Tag Archives: The Cloud

6 practice development topics you will want to read … and share with some of your colleagues.

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, Nick Holmes, Delia VenablesThe latest issue of the Internet Newsletter from Infolaw is now published.

In this issue

  1. Continuing Practice Development – Nick Holmes explains the changes to CPD being implemented by the SRA and the BSB
  2. Data protection – David Flint of MacRoberts considers two recent developments relating to data protection and trade secrets
  3. Customer care – Mindy Gofton of I-COM looks at the potential of using chatbots for customer service
  4. IT security – Lynda Minns considers the measures independent practitioners need to take in relation to IT security
  5. Cloud-based legal software – Delia Venables describes the products from 30 suppliers offering cloud-based software for lawyers
  6. Data protection – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words introduces the new General Data Protection Regulation

Access the Newsletter online

FREE ONLINE ACCESS: The Jan / Feb Issue of Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now available.

infolaw, Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, Delia Venables, Nick HolmesA helpful review of the new Free2Convey portal here for conveyancers amongst another interesting range of topics covered in this issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers from Infolaw:

  • Publishers – Paul Magrath describes how ICLR are developing their service by expanding coverage online only
  • Resources – Delia Venables looks at the most important sites for free current awareness legal resources online
  • Conveyancing – Matthew Lancaster of Pracctice tells us about Free2Convey, the new free conveyancing portal
  • Marketing – Gavin Ward of Moore Legal Technology provides his ten top tips for effective content distribution
  • Technologies – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words on driverless cars, their relevance to lawyers and the legal issues
  • Resources – Rosalind English describes the background and current activities of UK Human Rights Blog
  • Documents – Nick Holmes offers guidelines for working with documents sourced via the internet.

FREE ACCESS to the newsletter web pages here >>

Develop your legal practice using Cloud applications … but get your data security right. You need to anyway!

In the Cloud, walking a tighrope

I recently presented on this topic at the Law Management Section’s Finance & Business Conference, so you can download a copy of the full presentation at the foot of this post.  

The presentation includes screenshots and information on some of the key hosted applications that are helping law firms to implement new initiatives more quickly and effectively than they could do in the past; all of which are worth checking out.

However, there is more to consider to make sure you make the right moves, as discussed below.  If you want to find out more about what solutions and approach might work best for your people and your practice, I’m always happy to have a preliminary discussion about options for free if you call me on 07779 653105 or contact me here.

Lawyers don’t have to wait to “move to the Cloud”; most of you are already there, using online and hosted applications.  There are many good hosted / online tools you can use now to fill gaps in current on-premise systems. Some examples given in here include:

  • Management Information and KPI dashboards
  • Market and Business Intelligence
  • Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems
  • Automated time capture
  • Social media e.g. Linkedin and Twitter
  • Conveyancing searches
  • Microsoft Office 365

We want our clients to use more cloud applications where it makes sense, but there is a quandary …

Using applications “in the Cloud” today means that your people are entering passwords to access data from various locations and more, posing data security risks; often without the IT team really knowing who is using what – and being poorly equipped, funded or supported from the top to implement effective and essential data security systems.  Not a lot of management time has gone into addressing risks here in – I would say – most law firms.

And by the way, the biggest risk to data security, is your own people; not hackers – so you can do something significant about this to reduce the risks.  Using encryption more consistently would be a good start.

When you actually move your IT infrastructure to the Cloud (e.g. moving to a hosted practice management system), it is more likely that data security issues will be considered, but are still not fully addressed in most firms.

However, perhaps we now have the answer?  Because clients are beginning to demand proper data security from their lawyers; and because cybercrime has been recognised as a serious risk for law firms, senior management in law firms are just beginning to invest time and money in data security e.g. to achieve ISO 27001 accreditation.

If that means proper security systems are implemented, then lawyers can get on and use these Cloud applications (which are inherently more secure and reliable than systems running in your office) then get on and use more of these Cloud applications to develop your business … with confidence.

They can help you engage people more quickly and produce results earlier with (almost) “ready to use” systems involving less IT development pain on new initiatives. However, lawyers need to catch up on IT security to do this safely.

DOWNLOAD the presentation here >>

Moving to the Cloud? Invest more time in communication and managing user expectations.

This Cloud is not fluffyIt is no surprise that the Cloud Industry Forum, which exists to “champion and advocate the adoption and use of on-line (cloud based) services by businesses and individuals” has just published research findings confirming that these areas – communication with users and managing their expectations – require more attention than they currently get.

It is a discussion we often have with clients, service providers and between ourselves at Inpractice when a legal practice is considering a move to secure cloud or hosted technology.  We find that clients are inclined not to be persistent enough in helping people to engage on the project during preparations for the transition to working in a different IT environment.

The main hurdle we have to overcome to make this happen is about releasing the expensive fee earner (and support staff) time to listen and engage when they otherwise see fee earning work as more of a priority!  Structured effectively, managing this effectively to ensure a smooth transition that keeps people working after the transition is easily justified.

According to report, firms are “finding the migration to cloud computing is not as straightforward as they first thought it would be.”  IT staff, partners and senior managers often don’t appreciate the complexity around moving to externally hosted services;  and service providers often expect that the firm will handle aspects of the project internally – this is not always clear.

We find that hosting companies that have already dealt with law firms fare better because they have a better understanding of the challenges within law firms.  However, law firms often under-estimate the effort that is appropriate.  Investment of time here should, in any event, be a catalyst to further improve the performance of people and the business going forwards.

Users of a new hosted system want it to provide exactly the same familiar functionality of their old system, usable in the same way on day 1.  If not, as is generally the case because you are trying to introduce improvements, they need to know what is different and how to use it.

Otherwise users will understandably but frustratingly, quickly conclude that “nothing works” or that ” this is all rubbish” with that negativity quickly spreading to others and providing ammunition for those employees that are resistant to change.  However with effective planning, investigation, lots of cross checking and then effective internal engagement and communication in advance, most of this can be avoided.

Niggles are inevitable.  The issues that arise can be very simple, but taken for granted; for example, it would be surprising if users do not understand that on day 1 of the move to a hosted system that they will have a somewhat different desktop.  The extent of that difference will depend on your supplier and the solution you have agreed with them.  However, it is unlikely that they will be able to find any “recent documents”; shortcuts and auto population of email addresses may have gone or changed, and they  could lose their internet favourites unless they are copied across.  How does printing work and what’s the best way to get support if there is a problem?  How is this communicated?

Changes in functionality could be more fundamental or complex.  For example, related to use of digital dictation, or the challenges caused by a new version of Microsoft Office, where people want the old familiar look and feel.  How will printing work now?  These are all aspects (and there are many more) that will contribute to either the success or failure of your project.

We can help you anticipate and prepare your people to ensure a smooth transition, having learned from our experience in managing these moves over the last 5 or 6 years.

If you are considering a move to the Cloud or a hosted environment, speak to Frank Manning to find out about some of the pitfalls and to discuss how you can prepare your business to avoid them.

Contact Frank on 0161 929 8355 or at fmanning@inpractice.co.uk

Read a short review of the research findings here.

Update on development and use of “Cloud” and “Hosted” IT systems in law firms and the legal sector

This Cloud is not fluffyThere is now a wide variety of options available to law firms in the UK, to move away from the pain of managing servers and extensive IT on their own premises, whatever size of firm they are. Legal practice management system suppliers are still mostly at some stage on the journey from supplying dedicated IT systems on the firm’s premises (on the decline) to delivery of their software from a remotely hosted and secure (perhaps shared, making them “true cloud”) servers in a data centre managed by the supplier, the firm or a third party depending. All the firms that we work with are heading in this direction.

One size does not fit all, as firms have different requirements, concerns (sometimes unfounded) and limitations in what they feel they can and should do at this stage. For suppliers, the transition from traditional suppliers of on-premise solutions in the legal sector to deliver “cloud” solutions at maximum profit challenges their business model fundamentally; so some new entrants are likely to make an even more significant impact in the UK market soon.

Read the rest of our article providing an update on how far law firms and IT suppliers servicing the legal sector have come now – published in Jan 2015 here >>

VIDEO: Why law firms like yours ARE moving IT to the securely hosted and pro-actively managed “Cloud”

Paul Stothard, Tees LawWe help law firms develop their use of technology, whatever that requires; always operating on the basis that IT is more about the people who use it than the technology itself; we say it’s two-thirds people and one-third technology.

Just one aspect of what we do is to help legal practices decide whether moving IT infrastructure to a secure, hosted data centre, managed pro-actively by a third party is the right move now, to free up internal IT people to focus on developing systems, training users and providing local support where it is needed.

For some firms, it is the right thing to do now; for others, it is not now and there are a wide variety of very flexible options that include “managed”, “hybrid” and “fully  hosted” solutions that ought to be considered from a number of suppliers that are established or are introducing new leading edge solutions in the legal sector.

The question we are asked most frequently is “are other firms like us really doing this?” as it’s not something lawyers talk to colleagues in other firms much about.  If you haven’t seen it, you don’t know it’s really happening, which is understandable – and there is scepticism. However, the reality is that this IS happening and it works if you choose the right supplier for you at the right time for you and manage the transition effectively.  Technology and suppliers have improved and the early days of pioneers in this area are now long over.

Back in September 2013, we provided feedback from our survey of users of hosted IT systems confirming that almost 20% of all law firms use a hosted practice management system … and that number has grown significantly since then.

Here is a good video from Paul Stothard, CEO at Tees Law, solicitors (c. 220 people) which outlines why – at the right time and in the right circumstances, and provided the transition is managed effectively to ensure that people come with you – the mid range law firms we work with are making this move.  Check it out below.

For a free discussion to begin to explore options to develop your IT systems, which may include a potential full or partial move to a managed or hosted environment, contact Frank Manning, Andrew Simmans or Allan Carton or call +44 (0)161 929 8355.

Any preliminary discussions are free and will give you valuable insights into suppliers, solutions and approaches to effective implementation.

What would you do with an extra 2 hours each week?

On average, people waste 25 minutes a day on IT, but generally don’t do or ask others to do anything about it – so you don’t know!

These headline findings from a survey of Greater Manchester businesses conducted by Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and JMC IT don’t come as a surprise, but they confirm the opportunity for many firms to increase your profits by investing some time and money in getting IT working effectively.

Bear in mind that improving use of IT is two thirds about people and just one third about the technology itself.  It starts by recognising the benefit – and the need for the good of your business and your working environment – to do something about it; so these conclusions are very pertinent.

Those key findings:

  1.  The majority of those asked thought that their IT systems and service were not unduly impacting their work performance, yet they only rated these systems and service six out of 10 or less.
  2.  Nearly 50% of those polled did not report some or all of their IT issues.
  3. If IT issues were eliminated, respondents said they felt they would save, on average, 25 minutes a day. For just 5 lawyers capable of earning an average of £110 an hour, that equates to time to earn add £50,000 in fees or an extra 2 hours a week each to spend with clients and in developing new business.
  4. 1 in 5 people have reported a virus or malware attack in the last 12 months.
  5. Nearly 20% (1 in 5) of those asked have irretrievably lost data as a result of IT issues in the last 12 months alone.
  6.  Fewer than 50% of respondents had their primary IT system replicated in another location to enable continuity of work, yet over 80% said that connectivity was essential in their job role.

For a free preliminary discussion to find out whether and how you can do more to get the best out of your use of IT, call me (Frank Mannning) on 0161 929 8355 or contact me here