Today’s Microsoft Office 365 post was written by Judith Flournoy, chief information officer at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, a law firm with seven offices in the United States and Europe.
The legal profession stretches all the way back to the orators of ancient Rome. The field has come a long way since then, with attorneys often working together across geographical and organizational boundaries on behalf of their clients. That idea of teamwork—collaborating with colleagues, outside consultants and even clients—needs to be at the core of what we do so that we can take advantage of areas of expertise and facilitate efficiencies.
As law firms have expanded to handle matters across the globe, they’ve needed to change the nature of collaboration, which has evolved tremendously over the last 50 years or so. For most of the history of our profession, attorneys relied on face-to-face meetings and documents shared via human messengers. The telephone and fax machine began to alter that communication landscape, but the first major game changer was email, which is still heavily used today to exchange documents, images and other information related to client matters.
At Kelley Drye, we’re continuing that evolution by embracing new avenues of collaboration through Microsoft Office 365. Rather than sending long email threads, we rely on Microsoft SharePoint Online. We use its project and team sites to manage issues, contacts, project tasks, links to internal and external content, timelines and document access—all in one place and accessible from anywhere. Adopting modern capabilities like SharePoint Online helps us maintain a comprehensive view of a project and all its moving parts.
Having the capabilities is one thing. Embracing them is another. Some industries more readily adopt new technologies than others. Although the legal field can be conservative when it comes to using technology, we’ve found that giving our attorneys the ability to work together more seamlessly has had a big impact on client service at Kelley Drye. The attorneys control how much visibility into the drafting process they share with clients and other stakeholders, depending on their comfort level and the sensitivity of a given matter. They definitely appreciate the ease with which they can now facilitate the sharing of information among colleagues, clients and outside consultants.
Of course, one of the huge side benefits of using SharePoint Online for collaboration is that our data stays more protected. We know exactly where it is, who has access to it and who has actually viewed it. Client confidentiality is always a prime concern in the legal field, and it was tough to know what happened to documents if we emailed them to a client or outside partner. But now, that valuable data stays more secure, with relevant parties given access to documents but not necessarily the power to change them.
We’re getting feedback from clients that they’re pleased with the steps we’ve taken to improve our service to them. That tells us we’re evolving the right way and making strides in the right direction.
To learn more about how Kelley Drye embraces new avenues of collaboration with Office 365, read the full case study.