In this article, we will have a closer look at using Teams and SharePoint in law firms. In previous articles, we already talked about running your law practice in the Cloud with law firm management software like CICERO LawPack. We also highlighted how Microsoft 365 was an essential part of that (It was still called Office 365 at the time). For optimal results for a law firm, Microsoft 365 Business Premium is the recommended solution.
Since the pandemic started, Microsoft has been steadily improving Microsoft Teams. By now, it can be used as the central communication and collaboration hub of your law firm. It consolidates the available Microsoft 365 tools and streamlines business processes by offering team members a centralized location for all files, documents, and firm information. It allows law firms to share critical communications with their clients and their entire team, quickly, efficiently, and securely! It also enables seamless collaboration for all projects, from in-depth cases to day-to-day work by using SharePoint with other Microsoft 365 tools.
Teams as your communication and collaboration hub
You can use Teams as the dashboard from which you coordinate your communications and collaboration. Teams seamlessly integrates with the other Microsoft 365 apps, like Word, Excel, Outlook, SharePoint, but also with apps like Planner or To Do. Outlook allows you to directly access the ‘Conversations’ of the Teams site, so you can manage all your saved emails through the Outlook interface. Teams comes with its own video chat for virtual meetings, which can be recorded and shared. The free MS Bookings app allows to easily set up meetings.
Integration between Microsoft 365 and your law firm management software is critical. This is not a problem for CICERO LawPack users, who can use the apps they are familiar with, which work seamlessly together with Teams. CICERO LawPack can manage the provisioning of the Teams sites. Groups of people (like clients, lawyers, experts) from the relations app can automatically be added to the Contacts in Teams. Teams can work with several Teams sites (which are really SharePoint project sites). These sites are created by case (cf. the Matters app), which then centralizes all information, and where you have the option to use different Teams channels. In these project sites, you can visualize project tasks, store relevant documents in a project-specific library, and more. You manage your law firm with the CICERO LawPack apps like Relations, Matters, and Agenda, and their data are then used in the Teams apps.
One of the main benefits of using the Teams / SharePoint combination lies in its collaboration functionality. Your team and clients can share documents and collaborate on them, securely and in real time. It is perfectly possible for several people to simultaneously work or comment on the same document. And because this solution is perfectly scalable, it can be used by law firms of any size. Worth noting is also that collaborating on a SharePoint server is more secure than sending documents by email, and therefore a better solution.
Using SharePoint also offers other benefits
It comes with built in version control, where it keeps track of all changes to a document, and where you can see the full history of all versions. Needless to say, it also automatically keeps backups of all those versions.
SharePoint also offer in depth-search functionality. You can perform searches on the full text, but also on meta data. It even comes with optional wiki functionality, and its search and KMS functionalities can be further extended with third party add-ons.
Important is also that it is easy to use Microsoft 365 in a way that is compliant with EU privacy legislation. CICERO LawPack is compliant with the applicable legislation. All law firms that use its software have to do, is choose local European servers as their Microsoft 365 servers. As there are no other intermediate servers involved, you are completely compliant.
in its articles on the annual Legal Technology Survey, Law Technology Today explicitly recommends using cloud-based solutions like Microsoft 365 as it is the most secure solution, both for law firm communications and for file sharing / storage. It notes “Many (if not the majority of) law firms that favor on-premise or hosted solutions to cloud-based platforms will cite security as the reason they refuse to move their data to the cloud. But the truth is, cloud-based solutions are considerably more secure than on-premise or hosted software.”
After all, Microsoft encrypts all data transfers as well as all the stored data, which are encrypted at both disk and file level. In other words, the data you share inside SharePoint is secure, and it is more secure than keeping your data on a local OneDrive. (Microsoft 365 administrators are recommended to switch off synchronisation with a local OneDrive to reap the optimal benefits, including enhanced security, from using the SharePoint & Teams combination).
In short, using Microsoft 365 Premium Business edition offers you a centralized and secure communications and collaboration hub, which maintains client privacy as well as legal compliance. It improves the productivity of your law firm by allowing you to collaborate more effectively, from anywhere you have Internet access.