Microsoft showcased its legal document management solution for Office 365 at the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference in Nashville, Tennessee, this week. The program, called Matter Center, claims to make “it easier to organize files by client and matter, review documents, and find information when needed without ever leaving Microsoft Word or Outlook.”
Its main features include:
- A cloud-based briefcase — The solution provides 1 TB of individual storage and a personal briefcase that automatically syncs documents.
- Access controls — Users can be granted or excluded access to a matter.
- Collaboration tools — Matter Center enables legal professionals to share files with others, both within and outside their law firm.
- Document and matter search — Legal professionals can search and find matters and related documents directly within Outlook or Word.
- Integrated document management — Legal professionals can drag, drop and save emails into documents or matter.
Microsoft has built a security-enhanced, cloud-based document management application that allows our professionals to quickly locate and collaborate on documents with our counsel from virtually anywhere,” John Frank, Microsoft’s vice president and deputy general counsel, said in a prepared statement.
“We’ve decided to make this solution more broadly available at the request of our outside counsel [to those] who want to utilize it in their own environments.”
Although Microsoft has yet to announce when Matter Center will be available on the mass market, interested legal professionals can sign up for the pilot program here.
Case Matter joins Time Matters, ProLaw’s Legal Case Management Software, Legal Track, LawBase, and Rocket Matter in the legal matter management systems market.
Cloud-based legal software has become more common, but so has discussion surrounding security measures to protect legal information. Regarding cloud-based case management software, the Iowa State Bar addressed the potential legal issues that may arise when using these services, concluding:
“[A lawyer] must take reasonable precautions to prevent the information from coming into the hands of unintended recipients. This duty, however, does not require that the lawyer use special security measures if the method of communication affords a reasonable expectation of privacy. Special circumstances, however, may warrant special precautions. Factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of the lawyer’s expectation of confidentiality include the sensitivity of the information and the extent to which the privacy of the communication is protected by law or by a confidentiality agreement.” [via Juris Page]
While legal technology and tools continue to develop, it’s important for an attorney’s sense of ethical responsibility to develop in measure. Just as there are myriad ways to store and access data, there are an equal number of ways to intercept, steal, or manipulate private and confidential information, as well.
How secure are your serves? What are your firms policies regarding storage of files on mobile devices? Do you require associates to have complex passwords on all devices and for all firm programs that evolve in complexity over time?
So, when you’re addressing the need to upgrade your case management software, don’t forget to train your employees on the risks inherent in these cloud and other mobile systems.