SharePoint for Law Firms: Why Lawyers are Making the Move

by | Mar 4, 2024 | Business IT News and Information For Small to Large Companies In Polk County


In the past, law firms relied on robust in-office servers for running their practice management software, storing files, and facilitating other necessary tasks for their users.

Today, the need for such onsite servers has diminished for most firms, with very few of our clients still requiring a physical server to operate their business. This shift largely owes to advancements in cloud technology, particularly SharePoint for Law Firms.

You may have arrived at this blog with some level of familiarity with SharePoint, whether through in-depth knowledge or casual conversations with colleagues. Either way, it’s clear that this straightforward yet potent application is leading the future of legal practice technology.

Let’s dive deeper into why SharePoint for Law Firms is becoming the go-to solution for legal professionals.

What is SharePoint and How do lawyers use it?

SharePoint effortlessly transfers all your documents to the safety of Microsoft’s cloud storage.

Instead of having your files tucked away under a desk or inadvertently warming a room that requires no additional heat, they reside on a server housed within a fortified data center.

Accessing these documents is similar to how you would from an on-premises server or any other cloud storage solution. The difference now is that your “mapped drives” directly link to SharePoint.

While SharePoint for Law Firms has many other beneficial features, such as an intranet site (internal website), most adoption comes in the form of moving files to the cloud. This allows them to be easily and securely accessed from any of your devices, including your phone.

Why are law firms moving to SharePoint?

SharePoint’s benefits extend well beyond remote work, although it does make working from anywhere exceptionally straightforward. With SharePoint, the complexities of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and the frequent need for remote desktops are often eliminated. It simplifies the process down to simply accessing your files whenever they’re needed.


Nonetheless, leading practice management platforms like NEOS, CLIO, and others are now advocating for firms to incorporate SharePoint into their systems. It’s rare for vendors to lead the charge in tech innovation, so their support for SharePoint speaks volumes. This backing from essential business applications is encouraging firms to give SharePoint a more thorough consideration.

Frequently, the process begins with a “staging” phase, where the firm experiments with a single document folder. For instance, they might transfer a folder containing client documents to SharePoint as a preliminary test. This step leads to a swift adoption process. Even individuals with minimal technical skills at the firm quickly understand how it works, finding it similar to the traditional server environment they’re accustomed to. This ease of understanding reassures them that the move to SharePoint will be smooth and without complications, prompting them to proceed with a complete migration.

Steps to migrating to SharePoint for Law Firms

Clients are usually concerned when they hear “integration” or “migration.” While these terms can seem scary, it could not be simpler. In this section, we’ll outline high level steps that are usually taken for firms to migrate to SharePoint.

Discovery Phase:

  1. Identify what data is moving to SharePoint – Is the firm satisfied with their current server folder structure on the Q Drive (just an example). If not, what changes needed to be made to the structure. For instance, some clients prefer to be broken up by department, rather than physical location. So, it may shift from shares being shared out via physical locations to changing to Accounting, Active Cases, etc.
  2. Identify what applications need to be integrated with SharePoint. For instance, how does the practice management software work with SharePoint. This is usually very simple but an important prerequisite.

Migration Phase:

  1. Overnight or on a weekend, the files are moved to SharePoint. There are a plethora of security configurations that need to be set up on your Microsoft 365 accounts prior or during this phase. The folders are migrated to your new SharePoint site.
  2. Mapping drives – Users now have only the files they need mapped to their computer. It’s accessed in the document library just like the server files were! Easy Peezy. The security permissions of each user identify what they have access to. Excellent for security and for eliminating intentional or accidental user error.
  3. Unmap server drive. Don’t worry, your files are still safe on the server. However, the server drives (Q Drive, Z Drive, etc) are no longer visible. This ensures users can’t accidentally update the wrong files. The original files are still safe and sound so if anything is missing, your IT team can quickly move them into the SharePoint file. Nothing to worry about.

Going Live Phase:

  1. Your new SharePoint site is live! Your users are used to using it and your data is talking with your necessary applications. While a lot has happened in these 3 phases, from the end user perspective, not much is needed to get acclimated.
  2. Your IT Provider should be available immediately for any questions from end users or any potential changes that need to be made after the fact.
  3. Congratulations! Your firm just took a massive step in the right direction.

Conclusion

Having reached this point, you’re likely enthusiastic about the benefits SharePoint for Law Firms can offer in terms of optimizing your operations, enhancing employee efficiency, and bolstering the security of your firm.

Should you require assistance with this transition, we specialize in executing such projects, providing continuous security and support for our legal clients throughout the state. Reach out today!