5 Top Benefits of Office 365 For Law Firms

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For many years, lawyers in Australia and the world at large have been using Microsoft Office software which includes; Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access among other office suite applications. Although Microsoft Office has served lawyers and many other professionals perfectly, Microsoft’s new Office 365 has come with some very intriguing options like lightweight browser based editing, online collaboration, online file storage and subscription-based pricing.

Individual, small and medium-sized organisations stand to gain the most since Office 365 adds numerous functionalities that were only unique to server-based apps like SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange and Lync. Law firms are uniquely positioned to enjoy more office 365 benefits than any other group of professionals. If you’re keen on discovering exactly what these benefits are, look no further. Below are 5 benefits of Office 365 in regards to lawyers.

Microsoft office 365 law benefits

1. Better document collaboration

This is undoubtedly one of the most notable benefits lawyers stand to enjoy by using Microsoft office 365. The new software has integrated numerous tools perfectly which allows law firms to enhance collaboration and sharing within and outside the firm. Previously (before Microsoft Office 365), this kind of functionality was only unique via server apps like Exchange, Lync and SharePoint which required a significant IT infrastructure and support investment.

Although Microsoft Office allowed sharing of documents via email or a network, the new Microsoft Office 365 expands these options creating a better/more collaborative environment. For example, Office 365 allows users to create word documents and then save those documents in the online Team Site to enable sharing with outside counsel as well as co-workers. This functionality is made possible thanks to the SharePoint Document Workspace.

It’s also possible to edit documents online simultaneously or asynchronously even if one doesn’t have word. Another major collaboration benefit revolves around the granular usage rights extended to specific users. If complex formatting is utilised to create new legal documents, formatting isn’t altered when the document is opened from different devices or via different methods in Microsoft Office 365.

2. Hosted Exchange benefits

Microsoft Office Outlook didn’t offer truly useful group features without MS Exchange Server. The New Office 365 offers lawyers and law firms the opportunity to take full advantage of the MS Exchange Server minus the cost and hassle via subscription with MS Hosted Exchange. In simpler terms, Office 365 will allow users to enjoy similar benefits enjoyed by big organisations via onsite Microsoft Exchange servers. Lawyers will enjoy group functions like shared contacts and calendars as well as delegation and appointments. Furthermore, the Exchange Server will also provide Outlook to all users online via Outlook Web Access in addition to features like ActiveSync, POP and IMAP protocols (for other accounts), antivirus and anti-spam, retention settings, bigger mailboxes and many other add-ons & integration with business apps.

3. Superior video conferencing

Office 365 also comes with unmatched video conferencing capabilities offering numerous benefits to legal professionals. Microsoft bought the most popular, beloved and free web-based social and video-based apps (Skype and Yammer) and incorporated them into Ms Office 365. Skype has been synced with Lync Web to allow subscribers to automatically link to Skype users allowing instant messaging, audio and video calls. Microsoft is rolling out Yammer (a social media platform) in the Office 365 enterprise edition to offer even more extensive conferencing. Lawyers clearly stand to enjoy this benefit considering the importance of constant consultations in discharging their duties.

4. Enhanced security

Microsoft has taken many important steps to enhance Office 365 security. First and foremost, information about Ms Office 365 security & privacy is readily available at trustoffice365.com. Some of the most important things to note include; Office 365 meets ISO 27001, FISMA, HIPAA BAA and EU model clauses requirements. For instance, users own as well as retain all rights to hosted data. You can view maps of where your data resides at any time. Office 365 also gives Microsoft database administrators as well as certain Microsoft support employees limited access to user data. Data is also encrypted in transit and storage. Office 365 clearly offers the kind of data security/confidentiality required by lawyers and law firms.

5. Flexible purchasing and integration options

Office 365 also comes with great purchasing options for lawyers and law firms. For instance, there are both home use and business versions that come with flexible monthly and yearly purchasing options. Office 365 also allows flexible integrations options. The software can work perfectly for both small and medium-sized law firms (with current Ms Office software suites) in need of adding cloud functionality among other functionalities.

Conclusion
Microsoft has really done an exemplary job with Office 365 making the new software intriguing especially for law firms lacking dedicated IT infrastructure and support. Microsoft Office 365 blends desktop office suite perfectly with online services for document creation, communication, sharing, storage, mobile access as well as teamwork. Although there is more to Office 365 law benefits than what is discussed above, the above information summarises the main benefits lawyers and law firms stand to enjoy.

I Know IT is a Microsoft Partner and specialist in legal technology. For more information give us a call on 1800 456 694.

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