party systems. PracticeLeague LegalTech has revolutionized the processes of in-house counsels by bringing their entire team on a single collaborative platform increasing the efficiency and productivity of the entire team as a whole. The integrated system will adapt to the company’s current needs while allowing for flexibility in accommodating any future changes and growth. Integrating an extensive partner network provides the means by which organization will attain transparency required across legal, compliance and other enterprise functions.

Enterprise Legal Management (ELM) is defined as means of integrating legal, compliance, risk-related, and other data and processes across the enterprise to maximize operational efficiency to allow actionable insights leading to more informed legal and business decisions. This entails bringing together a network of technology providers that address the needs of the organization as a whole.

Gartner in their research paper argues that ELM should be seen as a subdivision of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) platforms and calls it a part of a growing category of GRC solutions. This enables enhancing and supporting interactions between the general counsel and other executive leadership.

ELM solutions have moved beyond basic legal matter management and e-billing processes and must include:

  • Seamlessly connect with other legal and non-legal enterprise applications and data sources such as accounts payable, contract management, and reporting solutions
  • Keep up with changing regulations that affect the overall organization
  • Manage their associated controls, policies, and procedures

This application will streamline the in-house legal team’s work and enhance the collaboration among both the internal teams and with external service providers. It will offer them the ability to leverage data from across systems and departments to alleviate risk and manage legal matters and compliance strategically, along with their associated costs.

ELM solutions will empower the GCs to make decisions that heavily rely on metrics and analytics instead of instincts, thereby, transforming the legal team into a data-driven organization. This will enable the leaders to easily sift through enormous data and make informed decisions ranging from which matters to bring in-house to how to better negotiate rates within a particular market.

As more and more organizations are adopting the ELM strategy, it has resulted in the creation of a legal ecosystem which is known to be a connected platform of data sources, enterprise systems, and dedicated applications. This enables the users to access the best features from dedicated solutions and having the ability to report on data across multiple systems without many different logins. Moreover, IT departments can now justify the technological investments for current usage as well as respond to future requests through this scalable technology platform. Any database application connected to the ecosystem would take advantage of the established reporting, user security, mobile access, workflows, and audit trail.

As organizations adapt to the technological advancements, the position of general counsel will be a key area to observe as it overlaps and is involved with different entities within the organization itself. This innovation in legal technology and its increasing usage promises efficiency, data reliability, and scalability that will prove to have a good ROI which is necessary to control legal costs.

Owing to legal tech, ELM has expanded its role and scope beyond mere spend and matter management and evolved into a more comprehensive system that includes processes such as optimized contract management, NDA creation, and distribution, legal holds, legal service requests and much more.

As corporate legal teams are driven with the objective of improving efficiency and enhanced productivity while meeting their corporate goals, they are looking to deploy leading-edge technology for various legal processes which will help them gain a competitive advantage over their competitors.

And one such process which is capturing the eye of top counsels is applied artificial intelligence for contract management. Research has found that inefficient contracting can cause anywhere between 5%-40% loss on a given deal, depending on the circumstances. But as AI takes over legal tech, it is helping companies overcome various challenges related to contract management.

One of the biggest challenges that an in-house counsel faces is the process of contract creation, execution, and analysis that becomes arduous as its sheer volume increases. Due to a lack of uniformity, contracts become difficult to track, organize, manage, and update. Apart from this, organizations are at a loss of a database of all the information in their contracts, including an efficient way to extract data from the pile.

How AI can help in solving these issues is very interesting to observe. The AI-enabled software can easily extract data and clarify the content of the contracts. For eg: it can pull out or organize renewal dates or renegotiation terms from n number of contracts. This allows the legal team to review contracts more rapidly, organize and locate large amounts of contract data efficiently while diminishing the potential for contract disputes and increase the volume of contracts they are able to negotiate and execute. Apart from streamlining the contract development process, AI will also help in contract management where it will make the data extraction painless for legacy contracts and provide faster and better insights into contractual data.

The post Integration of Enterprise Legal Management and GRC appeared first on Law Technology Today.

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The Legal Technology Resource Center’s Women of Legal Tech initiative is intended to encourage diversity and celebrate women in legal technology. This initiative launched in 2015 with a list of innovators and leaders in legal technology and with this year’s additions, that list now includes 100 talented and influential women leaders. Every Monday, we will be featuring a woman from our class of 2019. This week we have Felicity Conrad!

Felicity Conrad is the Founder and CEO of Paladin. Find her on Twitter @felicity_conrad.

How did you become involved in legal tech?

In many ways, it was an accident! Before starting Paladin, I was a litigator at Skadden with a keen interest in public interest. I was definitely interested in innovative solutions to scale access to justice, but had no formal experience in “technology.” That said, I’m an optimist, love big ideas, and am a closet tech nerd, so I started meeting folks in startups and technology (including meeting my co-founder, Kristen Sonday). After meeting with lots of industry experts and technologists to vet our idea, we decided to take the plunge and start a legal tech company!

What projects have you been focused on recently?

Building Paladin is our top focus and has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Paladin‘s mission is to increase access to justice by helping legal teams streamline their pro bono programs. We work with leading law firms and Fortune 500s to easily staff, manage, and track their pro bono work on a centralized platform, as well as visualize engagement and impact. It’s been such an incredible privilege to work every day to scale access to justice, and hopefully, we’re just getting started!

Is there a legal tech resource of any kind that you find yourself returning to or that was particularly formative for you?

As a technologist, this is a tad ironic, but the most important resource has been the incredible community that’s growing and actively working to support each other’s success. This list is a great example—how fantastic that there’s an annual group of talented women striving toward common goals in legal technology. This isn’t just online either—now, more than ever, there are ample forums, conferences, and gatherings to foster collaboration and share knowledge between folks in the industry and provide insights to those looking to get more involved too.

What technology do you think lawyers could look at in a different way that would benefit society?

Lawyers could realize that technology can help expand their scope and scale, rather than threaten it. Medicine has leveraged technology to make great strides for patients and doctors in an incredibly regulated industry, and the legal industry can do the same. With Paladin, for example, our goal is to build tools to support—not replace—pro bono professionals, legal service organizations, and, of course, pro bono lawyers! When viewed this way, I think technology can be a powerful tool for legal professionals to leverage to improve our legal system for the benefit of all.

What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?

Lawyers tend to be a risk-averse bunch, and it’s natural to want to conduct proper due diligence about career decisions like moving into legal tech (sorry, mom!). While it doesn’t need to be all or nothing, I would start attending legal tech events, meet as many people as you can, participate in hackathons, work on side projects, and ultimately—if it feels right—take the leap. There is so much opportunity unfolding in legal tech, and women should absolutely be key players in shaping that future!

Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!

There are so many fantastic women in legal tech that I’ve learned from! Two fabulous women that have been steady supporters along the way at Paladin, and who definitely deserve a shout-out for their legal tech contributions in their own right, are Anna McGrane at PacerPro and Maya Markovich at Nextlaw Labs. It’s a privilege to work alongside such talented ladies!

The post Women of Legal Tech: Felicity Conrad appeared first on Law Technology Today.

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Would your legal clients recommend your services? This is a hard question to answer, but by tracking your NPS, you can get a much better idea of where you stand.

A Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is a metric commonly used to rate customer satisfaction,  calculated based on answers to the question “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend my service to a friend or colleague?” Each response is sorted into Promoters (9 or 10) who would actively promote your service, Neutrals (7 or 8 ) would be neutral, and Detractors (0-6) who would actively be negative about your service. Calculate your law firm’s NPS by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. This will give you an NPS score ranging between -100 to +100.

Companies typically survey clients at various stages along the customer journey to get more detailed insights into different aspects of the customer experience. Businesses will also ask for opportunities to improve the client experience, thereby improving their NPS. Plenty of law firms calculate their NPS to help keep themselves on track to deliver an amazing client experience.

It’s important to see how your firm is serving clients, but it’s also important to see how you compare to the legal industry as a whole.

The 2018 Legal Trends Report includes an in-depth analysis on the modern legal consumer—what makes them want to hire a lawyer, what makes them recommend their lawyer’s services, and much more. As part of the creation of the report, Clio also conducted an NPS survey to get an idea of how the legal industry as a whole is doing in terms of client service.

The result? The legal industry currently has an NPS of 25, putting it in line with airlines, wireless carriers, and credit card companies. Meanwhile, companies known for excellent customer service and incredible business growth, such as Amazon, have NPS scores in the 60’s or higher.

There’s lots of room for improvement in the legal industry overall: In fact, most firms aren’t even currently collecting feedback from their clients. 42% of law firms surveyed for the report only collected feedback casually, and 37% said they didn’t collect feedback at all.

Once you are collecting feedback, what can you do to boost your NPS? Start with the basics of good customer service in any industry:

  • Communicate clearly, and often

From the first consult to having that final bill paid, you’re communicating with your clients—but communication doesn’t end there. The good news is that keeping your clients informed on updates to their cases (or even just checking in if there’s been no progress) and reaching back out after a case is complete doesn’t have to add to your to-do list. Keep it all manageable by using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to automate email communications and set reminders for follow-ups. Not only does this show your client you are invested in their case, it will set you apart when they consider referring your services to a friend or family member.

  • Make working with you easy

Do you have a scanner in your home? Neither do most of your clients. If you haven’t made the switch yet, e-signatures will make it a breeze for your clients (and you) to get the documents signed that you need—not to mention the trees you’ll save. Spending a lot of time on client intake? Online forms can make it easier for clients to dig out the details they need in the comfort of their home instead of in your office. Put yourself in their shoes and you’ll know which parts of working with you are difficult. Investing some time and energy into making those experiences painless will pay huge NPS dividends.

Today’s legal consumer expects a high standard of client service, similar to what they’d experience at companies like Amazon or Netflix. This is where taking a client-centered approach to running your law firm can make all the difference: When you put your clients first and focus on delivering the solid service and excellent experience they truly want, they’re more likely to refer you to friends, family, and colleagues, helping you build a thriving law firm.

It all starts with collecting feedback and calculating your NPS. This will give you a clear picture of where you stand, and help identify opportunities to provide better service, allowing you to get better reviews and grow your business.

Learn more about how to calculate your firm’s NPS, best practices, and the benefits of measuring NPS, in the full blog post, NPS For Law Firms.

The post How Does Your Law Firm’s NPS Stack Up? appeared first on Law Technology Today.

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Last time, I presented a series of tips on choosing technology based on speaking with legal technologists involved with LegalShield’s Elevate conference. Once you have made the decision on which software to purchase, the fun really starts!

Again, it bears repeating that any technology chosen should be simple to use and only purchased once you have reviewed the associated process. When thinking of purchasing a legal practice management system, take the time to map out your workflow with client matters to identify the steps to be automated. For example, are you going to send billings from that system or from your accounting software? Are you in need of an integrated timekeeping solution or will your existing software work with your new practice management choice? Don’t rush that technology choice without taking the opportunity to streamline and review your existing processes with a positive view to change.

Implementing Technology

Basic project management skills are necessary to lead any technology implementation. That, however, does not necessarily translate into a new hire or expensive consultant. Like the process review outlined above, involving your team so that they can have ownership of the project will help immensely once the system is up and running. Below is valuable advice from seasoned legal technology veterans.

Implement features that you will use

Alexander Verno, Friedman, Framme & Thrush, P.A.: “Look past the bells and whistles and consider what features you need and will actually use. Keep in mind, most software users only regularly use about 20% of a program’s features. Sometimes ‘exciting new features’ touted by sales reps may not be practical or even applicable to your firm.”

Take it slow and steady as far as a pace for the implementation to avoid staff burnout.

Make sure everyone is consistent

Lisa Pansini, Creative Manager at Rocket Matter: “Properly train your staff so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the use and implementation of the technology, i.e. file-naming conventions, workflows, etc.”

As we discussed above, examining pain points, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies before any purchase or implementation is critical.

Train, train, train

Stephen Kane, CEO, FairClaims: “Train, then follow up, follow up, follow up. It takes us all at least two weeks to develop new habits, perhaps longer for legal technology (two-three months for an enterprise). Measure, report, assess, encourage.”

Amy Boley of Thomson Reuters mentioned an important ask from the vendor around training: “Have a plan to train staff utilizing the resources available from the technology provider.”

Document, document, document

Stephen Zetzer, CEO, eWranglers, LLC: “Use standards and process. Document how key functions are done in your firm and reinforce with all staff how to perform key functions and where to store the documents and so on.”

Don’t give up

Lori Gonzalez, President, RayNa Corporation: “If the software has some kinks or issues that need working out, don’t give up. Tech gets better with user feedback so use, give feedback and try again.”

A final comment from Stephen Kane is to take the time to celebrate milestones and success along the way. As always, if you have a technology implementation story, regardless of the outcome, please reach on Twitter @maryjuetten. #onwards.

The post Implementing Technology: Still Not for the Faint of Heart, Part II appeared first on Law Technology Today.

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Jury Attention and Retention is the Goal

Today’s trial judges are not only encouraging courtroom technology but they’re expecting it. It’s become quite infrequent to find lawyers who are prosecuting or defending actions without the use of some sort of visual or audio technology to keep a jury’s attention and retention of information.

Why Do Jurors “Expect Some Sort of Technology” in a Courtroom?

Because this is how we live. Technology has changed the way we live in such fundamental ways that we are influenced and transformed by it every day. Think about it this way—over two million smartphones are sold every day! The amount of information being shared by email, text message or social media is absolutely phenomenal. We live in a world where people can transfer messages in nanoseconds to loved ones around the world. We can pay bills, transfer funds, watch any type of television or sporting event from around the world, and send pictures with the touch of a screen. We live in a world of digital media, cloud computing, video conferencing and personal fitness evaluation on our wrists. Do we really expect juries to sit in a courtroom for days on end and listen to over-utilized complex verbal communication without some sort demonstrative evidence by technology? If so, be prepared for your tech-savvy jury members to nod off. In today’s world, juries expect to be entertained. Keeping the attention of the finders of fact is absolutely paramount.

Different Types of Courtroom Technology

Depending on your technology comfort level, there are many tools available for lawyers to use in a courtroom, from simple software video presenters to trial presentation software.

PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a great option and can be extremely effective during your opening and closing statements. By now, even the most digitally unsophisticated lawyer knows how to use PowerPoint, or has someone nearby that can help. A simple presentation of medical terms, or of photos and documents admitted to evidence could be easily used to magnify and highlight the important points of your case that you intend to present. Try to not overuse PowerPoint and overload the jury with too much information, do not dilute your message with too many bullet points or let your slideshow water-down your oral persuasion.

The Elmo is Not Dead

The Elmo document camera has been used by trial lawyers for over 20 years. Despite most of our files and documents being paperless, it’s still handy (and necessary!) to have a good visual presenter like an Elmo at trial. For lawyers that are not overly confident in using trial presentation software, having an Elmo is still an extremely effective presentation tool to place documents and exhibits up on a screen in front of a jury while questioning witnesses.

Trial Presentation Software

In today’s day and age, trial presentation software is quite limitless. When focusing on trial presentation software, it’s important to understand the basics of cloud computing. In 1996, Compaq computers started the buzz about cloud computing and how it was predicted that people would increasingly access software and files over the web. Today, this is becoming the basis of all digital usage. Cloud computing can be basically understood as the storage or hosting of your documents and files either on your servers or on servers belonging to a paid service’s network such as Dropbox or Microsoft SharePoint. Storage contents can then be synchronized to computers and/or mobile devices that are part of that particular cloud service.

With trial work, lawyers can quickly assemble documents, exhibits, transcripts, graphics, demonstrative evidence, etc. and upload the information directly into Dropbox or SharePoint, to then reproduce onto a screen via a projector or directly into the courtroom’s video input (if that exists in your area).

Trial presentation software, such as Sanction, Trialpad or Trial Director are well known for the storage, management, retrieval and display of documents, photos, images, etc. Trial Director is possibly the most well-recognized trial software program on the market—although very expensive and you will likely need a second body in the courtroom to simply to run the program unless you are using the iPad version, which has an intuitive interface. I have used trial director for iPad during examinations of individual witnesses instead of using an Elmo – although always remember – courtroom technology can be terribly unpredictable. Trials are akin to being in a pressure cooker and the last thing you need is for your technology to fail during vital and critical moments. I would highly recommend to always keep the exhibits that you plan to use in paper copy, along with your Elmo handy in case your devices and software backfire. Always have a backup plan.

Courtroom Technology: Plan Ahead

Speaking of courtrooms, if you’re attending a trial out of town, always remember that some courtrooms have been properly renovated to meet the demands of demonstrative presentation (such as video displays mounted directly in the jury box that could display exhibits, demonstrative evidence, graphics video, etc) while some have not. Some courtrooms have pulldown screens available to use via projector, while other courtrooms are simply not equipped with anything. It’s important to find out ahead of time whether or not the local jurisdiction you’re attending has technology enhanced courtrooms. Find out whether or not the courtroom has video displays, monitors, projector screens, a witness monitor, laptop connections, digital input connections, plugs in the right place, and wireless internet.

Attention and Retention

In the end, the most important thing is using the technology that you’re comfortable with. There are limitless possibilities, but remember, the goal is to keep the jury’s attention and keep them motivated. Don’t get overwhelmed with the boundless options of software available to you as a trial lawyer. Use technology to not overemphasize or overwhelm a jury, but rather, use it to supplement and enhance your skilled presentation of evidence. Use it a little, use it a lot—but if you use it, and the other side is not, you are already at a major advantage. Technology won’t make you a better lawyer, but it will help you increase your jury’s attention and retention from start to the end.

The post Courtroom Effective Technology appeared first on Law Technology Today.

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Technology has revolutionized the way today’s attorneys practice law, and few things have made as big an impact as the evolution of the cloud. Cloud solutions have broad applications across the legal field, thanks to their ability to offer lawyers access to their data anytime, anywhere. One of the biggest areas where cloud technology has changed the legal landscape is document management.

Many firms have already made the decision to migrate their document management to the cloud, and those which haven’t yet likely considered it. Migrating to cloud-based document management may seem like a daunting task, but with the right information and approach, it doesn’t have to be. Here are some things every lawyer should consider when making the decision of whether to move document management to the cloud.

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Document Management

Both on-premises and cloud-based document management systems are continuing to evolve. What is increasingly setting the two options apart, however, is cost. The way providers are bundling document management systems these days, firms are generally able to access more features and functionality in the cloud than they could potentially have on-site for a smaller economic footprint. Simply put, today’s cloud-based document management solutions have more bells and whistles than most firms could ever hope to implement on-premises purely due to cost.

Cloud solutions also offer the benefit of unrivaled accessibility. One of the main reasons that the cloud became so popular so quickly is that it allows you to access your data anytime, anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. In a profession like law where you’re expected to be available on the go at all times of the day or night, cloud solutions make a real difference.

Making the Move to the Cloud

Once you’ve decided to make the move to the cloud, where do you start? There’s a lot that goes into a migration. The important thing is to look at the entire solution and what’s involved rather than simply viewing your transition as a wholesale move. While most firms have document management systems, every firm uses those systems differently. Workflows are not one-size-fits-all, so, not surprisingly, strategies around migrating them are going to differ from firm to firm.

A successful migration to the cloud involves three main steps: 1) create a migration plan, 2) consider your data, and 3) evaluate the costs.

Start with a Plan

Any successful migration starts with a plan. The first thing you should do when undertaking a move to the cloud is to create a checklist that evaluates the solution you have on-premises today and outlines the benefits you want to gain by moving to the cloud.

You should also define your migration strategy. Are you looking to do a full rip and replace of your current document management system, or would a phased migration be better for your firm? There are tools and third-party vendors that will help you pursue either strategy.

Some firms might prefer to test and validate the migration with a specific practice or group and make sure all the details are properly working. Your internet capabilities are also a big factor in choosing your migration approach. For example, if you’re a small firm with a single connection that’s used for internet, email, and phones, you probably won’t be able to do a wholesale migration all at once and still have a fully functioning office. The important thing to think about is what approach will be best for your users and practices.

Know Your Data

Your current data footprint has a huge impact on your migration, and it’s a factor that many firms tend to overlook. As the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. While you can take your on-premises solution and simply move it to the cloud as is, a better approach is to look at how you’re currently using your document management data and see if there’s room to implement new workflows and updated processes that will help you better manage that data and handle data that’s become stale.

Data storage costs in the cloud may be low, but as your data repository continues to grow over time, storage costs will also grow, which is something you should keep in mind when migrating your data. If you already have a data maintenance strategy in place when you start your migration, it will be an embedded process in your new solution, setting you up for success from the start.

Consider the Cost

At first glance, your monthly spend for cloud solutions may be a little higher, but what you need to evaluate is your overall cost in the long run. What are you currently spending for on-premises hardware, hardware maintenance, power, utilities, security and IT working space? While the cloud may cost more initially, you can mitigate that cost by eliminating all your on-premises costs, perhaps making the cloud a cheaper option in the big picture.

For many firms, evaluating this cost/benefit ratio is the basis for making the decision to migrate. The decision also often comes when it’s time for a hardware refresh. When facing the decision between keeping your document management on-premises and rebuilding your hardware infrastructure or moving to the cloud, the latter is often the more cost-effective option.

Choosing the Right Cloud Environment

When choosing a cloud provider, it’s crucial that you understand where your data will sit, how it will be stored and who will have access to it. For that reason, going with a public cloud provider like Amazon Web Services or Google is usually not the best idea, because your data will be commingled with the data of everyone else in the world, which has dangerous implications for sensitive law firm information.

The adequacy of a cloud provider will generally depend on how it is regulated. Migrating presents the perfect opportunity to rethink your governance and security standpoint. What worked six years ago when you implemented your current document management system might not work today, as your firm, processes, and workflows have evolved. Choosing the right cloud provider is an opportunity to enhance the security posture of your data.

Prepare for Common Migration Challenges

Because migration isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, there are always challenges. Experienced third-party vendors and tools exist to help you conquer those challenges. After all, it’s much easier to pull off a successful migration when you’re not reinventing the wheel.

Working with an outside provider that has done migrations to the cloud specifically in law firms is the best way to make the process less daunting. An experienced vendor can help you move your data while putting new processes and structures into place that make sense with the amount of data you have to shift. Larger amounts of data will take much longer to migrate, so it’s important to have the right strategies and methodologies in place to ensure that your on-premises data matches your cloud data at various checkpoints along the way.

Migration is not just about making a move to the cloud, but also offers a great opportunity to look for ways to gain efficiencies and make more effective use of your data and processes. Having a strategy and knowing your high-level goals are key to accomplishing a successful migration and getting the most out of your new cloud-based document management system.

The post Migrating Document Management to the Cloud appeared first on Law Technology Today.

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The Legal Technology Resource Center’s Women of Legal Tech initiative is intended to encourage diversity and celebrate women in legal technology. This initiative launched in 2015 with a list of innovators and leaders in legal technology and with this year’s additions, that list now includes 100 talented and influential women leaders. Every Monday, we will be featuring a woman from our class of 2019. This week we have Kimberly Bennett!

Kimberly Bennett is a District Operations Specialist. Find her on Twitter @kbennettlaw.

How did you become involved in legal tech?

My exposure to legal technology began around 2010 when I first began my solo career. At the time, I was searching for solutions to work with my Apple products. I knew I wanted Mac-friendly software that would provide the flexibility of a virtual law practice. I’ve been hooked on legal tech from that day.

What projects have you been focused on recently?

I am working on “maximizing my technology” by “minimizing my technology.” I love all things technology. However, my love for technology sometimes results in too much technology in my practice. This year, I am focusing on maximizing the technology tools I love, eliminating the excess, and creating my “almost perfect” tech stack for my subscription law practice and my Modern Legal Collective coaching clients.

Is there a legal tech resource of any kind that you find yourself returning to or that was particularly formative for you?

The Macs in Law Offices Google group, the MyShingle blog by Carolyn Elefant, and The Lawyerist were my go-to resources as a young, tech-curious attorney. I still read MyShingle and The Lawyerist and I have added a few blogs and podcasts, as well. In addition to legal tech-focused resources, I read general technology blogs to keep up with changes happening in the greater tech space.

Today, however, my go-to resource when it comes to legal technology is my community of innovative, female legal professional friends that inspire me to think bigger, push boundaries, and find the technology solutions to transform my ideas into reality.

What technology do you think lawyers could look at in a different way that would benefit society?

More attorneys are recognizing that clients have a range of needs that don’t always lead to hiring a lawyer. Yet many attorneys are resisting serving this significant portion of society that yearns for concise and practical legal knowledge, not legal services.

Learning management systems (LMS) provide lawyers the opportunity to serve society with high value, practical, and relevant legal education at scale. As the industry starts (although, too slowly) to design legal services for what clients want (not what we think they want), LMS tools will prove invaluable for both attorneys and society as we embrace a modern legal industry and the next generation of legal professionals. It’s time for lawyers to create legal products from their knowledge.

What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?

Women are the future of the legal industry. Get involved, lead change in your community, and embrace technology. It’s time for women to take over the legal industry through intentional, innovative, and impactful disruption.

Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!

Lori Gonzalez! Beyond being an amazing person, Lori always pours into me and shares her depth of legal tech (and general legal industry) knowledge which, in turn, inspires me to take action in my business.

The post Women of Legal Tech: Kimberly Bennett appeared first on Law Technology Today.

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