As a lawyer going Mobile – Which device should you consider?

September 2013 – Portable Workstation Review

With the wealth of mobile devices now flooding the market, it is difficult to choose which one best suits you and your mobility needs.

Each device has its place and there are essentially 3 device categories and within that, multiple flavours in each.

Tablets

Tablets are essentially portable devices with touch screens and normally on screen keyboards. I would argue that they are tempered towards the home consumer with the ability to watch videos & TV, listen to music, browse the internet and a multitude of other nifty applications available to download from their App Stores. Whilst you can read the news, check email and open PDF files and Word documents, business usage can be a bit limited and clumsy due to the lack of keyboard and mouse and limited (if any) Microsoft Office and other business applications along with  the “locked down” nature of the device.

However, Microsoft has released their Surface RT Tablet and whilst sales have perhaps been a little slow, this is the ideal consumer tablet / business tool all in one. The Surface RT is really a PC companion. Whilst it has Windows 8 touch capability, it also has a desktop mode that comes pre-installed with Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel and One Note). The removable touch cover has a keyboard and mouse pad built in so you really do have a very business friendly “Nearly Notebook” style device to enjoy your personal applications and to work on business documents and emails in the same way as you would on a PC. It has great battery life and is very portable. The only downside is that you can’t install applications on it that you would normally be able to on a PC due to the different processor it uses. I however don’t see this as a downside, as long as you accept that this is not a full PC but a ‘almost a PC’ companion for working on the move.

The Apple iPad has probably been around the longest of all tablets and has grabbed its market share through being innovative and the first of its kind. If you like Apple and have an iPad then you learn to love it very quickly, however, it is not as flexible as the Surface from a business point of view, lacking physical keyboard and mouse (although you can buy add-ons that will give you this) but the lack of a familiar Windows interface for working in is arguably clunky.

Android tablets are Google’s version of an iPad but again are limited for business use. Whilst they deliver great personal usage facilities, they can also be a little clunky to use.

In summary, for the business user I’d strongly favour the Microsoft Surface RT tablet, especially if you are familiar with the Windows environment and want the capability of Microsoft Office with physical keyboard and mouse in a very well designed magnetic cover. There are 2 choices of keyboard, Touch and Click. I’d suggest paying the extra £10 and going for the click keyboard which is much easier to type quickly on.

All 3 devices are priced at a similar cost at the ‘under £400’ mark although it’s possible to get some Android tablets cheaper but with a possible compromise on specification and build quality. Both Surface and Apple and the higher end Android devices are really superb devices from a component and build point of view.

Ultra books, Notebooks & Hybrids

If a tablet isn’t for you and you want true computing power then you will probably want to look at a more traditional PC notebook. Modern notebooks, or the now called Ultra-books, come packed with power and performance. These devices will run full Windows and some are now hybrids with removable touch screens that act as tablets. You will pay a premium for the full PC tablet version but if you need raw power then these are a great choice.

There are multitudes of Traditional Windows 8 laptops with/without Touch on the market to choose from, some very slim and lightweight, others a little more bulky but at the end of the day you get what you pay for. You can’t beat going to John Lewis and choosing something you like and getting that essential peace of mind from John Lewis that you are warranty covered if anything goes wrong.

In the hybrid range, Microsoft has released the big brother to the Surface RT and called it the Surface Pro. It’s expensive, not as light as the RT and is much more bulky. Again, if you need power, it has it but I’d suggest that for normal day to day use then RT is fine.

The Apple MacBook Pro has a great reputation for elegance, power, performance, design etc… If you are an Apple fan then this may be for you. Personally for business use, I’d recommend a good old Microsoft PC.

Chrome Book is Google’s version of a lightweight laptop that runs Chrome o/s. They are much lower priced and good if you want to do browsing and light work. I’d seriously question their application for business users though.

Smartphones & PadPhones

SmartPhones are essentially a cross between a phone and a mini-PC. Nowadays they are packed with power and can do most things but the screen is much smaller and, I’d suggest, very difficult for doing any real work on. They’re great for checking your mail, small email replies, social media, looking up contact information, basic browsing and the like but they are really very limited as a tool to do any work on. Popup keyboards are small, however there are larger screen versions coming out such as the Galaxy Note 3 that could be more usable; but at the end of the day, you can’t beat a tablet or ultrabook for doing real work on.

Again there are Android Phones, Windows Phones, Apple iPhones, BlackBerry’s which are all cut down versions of the main tablet with (smartphone) operating systems optimised for small screens. The choice is yours and I’d suggest either a Windows or Android phone for reasonable and very mobile usability. Whilst I like Apple I do find that their operating system is now a little dated (though iOS7 is a facelift) and there is very limited choice on hardware. I’m afraid that I’ve never been a fan of BlackBerry but can see why some people are. Most phones will have a tethering facility where you can use the mobile internet on your phone to hook up with your tablet or notebook to get you on the Internet. Be very aware that you must understand your web allowance and how your airtime provider charges for this. Virgin do a great all round deal for unlimited Web, Phone minutes and Text for £15 per month on a SIM only deal if you own your own phone.

In Summary

Each device type and operating system choice has its place and nowadays it’s not uncommon to have a selection of each for different purposes. I personally have a PC Desktop and a Laptop for doing office or home based work on, a Microsoft Surface RT for working on the train and when I’m out of the office (as a PC companion) and a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for very mobile quick work like checking emails and replying to messages and brief online searches. I find this combination works really well for my personal all round needs for flexibility, mobility, personal and business consumption.

However, everybody’s needs are different and there are plenty of devices out there to meet your requirements and personal taste.

If you would like any advice on mobile or flexible working, please feel free to email me and I’d be happy to offer some friendly advice warren@lawcloud.co.uk

Warren Wander is founder and Managing Director of LawWare Ltd. His work on LawCloud (Cloud based Practice Management Software for lawyers) is highly acclaimed and his business has built a solid reputation for helping lawyers do more with IT.

You can find out more at:-

Visit our web site at www.lawcloud.co.uk

Join me on linked in at http://www.linkedin.com/in/warrenwander

Visit our Blawg at www.lawcloudcomputing.com

Back to basics – a Business Briefing for Lawyers: Managing Performance

Welcome to the latest edition of Back to Basics — a Business Briefing for Lawyers. This month the focus is on Managing Performance. It is essential that every firm has a range of Performance Management tools—not only of a financial nature (although those are very important) – but more wide ranging.

Armed with these tools, firms will be able to make decisions based on factual foundations rather than on “gut feelings” or “instinct” which, sadly, can prove disastrous. We will touch on just some of those tools in this month’s Briefing. You should not only check your performance for the current month but also over a period of time to help you gain an understanding of the way your business is working and what trends there are that are affecting it. If you need any help in creating systems or tools to assess your performance, please get in touch with me—I’d be delighted to help.

Performance Managing

You see them vying for victory every week during the F1 season – trying to improve their performance week on week. They try things to see if they work, and if they do, they keep them and if they don’t they discard them and try something different. The whole team knows what it’s trying to achieve and they all have a part to play. They measure everything that goes on because they know that by doing that they will find ways of improving that will help them win the race. In your business, there is no difference between what they do in Formula 1 to what you need to do.

Every business needs to have a range of Performance Measurements against which it can test its progress. There are the obvious financial measurements in the form on budgets and projections which you can compare to actual results. You can measure the number of new cases that you opened this week, month or year against the same period last year. You can count the number of new clients that you’ve taken on— and where they came from. Are your Sources of Business continuing to perform as you expected them to? You must identify the information that is important to you and once you to that you must check your progress against that. Are you going to make the effort to improve week on week or are you just in the race to make up the numbers?

If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it!

It’s well known in the world of management that you can’t manage something if you can’t see it—and if you don’t set any performance measurements then there’s nothing to see. It is an essential element of running any business to set performance measurements. Without these you will have no accurate idea of how your business is doing. Simply relying on the bottom line in your bank balance will not give you a very good idea of which parts of your business are performing well and which are performing badly. To do this you need to introduce a range of performance measurements. There need not be a huge range of measurements—but you do need some. As I mentioned earlier, it is prudent to have a range of financial measurements. You really should set out a budget for your financial year (and if you’re part of the way through the financial year and haven’t set a budget—set one for the remainder of the year). Every month you should compare how you’ve done against your budget. You should look at which areas performed well and which areas performed badly—and, in each case, work out why. You should also benchmark your results against the Cost of Time Survey conducted by The Law Society. You will find a range of Financial Ratios in that Report against which you can test your own results.

If you are intent on growing your business profitably, you will be interested in where your new clients are coming from and to compare how many new cases are created by new clients against the number of new cases generated by existing clients. A monthly Source of Business report is a good barometer as to whether you have solid connections that supply you with new cases month after month—and whether a once successful Source of Business is now in decline.

Reading rows and rows of numbers can be difficult and don’t necessarily help you to spot trends. Try putting the resulting into a Chart to compare your projections against your actual results or, in the case of Source of Business Reports consider establishing trends over a period of time to see if there is an improvement or decline from your various sources of business. As can be seen from this chart, existing clients and client referrals are performing well, referrals from the firm’s Web site are increasing month on month, Yellow Pages produces a very small number of cases and might not be worth the money and there is a declining trend in IFA Referral work. This assists you in making decision about which areas you should focus on for growth.

Simon says…..

If I was a budding Olympian (I wish!) then the term performance management would be an oft used phrase. If I was CEO of an FTSE company it would be part of the furniture. So is it something only associated with participants that are at the peak of their chosen field, or, is it something to do with how you attain the heights of capability. The above have teams of dedicated people to measure, analyse and report, which of course isn’t the case for your average law firm in Scotland. Having said that, I reckon you only need the teams of experts if you are trying to win a medal or keep investors happy. The average law firm in Scotland can be informed about its performance much more easily – simply use modern Practice Management software that takes a holistic approach to the firm rather than just the Cashroom.

The most common tool to measure a law firm’s performance is probably the cash accounting system. Unfortunately far too many cash accounting systems were designed for cashiers to use, which means they pander to the needs of the few rather than the needs of the many. Compliance isn’t difficult to achieve and it’s certainly not an aspect to be feared or shrouded in ignorance. Any decent Practice Management System (PMS) will make Compliance transparent to all and automatically alert Partners as to how Anti –Money Laundering and Cash is performing – and, it will show you how your Fees Rendered and Fees Recovered are performing – although don’t be one of those people that think Fees Rendered is the goal; it isn’t – only Fees Recovered (i.e. cash in your bank account) is of practical use to today’s law firms. A good PMS will reveal how quickly you fee (by Work Type, by Partner, by Department) and how quickly you get paid; by revealing the number of days it takes to be paid – then starts you thinking about how you can reduce it. It will also show you any clients with a £500+ credit balance — and show you any clients with a Credit Balance and Fees Outstanding if your Terms of Business says you can take a fee if sufficient client’s funds are available, then call client and let them know you are taking it. If your Terms of Business doesn’t say this – change it. If you are currently using the Bank Statement as your primary performance management tool, then have a look at a modern Practice Management System; you will get a very pleasant surprise if you do. You may be one of those that waits for the accountant to tell you what’s what after the financial year end. The difficulty with this is that by the time you find out there’s a problem; it’s too late to do anything to improve things in the relevant financial year.

Many firms are trading on an overdraft, in which case the bank has probably taken a proactive role as far as reporting is concerned – in many cases this was because the firm itself wasn’t proactive. However, don’t simply be feeding the bank with what it wants to know; understand how good your business development is – report on new clients introduced and new instructions received as these are the things that will feed through into your cash figures in due course. Understand the dynamics of your business: what number of cases lead to what level of income, what are the overheads and expenses that underpin which levels of work type; How are they performing? Is a good question. How can they perform better? I would suggest is the goal.

Fee Earner Performance

Because of the nature of legal firms, it is very important that Fee Earners have their performance measured. In many instances Solicitors are not only the owners and managers of the business, they are also the prime producers of the firm’s income through the work they carry out to generate fee revenue. You should consider measuring the number of cases a fee earner is dealing with at any given time, when it is likely that these cases will generate an income—and how much. You will be interested in the number of fees the Fee Earner renders each month and, most importantly, the number of fees the Fee Earner recovers each month. You can look at the averages of both the number of fees raised each month as well as the average value of fees rendered and recovered and by doing do make a reasonable projection of how much a Fee Earner is likely to generate over a future period.

You can also test what the effect would be of either increasing the average number of fees raised or the average value per fee (or both) or, more worrying, what the impact of a decrease in either of these figures would lead to. To follow this process to its logical conclusion, you will be able to set costs against the Fee Earner—not just the Fee Earner’s salary but also Employers NI and the share or overhead that is attached to the Fee Earner for use of the office space and systems –and the cost of any secretarial or administrative support. By doing this exercise you will be able to calculate Fee Earner profitability. This is a very useful measurement to help you with your decision making. It may seem from taking a “top line” approach based on the value of Fees Rendered that a particular area of work is valuable to the firm but when you analyse out the cost of that work you may well discover that when the cost of carrying out the work is applied that the profitability is simply not there. This may help you to determine how that can be dealt with or whether the firm should continue to do that particular type of work.

Brian O’Neill LL.B MBA, Business Consultant, t. 01294 833220, m. 07855 838395, e. brian@drakemyre.co.uk

Simon Greig is Sales Manager of LawWare Limited, Edinburgh. Contact Simon on simon@lawware.co.uk

Back to Basics — a Business Briefing for Lawyers: Managing Change

Welcome to the latest edition of Back to Basics — a Business Briefing for Lawyers.

This month the focus is on Change and Change Management. What a topic to try to cover in a couple of pages! There’s a school of thought that says all the best companies are in a constant state of change—and that’s not wrong. I should make clear, though, that it’s not always wholesale change. Incremental change can be extremely effective. Be careful to make sure that you can justify the reasons for change—there’s no point in introducing change for change’s sake. Make changes that will support your objectives, improve your services and increase your profitability— that’s what you’re in business for, after all. If you need any assistance to introduce and/or manage change, please get in touch with me—I’d be delighted to help.

Brian O’Neill LL.B MBA
Business Consultant
40c Drakemyre
Dalry
North Ayrshire
KA24 5JE
t. 07855 838395

e.   brian@drakemyre.co.uk

If it’s so hard to change—why bother?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the phrase “but this is how we’ve always done ……”. (add your own ending). There is no doubt that many people in most businesses are change resistant—they would rather do anything other than change the way they do things. They are emotionally attached to internal processes that can be shown to be outdated, obsolete, time consuming and no longer fit for purpose—but suggest that they change the way they do something and many people behave as if you’ve just suggested that they should jump off a very high cliff! I’ve mentioned this before in this Briefing, and I believe it’s worth repeating. If you want to change the results you’re getting then you need to do things in a different way—or to put it in a much less charitable way—the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Change is a challenge and many employers shy away from that challenge, sometimes because they fear change themselves! In the last few years change has been forced on many legal firms. External pressure caused by the recession meant firms had no choice but to review the ways that they structure their staffing requirements and be selective in the work they do.

Some firms moved away from doing what they believe to be unprofitable work whilst others diversified into areas where, in the past, they did not provide services. These changes have been forced on the profession by external circumstances and it is clear that there has been a great deal of pain. Change forced by external pressures will inevitably result in unpalatable decisions being made and changes implemented that would not be the first choice of the partners in the firm—I know many partners who had to make the very painful decision to make staff redundant or put people on short time in order to cut the cost base just so the firm would survive. It will come as no surprise, then, to learn that change driven from within and implemented through choice can have a much more significant impact on the future of the firm. This is change that’s introduced not for survival but for a positive purpose. Finally, there must be a reason for change—and what better reason than to achieve the objectives that the firm has set –Oh!, you did set those back in January when we discussed them…….didn’t you?

Meeting of Minds – Law Society Cloud Event

There’s nothing better than marking real change with a landmark occasion to pinpoint that moment when a new innovation comes along that changes the way we do things and on Wednesday 9th November 2011, The Law Society of Scotland hosted such an event at The Hollyrood Hotel in Edinburgh focusing on the Cloud Computing for law firms in Scotland.

The event was intended to be informative and to stimulate awareness of Cloud and around the Law Society of Scotland’s soon to be released Cloud Computing paper, a set of advisory notes for the profession and which is currently in draft form.

The event really was a meeting of minds and with over 80 delegates attending from wide ranging backgrounds (almost a third of the delegates were IT technical experts in their fields advocating Cloud), the balance of lawyers in the room had real wealth of expertise to draw from.

Paul Motion, bto & John Craske, D&W opened the event by setting the scene and attempting to define and demystify exactly what the Cloud is and what it means for lawyers in Scotland. This proved to be a challenge and it was clear that fixing a single definition proved too limiting for such an expansive and developing subject area. Craske went on to conclude that Cloud is a trend and a move from self-ownership and management of own systems, to subscribing to a set of services supplied and maintained by experts in that field. He compared this to the historical move from cottage industries to scalable services from national corporations such as the move from generating your own electricity as was not uncommon, to plugging into the national grid. Examples of current systems in the legal sector were presented and exhibitors including LawCloud had stalls set out alongside the event.

The Law Society’s own Neil Stevenson followed with an enthusiastically presentation on the main key benefits of Cloud focusing on opportunity, innovation and the future. This was followed by a more technical presentation from Iain Stevenson who presented a thought provoking variety of concerns, unintended consequences and risks surrounding the Cloud. Iain went on to quote Larry Ellison from Oracle, who in the early days stated that Cloud was the latest fashion trend and even more fashionable than women’s fashion, however, he soon “Cloudified” his own systems when the seriousness of Cloud was fully appreciated and this is now a pinnacle of his business.

A series of round table case study based participant workshops followed the morning speakers with a facilitators from technology, legal and risk backgrounds stimulated interesting discussions surrounding the legal cloud environment.

All in all, the event was informative and engaging and there was a real energy about the place. For a conservative profession, the willingness to embrace this new form of technology experience was refreshing.

The penny seems to be dropping that access to sophisticated systems needn’t involve ownership any more nor be as expensive or daunting as it used to be when. When management is delegated and compliance assurances are guaranteed by a responsible service provider, risks are minimised.

Cloud represents one of the newest turning points in the never ending mission of technology, to facilitate change and improvements in the way that we work, communicate, live and play and to me, that means happy days.

The Law Society’s guidelines are a welcomed piece of collateral for the profession at a time when guidelines are well needed and I look forward to working alongside these advisory notes to offer the comfort that practitioners need in order to make the most of emerging innovations and trusted technologies…

It is anticipated that The Law Society’s advice will be focused around a number of key areas including

  • Understanding arrangements with Cloud providers such as  SLA’s
    • System availability, accessibility, licensing
    • Provisions for your Data
      • How safe it is, where is it stored, who owns it
      • Compliance & assurances
        • Are you unknowingly breaching any laws such as data protection
        • What can go wrong and what happens if things do go wrong

Cloud and the Convergence of Technology

I was at the Microsoft’s Partner Briefing in Edinburgh yesterday and the keynote speaker spoke with passion about the “Convergence of Technology” that is currently happening in the technology world.Law Cloud Image

I started out developing games on a Sinclair Spectrum at the age of 12 which I received as a Xmas present after showing an interest in the ZX81.

I still have these “little fellows” in the mini museum in our board room and every time I glance over at them, I am reminded of the good old days when developers had to cram code into 1k of RAM. A few months later, the massive 64k RAM expansion pack was released which broadened the scope of possibility. These machines plugged into your tape recorder and data was saved onto cassette tapes with a screeching wave of audible binary being magnetised onto the media. If the tape didn’t corrupt or jam, you were doing well.

It has been said that these machines created the birth of today’s IT directors, software houses and leading technologists. You only need to look at the successes of Bill Gates and the former Steve Jobs who both started on equivalent machines in the U.S from their garages.

Since then and with the advent of the internet, we’re all now connected and the possibilities are only limited by our imagination. Facebook, linked in and twitter have created unrivalled communication media and these and platforms like it continue to change our world at a radical pace.

Moore’s Law surmises that computing power doubles approximately every 18 months and the evidence is here today. My Windows Phone 7 has a 1Ghz processor, 16Gb RAM and a display to die for. I opted not to go for the 64Gb dual core processor but if that’s what mobile phones are now spec’d with, imagine what they will be like in 5 years’ time!

Technology for a long time was (and still is) mooted as geeky and you can see why. It’s roots are complex, mathematical processing machines and even today, achieving real value involves a real in depth know how by specialists who have dedicated a good proportion of their passion to making these incredible machines tick.

The latest development is Cloud and the biggest IT companies in the world see this as their next “Big Bet”. They are investing enormously in what they see is the future, “Cloudifying” their software and investing masses in secure & robust, high performance data centres.

Apple software has always had a close relationship with its devices which is why the Apple brand is so strong. It’s devices and solutions are elegant and well-formed so that the end user’s experience is consistent and streamlined. Apple devices are a thing of beauty and long may this be.

On the other hand, PC’s come in all shapes and sizes and whilst Windows arguably offers more control, the Windows experience is varied. Microsoft has cottoned on to this and they see their future in the convergence of devises and with a consistent end user experience. Windows XP will be end of lived in 2014 and Windows 7 & 8 will be Microsoft’s flagship operating systems.

All vendors see a close and consistent relationship between device, operating system and end user experience being key and over the next few years, the technology underpinning mobile phones, tablets, slates and other portable devises will become much more of an art as well as a science.

Cloud is only the beginning of this convergence in technology and we are living in times where we will see an even bigger radical shift in the way that we work, play and live.

How incredible to have seen the birth of the PC, email, the browser, the internet, the mobile phone, Google, amazon, Facebook and to watch these technologies mature to even the early stages that they are at today.

There’s a lot more technology to come and as IT people, we are so fortunate to be so well positioned to help shape the future by being involved in this multi trillion dollar industry, to be able to play with the latest gadgets and enjoy the way that they can help us live more fuller lives.

If you’re as excited about technology as I am, you’ll see how easy it is to get carried away with these things and it’s important to keep your feet on the ground. We’re living in challenging times where the world’s economies are in turmoil, it’s sometimes difficult to see a way forward where dreams can be fulfilled. It is important to keep things in perspective and find a good balance between possibilities and realities. Live in the moment, take every day for what it is and take one step at a time. I have enormous faith in the human condition and with technological advancements in all fields; our quality of life is improving by the day.

This post was originally published in the Firm Magazine here .

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.

Warren Wander explains the Cloud for Law Firms

Managing Director at LawWare Ltd, Warren Wander has written recently in The Firm Magazine about the Cloud and how it is revolutionising the legal profession in the UK and around the world.

Warren states, “Basically, the Cloud is here and it’s here to stay. It is revolutionising the legal profession and industry in general. In the last 12 months, we’ve sold around 40 systems to law firms and all but one has been a Cloud based system. It works, it’s proven, it’s robust and in fact it’s hard now to see why you would not buy a Cloud based system.”

For the article in full, please see The Firm Magazine: “From the Beginning”.

Law Cloud UK

To discuss the Cloud in more detail please contact Warren on 0845 2020 577 or visit the LawCloud website.

A commercial attitude

Evolving technologies and the swift development of the way they are used might leave your head spinning. But as Warren Wander explains, not only is the new IT revolution nothing to be scared of, those who embrace it will see a real improvement in the success of their business.

I was in Manchester last weekend for my Uncle Len’s 100th birthday celebration and what an event that was. To reach 100 is a great achievement and an inspiration to us all. What amazed me though was that alongside his birthday card from Her Majesty taking pride of place and his immaculately gift boxed original Times Newspaper copy from the day he was born on 30th June 1911… was his laptop.

He’s a regular emailer and is fascinated by the possibilities that new technology brings. I showed him my iPad a few weeks earlier &
the engaging look of amazement in those century old eyes was almost tearful. Seeing his trembling hands grasp the device & pinch and zoom a photo of my Dad, my brother & I in India with such simplicity was ever so re-assuring.

His attitude proves that technology needn’t be daunting, complicated or overly expensive to buy and maintain in this day and age. Things have moved on and nowadays, simplicity is the key. The painful experience of expensive mistakes should be demoted to a thing of the past.

The reality is that if your technology isn’t working for you then either change your technology or change your attitude towards it. If you can find a good trusted advisor then there’s plenty of great technology out there that has the possibility of completely evolutionise your working practices. Technology really can help you and your team to be more efficient, productive and competitive and never has this been so vital for law firms as today.

My first caution though is to beware of the scaremongers who preach about changing times and who are really just trying to make a buck (and how you won’t survive unless)… Whilst there may be some truth in this for some, it is amazing what can be achieved if you remain focused, educated and motivated.

If you need to change your attitude to how you run your business then now is the time to do so. It is clearly obvious to everyone (clients especially) when a business is run by someone with passion and enthusiasm and when it is not. I always try to lead by example. If the man at the top has the attitude that technology (and change) are “new fangled” and “best left to the youngsters” then I would suggest that this is an old fashioned approach that is counter productive. Such a negative attitude will not inspire nor will be demonstrative of a leader who has their finger on the pulse.

Make it your business to find out what other law firms are doing with technology and keep up to date with changes in the professional and technological world. If you are not already, then become interested now, even better, befriend a trusted advisor who can help you on your learning mission. Understand what it is you are trying to achieve, write down your business goals both short and long term and try to match the technology that you find out about to meet these objectives. Have a clear plan with realistic and definable goals. Don’t expect the world, manage your expectations well and keep things realistic. Technology can
only do so much and staff who have been used to working one way for a long time, will need nurturing into any planned cultural change.

Remember, as well as being a learning curve for yourself, it’s an exciting and new time for your team. Rome wasn’t built in a day,
introduce any of the changes that you decide on, one step at a time, and break large tasks down into small bite sized chunks. If you can introduce measures and KPI’s at the same time, you will be able to monitor your success and fine tune as you go along.

I have formed many great technology partnerships and business relationships with lawyers and their firms over the years and I hope this success speaks for itself.

Warren Wander is the Managing Director of LawWare Ltd

See the original featured article at http://www.firmmagazine.com/features/982/A_commercial_attitude.html

LawCloud: Cloud for Lawyers UK