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Office 365 Is Making Small Law Firms More Productive

Getting excited about what Microsoft is doing doesn’t happen very often, but recently the tech giant did the entire legal profession a very big favor. They put the Office tools that you know and love on the cloud. And this one simple change to a familiar product is revolutionizing the way lawyers work.

A Revolution? Yes. Here are 8 reasons why:

1) Anytime/Anywhere Access. Everything is 24/7 now. We’ve all been conditioned (including your clients). That now includes office hours. Work gets done as needed, whenever and wherever. With your Office 365 documents stored in OneDrive on the cloud, you can finally keep up. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised at how much “down time” becomes “billable time”. With Office 365, your billable hours expand. That’s a good thing.

2) Storage and Security. OneDrive is about more than 24/7 access. It’s equally about safety, including automatic backups every few minutes (that you could never match). No important document need go “missing” ever again. As for security, cloud data centers are far better protected and much more impenetrable than your office.

3) Document Management. Legal documents don’t get done in one shot. They evolve. Keeping track of all those versions has long been a problem for small firms. It’s led to countless hours trying to track down that “last good version” of one document or another. With Office 365, you’ll have the tools you need to keep your document trail pristine.

4) Real-Time Collaboration. This was one of those early promises about the internet 20 years ago. Now with OneDrive and dynamic versioning on the cloud, real-time collaboration is here and now. This is especially important to small practices who depend heavily on resources outside of the firm. Now you can team up to get the best results at a lower cost (because travel expenses fade away).

5) Connected Calendars. Snafus with meeting times and phone appointments really hurt. They cost money. They upset clients. We all have so many calendars, that integrating them all together is not just luxury, it’s a necessity. Office 365 turns Calendar into a willing partner with all the others we use every day.

6) Easy Email. Email is supposed to be easy. But the impossible Exchange Server made Outlook the perennial problem child of the email world. With Office 365, we can all use Outlook email without Exchange. Email is easy again.

7) Third-Party Apps. Putting Office on the cloud makes it much easier work with the third-party apps that provide those special requirements we need as lawyers. Things like DocuSign. Or LawToolBox for court calendaring. In the past, moving documents from one app to another has always taken far too long, with too many error messages. Office 365 changes all of that.

8) Less IT Headaches (And Cost). So many costs disappear when you move to the Cloud. Your office IT infrastructure, updates, security, backups. These simply go away. You will have some low monthly fees but they’re nothing like the capital costs you had to cope with in the past. Not to mention the headaches and downtime that used to come with maintaining all that hardware and software.

Office 365 is barely one-year-old. We’ve touched on just a few of the ways in which it can help you work faster, cut costs, and eliminate some long-standing aggravations that came from working off an isolated desktop. This is just the beginning. Hang on.  Lawyering from the Cloud will be quite the ride. Take a look at what Office 365 can do for your practice this week in a special webinar, “Office 365 Productivity Gains for Small Law Firms”.

Rick Kabra

Dr. Rick Kabra is President of CosmoLex Cloud, creator of cutting-edge technology solutions to help solo and small law firms law firms. Rick has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from NJIT and has over 10 years of experience in the legal software industry catering to the specialized technology needs of small to mid-sized law firms. Rick has given numerous seminars and published articles on legal technologies such as law practice technology management, cloud computing, and legal billing, business & trust accounting compliance.