Peer to Peer Magazine

June 2010

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 31 of 111

SMART MOVES COLLABORATION IN THE CLOUD your project workflows and project management. Your intranet is created by building your DMS through Google Sites, allowing end user collaboration and site build. Your cloud-hosted billing system and accounting system, built in Amazon’s elastic cloud, are tied into your DMS or accessed directly from your vendors as software as a service (SaaS). Backend databases are integrated with the open source front end that Google provides. Your users are subscribed to Google Sites and updated as those sites update. The sites are searchable with the power of Google search, allowing your firm to rethink its tactical approach to knowledge management. Your documents are posted as a site, with live commentary available. Information shared with clients is posted through shared secure sites and blogs and accessed through sites with the same real-time commentary and feedback as documents, presentations and video. E-mail messages are created as groups, with postings instead of single stream e-mail messages. Your users can assign their news and social media preferences through Google Sites, and receive and post updates through these secure sites. Indeed, your environment becomes so collaborative, you virtually have a social media presence within your firm and with your select clients. DESKTOP AND MOBILE APPLICATIONS Your desktop applications are now hosted in the cloud using SaaS. There is no downloading or uploading as you work on e-mail, documents, dictation and files in the cloud. At this stage, you’ve deployed a Windows 7, Mac OS X, Google Chrome or a Linux thin client operating system. Your mobile applications are synced with your collaborative cloud environment. Your attorneys can speak into their mobile handhelds and use the power of Google Search to immediately retrieve information from your integrated DMS and time and billing systems. Your firm’s internal training programs and your external client training programs are deployed through collaborative video and provide real-time commentary; they’re accessible via VoIP from desktops, laptops and handhelds. IT OPERATIONS Moving to a cloud-hosted collaboration suite affects your firm’s entire technical infrastructure. Your network is reconfigured for cloud-hosted services, including high bandwidth utilization for Web/video as you move your firm’s content offsite. Your onsite exchange servers, onsite document management servers, and intranet and extranet servers are no longer needed. The maintenance required for these servers is also no longer required. Read about Bradford & Barthel’s move to Google Apps! Go to and search for “Bradford” or find them listed in the category “In Their Own Words.” Peer to Peer the quarterly magazine of ILTA 33 CHOOSING YOUR CLOUD-HOSTED ENVIRONMENT Both Google Apps and Microsoft’s cloud services are viable alternatives. Choose carefully, and with a year-to-year contract, plan your exit strategy. By making a 24-month strategic estimate on where you’d like your firm to be with these vendors, you can evaluate them as time progresses. If your vendor isn’t keeping pace with where your technology strategists are taking your firm and your clients, change vendors. If one vendor isn’t meeting the needs of your clients or the vision of your firm, the other one will. You’re only locked into a year-to-year contract. Both companies have to make migration as easy as possible to bring in customers from their opposing platforms, and they know they’ll have to fight to keep their customers in year-by-year contracts. Competition between two giants like this will ensure that the competitive needs of firms and clients are met in the year 2020. BY 2020 We’re looking at a true paradigm shift in the legal technology industry. Cloud-hosted collaborative SaaS suites offer a per-user yearly fee as opposed to traditional software licenses and the three-year upgrade models. Your investment will be scalable, allowing room for growth (or contraction) as your needs dictate. Your cloud-hosted suites will update in real time throughout the year, inspiring a culture change within law firms to evolve, change and continually readapt processes to fit the evolving technology. ILTA Eric Hunter is the Director of Knowledge Management at Bradford & Barthel, LLP, where he is currently integrating a cloud-based collaboration platform within the firm. His focus is in knowledge management, strategic and tactical intelligence, and technology. Eric can be reached at

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