Take a look at the structure of the LawCloud system.
The secure, compliant and flexible practice management alternative.
It has many benefits and at LawCloud, we believe that in this day and age, these benefits greatly outweigh the risks.
LawCloud has committed a considerable financial investment, including research and due diligence to ensure that our cloud services are robust, scaleable and meet relevant industry standards. Having worked closely with The UK’s Law Societies, contributing to the development of their Guidelines for the profession and as one of the leading Cloud providers to the legal industry, we are instrumental in proposing best practice for Cloud provision and fully understand the needs of law firms.
It is our commitment to all existing and prospective Cloud users to ensure that your transition and operation in the Cloud is as smooth and hassle free as possible. We have selected first class business partners to work with, have an excellent track record and have exceeded our uptime targets year on year.
We plan your migration well in advance and offer you a transition timetable that meets your business time scales and considers any targets and deadlines that you need to meet. You are designated an individual project manager who will put together a straight forward and comprehensive project plan and who will keep you informed every step of the way.
Preparation and planning is the key to a successful migration and the more time and thought that is given to this, the smoother the transition will be. Working closely with our experienced team, being flexible and sticking to a well developed schedule are all vital ingredients.
Whilst there is a lot to consider when migrating to the Cloud, you can be assured that the team at LawCloud are specialists who focus on the needs of law firms and are well versed at migrating on-premise systems to Cloud. We have migrated hundreds of law firms to The Cloud in the last few years and continue to do so with great success.
LawCloud differentiates itself on quality, performance, availability and innovation and it is our duty to assure you of these at all times.
Your LawCloud subscription includes Accounts / Cashroom and Matter Management (electronic filing system), depending on the options subscribed to.
If you have subscribed to the Matter Management System, you will also receive Microsoft Office licenses to operate in The Cloud. We will migrate your existing Outlook data so that your current mailbox, calendar, contacts and task list data is available through LawCloud. We also include enough server resource to ensure high performance for the number of users in your subscription along with enough disk space to meet your needs.
An optional Office 365 subscription is included to host your email, shared diaries, contacts and tasks from Outlook. The subscription includes anti-virus, performance management, backup management, server monitoring and availability Service Level Agreements specified in the next section. It also includes all software updates to ensure you are on the latest versions of the Cloud based software that we deliver.
Your subscription includes access to our helpdesk via telephone (0845 2020 578) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org which is available during normal working hours and the ability to escalate calls outside working hours in the unlikely event that our SLA’s are breached. This can be done via: email@example.com.
Within your subscription, LawCloud includes as much initial training as you need subject to a fair usage policy. Training is delivered either at our training centre in Edinburgh or via telephone and over the internet using the latest online training and conferencing tools. If you require more in depth training or on-site training there may be an additional charge for this.
Your subscription may also include a data conversion from your current accounting or matter management system if this has been specified in your signed order acceptance.
It does not include hardware support for the operation of your own local internet broadband or your internal office equipment (PC’s, printers etc.). It is recommended that you take out separate support cover from a local provider to cover this.
Our Service Level Agreement (SLA), described below, is designed to ensure we meet the needs of LawCloud users and outlines what levels of service can be expected. No Cloud provider can make warranties that any service will be uninterrupted or error free. Users accept that service provisions are “as is”. We do however highlight what credit you may be eligible for in the unlikely event of a breach in these levels, however, this is not something that we have ever needed to address and indeed never hope to. Service levels are our pride and primary focus.
We feel that the design of our industry leading infrastructure allows us to provide an SLA that reinforces our commitment to provide you with the best possible service and we are backed by a UK based datacentre support team that offers 24/7/365 support to LawCloud technicians.
We provide an SLA to ensure 99.9% connectivity to LawCloud servers.
Our SLA covers server connectivity; therefore unavailability caused by user activity errors or issues local to users sites such as faulty equipment or your own internet connectivity problems, are not included. Please note: To provide optimal performance, it is sometimes necessary to conduct planned maintenance; this is therefore an exception to the above availability SLA. Any planned maintenance will be scheduled in advance (with a minimum of 24 hours’ notice where possible) and will be completed outside normal business hours.
In the unlikely event of us failing to meet the above SLA (in any 1 month rolling period) you may be eligible, subject to meeting the provisions stated above, for a credit, where we may as a guide refund 1 day’s service fee for every hour that connectivity has been unavailable over the specified SLA, payable up to a maximum amount of one month’s service fee. We have set stringent targets, designed to ensure we meet the needs of our clients and to outline the levels of service that can be expected. We have a 1 hour response time to outages with a 2 hour resolution target during normal business hours. In the event of any resolution time being exceeded, you may contact the LawCloud team and escalate the matter to our M.D. Warren Wander who will handle the matter personally.
LawCloud assures you that the information we hold will be treated as confidential and will never be used or disclosed to third parties.
We are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and abide by their regulations.
You retain full ownership in terms of the intellectual property in relation to the data that is stored on our systems. You have an explicit right to get your data back on demand. Once the data has been returned to you, we will contact you confirming that the data has been deleted following the termination of the agreement.
As a solicitor, you have a responsibility to provide certain data to the legal profession’s governing bodies and failure to do so could itself be a conduct issue. Some lenders also require this under panel appointment arrangements.
Your SLA with us provides for the return of your data, in a readable and understandable form, where you are required to produce the data to the regulator for a legitimate and authorised regulatory purpose. The LawCloud SLA complies with this obligation even if your firm is in breach of the terms and even if you are in dispute with us.
Your LawCloud is protected and is held in a highly secure data centre that meets the necessary accreditation requirements and that is based in the UK, complying with the Data Protection Act 1998.
LawCloud is highly optimised to work in low powered situations and will perform on relatively basic hardware. You can pretty much go into a local PC store and buy any internet ready device (Notebook, Netbook, Desktop, tablet…) and it is likely to be compatible with LawCloud. There is no LawCloud software or data held on your machine, you are simply receiving screen shots that are running from our high performance server network. For older PC’s, any PC that is under 3 to 5 years old running a supported Microsoft operating system will operate comfortably with LawCloud. Whilst older machines are likely to work, you could experience a mild performance degradation. LawCloud also runs on Apple Mac, iPad and Android tablet. We will configure the necessary connection for you and ensure your LawCloud is up and running on your device.
We provide you with Microsoft Office as a part of your LawCloud subscription so there is no need for you to purchase Microsoft Office separately. MS Office runs on our cloud hosted servers and we will ensure that you are always on the latest version of any software that we supply. We apply security updates and service packs when needed as well as upgrading to new releases once we are happy that they are ready for release.
As LawCloud is optimised to work on a minimal bandwidth connection, it will work well on a standard shared office broadband line, as well as individual mobile 3G connected device such as a laptop with a dongle or WiFi connection.
Performance may fluctuate throughout the day depending on your broadband load and line usage and this can affect how your LawCloud system responds. Heavy usage includes user overload – too many users on a single line, large file upload – copying large scanned images or attachments up over the broadband, Windows updates – downloading large updates during working hours, or general heavy internet downloads. Broadband usage should be optimised and economised to maximise performance during working hours.
It is good practice to check your broadband speed at intervals and different times of the day. There are a number of good line speed indicator tools including www.speedtest.net.
Even though these tools aren’t totally accurate, they will give you an indication of how your line is performing. As a guide, a basic ADSL line speed will be around 6 to 12 Mbps (Megabits per second), which should host a couple of users comfortably. Cable providers now supply broadband starting at upwards of 50 Mbps which will handle many more users concurrently.
It is possible to have 2 or more broadband lines and spread users over these lines (so 6 on one line, six on the other will give you 12 users comfortable usage). Alternatively there are relatively inexpensive load balancing routers that will connect the 2 lines together and share the load automatically for you.
It is worth noting that broadband packages are improving all the time. There are cable packages, dedicated lines, EFM (Ethernet first mile), and more… You should keep abreast of the broadband packages that your supplier can offer you to improve your broadband resilience and performance.
There are two different viewpoints regarding this and the answer really depends on who maintains your local equipment and whether you have legacy local systems that are reliant upon a centralised box.
A server is typically used to host operating software such as Microsoft Exchange for email and shared diaries, data folders for storing word document, spreadsheets etc. and your practice management software. This can all be migrated to a Cloud based system without difficulty.
In addition to that, there are a number of server based roles that, depending on the number of users, can be easier managed centrally by a dedicated box such as Windows updates on local machines, anti-virus software updates and Windows Security authentication when you log into the server and print spooling for centralised print management.
If you are a small business with say up to 5 or even 10 users then it is feasible for each machine to operate as a stand-alone unit, managing its own security patches, AV updates and windows logins. Modern printers tend to have their own networked print server built in so printing can also be managed without the need for a server running the print service.
However, differing IT support companies will take different views depending on their procedures and some will guide you down the route of a server to make their job easier. It all depends on the level of service that you are offered and the volumes of load that you put on the system. You will also need to remember that your IT support company will not want to lose their support contract with you so, in some cases, it is in their interests to encourage keeping a server.
When you exceed 10 users then a dedicated central box may be advisable (but not essential) to simplify the local management role. However, if the Cloud based system manages your major applications then the server box should be very lightweight with a very minimal role to play.
It is important to consider any third party local applications that aren’t on the Cloud and that you need to keep running and locally. Examples are some digital dictation packages, Payroll & HR packages, third party specialist software such as Property Management systems etc. Whilst we will do our best to accommodate your needs, some third party applications aren’t Cloud compatible and this is not a part of our core service. We would be happy to discuss this with you as a separate item.
It is important to appreciate that your server may, depending on your network configuration, drive your local printers, your domain security, your Windows logons and even your internet access. It is possible that if the server were switched off, your network configuration would change and you could experience application operational issues and internet outages. Your server is best “disconnected” in conjunction with your IT support facility (or the suppliers of that server) to ensure it is done in the right way to minimise disruption.
Whilst broadband nowadays is far more resilient and reliable than it used to be, you can’t avoid a digger going through the cable in the road whilst repair works are being done and you need to plan for a contingency, should this happen.
There are a number of ways around this, the first of course being to check the guaranteed SLA with your internet service provider. Some have 1 hour response and 4 hour fix times but you may pay a premium for this level of service.
You can also buy 2 internet lines and bond them through a “load balancing router”. This will give you a failover line so if one line is down, the other will automatically fail over. If each line is with a different provider, such as BT and Virgin, then if a provider experiences a fault that the other provider isn’t experiencing, you’ll have uninterrupted service. Both lines when fully operational will work together, extending bandwidth (or breadth) so you will be able to accommodate more users; however it won’t double the speed of your broadband, just the scope of it. You can run multiple lines into these load balancing routers very efficiently.
It’s also worth having another backup such as wireless mobile to access another wireless Cloud or a dongle or MiFi device. This will give you limited connectivity but nonetheless, you will be able to connect and carry on working.
Failing that, you can always work from another location temporarily such as a branch office or even home if your working style lends itself to that.
All in all and in our experience, broadband reliability is generally good and these contingencies are only required in really dire circumstances. It is also worth adding that there are less instances of broadband downtime than there are server disk or equipment failures and these local equipment disasters generally tend to take far longer to rectify and get you back up and running, especially as parts for older equipment become harder to source and that restore process for one of these local server disks is very time consuming as your data volume grows.
If you have the cash to spare then you can get a dedicated line with an almost always on service level agreement but for small firms, this may be out of reach.
Another technology now available is called EFM – Ethernet first mile – which gives better performance than standard ADSL broadband and comes with a better SLA and this is popular. There are also cable services which are worth considering.
In our experience, unless you are in a very rural area with problematic broadband then connectivity shouldn’t be a reason to put you off Cloud as it generally works very well in 99% of cases.
Database conversions – If you are converting from another practice management system (that is not a LawWare system) into LawCloud, we will perform your electronic data transfer if this has been agreed. We will export all of the accounts, time recording, client ledger, documents, strongroom etc… and import it into LawWare. As all firms use their systems slightly differently, every data transfer is different and requires good planning.
We will work with you to ensure that the data you need is available and will set up a data conversion plan. This will involve taking a copy of your data and performing an initial test data transfer. This can take up to a week, at which time, we will make the test transfer available for you to look at on LawCloud in your test system. Once signed off, we will agree a live transfer date with you to do the final data conversion and switch systems over from your legacy system to your new LawCloud system. It is recommended that you retain your legacy database and system for as long as you can to ensure that historical data is available in the format that it was sourced from, should you ever need it.
Microsoft Word – Normal.dot – Microsoft Word stores its formatting, styles, auto text and more inside a file called normal.dot. This can be copied on request into your Cloud profile on LawCloud to ensure this information remains available from Word.
Microsoft Word – Macros in Microsoft Word may not function properly in some Word versions on the Cloud. Functionality is dependent on the version of Word that they were created in, the task that they are looking to achieve and whether they interoperate with any other applications on your network. As a rule, it is best to plan to re-record your macros on the Cloud rather than transferring them up.
We will migrate all of your User Mailboxes & shared diaries to the Cloud. On completion of this migration stage, you will have complete and mobile access to your emails, diary and task list in Microsoft Outlook. You will also be able to switch off your local mail service, saving on maintenance costs, future upgrade costs, server load reduction and resource savings.
Mailboxes are hosted on LawCloud via Microsoft Online services otherwise known as Office 365. We will setup mailboxes for each of your named users who are subscribed to the service and configure their Cloud mailbox to include any email addresses, shared diaries and contacts. We can setup email aliases for mailboxes such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org all to a single mailbox. We will setup any mailbox rules that you specify such as forwarding all email@example.com to be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once your online hosted account is set up, we will agree a date with you to switch the mail flow from your current system to the LawCloud system and will give you access to this facility both via LawCloud and via WebMail through a browser. We will then export the data from each user’s own local Microsoft Outlook into the LawCloud hosted Microsoft Outlook. Depending on the number of users, size of your mailbox and the speed of your broadband, this can take some time (up to a few days), but once migrated, all mailbox information becomes available through LawCloud. You can then switch off your on-premise mail server and free up resource on your server. Spam filters and anti-virus are all taken care of on LawCloud, with all email being scanned on the Cloud.
We will then work with you to connect your mobile device to your mailbox making email and diary information available from your iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Apple Mac. (and others, where the device supports it).
Alongside your mailbox migration, we look at your Windows Folders – We can migrate your shared data store from your local server to the Cloud. All files contained in these folders such as spreadsheets, word documents, email items, PDF’s, images will be migrated across.
On completion of this migration stage, all users on your LawCloud system (subject to security permissions) will have complete access to your windows folders (typically a shared data drive or workspace). This means that this data share is available from remote locations (work, home, court etc…) that have secure connections to LawCloud.
We will copy up your entire document repository to LawCloud and make it available through a shared dropbox style folder held securely within the LawCloud server. As document repositories can be sizeable, we will set up a scheduled job to upload the data outside working hours to ensure we do not exhaust your broadband during critical working hours. Document repositories can take days and sometimes up to a week to upload depending on your broadband speed and scope of work. Once the initial repository is uploaded, we can leave a copy job running that only copies new and changed items to keep the repository up to date and in line until the agreed live switchover date arrives.
If you have a scans folder that is linked to your scanning device, we can schedule a batch job every 15 minutes to automatically upload the scanned images to a set of scanned folders to LawCloud so that you can drag and drop scans into your client electronic case file. You should however consider that disk space is a premium on Cloud based systems and make sure that your scanned files are created in a compressed and low resolution format to economise on space usage.
LawCloud takes care of all backups ensuring your data is available and that you have a disaster recovery backup plan, giving you peace of mind that your critical information is being looked after. LawWare data is replicated in multiple secure locations for safety and resilience.
As technologists and Cloud advocates, we are amazed and energised at the transition that is currently happening in the business and technical worlds.
The transition to the Cloud is growing at a tremendous rate and as technology becomes more available, robust and affordable, the opportunities continue to grow. The Cloud has become more about business transformation than technology.
Times have never been more challenging for law firms than today. With the introduction of Alternative Business Structures alongside legal aid reforms, increasing paperwork for compliance, the need to be more efficient and competitive has never been more important.
Cloud computing presents the opportunity for small to medium sized firms to have best of breed software (traditionally reserved for the bigger firms) delivered directly to their doorstep at a low fixed monthly cost and with little or no capital expenditure. This very premise is creating vast modernisation and cultural changes in what was a profession grown out of very traditional roots.
LawCloud offers lawyers a new way of working that has never been so easy to reach before, including:
In saying all of this. the Secret to Cloud Success is really still about relationships and knowing your Cloud provider. You are entrusting your crown jewels to a provider for the long term and you need to do your due diligence well. Nobody is perfect and whilst we feel sure your experience will be a huge success, you should also plan your backup just in case things go wrong as they sometimes do. So, know where your data is and be sure you can get all of your data back when you need it and in a meaningful format.
Good luck with your journey to the Cloud. We are living in challenging yet incredible times. As the infamous Benjamin Disraeli said “The secret of success in life is to be ready for opportunity when it comes.”
Warren T Wander
Our clients range from small start-up legal practices to multi-partner, multi-site firms.
As the first commercial user of LawWare back in 1998, we have had no hesitation in remaining with the product through its development. We thoroughly recommend it to any firm looking for a practice management system.
The helpdesk is exceptionally good. Whatever the query there is always a human being there to help. No leaving messages or being advised to go to a website. The best computer service for solicitors I have ever used!
The linking of documents and casefiles saves so much time! I have experience of several accounts packages and I like that LawWare is simple to use and easy to learn. Support is quick and effective and staff are helpful and courteous.
I have worked with a number of Case Management providers over the years but have not come across anything with the attention to detail and thoroughness of LawWare. My colleagues and I have not been disappointed.
I can’t imagine trying to be a law firm in the 21st Century without 21st Century IT systems. Having a ‘single system’ that underpins all the work, whether we are in the office or out, is an integral part of what we are building.
The level of support is the main benefit using this system. The system itself once you have had training is simple and easy to use. We have a great relationship with LawWare and the ongoing support is second to none.
Significant preparation was required to configure and import the data from our old firm. We had to get all clients onto the new system and then learn how to use it. We just find it very easy to use, much easier than our old system.
It’s a big help that you can speak to the boss directly. The support team takes a lot of the technological stress away and, as LawWare continues to build relationships and integrations with other suppliers, it makes our life much easier.
Being a busy litigator with a growing firm it is incredibly useful to be able to view my files from any location with some form of internet connection. I am a fan, and want to keep working with LawWare to make a good product great.
The switch to the new LawCloud system, which is still on-going, has gone very well. We found the LawWare team without exception to be very helpful and knowledgeable. All queries are followed up and dealt with promptly.