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Lawyers are moving to

SharePoint: Here’s Why


In the past law firms were dependent on robust servers within their offices to operate their practice management software, store files, and fulfill other requirements for user access.

Although there are still specific scenarios that necessitate this setup, it's increasingly uncommon for most firms to require an onsite server to run their operations. In fact, among our clients, it's rare—so rare that I can cite just a single example. If you've landed on this blog, it's likely you've encountered discussions about SharePoint.

Whether you're well-versed in it or have merely heard mentions among colleagues, it's clear that this straightforward yet potent application is becoming the new standard. Let's dive into why.


What is SharePoint and how do lawyers use it?

In essence, SharePoint securely transfers all your files to Microsoft's cloud, housing them on a server within a secure data center instead of in a less secure, physical location like beneath a desk or in an overheated room. Accessing these files becomes as straightforward as accessing them from an on-premise server or any other cloud storage solution. Essentially, your "mapped drives" now link directly to SharePoint.

Although SharePoint offers numerous advantageous functionalities, like hosting an intranet site (an internal website), its primary use often involves transferring files to the cloud. This transition facilitates easy and secure access to your files from any device, including smartphones.

Why are law firms moving to SharePoint?

SharePoint transcends the mere facilitation of remote work, making it remarkably straightforward—eliminating the need for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and often forgoing remote desktops altogether. It simply provides direct access to your files whenever necessary.

Moreover, various practice management platforms, such as NEOS and CLIO, are now advising law firms to integrate SharePoint into their systems. It's noteworthy when vendors, typically not the pioneers in tech innovations, advocate for such integration, highlighting its significance. This encouragement from critical business applications has prompted firms to reconsider SharePoint's value.

The journey often begins with a trial phase, or "staging," where a firm might experiment by transferring a specific document folder, like client documentation, to SharePoint. This initial step quickly showcases SharePoint's ease of use, even to the least tech-savvy individuals within a firm, demonstrating its familiarity and confirming that a complete switch would be both smooth and beneficial. Encouraged by this realization, many firms proceed with a full-scale migration.

Steps to migrating to SharePoint for Law Firms

Clients are usually concerned when they hear “integration” or “migration.” While these terms can seem scary, it could not be simpler. In this section, we’ll outline high level steps that are usually taken for firms to migrate to SharePoint.

Discovery Phase:

1. Identify what data is moving to SharePoint – Is the firm satisfied with their current server folder structure on the Q Drive (just an example). If not, what changes needed to be made to the structure. For instance, some clients prefer to be broken up by department, rather than physical location. So, it may shift from shares being shared out via physical locations to changing to Accounting, Active Cases, etc.

2. Identify what applications need to be integrated with SharePoint. For instance, how does the practice management software work with SharePoint. This is usually very simple but an important prerequisite.

Migration Phase:

1. Overnight or on a weekend, the files are moved to SharePoint. There is a plethora of security configurations that need to be set up on your Microsoft 365 accounts prior or during this phase. The folders are migrated to your new SharePoint site.

2. Mapping drives – Users now have only the files they need mapped to their computer. It’s accessed in the document library just like the server files were! Easy Peezy. The security permissions of each user identify what they have access to. Excellent for security and for eliminating intentional or accidental user error.

3. Unmap server drive. Don’t worry, your files are still safe on the server. However, the server drives (Q Drive, Z Drive, etc) are no longer visible. This ensures users can’t accidentally update the wrong files. The original files are still safe and sound so if anything is missing, your IT team can quickly move them into the SharePoint file. Nothing to worry about.

Going Live Phase:

1. Your new SharePoint site is live! Your users are used to using it and your data is talking with your necessary applications. While a lot has happened in these 3 phases, from the end user perspective, not much is needed to get acclimated.

2. Your IT Provider should be available immediately for any questions from end users or any potential changes that need to be made after the fact.

3. Congratulations! Your firm just took a massive step in the right direction.

Conclusion

Having delved this deep, you likely recognize the transformative impact this technology can have on optimizing your operations, enhancing employee productivity, and bolstering your firm’s security. If you’re contemplating this transition and require assistance, our expertise lies in executing precisely this type of project, along with providing continuous security and support, for our law firm clients across the state.

Feel free to give us a call or fill out the contact form. Rest assured, we won’t inundate you with calls and emails; instead, we'll reach out to explore how we can make technology work in your favor.

Not quite ready to make contact? For further details about our services, visit our service page.

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