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: Marketing made simple

Welcome to the latest edition of Back to Basics — a Business Briefing for Lawyers. This month the focus is on marketing—and it’s not just advertising that we’ll be talking about. Marketing touches every aspect of your firm. It starts with your ability to deliver to your clients what you say you’re going to deliver and ends with winning new business through a process of designing systems and methodologies that allow you to provide services that are fit for purpose and then telling the world at large about them.

Gone are the days when a solicitor could depend on having a “client for life”. There are very strong competitive forces out there—and the worrying thing for lawyers is that their competition is no longer just other lawyers, but other more commercially minded enterprises— and that’s before we even have to consider the impact of ABS! This edition will look at marketing as a tool to help you improve your business performance by ensuring that you’ve done the ground work and then proclaimed your capabilities to the world at large.

Marketing is not a “One-off” activity

The are many anecdotal stories of solicitors conducting a “Wills Campaign” and then declaring “It didn’t work for me”. Well, there’s a very clear difference between sending out a mass mailshot to a whole bunch of people who you believe are still clients and conducting a well thought out, structured and continuous campaign to ensure that those of your clients who might not have a Will think about making one—and those of your clients who do have a Will, review it on a regular basis.

Whatever else Marketing is, it is an activity that must be undertaken on a continuous basis—and that means that there is a need to ensure that it is properly resourced. I don’t mean by this spending a lot of money on expensive advertising. What I mean is that someone in the firm needs to take responsibility to ensure that whatever the firm does to design and promote its services , it is done, properly, professionally and, most importantly, continuously.

The four Ps of marketing—Product, Price, Place and Promotion apply just as much to the legal profession as they do to any other commercial organisation—with the P of Products being replaced with the S for Service. So, try this for a very quick exercise: Review the Services your firm provides, determine the Price at which you will provide those Services, decide where you want to Place your Services and then Promote them sensibly and continuously. You need to plan this carefully and engage with others in the firm to do this. And once you have your plan it’s not always necessary that a lawyer has to actually run it—some would say that it would be best if the lawyers weren’t involved in the aspect of running it at all!!

Don’t keep your services a secret

How often have you heard one of your clients say “I didn’t know you did that”. This is not unusual in the legal profession because lawyers are not particularly good at promoting their services to their clients. This also raises the question of who are your actual clients and who should you be promoting your services to.

The legal profession has a tendency to count as its clients those people for whom they’ve carried out a piece of work. So, if you bought or sold a house for someone, say, 5 years ago, it is likely that you still count that person as a client. As a result of some accident, rather than anything else, your “client” contacts you at the end of that 5 year period to say that he’d like to use you to sell his house—and that he’s using “Such and Such Estate Agent” to do the marketing. While you’re on the phone to the client taking his instructions he tells you that since the last time you met he’s made a Will through another solicitor (or, even worse, through a “Will Writer”), arranged the winding up of his mother’s estate through her solicitor even though he was the Executor, used a “no win, no fee” company to help him claim compensation for the accident he had 3 years ago and, then, remortgaged his home last year on the expiry of the fixed term mortgage that he had when you bought the house for him in the original transaction. When you tell him you also provide estate agency services the now infamous words “I didn’t know you do all of that!” are uttered! In this case, just think about the amount of business (and money) you’ve lost by failing to keep in touch with this client.

If your client was aware that you provided all of the services he needed over the years there is every likelihood that he would have used your services rather than going elsewhere. Don’t keep what you do a secret. Let your clients know the range of services your firm provides. Keep in touch with your clients on a regular basis. Don’t fall into the category of the “can’t be bothered”. It costs you far more to win a new client than to keep and continue to provide services to an existing client. Do this: work out what services your firm provides (yes, this is a good idea—some firms are not entirely clear what services they do actually provide), set them out in an easy to read format (either electronically or on paper) and devise a means of communicating them to your clients. It is absolutely essential that you are in touch with your clients on at least 2 occasions every year—3 is better but as a minimum you need to be in touch more than once. Make the effort—if you don’t, someone else will. If you can’t allocate the time to this, outsource it—but make sure that you do it in such a way that you retain control of the activity AND the cost—marketing has a tendency to run away with the budget if you let it. Finally, use whatever means possible at your disposal to market to your clients—electronic as well as paper—and best of all, a combination of the two. Solicitors have a “lead list” that commercial organisations would give their eye teeth for—you should use this to this maximum extent possible.

Simon says…..

I wrote an article for the LawWare Newsletter (Winter 2011) which took a cursory look at the current state of legal marketing in England, as they are further down the ABS line than we are, and noted the influx of professional marketing organisations entering the market using TV advertising to communicate with the target market and the Internet as a delivery base for the service, highlighting QualitySolicitors and Wigster as examples.

The approach of these professional marketeers is very different from that of legal firms themselves. The approach of Legal firms both north and south of the border is similar – either they know what they do and can communicate it, or, they don’t and don’t. I went on to develop a few points – Once the English marketing model is established – the marketing machine won’t stop; it learns, it develops, it gets better. Other suppliers come into the market, offering slightly different services, but at a better price point. And so the marketing machine gathers momentum and pace. Scotland will be regarded as just another target audience and the numbers will be crunched, the strategies written and executed. And remember – your ‘Client’ is someone else’s ‘Prospective Client’. The two examples of change I highlight are both Internet based.

The Internet is the medium of choice for demographics A1-3, B1-3 and C1’s to find potential new suppliers and services – these are the people that have any kind of disposable income. The sort of people firms should be trying to attract! Change is often powered by IT. It is usually delivered by IT. But it is rarely because of IT. Change occurs when someone wants to achieve an objective, understands how to achieve it and can convince others to back the objective.

None of these characteristics are ‘Legal’ – they are ‘Entrepreneurial’. So as well as being good legal analysts and good business managers; Partners of Law firms have to be Entrepreneurial too. So YOU might have to change, maybe develop new skills, maybe hone existing ones. This is not a bad thing; to develop oneself is an admirable personal aim. There are many books and courses that can help. Perhaps look at the CPD requirement in a slightly different shade of light – the personal development requirement is there for good reason and I think it is time that we all got better at this side of our roles.

We are here to; provide a service; different clients require a range of services to suit their needs, and so we must develop and adapt those services as our clients’ needs change or are changed, and, we must attract new clients. It’s up to us to secure the future of our organisations, especially so when the future changes faster than it ever did before. So for this new year I resolved to be a bit more entrepreneurial and I encourage you to be too, for your own good and your clients. Simon Greig is Sales Manager of LawWare Limited, Edinburgh. Contact Simon at simon@lawware.co.uk

It’s the little things that matter

Just saying “Thank you” to a client can reap huge rewards. As an absolute minimum, you should thank your client on your engagement and on completion of the transaction—and for goodness sake, don’t say “thank you” at the end of a case and at the same time try to ram further services down his throat! Leave a decent space between completion and the offer of any new services you can provide to the client—and always remember—if the client should happen refer someone else to you, you must thank the client for that referral.

Is social media the answer?

The Internet offers a fantastic opportunity for lawyers to communicate with their clients, no more so than through the use of social media. The Facebook and Twitter phenomena means that people are in touch with each other on a daily basis and by using blogs you can get your opinion out to the masses. Professional media sites like LinkedIn give business people the ability to make contacts and the old words like “networking” and “making friends” seem to have gone by the board. This is all very well—and it is good to use social media, blogging and other online tools to promote your business—but it pays to make sure that you are able to capitalise on the opportunities that this medium offers—and that you don’t ignore more traditional marketing routes. If you do engage with social media, please make sure that you do so professionally, respond to enquiries promptly and that your online presence is managed. Doing this will ensure that your services are being promoted continuously and in the right way. Stephen Moore of Moore Technology Limited is an expert in this field and his advice is that before embarking on any online strategy it pays to decide what you want to achieve, how you want to achieve it, how you keep it current and how you manage the resulting enquiries. Visit Stephen’s web site on www.moorelegaltechnology.co.uk

Contact us

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

Launch of a UK based compliant online storage system for lawyers

We are pleased to announce the launch of LawSecure, a secure UK based online storage facility, certified and managed by our team at LawCloud.

It is a compliant online storage facility for lawyers in the UK, which works in a similar way to other online storage vehicles such as Dropbox.” It is designed for lawyers who need to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 for storing data and is a fast, secure and reliable way of storing key data off-site.

For further information on LawSecure, please visit our LawCloud website here.

LawCloud: Helping to create more agile and responsive Law firms

LawCloud is a new generation in Practice Management Software for law firms in the UK and is brought to you from the developers at  LawWare Ltd. Established in 1998 and now serving more than 200 law firms from its HQ in Edinburgh, LawWare has established a strong reputation for an innovative and forward looking approach to the business of running a Law Firm

Since its launch in March 2010, LawCloud now hosts over 65 law firms on its platform representing almost a third of the LawWare user base. Many small law firms lack the IT infrastructure to support the latest systems and find the upfront costs of new IT prohibitive.  LawWare now rarely installs its on premise system and over the last 18 months, 95% of its new systems have been LawCloud.

Depending on who you are talking to, you may hear this kind of technology referred to as hosting, SaaS, Outsourcing, Cloud and more. At the heart of the offering, they refer to a very similar thing and the terminology is simply stylistic. Our preference is Cloud. In our experience, any perceived risks associated with the Cloud clearly outweigh its benefits. Law firms appreciate peace of mind. Their confidential information is backed up and protected with a level of security that is often out of reach for smaller organisations. All data is stored in one of the foremost data centres in the UK which falls under data protection laws.”

LawWare has enhanced relationships with its customers by simplifying their IT and as a business is more agile and responsive. This flexibility is a hallmark of LawCloud. Users can access it from anywhere they have an internet connection”. This new future technology has levelled the playing field, allowing smaller organisations to compete with bigger firms in new ways. The legal technology market has seen a great deal of consolidation over the last few years and the legal services industry is also consolidating and fragmenting. This presents an opportunity for lawyers and smaller technology suppliers to offer a real value added personal service to their clients that some of the bigger firms find may have lost sight of.

 

LawCloud Publishes Response to Law Society Guidelines on Cloud Computing for Law Firms

The Law Society of Scotland has recently published guidance on cloud computing for law firms.

Law Cloud has prepared an initial response document to the Law Society guidelines highlighting what we think is the most relevant and important information for our clients. To receive your copy of the Law Cloud guidance response, please fill in your name and emaill address on the form provided on the LawCloud guidance page.

LawCloud’s Blog named as a Top 10 Best New Blog of 2011

We are pleased to announce that our LawCloudComputing blog has been listed by Computer Weekly as one of their top 10 best new blogs of 2011.

As Computer Weekly notes, “Blogging has become part of the everyday consumption of information, this category looks at those blogs created in the past two years that have delivered something new and fresh to what is now a crowded and highly competitive space.”

They note that:-

“LawCloud is a new generation in Practice Management Software for law firms in Scotland and is brought to you from the developers at LawWare.  Established in 1998 and now serving over 200 law firms in Scotland from their HQ in Edinburgh, LawWare has established a strong reputation for an innovative and forward looking approach to the business of running a Law Firm.

LawCloud is at the forefront of transforming the way that lawyers in Scotland work and is clearly leading in the legal cloud. Since its launch in Feb ‘11, it has grown from a standing start to now hosting more than 50 law firms in Scotland on its secure and robust Cloud servers and this number is growing by the week. LawCloud really is more about business transformation than technology.

The number of Law Firms in Scotland transitioning to the Cloud is growing at a tremendous rate and the opportunity is here today for the small to medium sized high street law firms to start using best of breed software (traditionally reserved for the bigger firms) delivered directly to their PC, laptop, Mac or iPad at a low fixed monthly subscription, with no upfront capital expenditure .

Out of the box, LawCloud offers lawyers a new way of working that has never been so easy to reach, offering real benefits like Flexible mobile working, linking branch offices, Peace of mind, cost savings and truly simplified technology.”

We are pleased to be included in this list, which follows on from our inclusion in a list of the top 100 bloggers on cloud computing.

We look forward to providing our audience with more useful cloud updates in 2012 both through our blog here, our LawCloud website and growing @LawCloudUK Twitter account here. Please contact us on 0845 2020 577 if you’d like to speak to us direct.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2012.

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

Majority of law firms in the US use some kind of cloud computing

Cloud computing is being embraced on a wide scale by law firms on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, the sixteenth annual survey on law firm technology by the American Lawyer revealed that 65% of respondent law firms were using some aspect of cloud computing for their firm.

Further, almost half (47%) of the law firms reported that they were using cloud computing more this year than they were last year.

The survey revealed that those who had yet to take to the cloud were concerned mainly about security implications, but of those firms who were using the cloud, 77% reported having a positive experience with the technology.

Cloud for UK Law Firms

For law firms in the UK, LawCloud has, in a White Paper on Security in the Cloud, outlined best practice considerations for using cloud computing in the UK. These considerations indeed also apply to non-legal businesses.

Additionally, on Wednesday this week, the Law Society of Scotland hosted an event on cloud computing for law firms.

The Law Society stated that “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.”

Through the event, the Law Society and expert cloud providers, including LawCloud itself, spoke about ways of determining the best cloud provider for law firms with additional discussion about security concerns. For more, see our blog post on Law Society’s cloud event.

Should you have any queries about the Cloud and whether it is right for your law firm, please do not hesitate to ask us either in the comments section below, on Twitter at @LawCloudUK or @LawWareUK , through our LinkedIn group  or by calling us on 0845 2020 577 for a free initial consultation.

LawCloud: Cloud for law firms

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.

LawCloud: Cloud for Lawyers UK