Security With Zero Effort

Security With Zero Effort

Do you know that October is cybersecurity awareness month? More importantly, do you know what you need to do in order to keep your data secure? Or, are you aware of what you need to do…except sometimes tasks (like regular back-ups) fall through the cracks?

Maybe your IT person or department is responsible for security, but you’re not really sure what that entails – which could mean that you’re not really sure if the efforts your law firm makes toward securing its data are effective.

It makes sense that managing partners of law firms would want to concentrate on the business of law rather than spend precious time attempting to grasp the intricacies of cybersecurity. But, managing partners also understand how important it is to secure their firms’ data.

So, how does a savvy law firm strike a balance: not wasting time (and money) on something better left to experts, but ensuring that its data is completely secure?

There is a way for law firms to benefit from military-grade cybersecurity without the hassles that accompany elite in-house security. No personnel management. No constant upgrades, patches, or maintenance. No unexpected expenses, such as the sky-high cost of replacing a server. No downtime. No cumbersome back-ups. Just peace of mind.

When a law firm opts to work with a cloud environment, such as Legal Workspace, security stops being an issue that anyone in the firm needs to consider.

No more worries, just security

Law firms can be lucrative targets because they store privileged information that hackers can use in unintended ways. If your law firm’s cybersecurity isn’t up to snuff, it could mean that you are at risk. Having holes in your cybersecurity could be considered the equivalent of leaving privileged information out in the open for anyone to take and use.

And, if a law firm’s technology isn’t up-to-date and fully operational, that means a different sort of problem. What would happen if your server failed? How much time – and how much data – would you lose?

When you work within a cloud environment specially designed for law firms, you don’t have to worry about any of those issues any longer. With geographically redundant data centers, such as those used by Legal Workspace, your data is safer in the cloud than it could ever be in an on-site server. Access to those data center servers is limited, and staff is always on-hand to monitor for and prevent problems – and to react should anything unexpected occur.

Advanced data encryption, firewalls with a sophisticated detection system, and automatic back-ups secure your data so well that passing compliance standards, such as HIPAA and PCI, is just a regular part of what Legal Workspace does.

What to do instead

If you make the switch to the cloud and your security worries disappear, your attorneys and employees can spend more time on revenue-generating activities. And, if you have an IT person on staff, he or she doesn’t need to spend the day running from place to place, troubleshooting and patching up problems. Instead, that person can concentrate on strategy: discovering and implementing new technology that will save your law firm time and money.

As for law firm management? Well, you can just sleep better at night, knowing that your data is secure, and your clients are happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill More Hours with the Cloud

Cloud Environment Creates Extra Time

“Efficiency” has become a buzzword in the legal services industry over the last several years: As corporations become more concerned with legal budgets, and procurement departments become more involved in the selection and retention of outside law firms, law firms have leaped to the challenge.

Every law firm now seeks ways to trim the fat. Technology has played an important role in helping firms to eliminate redundancies and speed up time-consuming tasks. The cloud environment is one such technology that can make an immense difference in a firm by increasing its efficiency.

Tech hassles eliminated

When your server fails, how much time do you lose? How much data do you lose? And, how much does that matter to your clients? (Probably a lot.)

Moving to a cloud environment, such as Legal Workspace, eliminates catastrophic tech problems, and it takes care of the little blips, too. No one will need to worry about wasted downtime or redoing something that was lost when the system encountered a glitch and shut down temporarily.

Legal Workspace was built specifically for those in the legal profession. That means it knows what’s important to law firms – and what needs to happen for law firms to operate at an optimal level. Downtime will be a distant memory, and your data will be protected by military-grade security measures. No longer will administrators need to worry about backups, updates, or anything else that goes into IT management.

That returns time to employees and to attorneys. They can concentrate on the business of law rather than the hassles of technology.

Opportunities for adding extra efficiency

When you go through the process of migrating your data to the cloud, you have another opportunity to add efficiencies: by customizing your workspace with programs designed specifically to help firms manage business tasks.

Legal Workspace supports a wide variety of the most popular legal software and applications. That includes practice management software, document management software, time and billing software, and legal document generation applications. Its team will help you move any existing licenses to its cloud environment, as well assisting to design the workspace you need.

Those programs and applications are designed as time-savers. Moving to the cloud is a great opportunity to look at what’s available and determine the places where additional technology can bring you increased efficiency.

Time created by flexibility

Anywhere that your lawyers have access to their devices, they see the exact same workspace that they would if they were in the office. They have access to the same data without any impediments.

Is one of your lawyers stranded at an airport by inclement weather? No problem. They can still do exactly the same work that they would do if they were in their office. Is a group of your attorneys in court and needs documents pertaining to their case? Again, not a problem. Those documents are close at hand, in the cloud environment, ready and available to access. That very same workspace is available on any device: desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone.

If you put your head on your pillow at night wondering where the day went, the solution could be easy. Moving to a cloud environment creates more time for management, for employees, and for the attorneys who work at law firms.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 4 Problems The Cloud Solves

Imagine that you could make one decision – adopt one new technology – and four serious issues for your firm are alleviated. You make this decision and suddenly your firm is winning more clients, increasing productivity, managing turnover, and controlling costs.

You don’t have to have a wild imagination to picture this outcome; it’s possible – right now – if your law firm begins using the cloud. Here’s how it works.

 

  1. Winning Clients

This one is a no-brainer. Most law firms want to win more business and employ countless complex strategies to accomplish this goal. Clients can be skittish about testing out a different firm and may have concerns about security. With law firm data breaches making headlines every day, clients naturally focus on making certain their law firms – and all of their corporate data – are safe.

Your law firm can become the go-to practice for safety and security by using a secure cloud platform such as Legal Workspace. The fastest and simplest way to bolster your security is by selecting a cloud solution that was created specifically for law firms. Legal Workspace knows how important it is for law firms to maintain privilege – and their reputations. Every Legal Workspace client’s data is placed in a military-grade cloud built exclusively for lawyers.

You can use your firm’s data security as a selling point. Legal Workspace provides security information that you can use to win deals by proving that you can meet – and usually beat – all of your prospects’ security requirements.

 

  1. Increasing Productivity

No law firm wants its attorneys twiddling their thumbs as they wait for the server to come back online. The cloud means zero downtime for attorneys.

A cloud environment also gives attorneys the ability to work from any device with internet access. It’s after hours, and they get a call? They can immediately record their time. They’re stuck in the airport across the country? They can access the data they need. They’re in court or a satellite office? They have exactly the same access they would have if they were sitting in their offices. Not only that, but the environment from which they’re working is secure.

 

  1. Managing Turnover

Gone are the days when employees would take one job and turn it into a career that lasts until their retirement. Law firms know that it can be difficult to attract and retain good talent. One perk that appeals to talent is flexibility. Your firm can provide attorneys and administrative employees with the ability to work from home (or anywhere, really) when you use a cloud environment such as Legal Workspace. No hauling files to and from different locations, no thumb drives to misplace, no insecure file sharing. When your workers have access to the Legal Workspace cloud environment, they get the same secure access to files, legal applications, and workflows at home as they would in the office.

And, no law firm is static; as your firm grows and changes, Legal Workspace makes it easy to add and remove users.

 

  1. Controlling Costs

Some budgets are variable, no matter how hard you may try to stabilize them. If you rely on servers, then your IT budget falls into that category. Servers frequently need updating and patching – and that’s not something you can assign just anybody to do. Unique skills are required to work on legal applications, too. You never really know when something might go wrong or how severe the problem will be.

Using a cloud environment eliminates IT budget variability. Law firms never again have to worry about the price of repairs or the steep cost of expert knowledge. You pay a monthly fee, and that’s it. No more outages or downtime, no worrying about disaster recovery. It’s all taken care of for you.

It’s rare to be able to solve four problems by making one simple decision. Adopting a secure cloud environment can do that. Using a cloud environment such as Legal Workspace can change the way that you approach managing your firm and allow your attorneys to have both more freedom and more security.

 

How to Move from Help Desk Support to CIO

A typical day in an IT professional’s life involves a lot of troubleshooting and maintenance. IT professionals may grow to have love/hate relationships with their on-site servers. Sure, those servers may be testy and occasionally cause issues – but the trouble they cause keeps IT professionals on their toes and in their jobs.

Or so they think.

But what if the law firm for which these IT professionals work adopted a cloud solution? What if those server-associated problems went away because cloud vendors manage day-to-day issues? Would that mean that IT professionals were no longer needed?

Certainly not.

Instead, clever IT professionals can parlay this change to develop skills, take on new responsibilities, become a more strategic force in their law firms, and even advance to more vital and profitable positions.

 

Move on up

There are a multitude of ways in which an IT professional’s skill set can be applied to higher-level tasks.

New opportunities within the firm

IT professionals can segue their experience into training or department-specific consultation or support. People who are capable of logical problem-solving are always in demand.

Added business value

When used properly, technology saves a law firm time and money. And no one is more intimately acquainted with a firm’s technology than IT professionals. Determining ways in which they can create business value through technology will make IT professionals champions of the firm.

Negotiation

Rather than law firms relying on an office manager to negotiate with technology vendors, IT professionals can step in. IT professionals will understand whether vendors’ services and product will add value to the business. They’ll understand the intricacies of a program or application and what the law firm needs, so they can be effective negotiators.

Data security and compliance

Is your law firm looking to make the jump to representing healthcare clients or some other sector that requires additional security and compliance? If so, IT professionals can be a terrific resource. They can parse the requirements and devise ways that your law firm can meet them.

Roadmaps and budgeting

 As technology becomes increasingly important to everyday matters, it’s important for law firms to have an idea of where they’re going and the budgets needed to accomplish their goals. IT professionals can create technology roadmaps and forecast budgeting, so law firms can take advantage of available technology and get an edge over competition.

Project managers

If your law firm implements the use of new technology, IT professionals can be the right individuals to guide your firm through the project.

 Customize apps

 The most important unit of measurement at any law firm is the billable hour. IT professionals can help keep attorneys focused on billing hours by customizing legal apps to streamline typical bottlenecks and strip away time lost in repetitive tasks.

IT strategists

 IT professionals can take on new monikers: IT strategists. Is your law firm using its technology effectively? Is it taking advantage of all of the technology available in the marketplace to increase efficiency? IT professionals can put their knowledge to work building a technology strategy for your law firm to keep it ahead of the pack.

 

The typical workday of an IT professional may be changing with more prevalent use of the cloud – but the change can be positive, benefiting both law firms and the IT professionals they employ.

 

 

Server or Cloud? A law firm deliberates

We get many calls every week from law firms that are debating between the cloud and maintaining local IT resources. Yesterday, we received a call that a law firm is losing productivity because of unexpected server downtime. Concerns about data loss overwhelm the managing partners. What if the server fails?

The law firm is being proactive and looking into solutions. One option is working with their IT vendor, which wants to upgrade their server hardware. But the estimate for that project is prohibitive: $15,000 for server hardware and 40 hours of work at $175 ($7,000). On top of that, they can expect the usual costs for network upkeep that come from quarterly updates, 6 hours of work every quarter ($4,200 annually), and monthly maintenance, four hours of work each month ($8,400 annually).

The managing partners wonder: What if there’s another way to protect our data and reliably keep our firm up and running? Is there a more sustainable option to stabilize costs and eliminate downtime?

There is.

It’s the cloud.

An instant productivity boost

The law firm has an IT administrator on staff who deals with server downtime and other day-to-day tech issues. From his arrival to his departure at the office, he spends every day running around troubleshooting. What would his day look like without the hassle of damage control? He could spend his time evaluating new technology, customizing legal applications, and training new employees — all in the service of maximizing billable hours.

Other, smaller firms have a slightly different IT problem: Attorneys and staff members have to figure out what to do when technology fails. Imagine that problem disappearing. They could get back to focusing on revenue-generating activities.

Were the law firm to migrate to a cloud environment, such as Legal Workspace, the IT administrator, attorneys, and staff members could reclaim their time. Legal Workspace’s data centers have a history of more than 14 years of 100% continuous uptime.

Wasted time eliminated.

More than convenience: Safety

That concern the managing partners have about data loss if the server fails? It’s a real problem that could occur whenever you use an onsite server. Cloud solutions such as Legal Workspace have geographically redundant data centers that render data safer in the cloud than it could ever be on an onsite server. Here’s a video that illustrates the difference between server and cloud security. Legal Workspace has advanced security measures in place, such as:

• Limited physical access to servers
• Staff that’s available to react if a problem occurs
• Firewalls with sophisticated detection system
• Advanced data encryption

Using a solution like Legal Workspace also allows law firms to provide the tightest security available to their clients. For example, a firm that works with healthcare providers will need to be HIPAA compliant. Legal Workspace has a HIPAA-compliant version of its cloud environment and will even sign a business associate agreement. Other special security mandates from financial institutions and government contractors are easy for a solution such as Legal Workspace to meet and exceed.

Security concerns eliminated.

What choice would you make?

What choice do you think the law firm made? Did they plunk down $21,000+ and upgrade their onsite server, or did they jump at the chance to advance both productivity and security by switching to a cloud environment? Did they decide to eliminate downtime and stabilize costs?

The choice seems pretty clear.

In-House or in the Cloud: Choosing the Right IT for Your Law Firm

This article was written by Joe Kelly, CEO of Legal Workspace, and published in Colorado Lawyer.

Whether attorneys are hanging their shingles or working at large firms, information technology (IT) is probably not their highest priority. Most lawyers would rather focus on practicing law than worrying about technology. Nevertheless, IT plays a vital role in the business of law today.

desk set up

Complicating matters is the growing necessity for practices to support mobile devices and a virtual workforce. At the same time, firms must also ensure security and compliance with professional obligations and regulations, such as the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). When transitioning to new IT systems, attorneys and staff often want to continue using their favorite software programs, which may come from different providers and may not be legal-specific.

Those at larger law firms can usually let the IT department worry about such logistics. However, attorneys at small or mid-sized firms do not have the luxury of a large IT staff—if they have any IT staff at all. Consequently, lawyers are left to figure these things out, even if the sheer number of issues to consider when setting up or reimagining IT seems overwhelming.

It is helpful for small to mid-sized firms to think in terms of three main options when it comes to IT:

1)  keeping IT onsite;

2)  adopting a hybrid mix that involves some cloud-based solutions with some onsite hardware and software; or

3)  being fully cloud-based.

When considering which approach to take, lawyers should evaluate its cost, security, and convenience, as well as the amount of time it will take away from their practice to manage each option. Although three options are listed in this article, not all options are an exact fit for every law firm.

Servers in office

The Onsite Approach

The onsite approach is the most traditional IT route, simply because technology has not allowed for many other options until the past decade or so. With this approach, firms set up and maintain all of their IT infrastructures at the law firm.

 

Cost of Onsite IT

Conventional wisdom holds that medium and large law firms will benefit the most from onsite IT. Solo attorneys and small law firms can often function in a peer-to-peer based environment without a server. However, many of today’s leading legal applications use SQL Server as their backend database. An attorney who selects one of these legal applications will need to purchase and install a server for the application to function.

Setting up onsite IT is an involved process that can easily cost thousands of dollars a year for each staff member. The firm will need to (1) purchase and configure servers for data applications, backup, and security; (2) purchase and configure software programs (e.g., a Windows server, the email server, practice management applications, and time and billing systems); and (3) purchase and set up hardware, including computers, laptops, mobile devices, and Bluetooth devices.

Unless lawyers are intimately acquainted with IT and have the time to devote to it, law firms will find the need to hire IT consultants to help with initial setup and configuration. The initial labor costs can easily reach $1,000 per staff member. Additional consultant costs may arise for ongoing maintenance, unless someone at the firm can dedicate significant time to maintaining and troubleshooting hardware and software issues. As the firm grows and adds more personnel, someone at the firm will need to oversee licensing additional software, buying more hardware, setting up additional email accounts, and ensuring compliance standards are met.

 

Security of Onsite IT

Many lawyers assume that high security is inherently linked to the onsite approach because the law firm maintains complete control over the files and systems, including how they are stored and shared. However, when software is housed within the firm, it must be updated continuously to make sure that systems are as secure as possible. This means that someone must be available to run patches, checkups, antivirus software, and other tools to ensure that systems are not vulnerable to malware and hacking.

With an onsite approach, the firm must also consider backup plans and disaster recovery solutions. Backup plans should take into account how to host the backup at another site in the event of a natural disaster, fire, gas leak, or other circumstance that makes the firm’s office inaccessible.

Firms also need to consider where they are most vulnerable. According to the IT security firm Trend Micro, hacking and malware account for 25% of all data breaches, while lost devices account for 41% of data breaches. That means that firms need to consider how they can remotely wipe any devices that lawyers and staff have lost or misplaced.

Trend Micro further warns that data breaches caused by hacking and malware tend to be highly sophisticated and deliberate: “Highly customized defense solutions and strategies are required in these cases.” Firms need to decide whether to install consumer firewalls or enterprise firewalls. Enterprise firewalls may be more thorough than consumer firewalls, but they can also be more expensive and complicated to operate. And unless the firm is large enough to warrant a dedicated IT staff member, the firm will need to pay for special training on a regular basis.

Finally, if any of the firm’s clients and their information calls for HIPAA compliance, the firm will need to add additional layers of security. Complying with HIPAA comes with very specific and often costly requirements around physical, technical, and administrative safeguards. Failing to comply with these safeguards can lead to penalties in excess of $1 million per year.

 

Convenience of Onsite IT

An onsite server is highly convenient because all hardware and software is located just down the hall. As a result, it’s easy for staff and attorneys to check on anything that goes wrong.

However, unless someone at the firm is an IT expert, it will be difficult to fix most problems that arise. That means that the firm will have to bring in an IT consultant to handle serious issues. Along with the added expense, someone at the firm will need to take time away from legal projects to work with the IT consultant. The firm will also lose billable time and productivity while hardware and software problems are being addressed.

typing_keyboard

A Hybrid Approach

A hybrid approach encompasses onsite IT functionalities and the advantages of specific cloud-based software to support practice management, billing, and other areas.

 

Cost of Hybrid IT

This approach can be more cost-effective than an onsite system, since cloud-based software and applications normally run on a subscription model based on the number of users (e.g., software licenses for each user) or the amount of storage needed. The manufacturer normally handles all upgrades and patches automatically. This option and the subscription model are often more affordable than buying software licenses.

When considering which programs to host onsite and which to base in the cloud, the firm should consider its current software and processes. The ratio of cloud to onsite applications will affect costs. Firms will also need to spend more time and money managing multiple vendors when some programs are cloud-based and others are managed within the firm.

Because the main goal of leveraging technology at a law firm is to increase efficiency, progress usually involves connecting and automating different parts of a firm’s work flow. This becomes very difficult in a hybrid model. For example, a firm may use a cloud version of a non-legal-specific bookkeeping system and want to link it with the accounts receivable from a time and billing system. Some systems on the market cannot support this approach.

 

Security of Hybrid IT

The security of hybrid systems depends on the types of cloud-based applications and software that the firm is using. Many cloud-based apps and software offer built-in security contingencies, such as automatically installing the latest updates to address vulnerabilities and potential viruses.

However, attorneys need to be aware that common cloud-based apps or software, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, often have data storage facilities around the world, which might prompt data ownership questions. If the firm’s data resides overseas, it raises the question of who actually owns it. Therefore, when considering cloud providers for any type of information storage, attorneys have a responsibility to find out where their data will be stored. They need to feel confident that their data cannot be lost or stolen and understand who physically owns it.

Reliability and security are also major concerns with mainstream cloud-based services. Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the world’s largest cloud providers, has been known to stop working on occasion. In September of 2015 roughly one-third of AWS services were down for an excess of five hours. Since the services can support a variety of items such as backup and recovery, websites and business applications, an interruption can impact a law firm’s ability to access critical client files or billing information.

 

Convenience of Hybrid IT

Most cloud-based software and applications enable mobility, allowing staff and attorneys to access information from anywhere at any time. A hybrid approach is also easier to scale up with solutions that grow as the firm grows and adds more staff.

LWS

The Cloud-Based Approach

With this method, all IT needs are handed off to a cloud-based third party. This third party sets up, configures, launches, and maintains hardware and software, allowing the firm to forego servers and backup devices.

Cloud-based solutions normally use one of three ways to configure a law firm’s IT:

1)  managed cloud computing platform;

2)  desktop as a service; or

3)  private cloud computing.

The first approach, managed cloud computing, enables firms and other organizations to share databases, hardware, and software remotely through the provider. With managed cloud computing, law firms can purchase entire virtual servers or parts of cloud servers.

With the desktop as a service model, law firms can utilize virtual desktops that are highly customizable and run from the cloud. Users’ data is downloaded and uploaded to and from the cloud when users log on and off.

The private cloud computing option is similar to the managed cloud computing with one major exception: In private cloud computing, law firms do not share hardware with other companies or industries. A private cloud IT system allows law firms to maintain confidentiality and privilege when handling sensitive data on behalf of clients.

 

Costs of Cloud IT

When outsourcing entirely to the cloud, regardless of the configuration, law firms usually pay for a subscription-priced service that often offers a lowerentry price point compared to paying for onsite IT. Subscription based services are priced per person and normally include the programs the firm needs to operate its practice, along with IT support.

Typically, cloud providers offer a place for the firm to install an operating system and then build up its IT based on that foundation. Semi-customized programs typically include a desktop built on a Windows-based platform, MS Office, file storage, and antivirus protections. From there, firms can add their legal-specific programs of choice, such as practice management, document management, and document automation systems. This model tends to provide greater stability for the IT budget because the firm will not accumulate unexpected IT costs.

 

Security of Cloud IT

While all cloud providers tout their security protocols, not all of them understand the unique requirements of those in the legal industry. That is why law firms should consider a cloud-based provider that focuses on the legal industry and offers private servers with enhanced security measures, such as enterprise-grade firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and dual-factor authentication.

Firms should also look for the physical security of the data center that hosts the firm’s information (e.g., keycard access and biometric identification) and immediate disaster recovery that is enabled by a secondary site. That means that even if the firm’s office is destroyed, or one database supported by the cloud provider is compromised, attorneys and staff will only be one login away from accessing their information.

Professional woman and man having a discussion on the stairs of a stately buildiing. Could be lawyers, business people etc. [url=/my_lightbox_contents.php?lightboxID=13637164]Click here for more[/url] from this shoot.

Convenience of Cloud IT

Cloud IT can be the most convenient approach, as the law firm has to spend little to no time managing IT. With this model, attorneys spend more time practicing law and the staff is able to focus on supporting the firm’s needs.

 

Conclusion

For small and mid-sized firms, there have never been more options for IT, ranging from systems that are completely hosted onsite to those that reside solely in the cloud. Attorneys should consider factors such as cost, security, and convenience, with the ultimate goal of selecting an approach that enables them to spend less time on IT and more time on their clients and law practices.