CASE for Consideration
**DISCLAIMER** Various sources cited where possible.
Small law firm with legacy information technology requires reasonable operational analysis in order to increase the functional, operational capabilities and flexible mobility.
What is an easy way to synchronize calendar events from Novell Groupwise without having to re-sync with OE, Palm and Apple?
High Level Analysis: (The unintended question)
How can I work more effectively, efficiently saving me time, money and frustration, lowering my total cost of ownership, lowering my investment in resources including software, hardware and energy?
Push the easy button. Here are some high level areas of consideration with some cost analysis.
- Easy of Use
- Cost Effective
Lawyers need access to information but they have an additional responsibility to take great care of the information and services they use. November 2011, North Carolina addressed ethics of cloud computing noted (http://virtuallawpractice.org/2011/11/new-version-of-nc-saas-ethics-opinion/#more-2087) which has a proposed opinion that states “…a law firm may use SaaS if reasonable care is taken to minimize the risks of inadvertent disclosure of confidential information and to protect the security of client information and client files. A lawyer must fulfill the duties to protect confidential client information and to safeguard client files by applying the same diligence and competency to manage the risks of SaaS that the lawyer is required to apply when representing clients.” Additonally, Ethics Virginia State Bar Council James M. McCauley (http://www.vsb.org/docs/valawyermagazine/vl0211_consultus.pdf) published an article on a balanced approach to cloud computing.
Moving resources to the cloud is a viable option as long as there is reasonable care taken to protect client information. Most of the resources available are either a low or no cost technical solution. This will lower your requirements for on site software and hardware. With a more detailed analysis of requirements, we may be able to not only decrease your maintenance requirements but your daily operational costs. In consideration of general requirements for a law practice based on research of common use I have put together a generic but customizable solution set. Functional areas of consideration are
- Email with access at every computer and mobile device.
- Document synchronization including access at every computer and mobile device.
- Calendar integration and synchronization including every computer and mobile device.
- Document sharing using collaboration capabilities including the ability to work on or collaborate one document by multiple users.
- Consideration for security of client information.
- Functional office suite including document creation, presentation, spreadsheet and drawing capabilities.
Google Apps for Lawyers
Google Premier Apps consists of:
- Gmail includes email, IM, voice and video chat, and syncs with Outlook and Blackberry.
- The calendar is integrated with your gmail system, can be shared through the groups function and syncs with Blackberry.
- Documents includes spreadsheets, drawings and presentations and are easily shared for collaboration.
- Google Sites is an easy way to create secure web pages for intranets and team projects. No coding or HTML is required.
- Google Groups can be used as mailing lists and to share calendars, docs, sites, and videos easily with co-workers.
- Google hosts your videos, creating an channel for your business that can be used either through your intranet or shared on the web.
Here are the highlights of Google’s security policies:
- Google adheres to the United States Safe Harbor Privacy Principles of Notice, Choice, Onward Transfer, Security, Data Integrity, Access and Enforcement, and is registered with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Safe Harbor Program.
- Google has obtained a SAS 70 Type II attestation and will continue to seek similar attestation for the Google Apps messaging and collaboration products as well as for our security and compliance products, powered by Postini. A SAS 70 audit is an independent assessment by an outside audit firm that validates the subject company’s adherence to its defined controls and confirms that these controls are operating effectively. When complete, the audit firm provides a report that details the company’s compliance with these controls.
- Google provides capabilities for customers to take data with them if they choose to use external services in conjunction with Google Apps or stop using Google services altogether.
- Some user data, such as email messages and documents, are scanned and indexed so users within a customer’s domain can search for information in their own Google Apps accounts.
- Email is scanned so Google can perform spam filtering and virus detection.
- Email is scanned so Google can display contextually relevant advertising in some circumstances.
- Except when users choose to publish information publicly, Google Apps data is not part of the general google.com index.
Google offers these additional customized security controls:
- Single Sign-On (SSO) service to customers with Premier, Education, and Partner Editions. Google Apps has a SAML-based SSO API that administrators can integrate into their LDAP, or other SSO system. This feature allows administrators to utilize the authentication mechanism of their choice, such as certificates, hardware tokens, biometrics, and other options.
- Administrators can set password length requirements for their domain users and view password strength indicators that help identify passwords that meet the length requirement but may still not be strong enough.
- Administrators can reset a user’s sign-in cookies to help prevent unauthorized access to their account. This will log out that user from all current web browser sessions and require new authentication the next time that user tries to access Google Apps. Combined with the existing ability for administrators to reset user passwords, this feature to reset users’ sign-in cookies improves security in the cloud in case of device theft or loss.
- Google Apps Premier and Education Editions offer domain administrators the ability to force all users in their domain to use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) for services such as Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Sites, etc. Information sent via HTTPS is encrypted from the time it leaves Google until it is received by the recipients’ computer.
- With policy-enforced Transfer Layer Security (TLS) for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), administrators can set up policies designed for securely sending and receiving mail between specific domains. For example, an administrator could specify that all external mail sent by their accounting team members to their bank must be secured with TLS — or deferred if TLS is not possible. Similarly, an administrator could mandate a secure TLS connection between their domain and their outside legal counsel, auditors, or any other partners with whom employees may trade sensitive communications
While the security measures offered by Google are significant, there are still two issues of concern that remain. First, Google operates on a multi-tenant cloud platform, which means that your data resides on shared server space with any other Google cloud users. While this is a fairly common practice among cloud vendors, it is not the configuration of choice for lawyers trying to control their data, even if off-premises. It is better to choose a vendor who stores each customer’s data on a single server.
More importantly, Google will not reveal (to you and presumably anyone else) the geographic location of your data, and it can be transferred from one server to another at any time. This gives rise to jurisdictional issues, since the site where data is located when a cause of action arises may be difficult to determine. It also renders your data subject to the laws and regulations of the geographic location of your data, which vary Since Google has servers around the world, this could be problematic should a breach ever occur.
Why should a law firm use Google Apps?
- It’s free for firms with 10 users or less.
- Costs just $50/user/year for firms with more than 10 users.
- Filters virtually all spam email.
- Allows you to share and sync documents with your partners, assistants, paralegals, and secretaries.
- Allows you to use Outlook or Gmail.
- Attorneys can choose between which platform they prefer.
- Works great with other devises: multiple computers, smart phones, iPads, tablets, netbooks, Chromebooks, etc.
The clouds are not reading your e-mail
The difference between free services and paid services is usually advertising. If you buy a premium Google Apps account or you pay for a hosted Exchange server, your provider will not scan your e-mail to insert advertising. They probably will still scan your e-mail and (calendar and other items) so you can search for things, later.
Inadvertent disclosure does not waive the attorney-client privilege
Only the client can waive the attorney-client privilege, although they can do so through carelessness. If using a cloud-based e-mail service is enough to waive the privilege, then many clients have already done so. But at least one New Jersey court did not bring up this possibility when finding that the attorney-client privilege protected a client’s Yahoo! Mail account, even when she accessed it on her employer’s computer.
It seems unlikely that a data breach at your SaaS provider would mean your attorney-client communications must be revealed to opposing counsel.
Although suspicion prevails, talk to your IT provider and your local ethics board before deciding whether or not you are comfortable using the cloud for your client-related data.
Cloud at a tipping point
Microsoft has at last put its shoulder behind the cloud computing movement with the recent beta release of Office365. It joins the heavyweight Google in this fast growing market. Cloud computing is here to stay.
In this article we put forward three compelling reasons why law firms should be taking the cloud seriously: saving money, improving collaboration and the emergence of cloud enterprise applications specific to the legal market.
Despite these compelling reasons, law firms are still nervous about going cloud. Concerns about compliance, security and integration are barriers to adoption. However, providers such as Google are actively targeting these issues and the barriers are slowly coming down, pointing to a pending IT revolution, poised at the tipping point.
Reason #1: save money while improving email
Email is without doubt an essential business tool, encompassing email messaging, calendaring and personal contact management. Providing a fast, accessible, safe and user friendly email service is arguably the most important task of any law firm’s IT department. This is not as easily done as it might seem; lots of time, money and sleep is lost by CIO’s delivering a seamless email experience to their users. Let’s look at two very different approaches to providing this service, through two fictional case studies – TradFirm and Cloudy & Partners.
TradFirm’s sprawling email ecosystem
TradFirm established itself in the early 00s and now has 30 partners and 60 support staff, across two cities. TradFirm is typical of many law firms when it comes to email, using on-site servers which it keeps in a data room at their head office. Over the years, TradFirm’s IT team has diligently added new services and infrastructure to support them, with full funding from the partnership.
- The email server machines are replaced every three years; they need to be, with the increasing amount of data and traffic they need to manage. In addition to hardware upgrades, the server software is upgraded too, itself a significant project.
- Each computer has Outlook installed, which employees use for managing email. They’re using Outlook 2003 and are planning to upgrade to 2010 but have not managed to do this yet.
- For remote access, IT provides Web Access (hosted on another server) and access via VPN; but users must use the company laptop – other PCs are not supported.
- The amount of data they manage for email is best kept on a Storage Area Network. This is a large storage device which provides the best level of performance and redundancy. They are expensive and require specialist skills to maintain.
- As 90% of email traffic is junk, they subscribe to a spam filter service which removes suspect email. This is an annual subscription, paid on a per user basis.
- Senior lawyers have started to use their own smartphones and iPads, demanding the ability to use them to access their corporate data; forcing IT to install a separate server to provide this.
- In the event of a disaster – fire, flood, etc – email data is backed up each night (by a separate backup server) and stored elsewhere by a specialist storage company, which comes each day to collect tapes. There is a monthly fee for this service, plus they pay rental space for a special remote site which can be activated in the event of a disaster.
- As well as disaster recovery, they also have strict SLA’s agreed with the partnership. Email must be available for 98% of the time month by month. IT met the challenge by “clustering”, which means providing two servers instead of one. If one dies, the other takes over. This doubles the number of servers IT manages to provide email.
TradFirm’s IT department maintain a lot of hardware in the background to support email. As well as the specialist software, each server has an operating system which must be maintained – regular software updates (or patching) takes a considerable amount of time each month and causes frequent service disruption, scheduled for out of business hours.
Despite the complexity, the email service performs excellently and is well maintained but like other similar sized organisations it costs hundreds of dollars per user to deliver it.
Late last year, 25 partners from various law firms defected from where they were and started their own practice, Cloudy & Partners. They’re based across 5 cities with support of 30 permanent staff. They chose to outsource some business processes such as recruitment and bookkeeping. Cloudy & Partners considers itself a “disruptive” law firm aiming to provide fixed price or lower-cost legal services to clients. A strategic focus is to drive value from all their non-billing departments to keep their overheads down.
The IT Manager looked at providing an email service in the same way as TradFirm but her budget was simply not big enough. Realising the firm needed to investigate other options, she eventually chose to Go Google.
Google provides an email service via ‘the cloud’ as part of the Google Apps suite. For a fixed fee per user per year ($50 USD), Cloudy & Partner’s corporate emails are stored on Google’s servers and accessed over the Internet (or via Outlook).
- They were able to import data the partners brought with them – a collection of Outlook PSTs, Lotus Notes email files, contact lists and documents.
- The IT team does not need to manage any email infrastructure – no backups, no spam filters, no clustering, no storage and no mobile servers – all of these email ‘add-ons’ are included.
- Users can access their corporate data using an internet browser (such as Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox) from the office, at home, or on secondment at a client. No VPN is required, just a connection online.
- The firm can enable a “bring your own technology” policy – any mobile device, PC or Mac, are all supported
Reason #2: new, better ways to collaborate
Attachments = copies, extra work and wasted time
Lindsey works in Business Development at TradFirm and has been tasked with creating a proposal for a valued client. She puts together the first draft and sends it to the two partners who manage the client relationship, as well as two support staff. They get the document as an attachment and are asked to provide comment. Three of the four make edits and send it back.
Lindsey has to combine the three edits in Word – not an easy task. On sending the revised version 2 of the proposal, the partner who failed to reply to the first email has questions about the differences between the two versions and Lindsey feels frustrated at having to firstly combine the edits and now having to check many versions to find out which revision happened when and by whom.
Work on the document together, not your own copy of it
Meanwhile, over at Cloudy & Partners, they need to quickly create job descriptions for a bunch of paralegals they are urgently recruiting to work on a large litigation case. The matter partner’s PA, Alison, creates a draft job description using Google Docs. When she has finished, she shares it with the partner.
After editing, the partner shares the document further – opening it to the billing solicitor and the head of litigation support. Each of these make edits, even at the same time (see the screenshot).
While everyone is editing this, Alison is briefing Jeff, the recruiter at the external recruitment company. As soon as the document is finished, Alison can share the job description with him even though he is not Cloudy & Partners employee. Jeff is also able to view the complete document history to see who changed what and when, giving him an idea of the evolution of the key skills he should be looking for when interviewing candidates.
Alison also sets up a Google spreadsheet, sharing with Jeff and the group. This is where they’ll keep track of applicants and their relative statuses. They use one spreadsheet, centrally stored in the cloud, securely shared inside and outside of Cloudy & Partners and which everyone can update as the recruitment process happens.
Even more collaboration apps included with the cloud
The IT department at Cloudy & Partners has a suite of applications which they can call upon to tackle problems that their lawyers bring to them:
- “We need to communicate better when working from home and with colleagues interstate” – instant messaging, voice and video chat, through Google Talk
- “The client wants a central store of matter information where we can upload documents, share a calendar and create task lists” – create a website easily using Google Sites
- “Where can I store these CLE training videos?” – try Google Video for Business
- “We’re thinking of opening an office in Singapore. What will the cost be to provide email and how quick can you set it up?” – the cost of computers plus $50 USD per user, per year; if we really tried, this can be set up in one day.
For TradFirm to tackle the same issues, they will undoubtedly need to buy more hardware and/or software, embark on a full IT project, or outsource just that particular slice of functionality to a third party; certainly costing more than $50 USD per user.
Reason #3: A growing enterprise app store
Google enables software companies to create their own applications which interact with Cloudy & Partners’ data. Clio and Rocket Matter are two examples of this, specifically targeted at the Legal sector – practice management software which hooks into corporate data stored with Google.
There are highly effective CRM, finance and HR applications available too, all provided on the same cost basis – an annual user fee – with no hardware or data on site for the Cloudy & Partners IT team to manage.
As more and more businesses Go Google (over 3,000 sign up each day), software providers will be increasingly attracted to develop for the platform, meaning firms will be able to find software which fits their needs closely.
Barriers to law firm cloud adoption
TradFirm, whilst recognising the benefits of cloud, chooses to remain firmly on premises, citing these issues:
- Existing system integration – TradFirm uses a document management system, voicemail delivery in email and digital dictation software – all of which interact with Outlook and send/receive/store email. Integrating these with a cloud provider like Google would be an expensive task in terms of change management and dollars.
- Security concerns – How safe is our data, who owns it and how can we be certain that nobody else can access our intellectual property?
- Loss of control – If TradFirm’s email servers start performing badly or drop out of service, there is something that they can do about it, instantly. With the cloud model, you are at the whim of the provider with the only respite being to log service calls.
- Australian Privacy Law. Recent changes mean that all Australian organisations transferring personal information overseas must ensure that this information is given the same protection as that provided under Australia’s privacy framework. TradFirm does not want to risk being held liable for a cloud provider’s negligence or incompetence, should data be compromised in an offshore data centre.
Are these barriers enough to stem the tide?
Google provides answers to the security and data ownership concerns, which are outlined on this blog post. Google operates a 99.9% SLA, with severe financial penalties for them should they miss this target – 2009 and 2010 uptime was 99.91% and 99.98% respectively. Performance problems have not surfaced despite over 3 million businesses using the service for their corporate email.
Google Apps and now Office365 are changing the IT industry. Just as you don’t keep a water tank in your garage for that moment when you need a bath, why should your firm maintain processing and storage capacity for 2,000 users when you only need to serve 150? IT services are becoming a utility, just like water. Turn the tap, there’s your email account.
The barriers to moving cloud reflect nervousness, rather than fact – ‘what if’ rather than ‘because’. We’re all waiting for one or two more high profile case studies before we follow. Firms that go first will realise savings year upon year of more than 40% on the cost of providing email. They would also improve collaboration within the firm and between their clients and suppliers – strengthening relationships.
Are you ready to fly to the cloud?
Bradford & Barthel Press Release, ILTA Innovation Award 2010 for Google Apps deployment – linkSocialmind blog post – “Cloud storage and privacy – the dark side of the silver lining” – link
“Google Apps & Microsoft Exchange 2007 – Total Cost of Ownership Analysis (Radicati Group, Inc) – link
How Google Apps improves productivity – “Measuring the Total Economic Impact of Google Apps”, Forrester – link
Google Enterprise Blog – Getting Gmail to 99.99% – link
Moving from Groupwise to Google Apps
Free Migration Tools:
http://shuttlecloud.com/ – Apparently temporarily free.
Common Cloud Services for Cloud Computing Law Services
Time, Billing and Invoicing
These products use cloud computing to help streamline the billing function, so the lawyer operating on a billable-hour basis is not spending a significant amount of time logging work for each client. The collections process is tied into the time and billing component of these tools, with most of them also offering a web-based invoicing system. Clio and Rocket- Matter, discussed in a later section, also offer time and billing features.
■ Bill4Time (www.bill4time.com) provides time and expense tracking, billing services at both hourly and flat fee rates, invoicing, trust accounting, and integration with QuickBooks. For one user and three clients, the service is free; most lawyers will want to go for the Lite ($15.99 per month) or Professional ($29.99 per month) editions, which offer many more features.
■ Chrometa (http://app.chrometa.com) automatically captures and categorizes your time. There are three pricing tiers. Basic includes two months of data for two devices for $19 per month, Basic Plus includes one year of data for three devices for $29 per month, and Premium includes unlimited data for four devices for $49 per month.
Electronic signatures save time for both the lawyer and his or her clients. These products provide secure, web-based electronic signatures and in some cases will store signed documents online for access by both parties. Features typically include common file format support, biometric and webcam photo authentication and document archiving.
■ RightSignature (www.rightsignature.com) provides 256-bit SSL encryption and Amazon Web Services to ensure privacy of data. Pricing starts at $14 per month for unlimited documents, a premium feature set, one reusable template and one sender. Small group pricing is $49 per month for unlimited documents, a premium feature set, 10 reusable templates, five senders and branded email and logo.
■ DocuSign (www.docusign.com) is an electronic signature service that offers mobile device signing options (for iPhone and iPad), custom storage folder structures, collaboration with third parties to add and edit documents, user and group management, workflows and templates, transaction control and firm-branded envelopes. You can try DocuSign for free, and plans are available at $19.99 and $24.99 per month.
Case and Client Management
Case and client management has become one of the most popular cloud offerings due to its broad use for all different forms of law practice, from solos to larger law firms. These products provide features such as document storage, calendaring and searchable client file organization, which the law firm can access from anywhere. One appealing feature of these tools is the ability to organize all of the firm’s client and case matters into a single web-based system that can be more easily searched and accessible than traditional paper filing systems.
■ Advologix PM (www.advologix.com) includes group calendaring, docket and activity management, client management and marketing, project and matter management, time and billing, document management, account management, mobile access workflow, customization and integration features. It costs $90 per month per user, and $75 per month for each additional user up to 5 users.
■ Clio (www.goclio.com/) offers a dashboard where you can see your upcoming tasks and schedule at a glance. Users can monitor billing targets, link tasks to specific matters, bill time directly from tasks, and run billing, productivity and client reports. It includes a “client connect” feature for sharing documents with clients online as well as online invoicing and bill payment. There is a 30-day free trial and attorney users pay $49 per month after the trial period.
■ LawRD (www.lawrd.com) provides a practice management system with features including management reports, time tracking, matter management, contact management, a billing sheets generator and more. A 30-day free trial is available. After that, it costs $19 per month per user.
■ Rocket Matter (www.rocketmatter.com) is a web-based time and practice management product that includes calendaring, expense, time and task tracking, invoicing, batch billing, matter-based ledgering, phone messaging, a time-tracking timer, Skype integration, mobile access, contact management, documents and notes, tagging, reports, conflict checking and more. You’ll pay $59.99 per month for the first user, with a decreasing pricing model for each additional user.
Online document management services allow you to access files and documents from any computer with an Internet connection, as well as share them with clients, team members and others.
■ DropBox (www.dropbox.com) installs a simple folder on all of your computers; then just move your files into that folder, and they are nearly instantly synched to a cloud location. Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage, and then charges $10 per month for 50GB and $20 per month for 100GB of storage. Note: At press time, the authors cannot recommend Dropbox for storage of confidential documents, due to encryption issues. But it is the best online document manager for nonconfidential records.
■ Box.net (www.box.net), like Dropbox, provides tools to manage users, security and permissions, for rolling documents out to a larger group of employees. It offers 5GB for free, and then $10 per month for 25GB and $20 per month for 50GB. Business and plans start at $15 per user per month for 500GB of space.
■ NetDocuments (www.netdocuments.com) allows you to create your entire folder structure in the cloud. All your files are completely searchable online, and you can easily import email from Outlook into your account. NetDocuments also provides a records management function to automate the retention periods of certain types of documents. There are three levels of pricing: Basic ($20 per user per month), Professional ($30 per user per month), and Professional+ ($38 per user per month). All start with 10GB base storage.
■ Worldox (www.worldox.com), best known for its standalone software product, now offers Complete Cloud, which provides the same Worldox document management service, but with no software to install or upgrade, or servers to purchase. Call for pricing information.
Virtual Law Office Services
These services facilitate the online delivery of legal services and include the use of secure client portals to provide clients with the ability to work with their lawyer online. They combine web-based case and client management products with time, billing and document management and other law office management features, including form libraries, law libraries, calendaring, invoicing, document assembly and automation features, and online client intake procedures, among other features.
■ DirectLaw (www.directlaw.com) provides a secure online client portal with a self-service interface, encrypted attorney-client communications that are time and date stamped in threaded archives, plus calendaring and file storage with upload and download functions. It also includes a web-enabled document automation function and libraries of state-specific documents, legal invoicing and online credit card payment for legal fees. Introductory pricing is available for solo start-ups and new lawyers. Visit the website for pricing details on the DirectLaw Basic, DirectLaw PayGo and DirectLaw Complete services.
■ Total Attorneys (www.totalattorneys.com) provides a secure client portal, online collaboration, document storage and sharing, case and client management tools, online invoicing and bill payment capability, calendaring, conflict of interest checks, jurisdiction checks, trust accounting compliance and data backups, among other features. Pricing for lawyers starts at $50 per month with other pricing based on the number of users.
More and more, lawyers are recognizing that project management skills are important to the practice of law. After all, managing a case or a transaction is similar to managing a business project; there are specific tasks, milestones and resources to be assigned to each task. The following provide all of those features, as well as discussion forums, chat rooms and even wikis for collaboration. Some also include practice management tools such as time entry, billing and calendaring.
■ Basecamp (www.basecamphq.com) is one of the pioneers of online project management. Basecamp has all the basic features—message boards, file storage and collaboration, task lists and time tracking, and a number of project templates that can jumpstart your project initiation. Pricing is $49 per month for 35 projects and 15GB of storage space, $99 per month for 100 projects and 30GB of storage, or $149 per month for unlimited projects and 75GB of storage.
■ Onit (www.onit.com), new to the legal project management scene, is designed for lawyers, firms and even corporate legal departments that have to manage multiple projects. The basic version is free. Corporate law departments can subscribe to the new Onit Premium for a monthly fee. Call for pricing information.
■ PBWorks (www.pbworks.com) offers project workspaces that are clean and easy to use. You can choose to be notified when any change to documents, pages or task status occurs. Call for pricing information.
■ Zoho Projects (www.zoho.com/projects) offers an interesting project management tool. The free version gives you one project, with 10MB of storage space. Check out the different value packs ($99, $199 and $699 a year, respectively) to see which option best fits your needs.
Online Document Storage and Backup
It should be noted that online backup and online document management are not the same thing; online backup is designed for business continuity and disaster recovery purposes, either as a primary backup or as a redundant backup for some other backup source. These services encrypt your data and typically back up incrementally, only backing up those files that are new or changed.
■ Mozy (www.mozy.com), one of the first online backup services, is still a strong choice. The company offers a Home version ($5.99 per month for 50GB, $9.99 per month for 125GB) and a Pro edition (per user pricing ranges from $3.95 +$.50 per GB per month) that provides network and server support for larger firms. The new Mozy 2xProtect will also create a local backup to an external drive, providing true redundant backup.
■ Carbonite (www.carbonite.com) is another popular choice for online backup. You can try it for 15 days for free without even giving a credit card. If you decide to purchase it, you pay a flat rate starting at $54.95 per year per computer with unlimited data storage.
Many of you no doubt already use a remote access tool to log in to your work computers. If so, then you are already using a cloud computing service. These applications make it simple for lawyers to have constant access to not only important work and client files, but also to software applications that may not be installed on a firm laptop or home computer.
■ GoToMyPC (www.gotomypc.com) transfers documents between computers, prints to the computer you are working on or the one being accessed, allows for full displays of your computers if you have multiple monitors, and prevents others from viewing your computer’s monitor while you are remotely connected. For one user, the price is $99 per year. The Pro version starts at $198 per year for two computers, and goes up from there. Corporate pricing is also available.
■ LogMeIn (www.logmein.com) essentially offers the same features as GoToMyPC, but also allows you to access your computer via an iPhone or iPad. A single-user version is always free and, while it is not as full-featured as the Pro edition, it provides good basic remote access. A Pro account starts at $69.95 per computer with discounts available as the number of computers increases.
■ Legal Workspace (www.legal-workspace.com) is designed specifically for the legal profession. It serves as an Internet-hosted IT environment and offers more than simple desktop sharing. Lawyers can access all of their software and services online, without having the software installed on local computers. It provides access to Amicus Attorney, Timeslips, QuickBooks, Worldox, Microsoft Office and Trend Micro antivirus tools. With these tools, you can essentially run your entire practice on the Internet. Call for pricing information.
Encrypted Email and Document Exchange
These services offer secure messaging and document exchange, for when you need to ensure that communications with your clients or others are encrypted and safe from prying eyes.
■ Dialawg (www.dialawg.com) provides encrypted communications specifically for attorneys. Files and messages are sent over an encrypted SSL channel. All data is encrypted and stored in Dialawg’s private network, and recipients can view the files or messages securely via the web, Outlook, an iPhone or other device. The basic service is free, with messages costing $.20 per recipient. Bronze, Silver and Gold levels range from $3 to $48 per month.
■ RPost (www.rpost.com) provides a registered email service with encrypted delivery of email and compliance with HIPAA, FSA and other privacy regulations. Services include registered email, electronic signatures and email encryption with document archiving. Pricing ranges from $79 per month for 100 units per month to $9,750 per month for 25,000 units per month.
■ ZixCorp (www.zixencryption.com) will send an encrypted email directly into a recipient’s inbox as an HTML attachment within a plain-text email. Users click on the email attachment and enter a password, after which the message is decrypted in an Internet browser. Stored messages are encrypted. Call for pricing information.
■ SpiderOak (http://spideroak.com) Encrypted document sharing.