Archive Monthly Archives: July 2018

Chris Michalec Talks About MSPs And Both Sides Of The Law

Chris Michalec Talks About MSPs And Both Sides Of The Law

When a law firm needs help with technology, they call a managed IT services provider (MSP). MSPs offer cloud data storage and cybersecurity, but how does the relationship impact the attorney-client privilege?

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When a law firm needs help with technology, they call a managed IT services provider (MSP). MSPs offer cloud data storage and cybersecurity, but how does the relationship impact the attorney-client privilege?

Law firms are an interesting dichotomy. One step inside a law firm gives a visitor immense insight into the two worlds colliding: the past and the present. One world filled with legal texts and case files, and another world reliant on technology.

The more attorneys on staff at a law firm, or the longer the firm has been in practice, the more caseload the firm has on record. Over time, it’s no longer practical to store these records in paper file format.

Converting these files to digital format for storage in the cloud is no easy task, but the ability to search, share, and access this information stored in the cloud is vastly simplified compared to locating the correct filing cabinet – or worse, off-site storage.

While cloud-based data storage simplifies every aspect of firm operations, converting your data presents a unique set of complexities. Protecting your data is more important than anything else. Your data is your most critical asset, and it’s your duty to keep it safe for your clients.

Are law firms the target of cybercriminals? 

Definitely. 

Minimize Risk 

Modernizing a law firm by migrating to the cloud poses a higher risk of being targeted by cybercriminals – hackers – for the personally identifiable information (PII) on file. The sheer volume of information on individuals, including where they live, where they work, and even healthcare records in some cases, is a very attractive target for hackers. 

According to The American Bar Association’s 2017 Legal Technology Survey, roughly one-fifth of U.S.-based law firms were targeted by hackers in 2017, varying in scope and method.

Law firms working with managed services providers (MSP) for IT solutions like cloud storage and cybersecurity are poised for a better line of defense against these types of attacks with services like malware protection, remote monitoring, and data backups.

Smarter MSP recently reached out to Parkway Tech’s founder, Chris Michalec, for their feature on MSPs and the Law: What You Need to Know, who offered insights into the growing issues surrounding the relationships of MSPs and law firms.

One of the greatest challenges MSPs face is the critical attorney-client privilege, and the amount of confidential information processed and stored by law firms. “It is the volume of confidential information. Many firms have medical records, wills, tax returns, etc., and that makes them a ripe target for hackers,” Michalec says.

Working with an MSP to closely monitor systems and protect against threats can help detect possible data breaches or problems that may come up, and the quicker reaction time could be worth millions of dollars in savings. At times, this threat can be from internal sources, however unintentional. No matter if the risk is internal or external, the tiniest breach can expand exponentially before detection without the attention of a dedicated threat safeguarding resource, like an MSP.

Protecting Information On Two Sides 

Michalec stressed training and education to Smarter MSP, “The employee education is the most difficult but also the most important part.” 

What he means by this is that firewalls, remote monitoring, and penetration testing can only do so much – the staff at law firms need to do their part to maintain secure environments. Three typical pain points here include

  • Password best practices: Complex and unique passwords using a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Email safety: Recognizing spam and phishing attempts and not clicking on anything that might grant access to your system for unauthorized users through an email account.
  • Safe surfing: Installing web filters for safe Internet use for staff that prevents access to unsafe content.

Modern law firms bring sophisticated needs for consideration, with multiple offices and multiple data storage solution needs. With the introduction of an MSP into the mix, Michalec focuses on the MSP’s need to be sensitive when managing the actual data, such as confidential information pertaining to a case, or HIPAA-protected data, like medical records.

Law firms aren’t governed separately but are still required to adhere to HIPAA regulations for medical records, which requires a firm process in place for staff handling this information.

The Bottom Line 

Michalec points out the cost factor: “One of the surprising things about law firms is how many of these smaller firms have at least one full-time IT staff person.” 

The cost of the salary of a full-time IT team member is expensive and has limitations, whereas the monthly fee paid to an MSP gives a law firm access to several talented team members available to address specific IT needs in a timely manner.

Managing the data without seeing the information, protecting the data, and saving law firms money is what attorneys would call an “open and shut” case! 

Did you like what you read here? Enjoy more like this:

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Microsoft Office 2016 Secrets? (Tips & Tricks)

Microsoft Office 2016 Secrets? (Tips & Tricks)

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Microsoft Office 2016 is now using artificial intelligence to make your life easier. MS has added AI to their platforms with their new Smart Lookup feature. This makes fact-finding much easier as you can look up what you need right from within the document you’re working on.

Do you know how to use the Smart Lookup Feature Office 2016? You don’t? Well, we’re going to change that right now. And, by the way, feel free to share these “secrets” with your co-workers.

What Is Smart Lookup? 

It’s a cool new feature in the Office 2016 Suite that lets you look up information quickly from the document you’re working on using the Bing Search Engine. Smart Lookup automatically finds the information you need. 

To get going, open a document in your Office 2016 program of choice (Word, Excel, or PowerPoint). 

Then, highlight a term or phrase in the document that you’d like to search for. 

Here we’ve selected “turkey.”

Leaving the word highlighted, go to the Ribbon at the top of the window and select REVIEW > SMART LOOKUP.

Note: You can only do this once you’ve read through and acknowledged the Privacy Policy. 

Microsoft will post the Privacy Policy on the right side of your screen. Read it and click “Got It” and you can proceed. You’ll only need to do this one time to activate Smart Lookup throughout your entire Office Suite of tools.

Since Microsoft sends your data to Bing, it doesn’t turn Smart Lookup on by default. You may need to contact your IT department for assistance.

If you use a Mac as I do, it’s a bit different. Instead, go to Tools at the top of your screen, and you’ll find Smart Lookup here.

The Bing search results will appear in the panel to the right. (The Insights Task Pane)

Now, take a close look at the Insight Task Pane. You’ll see two options: Explore and Define

Explore contains search results like photos and articles. Define provides a definition of the word.

Easy right? I hope this helped!

Would You Like To Learn More Office 2016 Tips? 

Keep reading! 

Do You Know How To Customize The Ribbon And Quick Access Toolbar? 

Doing this can save you tons of time. You’ll have your favorite tools lined up in your Ribbon for easy access. 

To get going, right-click on the ribbon itself and select “Customize the Ribbon.” (You can also do this from your Quick Access Toolbar which you can find in the upper left corner of your computer screen.)

Click the View Menu to open the Ribbon. 

Most of the commands you’ll want to add can be found under Insert Menu. Choose the Layout tab and click the command you want for your Page Setup.

Do You Know About The “Tell Me What You Want to Do” Feature?

Actually, Word 2016 will do the work for you. In the past, you had to type in an entire phrase like: “How do I add a hyperlink?” Now, all you have to do is type the word “link” and Word will bring up options for you. Word is much smarter than it used to be!

As a matter of fact, this feature works in all of Microsoft’s solutions.

Are You Familiar With Quick Parts? 

These are much like miniature macros that save content you use often (like your company’s information). 

It’s easy to create a Quick Part.

  • Key in the phrase, sentence, or word you want to save. Highlight it and click the Insert tab in the Text group, then click Quick Parts.
  • Now save it to the Auto Text Gallery.
  • Next, you’ll need to create a New Building Block. The data is stored for you to use in the future.

Create building block names that are unique, or they won’t show up when you type the text. If you create a lot of building blocks, you can organize them in Galleries and Categories.

When you need to use your text, put your cursor where you want to insert the text and go to Quick Part>AutoText. Your text will appear.

The Building Block Organizer stores Quick Parts Auto Texts in alphabetical order. If you want to change this, go to Edit Properties. Here you’ll find pre-designed blocks of text you can insert into your document.

These Building Block galleries can be found throughout Word. They have preformatted:

  • Page Numbers    
  • Text Boxes
  • Cover Pages 
  •  Headers Footers
  • Quick Tables
  • Tables of Contents
  • Watermarks 
  • Bibliographies 
  • Equations

You can customize each Building Block to suit your needs. And, as mentioned, you can create custom Building Blocks and add them to their relevant galleries.

We’ve revealed quite a few Office 2016 secrets now. But there are plenty more that we’ll share in future articles.

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Winston-Salem Attorneys Are Frustrated

Should You Get AppleCare?

We get calls all the time from lawyers who want to switch their technology services to us. They’ve signed up for managed services with another provider, but they’re not getting the communication and strategic direction they require.

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Winston-Salem Attorneys Are Frustrated With The Lack Of Communication And Strategic Planning From Their IT Providers

So, what’s going on here? As a busy attorney who’s invested in technology for your practice, you need to know.

We get calls all the time from lawyers who want to switch their technology services to us. They’ve signed up for managed services with another provider, but they’re not getting the communication and strategic direction they require.

If this is happening to you, our Legal IT Experts can help. 

Law firms complain that they want answers from their IT Company like:

  1. What is Microsoft Office 365 and is it right for our law firm?
  2. When will our quarterly meetings be held?
  3. Why isn’t anyone being proactive and communicating issues that need addressing?
  4. Why are we getting incomplete IT reports without explanations in plain language?

You can easily see why they’re frustrated. You may be feeling the same way about your IT services provider.

If so, you should contact our Legal IT Experts. 

You need more than basic IT monitoring and management if you want to grow your practice. Just like you have a strategic business plan, you need a Strategic Technology Plan.

“The best way to utilize technology is to create a detailed plan that forces a lawyer or law firm to be introspective and honest about their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their expectations for how technology can improve their practices. Unfortunately, most lawyers lack the time or foresight to be able to do this.”

This is according to a statement made by Sonia Miller-Van Oort of Sapientia Law Group in Minneapolis at the ABA Techshow in 2017.

“Lawyers are constantly reacting because we’re always so busy,” said Miller-Van Oort. “It’s hard to stop reacting and be proactive in your approach. It’s really easy to just hope that your existing technology will magically fix itself, but that’s not going to happen.”

What’s prescribed here is to conduct a detailed analysis of where you’re experiencing deficiencies in your technologies and what solutions can be used to resolve them.

But how do you do this on your own? – You may not be able to do this because of your busy schedule.

You need a reliable Legal IT Strategist to carve out a specific plan as the ABA recommends. Only then can you be sure your technology supports your long-term requirements. 

The right technology plan helps you manage your technology investments, reduce costs related to using new technologies, and replace obsolete IT solutions with ones that align with your operations.

With our guidance and a sound IT strategy, you can stay competitive and provide the services your clients require from you. Now… back to the simple questions above.

1. What is Microsoft Office 365 and is it right for your law practice? 

Microsoft Office 365 is a subscription-based online suite that provides access to services and software. It offers an email solution with a 25GB mailbox and spam filter. Office 365 includes online versions of Microsoft Office such as Word, PowerPoint, Lync, and Excel. In addition, an online document storage option is available to securely store your important documents

Office 365 is designed to provide connectivity and productivity features that your law firm needs to remain competitive in today’s evolving technology market. There are a variety of plans you can choose from.

Many law firms are using Office 365 for the secure email aspect of the service. However, it’s important to discuss your options with an experienced IT provider like Parkway Tech. Office 365 is becoming more sophisticated all the time, with added features to improve the user experience.

2. When will quarterly meetings be held? 

Our Legal IT Experts provide complimentary quarterly IT summaries. This is a “plain-talk” report that reveals the condition of each component in your system and if any updates or changes are required based on your needs.

It includes:

  • Recommendations for organizational IT design so you can pursue market opportunities and overcome business challenges through updated, value-based technologies.
  • An up-to-date IT budget so you can confirm your IT expenses, and budget for future ones.
  • Procurement assistance to ensure you get the best prices possible on hardware and software.
  • A Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan to confirm that your law firm can stay up and running no matter the IT disaster, manmade or natural.
  • IT Project Management advice that identifies technology needs for specific projects whether they are new ones or ongoing.

3. Why is no one being proactive and communicating issues that need addressing? 

This won’t be an issue with our Legal IT Experts. You’ll benefit from proactive 24/7 remote monitoring and support, as well as immediate communications if any potential issues or problems are detected.

4. Who’s sending these unacceptable reports without explanations in plain language? 

All reports will be sent directly to you from your designated Legal IT Expert. They will clearly detail the status of your technology in clear and plain language that your staff can comprehend. If you have any questions, they will answer them quickly and completely.

If you’re frustrated with the lack of communication and proactive, strategic planning from your current IT company, we’ll be happy to meet with you. One of our Legal IT Experts will visit your office and explain how strategic planning, along with the right IT support and service will ensure your practice succeeds.

For a free assessment of your IT needs, contact Parkway Tech in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by calling (336)-310-9888t or by emailing service@parkwaytech.com.

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