Transition to the Cloud growing at a tremendous rate

As a total Cloud fanatic, I’m amazed and energised at the transition that is currently happening in both the business and technical worlds.

The transition to the Cloud is growing at a tremendous rate and as the technology becomes more available, robust and affordable, the opportunities continue to grow. We all know that Cloud is a rebrand of hosting, which has been around for many years, however, the difference is that The Cloud has become more about business transformation than technology.

Recently, a traditionally very conservative Law society of Scotland has taken the lead by stimulating a very interesting discussion with a view to publishing their Cloud Services Procurement Guidelines for the Legal Profession in Scotland in anticipation of their forthcoming Law Society Cloud Event in Edinburgh on the 9th of November 2011.

To see all of this grow from the days I started writing games on the ZX81 and Sinclair Spectrum  is fascinating.

Now, many years on, as a specialist in the legal field offering Cloud for Law firms  and through products like LawCloud, we at the forefront of transforming the way that lawyers in the UK work, and LawWare Ltd is leading in the legal cloud.

Times have never been more challenging for law firms than today.  With the recent introduction of Alternative Business Structures alongside legal aid reforms, increasing paperwork for compliance, the need to be more efficient and competitive has never been more important.

Cloud computing presents the opportunity for small to medium sized firms to have best of breed software (traditionally reserved for the bigger firms) delivered directly to their doorstep at a low fixed monthly cost and with little or no capital expenditure. This very premise is creating vast modernisation and cultural changes in what was a profession grown out of very traditional roots.

Out of the box, The Cloud offers lawyers a new way of working that have never been so easy to reach before, including…

  • Flexible working [from anywhere - office, home, court, holiday even]
  • Peace of mind (All data is managed, backed up, no need to maintain a big expensive server)
  • Cost savings (monthly subscriptions on a utility type basis)
  • Simplified technology (Latest Management software, always kept updated by the Cloud provider, easily scalable)

Microsoft is leading the way with their online services with Office 365 and with new licensing models, Microsoft Office 2010, hosted emails and shared diaries should be an integral part of any serious Cloud system.

The Secret to Cloud Success is really still about relationships and knowing your Cloud provider. You are entrusting your crown jewels to a provider for the long term and you need to do your due diligence well. Nobody is perfect and whilst I am sure your experience will be a huge success, you should also plan your backup just in case things go wrong as they sometimes do. So, know where your data is and be sure you can get all of your data back when you need it and in a meaningful format.

Good luck with your journey to the Cloud. We are living in challenging yet incredible times.

As the infamous Benjamin Disraeli said “The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.”…

Warren’s latest blog post has been featured in The Firm Magazine: “The Transition Position” and will appear in Totally Legal’s blog later this week.

About the author

Warren Wander is the founder and Managing Director of LawWare Ltd and more recently has become CEO of LawCloud Ltd. Warren has spent all his working life in the software development field and the last 15 years creating, developing & growing LawWare into one of Scotland’s most modern suppliers of Practice, Case & Risk management software. Warren Wander

 LawWare have established a strong reputation for an innovative and forward looking approach to the business of running a Law Firm and take the view that a ’big picture’ approach toward all the staff within a firm is the surest route towards achieving both effective firm management and high level client care. 

Although Warren lived in Scotland for the last 13 years, he is originally from Manchester, and graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with BSc (Hons) Computer Science in 1989.

You can find him at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/warrenwander

Inverness welcomes the Cloud

Earlier today (Wednesday 26 October 2011), The Mercure Hotel in Inverness hosted the fourth and final instalment in a series of legal practice management events chaired by Warren Wander, founder of LawCloud. Speakers included David Calder, managing partner of MBM Commercial LLP, Warren Wander, managing director of LawCloud, Andy Glasgow, senior commercial banking relationship manager at RBS, Alison Stark, chartered accountant at The Cashroom and Gavin Ward, search and social media marketing manager at Moore Legal Technology.

David Calder – MBM Commercial

The day started with a keynote from David Calder, managing partner of MBM Commercial. David explained the inception of MBM Commercial from a buy-out of the commercial business of a leading law firm in 2005. With its recent acquisition of a niche technology practice in Oxford, MBM Commercial has been able to establish itself as a specialist UK wide commercial law firm with a niche focus on acting for entrepreneurs, growth companies and investors who are based throughout the UK.

MBM Commercial has used innovative strategies to outsource various functions. One such function, cashroom services have been outsourced by MBM Commercial to The Cashroom, which provides outsourced accounting services for law firms across the UK. David explained that it wasn’t until 2008 that such outsourcing of accountancy was viable for his firm. Now, because of the Cloud, MBM Commercial is able to outsource this vital part of its business, which enables greater flexibility and cost savings for fee earners.

David Calder and his team at MBM Commercial can be contacted on 0333 2400 313 or at mailto:david.calder@mbmcommercial.co.uk.

Warren Wander – LawCloud

Cloud Computing

Warren Wander then presented on the benefits of cloud computing for law firms, explaining how LawCloud has enabled over 170 lawyers across the UK to improve their legal practice with cloud technology.

Explaining LawCloud for the audience, Warren said “In simple terms, LawCloud is the name of our secure server on the internet which you can rent space on. It delivers LawWare Enterprise and is the new generation in Practice Management & Office Software for law firms. It’s built on Microsoft’s Cloud Services platform and housed in a Fort Knox style data centre provided by LawWare business partner Rise Ltd.”

Elaborating on the main features, Warren then discussed Cash Accounting, the Full Electronic Case File, Risk Management & Compliance tools, Microsoft Office 2010 with Email, Shared Diaries, and, a secure, robust, high performance set of servers that have no single point of failure.

Summarising the main ways in which LawCloud benefits law firms across the UK, Warren noted that “It enables flexible working because it’s on the Internet. It supports your mobile and remote working capability which means you can work as easily from home, court or holiday as you can from the office.”

Warren also explained that “Access to all information is at your fingertips. It also means that you can link branch offices together without the need for expensive servers to route the information. We simply connect your remote offices up to the LawCloud Server and straight away you have a wide area network for your teams to share information.”

To discuss any of these aspects in greater detail, please call Warren and the LawCloud team on 0845 2020 577.

Andy Glasgow – RBS

Next, Andy Glasgow of RBS presented on the various financial issues for law firms in the current economic climate. Recognising the downturn and its effect on law firms, Andy noted that the more prudent law firms, from a banking perspective, are those which are able to and, indeed, have adapted quickly to economic pressures, despite the fact that difficult decisions, including staff redundancies, may have to be made.

Andy concluded by recommending that law firms should keep in touch with their accountants or financial advisers to remain in control of their firm’s finances in the current economic climate.

To get in touch with Andy please email Andy.glasgow@rbs.co.uk.

Alison Stark – The Cashroom

Chartered accountant at The Cashroom, Alison Stark then explained the benefits of outsourced accounting and how cloud computing has enabled The Cashroom to grow and continue to work with an expanding range of law firms across the UK.

Alison elaborated on why outsourced accountancy for law firms is a serious consideration for the practice manager of every law firm in the UK. Against the backdrop of the vast array of rules and regulations that have to be followed by a CRP (CashRoom Partner) for a firm to be compliant, such as Law Society inspections, HMRC, VAT returns, PAYE & NIC, cashflows, surplus, accounts, budgets, etc, As explained that The Cashroom aims to alleviate much of this burden for law firms, allowing all partners to be able to focus on fee-earning activities. This also removes the need for an internal cashroom to be staffed and frees up essential office space and other IT expenses.

The Cashroom provides a virtual cashroom service, on demand 9am-5pm, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. This is made possible by The Cashroom’s use of the Cloud to provide better communication with clients, support flexible working for staff and to manage cashflow better.

To discuss outsourced accountancy further, please contact Alison Stark or Catherine O’Day on 01506 592 263 or by email at info@thecashroom.co.uk.

Gavin Ward – Moore Legal Technology

Gavin Ward, Search and Social Media Marketing Manager at Moore Legal Technology, then presented on the return on investment for law firms in optimising their use of social media marketing and online presence.

Gavin introduced the subject by explaining the various components of return on investment (ROI) in a social media context. These included brand awareness and development, growth of digital assets, development of risk management capability and direct or indirect financial results.

Using examples of successes both personal and for client law firms, Gavin elaborated on several types of social media use in the legal profession. These include blogging, which can be used to develop personal brands and the brand of the law firm, to share legal knowledge, develop current awareness and ultimately to expand online presence and generate more business online. This LawCloud blog itself, which is listed as one of the top 100 blogs on cloud computing was used as an example of how blogging can work well for firms.

Discussing Twitter as a tool to develop relationships, maintain current awareness and drive traffic to law firm websites, Gavin illustrated examples of Twitter accounts, such as LawCloud’s Twitter account or Lawford Kidd’s Twitter account, together with analytics to measure the use of those accounts.

Lastly, LinkedIn was discussed, with Gavin looking at LinkedIn groups can be particularly rewarding. He looked, for instance, at Warren’s Cloud for Lawyers group which was set up earlier in the year, which has attracted over 500 members and which itself ranks first in Google for the term “Cloud for Lawyers”.

Gavin concluded by suggesting that firms should focus on the benefits and value of social media use in the broader sense, with financial results, e.g. in terms of client wins, inevitably following.

If you’d like to discuss web presence, social media activities or legal website design further, Gavin and the Moore Legal Technology team can be contacted on 0845 620 5664 or at  gavin@moorelegaltechnology.co.uk.

Future Events

On 9 November 2011, the Law Society of Scotland is chairing a conference on cloud computing for Scottish law firms. Please see our blog post on this event for more information.

Cloud Computing for Law Firms: Law Society of Scotland Event

The Law Society of Scotland is welcoming lawyers from across Scotland and, indeed, the rest of the UK, to attend an upcoming event on Cloud computing for law firms. The CPD event is scheduled for 9th November 2011 with further details available here: Law Society Cloud Event.

The synopsis of the Law Society event states:-

“Cloud computing providers claim to offer law firms the chance to save money, work more efficiently, and respond more quickly to changing IT demands. Many firms are already benefitting and, on the face of it, many more could. However, as with every development there are also new risks and new concerns, from data security and data protection issues, through to regulatory compliance, business continuity, technical support and IP.

This event will help you decide what might be right for you and your firm, hearing the full story from providers and experts in the field of Cloud”.

LawCloud welcomes the Law Society’s initiative in this respect. In advance of the event there is also a continuing discussion on LawCloud’s LinkedIn group regarding Cloud Services in respect of a Procurement Guide for the Legal Profession, to which additional contributions, thoughts and questions are also welcome.

Additionally, in advance of the event, please do read our White Paper on Security in the Cloud for Law Firms in the UK.

We look forward to the event and in the meantime if you have any queries please do not hesitate to ask us either in the comments section below, on Twitter at @LawCloudUK or @LawWareUK, or by calling us on 0845 2020 577 for a free initial consultation.

A secret in Cloud Success

Sat on a busy morning train, laptop on table, connected to 3g checking emails, just plugged in the headphones into my Window 7 smart phone to listen to a podcast, plugged the laptop into the power socket on the train, sip of a coffee from Nero and I literally feel “all wired up”. What has the world come to…

Interestingly, the podcast is Radio 4’s click-on and it’s called a world without wires and it’s talking about the amount of radio waves now flying around us covering all sorts of data information and the up and coming superfast 4g technology that is already taking Sweden by storm.

Yesterday, The Guardian published a Cloud Technology supplement on printed page and online
The Guardian Newspaper – Cloud Computing

Whilst there are many Cloud publications, this one seems to condense the current state of play into a very readable feature. One thing that really stood out for me was the comment from Rise that “The Cloud is more about business transformation than technology”.

I was impressed to see The Law Society of Scotland taking the lead with their Cloud computing CPD event scheduled for 9th November Law Society Cloud Event and their discussion on Cloud Services – Procurement Guide for the Legal Profession at Procurement Guide Discussion

The Guardian’s Cloud feature includes an interesting article entitled “Steps to get ahead in The Cloud” and poses the single question – where, exactly, do you start?

• A first pointer suggests a close relationship between your business and the company providing the Cloud technology is a good start.
• Next, look for good quality marks as well as reference site. Signs such as ISO 270001 (an industry standard information security certificate) and the CIF Mark (Cloud Industry Forum) are recognised.
• Then there is the question of whether your data is stored in a location that adheres to the Data Protection Act. The DPA in the UK covers data sovereignty whilst US companies will be subject to the Patriot act in their legislation which outranks our legislation.
• Another Cloud advocate suggests that you should take a phased or at least calculated approach to Cloud adoption. Focus on the business need to become more productive or save money. You may want to focus on generating more business, link branch offices or communicate better with remote staff, in which case you should ensure that your solution is designed around that focus.
• It has been suggested that an important factor is working out the divorce with your Cloud partner before you work out the marriage. “If someone is going to be holding your corporate crown jewels in the cloud, how would you exit?”… Think about the end game before from the start of the planning process.
• Finally, you shouldn’t get carried away. Very few providers can supply a complete real time application of all information on the Cloud, so check what you want is there but also ask whether you need it because it does cost.

All of this reaffirms my most recent post Journey to the cloud gains momentum which cites that a very high proportion of small to medium sized law firms are already adopting Cloud, giving them the flexibility to be more efficient and competitive in times that are changing faster than ever for lawyers.

Andy Burton, CEO of The Cloud Industry Forum states that “The David’s of the business world can now truly compete with the Goliaths on a level playing field, thereby changing the face of competition for good.”

Opportunities have never been more prevalent for innovative practitioners to embrace changes in the legal world alongside the technology industry to create something envious.

The LawCloud business has transitioned alongside these changes and in only 18 months, having transformed LawWare from a long established, traditional supplier of on premise software systems to lawyers in Scotland, to LawCloud – a company leading the way in the supply of Cloud technologies to law firms throughout the UK. Social media has helped extend our reach and generate a new wave of online business that was not possible before the advent of LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook and more recent popularity of blogging.

Benjamin Disraeli said “The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.”…

This article is also published in The Firm Magazine online at The Man Who Knows

Cloud computing: A bright light for business

One of the most successful business people of our time, Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs, was one of the first to recognise the benefits of the “cloud”, which put simply is a term used to describe a model of computing which enables on-demand network access to a shared pool of resource. When Jobs rejoined Apple in 1996, one of his first acts was to move all of the company’s data – including fiercely protected information about the business’s future plans – to Apple’s servers, rather than entrusting that valuable information to individual computers.

Andy Burton, chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum, an industry group, cites the case of LawWare, based in Edinburgh, which writes software for legal practices (LawCloud): it wanted to speed up implementation, and so turned to cloud providers so it could rapidly develop projects for customers. “The time taken to implement a new system went from weeks to hours,” says Burton.

He says that the problem with the word “cloud” is that many people find it ambiguous: is it about flexibility, or speed, or cost? He argues that “it makes you a more competitive organisation” and that the key question to ask is which of those three is the most important to improve, and focus on how cloud systems can help.

In June 2009, just after Michael Jackson’s death, Twitter saw traffic peak at 456 tweets a second but, by August 2011, following news of Beyoncé’s pregnancy, it was generating 8,868 tweets a second. Flexible cloud-based servers meant that Twitter could handle that explosive growth – few companies could forecast and manage such expansion on internal systems.

The idea that cloud services will make a big difference to businesses has been a recurrent theme of technology discussions for the past 10 years or so. Certainly, UK businesses have indicated that they are ready to adopt cloud computing. A study in the first half of 2011, which polled IT and business decision-makers across the private and public sectors, found that almost half already use cloud services. The private sector leads the way, with those employing more than 20 people ahead of smaller businesses in adoption (52% v 38%) – even though the latter could gain more because of the lower capital spending cloud computing requires. The driver for adoption is overwhelmingly cited as flexibility, with only 16% citing cost savings, though that figure rockets up to 69% among those already using cloud services.

It’s not just going to be about Hotmail any more. The cloud is coming, and the only question soon might be why your business isn’t on board.

Read the full article in The Guardian Newspaper, in the Cloud technology supplement, printed on 17th October 2011 or see their Cloud technology news section at Guardian Cloud News

The Journey to the Cloud continues to gain momentum

Microsoft has confirmed that Investment in Cloud based infrastructure continues to grow as businesses move from legacy systems and limited deployments to more comprehensive cloud based solutions.

Cloud adoption continues to gain traction in the legal profession as more and more law firms in Scotland and England recognise the increased opportunities that Cloud presents.

One such Cloud provider has seen a phenomenal growth over the last 12 months, with its client base increasing by 50 new Law firm Cloud start-ups in this short time and growing.

Warren Wander, Managing Director of LawCloud explains that the technology is now ripe for Cloud adoption, and that there has never been a better time for law firms to review their technologies. Wander says that planning for improved efficiencies and cost savings by embracing Cloud technologies and services is a vital ingredient in todays competitive market place.

“The new ways that this technology can be delivered creates opportunities for lawyers to embrace, such as flexible working, scalability, technology simplification. Headaches that existied with traditional technologies are removed such as performance issues and backup problems. Cloud enables concepts such as the virtual office, where lawyers can team up and work together without being bound to traditional partnership premise & practice.”

Alongside the opportunities for legal branding, collaborative membership groups are becoming more commonplace, where lawyers are using this kind of technology to strengthen their proposition and work together in new and interesting ways.

Winston Churchill once said “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind” and never has this saying been more apparent.

Managing a Law Firm in the 21st Century: Aberdeen Event

Last month, The Copthorne Hotel in Aberdeen hosted the third instalment in a series of legal practice management events chaired by Warren Wander, founder of LawCloud.

LawCloud Aberdeen Event Image

Professor Stewart Brymer – Brymer Legal

The day started with a keynote from Professor Stewart Brymer, owner of Brymer Legal, who detailed his experiences of LawCloud. Explaining how the Cloud has helped his firm work more flexibly and save on IT costs, Professor Brymer noted that “everything I need is available to me – easily, and, I only need a PC and a printer. Being on the cloud has removed the burden and cost of investing in servers”.Brymer Legal

Noting that despite initial apprehension regarding security of the Cloud, performance and functionality, Professor Brymer sought out answers, discovering that because other markets have embraced cloud technology for years, solicitors have to as well.

Having made the transition to LawCloud, Professor Brymer noted that he continues to receive the highest quality of IT support from Warren Wander and his team at LawCloud, which he is able to use fully to his and his clients’ advantage.

Because of Cloud technology, Brymer Legal is able to succeed as a virtual law firm in Scotland, delivering a high quality service to its clients. Instead of traditional, fixed overheads, Bryme Legal moulds resources around client needs, making best use of quality thinking and internet technology, allowing clients to receive best advice at a reasonable cost.

Professor Stewart Brymer and his team at Brymer Legal can be contacted on 0333 2400 313 or at stewart@brymerlegal.co.uk.

Warren Wander – LawCloud

Warren Wander then presented on the benefits of cloud computing for law firms, explaining how LawCloud has enabled over 170 lawyers across the UK to improve their legal practice with cloud technology. Warren introduced LawCloud by screening the following presentation:-

Explaining LawCloud for the audience, Warren said “In simple terms, LawCloud is the name of our secure server on the internet which you can rent space on. It delivers LawWare Enterprise and is the new generation in Practice Management & Office Software for law firms. It’s built on Microsoft’s Cloud Services platform and housed in a Fort Knox style data centre provided by LawWare business partner Rise Ltd.”

Elaborating on the main features, Warren then discussed Cash Accounting, the Full Electronic Case File, Risk Management & Compliance tools, Microsoft Office 2010 with Email, Shared Diaries, and, a secure, robust, high performance set of servers that have no single point of failure.

Summarising the main ways in which LawCloud benefits law firms both in Scotland and England & Wales, Warren noted that “It enables flexible working because it’s on the internet. It supports your mobile and remote working capability which means you can work as easily from home, court or holiday as you can from the office. Access to all information is at your fingertips. It also means that you can link branch offices together without the need for expensive servers to route the information. We simply connect your remote offices up to the LawCloud Server and straight away you have a wide area network for your teams to share information. LawCloud gives you peace of mind through Automatic Backups, in-built disaster recovery & a readymade business continuity plan.

As LawCloud looks after all of your critical data, you have complete peace of mind. All information is backed up multiple times per day; the environment is absolutely secure and scalable. With Automatic Updates your software is always kept up to date so you’ll never need to worry about running an out-of-date version or having to pay for new software licenses.”

Discussing pricing, Warren concluded noting that “LawCloud is available for a low fixed monthly cost (there is No or very low Capital Expenditure required). Along with the advancements in technology, IT vendors have realised that pricing models need to change and with LawCloud we’ve introduced a single low fixed monthly fee that offers real value for money. There’s no need to purchase or upgrade expensive servers or retain high cost maintenance contracts. This represents a substantial cost saving. The LawCloud bundle includes subscription based software licenses and we take care of all of your complicated back-end infrastructure & server requirements in the cloud. All you need is a standard PC and a secure internet connection to access the system.”

To discuss any of these aspects in greater detail, please call Warren and the LawCloud team on 0845 2020 577.

Catherine O’Day – The Cashroom

Founder of The Cashroom, Catherine O’Day then explained the benefits of cloud computing and how they have enabled her firm to grow and continue to work with an expanding range of law firms across the UK.

Explaining The Cashroom’s services for the audience, Catherine said “We do everything an in-house cashroom does, only we do it remotely, without the need for lawyers to employ and manage cashiers and accountants, and all for a fixed monthly fee. We are confident that the fee will be less than the equivalent employment costs, and you don’t have the hassle of employing people.”Cashroom Compliance Issues

Noting that The Cashroom has more than doubled its client base in the past year, Catherine elaborated on why outsourced accountancy for law firms is a serious consideration for the practice manager of every law firm in the UK. Against the backdrop of the vast array of rules and regulations that have to be followed by a CRP (CashRoom Partner) for a firm to be compliant, such as Law Society inspections, HMRC, VAT returns, PAYE & NIC, cashflows, surplus, accounts, budgets, etc, Catherine explained that The Cashroom aims to alleviate much of this burden for law firms, allowing all partners to be able to focus on fee-earning activities. This also removes the need for an internal cashroom to be staffed and frees up essential office space and other IT expenses.

The Cashroom provides a virtual cashroom service, on demand 9am-5pm, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. This is made possible by The Cashroom’s use of the cloud to provide better communication with clients, support flexible working for staff and to manage cashflow better.

To discuss this service further, please contact Catherine O’Day on 01506 592 263 or at info@thecashroom.co.uk.

Gavin Ward – Moore Legal Technology

Gavin Ward, Search and Social Media Marketing Manager at Moore Legal Technology, then presented on the return on investment for law firms in optimising their use of social media marketing and online presence.

Gavin introduced the subject by explaining the various components of return on investment (ROI) in a social media context. These included brand awareness and development, growth of digital assets, development of risk management capability and direct or indirect financial results.

Using examples of successes both personal and for client law firms, Gavin elaborated on several types of social media use in the legal profession. These include blogging, which can be used to develop personal brands and the brand of the law firm, to share legal knowledge, develop current awareness and ultimately to expand online presence and generate more business online. This LawCloud blog itself, which is listed as one of the top 100 blogs on cloud computing was used as an example of how blogging can work well for firms.

Discussing Twitter as a tool to develop relationships, maintain current awareness and drive traffic to law firm websites, Gavin illustrated examples of Twitter accounts, such as LawCloud’s Twitter account, together with analytics to measure use of those accounts.

Lastly, LinkedIn was discussed, with Gavin looking at LinkedIn groups can be particularly rewarding. He looked, for instance, at Warren’s Cloud for Lawyers group which was set up earlier in the year, which has attracted 500 members and which itself ranks first in Google for the term “Cloud for Lawyers”.

Gavin concluded by suggesting that firms should focus on the benefits and value of social media use in the broader sense, with financial results, e.g. in terms of client wins, inevitably following. The following PowerPoint slides give an overview of the presentation:-

If you’d like to discuss web presence or social media activities further, Gavin and the Moore Legal Technology team can be contacted on 0845 620 5664 or at gavin@moorelegaltechnology.co.uk.

Upcoming Event in Inverness

If you didn’t get a chance to attend previous events, the speakers will be presenting again on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 from 12:00 PM to 3:30 PM in Inverness. This is a free business event that qualifies for CPD points. It is recommended that delegates book early as places are limited. See http://law-firm-challenges-inverness.eventbrite.com/ for further details.

LawCloud: Cloud for Lawyers UK