Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Mobile and Cloud Considerations for the Hyper-Collaborative Legal World

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Last week at BoxWorks, we had a number of the industry’s leading legal CIOs join us for a discussion about the opportunity for secure content collaboration in law firms. As one CIO noted, “Law firms are hyper collaborative, but we need to balance that collaboration with governance and compliance.”

The opening question, “What are the opportunities and challenges you see for Box in the legal market?” sparked a healthy debate on the role of IT and specifically the word “control.” The legal IT execs in the room said they didn’t so much want to focus on controlling content sharing and collaboration, but needed to know they could audit content usage, monitor access and have visibility into anything unusual that happened with client files.

This is a particularly sensitive issue, because they know that their lawyers and clients are beginning to take matters into their own hands and use personal cloud applications to share files. However, these easy to use personal applications don’t provide IT with enterprise-class security, monitoring or integration with existing policies.

Some CIOs are already embracing the cloud, while others said they needed to head in that direction, but that the transition away from on-premise solutions should be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Either way, they admitted that facilitating transactions outside the company and outside the firewall isn’t easy, and that their legacy applications, like SharePoint, simply aren’t able to support increasingly mobile clients and lawyers, who want immediate access to information. BYOD — bring your own device — is quickly becoming the new norm.

We brainstormed a number of powerful use cases – and several already in use by firms include:

  • More efficient “red-lining” of M&A contracts
  • Agile collaboration around corporate transactions and deals
  • Better risk management teamwork and coordination
  • BYOD access to client files and information
  • Replacement of less flexible extranets, costly shared drives and file servers with cloud solutions

In the end, we agreed there’s an exciting opportunity for law firms to transition to the economics and ease of use of the cloud, particularly as IT transitions from being focused on systems maintenance to business strategy.

We’ll continue the conversation in the coming quarters, particularly around how to monitor sharing and content access, how to record client communications and how to answer questions around potential client audits and reporting. I plan to share more insights about these topics on the Box Blog, so stay tuned!

If you’re a legal IT leader or lawyer, I’d like to hear what else is top of mind for you in today’s hyper-collaborative legal world. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @julieaobrien so we can continue the conversation.