Today’s post was written by John Browning, president of the Browning Law Group, APC.
I started my own law practice in 1999 because I wanted to help people negotiate their legal issues and because I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I’ve made a pretty good career out of solving the problems that businesses face every day and now the Browning Law Group represents scores of businesses throughout Orange County, California.
To succeed in almost any business, you need the right technology. So in 2015, the Browning Law Group adopted Microsoft Office 365 to manage collaboration and communication from the Microsoft cloud. Allow me to explain why we made that choice and how it’s helped us protect our relationships with our clients.
The right technology for today’s connected business world
Running my own practice is very rewarding, but it’s not always easy. I have to manage cash flow, keep track of payables and receivables, make payroll and at the same time make sure that my clients are happy with the work we produce and with the efficiency of our communication with them. In today’s connected business world, that means putting technology systems in place that allow our lawyers and staff to collaborate effectively.
But we’re a small business. I do not want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on servers or spend time managing a technology infrastructure and solving IT problems. I want to spend my effort practicing law, so I can help my clients avoid problems and be successful. I needed one integrated technology environment that would work for me, rather than make me feel like I was working for it.
Safeguards that my clients and I can trust
The biggest consideration for any attorney, however, is security. All lawyers routinely deal with confidential and potentially sensitive client information. I need to do everything I can to assure that every area of my practice is secured—especially when we communicate with clients over email or share documents over the Internet. It’s more than just a moral or ethical obligation; lawyers are required by Bar Association rules to maintain client confidentiality, and any technology I use has to meet those standards. I can’t allow the integrity of my firm to be compromised by technology that’s not secured.
After I added all that up, Office 365 was an easy choice. When we communicate through Outlook or Skype for Business Online, collaborate using OneNote or SharePoint Online, or share documents on OneDrive for Business, we can rely on security tools in Office 365 to help safeguard those communications and control access to that information. We have set up 15 separate portals on SharePoint Online that contain more than 30,000 documents. Almost every day we store and share letters, transcripts, pleadings and other documents or files on OneDrive for Business. With Office 365, I have complete control over who can access any of that information. I can set controls that let clients or their authorized agents access their files at any time, and I can give my staff access to the information and documents they need, while at the same time I can keep my administrative files private and safeguard my clients’ confidentiality.
A versatile, highly secured environment—and healthy relationships
A large part of my business is developing trust with my clients. If that trust is broken, then my entire practice could be in jeopardy. When a client provides us with confidential information, it’s critical that we work to protect that information. But with Office 365, we have an agile, versatile and highly secured environment that helps us compete with larger firms, protect client confidentiality and maintain healthy client relationships.
In the same way that my clients have to trust me, I have to trust the technology my firm relies on. I know that I can with Office 365.
—John Browning is the founder and president of the Browning Law Group, a boutique business and real estate law firm in Irvine, California. To learn more about how the Browning Law Group uses Office 365 to be more agile, productive and secure, read the full case study and watch the video.
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