How Transitioning to the Cloud Grants Liberation From the Physical Office

 

According to the American Bar Association, “A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.” While a lawyer’s first duty and prerogative must be to serve the court and public, they must also dedicate themselves to serving the client. One of the most important qualities clients seek in their lawyers is availability. In fact, Entrepreneur listed availability as No. 4 in the top seven things to look for in a lawyer, following experience, understanding, and ability to communicate.

Availability can play a role not only in being hired as a private practice or firm but also in client retention and your ability to serve their needs. Your availability plays largely into how hard you’re able to work for a client, as well as how often.

woman lawyerLawyers who rely on physical case files are restricted to working only within the walls of their firms.

Physical offices, while they present a solid, reputable front to clients and the public alike, can actually be a hindrance to a lawyer’s day-to-day responsibilities. Sure, they’re convenient and organized for work to be done during the business day, but what about after hours? Casework is rarely restricted to the 9 to 5. In fact, Carl Franklin, JD, PhD., a retired professor of law & public policy said that his practicing 60 or more hours constituted a normal week. If you have to either stay late while working or drop everything to run back to the office every time there’s a development, you lose time which could be spent working on the case or on-work responsibilities and interests. Along the same line of thought, if you have to dash back to the office to work every time there’s an emergency, you’re restricted by time and can’t act very quickly. The alternative to this is to take home boxes of case files every single day, just in case. While this is possible, it is neither practical nor the best alternative.

Cloud technology is liberating lawyers from the physical office. Lawyers and firms that have chosen to switch over to cloud technology are able to access their documents from any location given they have a connection to the internet. This means lawyers can not only work from home, they can work from the road. If you have an emergency during another client’s case, cloud technology allows you to look into the issue without having to dedicate an entire day to it. Cloud technology saves you time, effort, and money.

Criminal defense attorney James Farr is constantly out of his office at client meetings or in court, so it’s absolutely essential that he and his paralegal be able to work from anywhere, at any time.

“As long as I’m practicing law, I will work in a private cloud environment,” he said in an interview published in the American Bar Association Tech Report 2019. “I’m not going back to the alternative of local servers with local support. Not only can I work from anywhere, but it has freed me from recurring IT headaches and unforeseen expenses in managing my own on-site computer network.”

lawyer cloudCloud technology allows lawyers to access their documents from anywhere, at any time.

Cloud technology providers go to lengths to ensure the safety and security of the data stored in their networks. All data is encrypted using complex algorithms, making the system extremely difficult to breach. Cloud technology keeps data safe while also making it exponentially more accessible to you. The future is now. Learn more about Afinety’s cloud platform and how we can help elevate your firm or practice by providing you freedom from the constraints of brick and mortar.

4 Ways to Make the Return to Office Life Easier

 

As more states and businesses emerge from lengthy lockdowns, there will undoubtedly be many lessons to draw from the COVID-19 outbreak. Perhaps the biggest of them all is the incredible speed with which things can change. All across the country, starting as early as mid-March, organizations, offices, and law firms closed up shop and ran operations almost entirely from home. For some, the transition was fairly seamless. For others, it was anything but, as distractions from family, pets, and other personal responsibilities adversely impacted productivity and thus any semblance of business as usual.

Yet in line with the phased re-opening that most local and state governments are implementing, a return to normalcy isn’t like flicking a light switch: It won’t happen right away. However, there are a few things you can do to make the transition a bit smoother:

1. Prioritize safety
Safety has never not been important, but it’s particularly crucial in today’s day and age, as health officials have repeatedly noted why it’s vital for everyone to adhere to social distancing measures and other methods proven to reduce the spread of coronavirus. In recent polling conducted by Gallup, 73% of respondents said it was “very important”  that there be a “significant reduction” in new cases before resuming to their typical routines, with 68% saying the same about the development of a vaccine.

“Consider putting together a plan that lays out what steps you’re taking to ensure everyone’s well-being.”

Given that a vaccine may not be available until 2021 at the earliest, consider putting together a plan that lays out what steps you’re taking to ensure everyone’s well-being. For example, you may want to rearrange office desks and chairs so they’re all at least six feet away from one another. You might also consider only letting so many people be in the office or lounge at any one time, or at least until health officials provide updates on loosening social distancing measures.

2. Address the elephant in the room
Unintended consequences of the shutdown have run the gamut, as the sudden shuttering of the economy led to massive job losses and the unemployment rate ballooned to nearly 15% in April, according to the most recent statistics available from the Labor Department. Your law firm may be among those that have had to let people go. This can obviously be a sensitive subject, but you may want to consider talking about layoffs with your staff so everyone is clear on what’s occurred and what – if anything – may be to come. As noted by Chief Executive, uncertainty and a general lack of transparency can create confusion for staff and prevent them from doing their level best if they’re unsure of where they stand in terms of job security.  Try to be as straightforward as possible about job losses or furloughs so no one is in the dark about the reasoning behind staffing decisions.

3. Speak with local officials
Just as the degree to which workplaces closed and organizations considered “essential” varied from state to state, the same goes for reopening. Some parts of the country saw many more cases than others and thus are slower to lift restrictions on the facilities that can open. Reach out to leadership so you stay compliant with what rules are in place.

4. Reevaluate work-from-home policy
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, it’s very possible that the workplace may never be quite the same again. Organizations that once were loath to implement work-from-home policies may be taking a second look at them, as a number of employees were able to transition to the telecommuting work lifestyle with relative ease. Speak with those who have worked from home to see if they liked it and to what degree it had on their productivity. Where appropriate, giving personnel more free rein over how often they telecommute may be worthwhile, as this can lower the cost of overhead and make social distancing measures easier.

If remote work will be part of the new normal in a post-COVID-19 world, Afinety can help. The Afinety Cloud Platform is a cloud-based workspace that is reliable, performant, secure, and optimized for remote access, allowing your team the ability to continue being productive and effective – anytime, anywhere. Contact us to learn more about our unparalleled cloud-based solution.

Why Law Firms Are Heading to the Cloud

Cloud computing has advanced significantly over the years and has become mainstream in many legal practices. The American Bar Association released its 2019 Cloud Computing report highlighting the changing relationship between law firms and the cloud.

Cloud technology is slowly but surely becoming the norm for law firms

Some of the most interesting news from the ABA survey is more law firms are using cloud services. The number increased from 55% in 2018 to 58% in 2019. Law firm cloud is being utilized more often by small firms, at 60% of those surveyed, while 44% of larger firms with 50-99 lawyers have adopted it.

However, benefits from the cloud speak for themselves – 80 percent of cloud adopters saw significant process improvements within six months of their transition to the cloud platform, Law Technology Today contributor Jeff Chandler reported.

Pain Point:  Security

Security is especially relevant for law firms since they hold onto some very important data for their clients, and they also often work with institutions from regulated industries like finance and healthcare.  Understanding and adequately protecting your firm from outside threats is of the utmost importance.

Forbes outlines that the cloud is one of the most secure ways to store data due to its redundancy, security, and safe sharing methods. There should always be multiple copies of important documents, ideally stored in different locations. Unlike hard drives and physical paperwork, the cloud will always store duplicates in multiple places, so even if the worst-case scenario occurs, your data will still be accessible.

Ransomware and phishing attacks are on the rise as the current cyber threats facing today’s businesses.  Although phishing certainly isn’t new, it’s a tried-and-true method that many hackers stick by.  In a nutshell, the hacker masquerades as a reputable email account, such as a business partner or a financial institution. The individual then sends out a massive number of emails, either containing a piece of malware such as ransomware or using deception to trick the victim into simply giving up their login credentials.

Of course, it’s impossible to predict exactly how a hacker will attack. Therefore, law firms should consider utilizing security measures such as encryption to stave off any major cybersecurity breaches.  Many financial institutions require this for the law firms they retain due to the private data being shared.  With this security technique, information is scrambled to the point that only the person with the right decryption key can read the data.

How to Choose a Cloud Provider

Adopting a new solution can be daunting.  However, the current tried-and-true onsite networks are typically outdated, creating significant security holes, workflow bottlenecks, not to mention skyrocketing maintenance costs, lost productivity and hindering performance.

The ABA reports that an overwhelming majority of law firms (94%) consider vendor reputation to be important when selecting a cloud provider.  Implementing a cloud-based system specifically designed for law firms is naturally the best path because the firm will benefit more from improved security, performance, reliability, costs savings, as well as the most current software.

The Afinety Cloud Platform: A cloud network for law firms, designed by law firm IT experts

With a focus on law firm IT since 1986, Afinety understands the legal environment and applications in depth.  The Afinety Cloud Platform (ACP) is designed specifically for law firms’ needs.  Built on the largest cloud provider in the world, Amazon Web Services, ACP continues to evolve to ensure the most solid security available, including multifactor authentication, current firewalls technologies, Mimecast with URL Threat Protection, which provides instant protection from targeted attacks and phishing attempts across all devices, protection against good websites turning bad or delayed exploits.

Benefits of the Afinety Cloud Platform

  • Eliminates the need for purchasing and maintaining servers
  • Reduced capital investment and overhead costs
  • Elasticity and scalability
  • Unmatched security and compliance
  • Encrypted data
  • Increased performance and reliability
  • Mobility – work securely from anywhere, from any device
  • Built-in disaster recovery
  • Ongoing support
  • Simple monthly pricing structure
  • Long-time partnership/certifications with legal-specific applications
Afinety knows legal and supports hundreds of law firms with their IT needs so they can focus on their business.

At a single low monthly cost, your entire network, including your data and applications, can be moved to a fully managed cloud platform built on Amazon Web Services, including massive redundancy and security, featuring 24/7/365 monitoring to identify any unusual activity and prevent issues before they cause damage, as well as a 99.999 percent uptime, ensuring the highest level of accessibility possible.   Safe, secure, elastic, reliable, and available anywhere, your network will be ready wherever and whenever you need it.   Click here for a short video on the Afinety Cloud Platform.