Why Multifactor Authentication is Essential

If there’s one thing that law firms have in massive quantities, it’s information. From email inboxes containing clients’ addresses and signatures to file folders that detail highly sensitive particulars about financials, attorneys possess reams of data that can damage reputations and ruin lives should it happen to fall into the wrong hands.

While numerous methods of protection exist to keep eyes-only information just that – including passwords, firewalls, identity theft resources and physical security – there are equally as many ways of gaining access. Be it hacking, malware, phishing or skimming, bad actors resort to a wide assortment of underhanded tactics to expose and make off with private data.

Multifactor authentication throws a wrench in these malicious methods. Instead of entering just one password or inserting a single keycard, multifactor authentication – otherwise known as 2FA – requires two or more credentials for access to be granted. Generally speaking, the more that are required, the harder it is for information to be stolen. As noted by Carnegie Mellon University, 2FA involves several “somethings”:

  • Something you know (e.g. password, security question, PIN number);
  • Something you own (e.g. key fob, ID card, smartphone);
  • Something you are (e.g. fingerprint, face, voice, palm vein)

This latter something is a fairly new technology in terms of availability and usage. It involves biometrics, or the analysis of physical characteristics for authentication. Because no two fingerprints are perfectly identical, it makes them difficult to replicate or steal.

Given the effectiveness of 2FA, more industries are adopting it. Many handheld devices now require users to input two or more credentials, or at least provide this option.

“Many attorneys and law firms aren’t fully embracing this security methodology.”

However, whether due to resistance to change, in general, or unfamiliarity with technology, attorneys and law firms aren’t fully embracing this security methodology, ABA Journal reported. If you’re among them, here are a few reasons why you may want to reconsider:

Data breaches are more common than ever
At one time, it seemed like every cyberattack was reported by the mainstream media, particularly those that impacted retailers. They’ve largely fallen out of the news cycle, but that doesn’t mean they’ve become any less common. According to the most recent statistics available from the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of consumer records stolen in 2018 rose 126% from the previous year, totaling 446.5 million overall. That’s up from 197.6 million just 12 months earlier.

The chances of data being stolen are significantly lower when 2FA is in place. As reported by Forbes, household-name software providers say 99% of automated attacks can be successfully blocked by enabling 2FA. Several other telecommunications and technology companies also hail the effectiveness of multifactor authentication.

Firms are a top target
No business or industry is entirely immune from data breaches, and that especially includes the business sector, an umbrella that law firms fall under. Of the 1,632 breaches that took place in 2018, 907 of them affected business, ITRC reported from its findings. This equated to 181 million records, with healthcare in a distant second at 5.3 million records and 384 breaches.

Small law firms in the crosshairs
According to the most recent polling available, tracking how many practicing lawyers are currently in the U.S., the number sits at over 1.3 million, based on the ABA’s figures. The vast majority of these attorneys work for small firms. Conventional wisdom might suggest the big firms would be targeted the most, but as Attorney At Law Magazine reported, those that have fewer partners tend to receive the lion’s share of the attacks because there are more out there to potentially exploit.

2FA helps to guard against attempted data heists by adding an extra layer of security.

If your firm has transitioned to the cloud, you can’t afford a software solution that doesn’t incorporate multifactor authentication. Built on the largest cloud provider in the world – Amazon Web Services – Afinety leverages 2FA, firewall protection and unparalleled monitoring to ensure information stays under lock and key. For more information on the Afinety Cloud Platform and its offerings, contact us today.

Organizing Your Files in the Cloud

Cloud technology makes it easy and convenient to back up your files online. Rather than sift through stacks and boxes of physical papers and photos, you can now access all your files digitally in one place. To get the most utility from your cloud, make sure you take the time to organize your cloud so it can best serve your needs. Keeping your files neatly organized in an easy-to-navigate format will ensure you can locate exactly the file you’re looking for exactly when you need it. The following tips can serve as a starting point in your organizational efforts.

Create a system for naming your folders

Develop your own or decide on an existing system for naming your folders. TechSoup recommends using a simple system that you will easily remember, such as Date_Type_FolderName, where “Type” refers to either personal, work or other files. So, if you have a folder full of photos from a given legal case, you could label the folder October2018_[Case Name]. Keeping your folders organized like this will help you easily navigate through your cloud. You can simply scroll down chronologically to find the exact document or photo you’re looking for.

Create your folders and start moving files

It helps to create the folders before you start moving your files over so you have somewhere to put them and can avoid the clutter of random bits and pieces that all belong in different places. Once you’ve created and labeled your folders according to your naming system, you can start dragging and dropping files into their respective folders.

Tag your files

Every file on a system has a certain set of attributes like author name and date last modified called file properties. Another type of file property is called a tag. Designed for user customization, tags are a good way to make searching easier because they function as searchable keywords, according to TechRepublic. Use words and phrases that make sense to you when tagging your files. It helps to assign more than one tag to a file so you can search it up using multiple keyword terms. Consider tags like #evidence #finance or #testimony.

Create and use subfolders

Creating main folders may not be enough to tame the clutter of your files in the cloud. Organize files within your folders into subfolders, or even group your main folders into larger ones to make the navigation process easier. Make sure you use the same naming system from before so nothing gets confused in the added steps. It is also best to have the same subfolders in all your main folders. Consistency in organization makes navigation much easier.

messy officeAlthough transitioning to the cloud may seem intimidating, it will make your office cleaner, more comfortable, and more efficient.

It’s important to clear out the old before you implement the new. Consider taking the following two steps before you even begin setting up your cloud environment:

1. Declutter. Get rid of any files that have been sitting around untouched and which you no longer need.

2. Purge. Agile Law suggests adopting the “one touch” rule for this step. Pick up a file or document and decide whether to keep it, destroy it or store it, and then, most importantly, act on that decision. Don’t just set the file down just to deal with later. You should only have files that are open and active. Keeping closed files mixed in with open ones just creates more work as you sort through files to find the one that you need. Those closed files which you choose not to destroy can be stored in a folder like 2017_Archive.

Depending on how many files have compiled over the months or years it’s taken you to switch over to cloud storage, organizing can seem intimidating. However, as long as you make a little bit of progress each day, you will slowly but steadily work your way through the clutter and create the perfect organization structure for your needs. Learn about cloud storage and the Afinety Cloud Platform, designed specifically for lawyers.

How to Protect Your Firm’s Data

Security is one of the top concerns for most law firms, especially those which deal with large cases or protect corporations. The reality of this day and age is that much of the evidence brought up in legal cases is digital, and that data has to be protected. Even non-digital evidence needs to be indexed for future use. Physical files aren’t secure enough to be used for this sensitive information. It’s far too likely that they will become damaged or get lost, which is a problem law firms simply cannot afford to have. It is wise for law firms and private practitioners to move their data to the cloud.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is the practice of using a remote Internet server instead of a local server or a personal computer to store, manage, and process data. While the idea of it may seem foreign at first, it is actually likely your firm or practice already employs the cloud for daily tasks.

Often times, files on private servers are too large to be sent by email. They are instead sent as Google drive attachments, or with Dropbox or OneDrive links. All of these services are, in fact, cloud platforms. And they’re safer than you may think.

cloudCloud technology has measures in place to keep your data safe.

Encryption and security in the cloud

According to Security Week, when it comes to protecting data in the cloud, encryption is considered the most effective. Encryption not only makes the file easier to store, but it also makes it harder to access by a potential intruder. Medium defines encryption as a process that encodes a message or file so that it can be only be read by certain people who have an access key. Before a piece of encrypted data is unscrambled, it’s completely unreadable and is referred to as ciphertext. After being unlocked, the message is translated back into plaintext.

Rudimentary encryption can be as simple as switching out certain letters for others and render a sentence or even a word unreadable. For example, if you were to switch out every vowel for the character “@” and every “s” for the letter “c,” the word “biologist” would be encrypted as “b@@l@g@ct.”

Cryptography has since developed into a more complex practice. Medium reports that computer algorithms have more or less replaced mechanical encryption in recent years, making codes even harder to crack. Keys, or passwords, are generated using random number generators or computer algorithms with similar functions. Modern systems sometimes generate a fresh key for every single session to add another layer of security.

Because of the constant development of cryptography and encryption styles, data is as safe in the cloud as it would be under lock and key, if not safer. Thanks to dedicated professionals in the cybersecurity industry, you don’t have to fear cloud technology.

Accessibility of files

Security and accessibility go hand in hand. Having files uploaded to a protected cloud platform makes it possible to access case files from anywhere at any time. Lawyers no longer need to spend every second of their time in the office, and will be able to work from the road, while traveling or from home. Increased accessibility to work materials leads directly to increased productivity.

Choosing a provider

Afinety is the best choice for law firms and private practices looking to migrate their files to the cloud. Not only is our platform secure, but it was also designed specifically for lawyers, and is optimized to run a variety of apps. To learn more about cybersecurity and other IT options and services offered by Afinety, browse our website, or get in touch today.

How to Save Money for Your Law Firm

When it comes to practicing law, time is money. Cloud technology can save your firm a significant amount of both.

Save on Supplies and Storage

Physical files require tens of thousands of sheets of paper and typically need to be shredded if they’re not being stored. This is not only an incredible waste of natural resources – according to The Atlantic, it takes more than three gallons of water to make a single sheet of paper – but also a waste of utilities and space. Throughout the course of a case, attorneys can accumulate boxes and boxes of files that are not only difficult to navigate and keep organized, but also to store.

Cloud technology allows law firms to reclaim their office space by making physical copies of files completely unnecessary. Storage rooms can be converted into conference rooms, office space, reading rooms, and more.

It’s significantly easier to locate specific files through the cloud than it is to dig through file cabinets and boxes for a physical document. The cloud helps lawyers work more efficiently and saves them billable hours throughout the day which they are then able to dedicate to working on clients. In fact, CISCO conducted a survey that found companies that invested in collaborative technology like cloud services saw productivity increases of up to 400% due to increased ease of access to files.

Save on Manpower

If your firm has an in-house IT team or dedicated IT person, their responsibilities will shift to a more strategic role. Rather than focusing on time-consuming break/fix issues, they can investigate various software applications, training and provide a strategic IT roadmap for the firm’s future. While your firm focuses on the business of law, a provider like Afinety manages updates, security, and maintenance needs for the system.

Save on Billable Hours

Because data in the cloud is accessible from anywhere, attorneys are able to conduct business from the office, from the road and from home with the same access to resources. Multiple versions of documents no longer need to be saved to individual hard drives, and those documents don’t need to be emailed back and forth as they are updated.

Lawyers and all other employees at a firm using cloud technology are able to act on issues and assignments instantly with all the materials they need just a click away. They are also able to capitalize on opportunities more quickly than those firms without cloud technology, winning business, and pulling ahead of competitors – a key advantage for smaller firms and independent practices. Cloud technology also makes analyzing big data easier, which is especially relevant to big firms hoping to sort through large masses of data.

deskIncreasing attorneys’ ability to conduct remote work is a great way to increase your firm’s efficiency.

Other Benefits of Cloud Technology

In addition to saving law firms money in multiple ways, cloud computing can also help foster rapid growth. With a strong digital infrastructure, firms are able to take on more work from more clients and get their name out in the community and beyond. Entrepreneur reports that a huge factor in facilitating this growth is the analytics services offered by cloud providers which help businesses to establish data warehouses and conduct real-time analytics, visualization, and more.

Additionally, cloud technology streamlines internal communications by providing a platform through which firms are able to use and coordinate phone, messaging, conferencing, and scheduling tools. Some cloud platforms even have workflow management systems built-in, according to Business.com.

The Afinety Cloud Platform

An advanced and secure solution designed for law firms, the Afinety Could Platform is powered by AWS, the largest cloud provider in the world. Run all of your legal apps such as iManage, ProLaw, TABS3, Worldox, TimeMatters, and more in the Afinety Cloud Platform. For more information about how to switch your firm over to Afinety’s platform, browse the website or get in touch today.

How Transitioning to the Cloud Grants Liberation From the Physical Office

According to the American Bar Association, “A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.” While a lawyer’s first duty and prerogative must be to serve the court and public, they must also dedicate themselves to serving the client. One of the most important qualities clients seek in their lawyers is availability. In fact, Entrepreneur listed availability as No. 4 in the top seven things to look for in a lawyer, following experience, understanding, and ability to communicate.

Availability can play a role not only in being hired as a private practice or firm but also in client retention and your ability to serve their needs. Your availability plays largely into how hard you’re able to work for a client, as well as how often.

woman lawyerLawyers who rely on physical case files are restricted to working only within the walls of their firms.

Physical offices, while they present a solid, reputable front to clients and the public alike, can actually be a hindrance to a lawyer’s day-to-day responsibilities. Sure, they’re convenient and organized for work to be done during the business day, but what about after hours? Casework is rarely restricted to the 9 to 5. In fact, Carl Franklin, JD, PhD., a retired professor of law & public policy said that his practicing 60 or more hours constituted a normal week. If you have to either stay late while working or drop everything to run back to the office every time there’s a development, you lose time which could be spent working on the case or on-work responsibilities and interests. Along the same line of thought, if you have to dash back to the office to work every time there’s an emergency, you’re restricted by time and can’t act very quickly. The alternative to this is to take home boxes of case files every single day, just in case. While this is possible, it is neither practical nor the best alternative.

Cloud technology is liberating lawyers from the physical office. Lawyers and firms that have chosen to switch over to cloud technology are able to access their documents from any location given they have a connection to the internet. This means lawyers can not only work from home, they can work from the road. If you have an emergency during another client’s case, cloud technology allows you to look into the issue without having to dedicate an entire day to it. Cloud technology saves you time, effort, and money.

Criminal defense attorney James Farr is constantly out of his office at client meetings or in court, so it’s absolutely essential that he and his paralegal be able to work from anywhere, at any time.

“As long as I’m practicing law, I will work in a private cloud environment,” he said in an interview published in the American Bar Association Tech Report 2019. “I’m not going back to the alternative of local servers with local support. Not only can I work from anywhere, but it has freed me from recurring IT headaches and unforeseen expenses in managing my own on-site computer network.”

lawyer cloudCloud technology allows lawyers to access their documents from anywhere, at any time.

Cloud technology providers go to lengths to ensure the safety and security of the data stored in their networks. All data is encrypted using complex algorithms, making the system extremely difficult to breach. Cloud technology keeps data safe while also making it exponentially more accessible to you. The future is now. Learn more about Afinety’s cloud platform and how we can help elevate your firm or practice by providing you freedom from the constraints of brick and mortar.

4 Ways to Make the Return to Office Life Easier

As more states and businesses emerge from lengthy lockdowns, there will undoubtedly be many lessons to draw from the COVID-19 outbreak. Perhaps the biggest of them all is the incredible speed with which things can change. All across the country, starting as early as mid-March, organizations, offices, and law firms closed up shop and ran operations almost entirely from home. For some, the transition was fairly seamless. For others, it was anything but, as distractions from family, pets, and other personal responsibilities adversely impacted productivity and thus any semblance of business as usual.

Yet in line with the phased re-opening that most local and state governments are implementing, a return to normalcy isn’t like flicking a light switch: It won’t happen right away. However, there are a few things you can do to make the transition a bit smoother:

1. Prioritize safety
Safety has never not been important, but it’s particularly crucial in today’s day and age, as health officials have repeatedly noted why it’s vital for everyone to adhere to social distancing measures and other methods proven to reduce the spread of coronavirus. In recent polling conducted by Gallup, 73% of respondents said it was “very important”  that there be a “significant reduction” in new cases before resuming to their typical routines, with 68% saying the same about the development of a vaccine.

“Consider putting together a plan that lays out what steps you’re taking to ensure everyone’s well-being.”

Given that a vaccine may not be available until 2021 at the earliest, consider putting together a plan that lays out what steps you’re taking to ensure everyone’s well-being. For example, you may want to rearrange office desks and chairs so they’re all at least six feet away from one another. You might also consider only letting so many people be in the office or lounge at any one time, or at least until health officials provide updates on loosening social distancing measures.

2. Address the elephant in the room
Unintended consequences of the shutdown have run the gamut, as the sudden shuttering of the economy led to massive job losses and the unemployment rate ballooned to nearly 15% in April, according to the most recent statistics available from the Labor Department. Your law firm may be among those that have had to let people go. This can obviously be a sensitive subject, but you may want to consider talking about layoffs with your staff so everyone is clear on what’s occurred and what – if anything – may be to come. As noted by Chief Executive, uncertainty and a general lack of transparency can create confusion for staff and prevent them from doing their level best if they’re unsure of where they stand in terms of job security.  Try to be as straightforward as possible about job losses or furloughs so no one is in the dark about the reasoning behind staffing decisions.

3. Speak with local officials
Just as the degree to which workplaces closed and organizations considered “essential” varied from state to state, the same goes for reopening. Some parts of the country saw many more cases than others and thus are slower to lift restrictions on the facilities that can open. Reach out to leadership so you stay compliant with what rules are in place.

4. Reevaluate work-from-home policy
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, it’s very possible that the workplace may never be quite the same again. Organizations that once were loath to implement work-from-home policies may be taking a second look at them, as a number of employees were able to transition to the telecommuting work lifestyle with relative ease. Speak with those who have worked from home to see if they liked it and to what degree it had on their productivity. Where appropriate, giving personnel more free rein over how often they telecommute may be worthwhile, as this can lower the cost of overhead and make social distancing measures easier.

If remote work will be part of the new normal in a post-COVID-19 world, Afinety can help. The Afinety Cloud Platform is a cloud-based workspace that is reliable, performant, secure, and optimized for remote access, allowing your team the ability to continue being productive and effective – anytime, anywhere. Contact us to learn more about our unparalleled cloud-based solution.

Why Law Firms Are Heading to the Cloud

Cloud computing has advanced significantly over the years and has become mainstream in many legal practices. The American Bar Association released its 2019 Cloud Computing report highlighting the changing relationship between law firms and the cloud.

Cloud technology is slowly but surely becoming the norm for law firms

Some of the most interesting news from the ABA survey is more law firms are using cloud services. The number increased from 55% in 2018 to 58% in 2019. Law firm cloud is being utilized more often by small firms, at 60% of those surveyed, while 44% of larger firms with 50-99 lawyers have adopted it.

However, benefits from the cloud speak for themselves – 80 percent of cloud adopters saw significant process improvements within six months of their transition to the cloud platform, Law Technology Today contributor Jeff Chandler reported.

Pain Point:  Security

Security is especially relevant for law firms since they hold onto some very important data for their clients, and they also often work with institutions from regulated industries like finance and healthcare.  Understanding and adequately protecting your firm from outside threats is of the utmost importance.

Forbes outlines that the cloud is one of the most secure ways to store data due to its redundancy, security, and safe sharing methods. There should always be multiple copies of important documents, ideally stored in different locations. Unlike hard drives and physical paperwork, the cloud will always store duplicates in multiple places, so even if the worst-case scenario occurs, your data will still be accessible.

Ransomware and phishing attacks are on the rise as the current cyber threats facing today’s businesses.  Although phishing certainly isn’t new, it’s a tried-and-true method that many hackers stick by.  In a nutshell, the hacker masquerades as a reputable email account, such as a business partner or a financial institution. The individual then sends out a massive number of emails, either containing a piece of malware such as ransomware or using deception to trick the victim into simply giving up their login credentials.

Of course, it’s impossible to predict exactly how a hacker will attack. Therefore, law firms should consider utilizing security measures such as encryption to stave off any major cybersecurity breaches.  Many financial institutions require this for the law firms they retain due to the private data being shared.  With this security technique, information is scrambled to the point that only the person with the right decryption key can read the data.

How to Choose a Cloud Provider

Adopting a new solution can be daunting.  However, the current tried-and-true onsite networks are typically outdated, creating significant security holes, workflow bottlenecks, not to mention skyrocketing maintenance costs, lost productivity and hindering performance.

The ABA reports that an overwhelming majority of law firms (94%) consider vendor reputation to be important when selecting a cloud provider.  Implementing a cloud-based system specifically designed for law firms is naturally the best path because the firm will benefit more from improved security, performance, reliability, costs savings, as well as the most current software.

The Afinety Cloud Platform: A cloud network for law firms, designed by law firm IT experts

With a focus on law firm IT since 1986, Afinety understands the legal environment and applications in depth.  The Afinety Cloud Platform (ACP) is designed specifically for law firms’ needs.  Built on the largest cloud provider in the world, Amazon Web Services, ACP continues to evolve to ensure the most solid security available, including multifactor authentication, current firewalls technologies, Mimecast with URL Threat Protection, which provides instant protection from targeted attacks and phishing attempts across all devices, protection against good websites turning bad or delayed exploits.

Benefits of the Afinety Cloud Platform

  • Eliminates the need for purchasing and maintaining servers
  • Reduced capital investment and overhead costs
  • Elasticity and scalability
  • Unmatched security and compliance
  • Encrypted data
  • Increased performance and reliability
  • Mobility – work securely from anywhere, from any device
  • Built-in disaster recovery
  • Ongoing support
  • Simple monthly pricing structure
  • Long-time partnership/certifications with legal-specific applications
Afinety knows legal and supports hundreds of law firms with their IT needs so they can focus on their business.

At a single low monthly cost, your entire network, including your data and applications, can be moved to a fully managed cloud platform built on Amazon Web Services, including massive redundancy and security, featuring 24/7/365 monitoring to identify any unusual activity and prevent issues before they cause damage, as well as a 99.999 percent uptime, ensuring the highest level of accessibility possible.   Safe, secure, elastic, reliable, and available anywhere, your network will be ready wherever and whenever you need it.   Click here for a short video on the Afinety Cloud Platform.

States at Loggerheads Over Whether Law Firms Are ‘Essential’

For as much time and attention paid to the coronavirus pandemic by local and major news organizations, several aspects of the disease remain shrouded in mystery. The mortality rate originally ranged between 3% and 4% by health experts. But with more testing now taking place, the rate has since declined. COVID-19 typically produces symptoms that are similar to influenza, yet for many of the people who’ve tested positive, the typical manifestations of the disease are often non-existent. The contagion seems to target elderly individuals and those who have pre-existing health conditions, yet curiously, young children are largely left unaffected.

With most governors across the U.S. issuing stay-at-home advisories and mandating “non-essential” businesses to close their doors temporarily, the response aimed to contain the outbreak is leaving attorneys at law with another question: Does my firm provide services that qualify as essential?

The short answer? It depends. As noted by ABA Journal, several states have included law firms on the exemption list, meaning they can continue to remain open, although they may have to abide by certain restrictions. Among the states where firms are permitted to continue operations – Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

State of IllinoisIllinois is among a handful of states where law firms are considered essential business operations.

Patricia Brown Holmes, managing partner of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila, said it makes sense that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzer decided to include law firms, as her Chicago-based clients are in urgent need of guidance.

“What makes us essential is this virus has lots of legal issues associated with it,” Holmes told ABA Journal. “Clients need help.”

No clear direction from feds

The federal government, through the Department of Homeland Security, has also issued guidance regarding essential and non-essential businesses. Among those considered indispensable to consumer needs include pharmacies, big-box stores, supermarkets, daycare centers, hardware stores and auto-repair shops. But the list has no clearly delineated references to law firms or legal services as being essential or non-essential, leaving it up to the states – specifically governors – to decide for themselves.

Among those governors believing law firms ought to not be given clearance is Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. In her executive order that went into effect March 24, the only businesses deemed essential were those who dealt with “critical infrastructure or whose services were “necessary to sustain or protect life.” Law firms, in her view, did not meet that test.

Opinions have run the gamut, from attorneys themselves as well as the public at large, as to what does and does not qualify as an essential business. In New Hampshire, for example, hair and beauty salons are not permitted to accept new or long-standing clients during the shutdown, but they’re free to do so in Arizona, NBC News reported.

Firms erring on the side of caution

But even in states where law firms have been given the green light to continue with business as usual, many are taking precautions to stay safe and avoid exposure. Holmes told ABA Journal that most of her firm’s attorneys in their Chicago offices are working from their homes and communicating via the internet and telephone. The same goes for Linda Doyle, partner and general counsel for McDermott Will & Emery. The only exception, in Doyle’s case, are those attorneys who drop by the office to pick up important documents, memos, or correspondences.

As previously referenced, the federal government has generally left it up to the states to decide what businesses’ products or services are too important not to have readily available. But in the event that the White House issues a nationwide stay-at-home order, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez believes legal services should be exempted in all 50 states. She indicated as much in a missive written to Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs.

“People need access to essential legal services during an emergency,” Martinez wrote. “Lawyers help ensure that our nation’s foundation of laws remains strong, especially as fast-changing orders, directives, and laws are issued … [L]awyers can help Americans as they address unexpected challenges and solve problems surfacing in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus.”

What is the end game?

These are unsettling times for everyone, regardless of their industry. Perhaps the biggest question mark of all is when life will return to normal. Health officials are encouraged by the fact that social distancing seems to be working, but at the end of the day, business owners – and the public at large – are longing for some level of certainty.

Afinety offers the cloud network solutions that you can rely on in tumultuous times like these. Our cloud network delivers fast, dependable, secure and reliable connectivity so partners, associates, and paralegals can get just as much work done from their home bedroom as they would from the law firm boardroom. In short, if your office doors are closed, your work can go on with the Afinety Cloud Platform. Contact us today to learn more.

Law firms stretched thin as coronavirus cases climb

The response to the highly contagious COVID-19 strain – which to date has infected approximately 1.8 million people worldwide and killed approximately 116,000, according to the most recent estimates from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine – has left numerous industries scrambling. While some businesses are at a virtual standstill – such as dine-in restaurants, hotels, physical fitness clubs, and elective surgeons – others are as frenetic as ever. Chief among them is health care, as patient admissions have skyrocketed, particularly in certain hot spots of the country. The same is true for the retail segment, as millions of people have descended upon supermarkets and grocery stores, snatching up basic essentials like toiletries and canned goods.

Law firms, many of which were plenty busy already, are among those industries that are now stretched thin.

Lawyers in a variety of disciplines are experiencing significant growth in requests for their services.”

According to ABA Journal, lawyers that specialize in a variety of disciplines – such as corporate, small claims, workers’ compensation, and more – are experiencing significant growth in requests for their services. It’s gotten to the point where they’re working even longer hours than they normally do. Since many law firms have temporarily suspended operations from their offices, many are working from home.

Because so many of recent inquiries have pertained to coronavirus, some law firms have established “task forces,” taking on clients whose needs or inquiries relate to the direct or indirect consequences of the deadly pathogen, which so far has killed over 21,000 people in the U.S. alone, based on the latest data from John Hopkins University & Medicine.

Amy Traub, chairperson for international law firm BakerHostetler’s National Labor and Employment Group, told ABA Journal that her firm’s task force is composed of attorneys who specialize in different aspects of the law. This is designed to provide clients with options, given the virus has adversely impacted people’s lives in many different ways, aside from exclusively employment or physical health.

“There was really an immediate need by our clients for information on how to address in real-time these very unusual circumstances,” Traub explained.

Can lawmakers order businesses to close?

In an effort to contain the spread of the disease, health officials have urged individuals to practice “social distancing,” by staying at least six feet away from other people at home, in stores, or even in outdoor settings. Because social distancing is virtually impossible in certain circumstances, many businesses have been forced to close, ordered to do so by local officials. But there’s an ongoing debate about whether lawmakers have that authority; some are calling on attorneys for legal advice to set the record straight.

Marc Scaringi, an attorney based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, recently wrote an opinion column for The Patriot News that states may be overstepping their powers.

“In truth, the governor has no authority to order the closure of all Pennsylvania businesses, whether essential or nonessential,” Scarangi wrote, referring to Gov. Tom Wolf, who called on certain businesses across the state to shut down. “Not only does the [Emergency Management Services] code not apply to disease, the power to close businesses is not even in that law.”

While businesses, as well as attorneys, question the government’s power, clients are also approaching law firms with inquiries about what they as employers can and can’t do. For instance, some wonder if they can order workers infected with the disease to stay at home to avoid spreading to co-workers. Traub said it’s a case-by-case basis, but generally speaking, employers should familiarize themselves with the Family and Medical Leave Act, which in part provides details on sick time and paid time off.

“An employer cannot just sit by idly and watch the world address the coronavirus issues without itself addressing them internally in their workplace,” Traub told ABA Journal.

If you’re seeing growth in businesses and need to work longer hours, Afinety can help make it less stressful, more convenient, and productive. We can provide the cloud solutions necessary for simple access to important documents and data from your laptop or mobile device. Contact us to learn more.

Managing A Law Firm Remotely

Remotely Operate A Law Practice Successfully

The onset of the COVID-19 virus brought with it a period of confusion and difficulty in the business world. Precautionary measures imposed by governments now require professionals in many industries to work from home. While those practicing law are more readily equipped to handle a shift to full-time remote work than professionals in other fields, especially when they employ the use of cloud computing to store, distribute and share their files, the process can still be difficult.

If you are in a managerial position at a law firm and struggling with the transition to remote work, this guide could be helpful. This article will cover strategies and tools that can aide in successfully overseeing a firm under these unique circumstances.

Remotely Operate A Law Practice Successfully blog image_Afinety, Inc.Leadership is a crucial role in times of transition.

Set clear goals and objectives

Structure is important during times of uncertainty. Establishing realistic expectations with clients and setting remote work procedures with staff is key to ensuring the remote model works successfully for your firm. Identify, write and distribute best practices material to make sure everyone is on the same page and stays on track.

Equip your staff for remote work

Cloud technology can be one of the most crucial tools when it comes to functioning on primarily remote work as a law firm. Your attorneys and other staff need constant access to case files and documents, from wherever they happen to be located. Encrypted data helps ensure the safety and the accessibility of your clients’ information. The Afinety Cloud Platform was developed to cater to the need of lawyers and law firms. With capabilities and support for apps like iManage, ProLaw, TABS3, Worldox, TimeMatters and more, Afinety offers lawyers complete liberation from the physical office and eliminates the need for onsite servers and maintenance – even after the quarantine and social distancing period caused by COVID-19 has passed.

It’s your responsibility as management to make sure everyone on your staff, including attorneys, paralegals and office management staff has access to a computer and an internet and cellular connection from their home.

Keep track of productivity

Create a regular schedule of meetings with members of your team to keep track of their daily tasks. National Law Review suggests you discuss the prioritization of certain tasks, cases and projects above others to ensure your most pressing work is completed in a timely manner.

Maintain client relations

Due to quarantine and social distancing mandates following the spread of the coronavirus, your firm will be unable to hold in-person meetings with clients, according to The National Law Review. Rather than canceling them, transition those meetings to phone and video conferences. Email, text, and instant messaging can be used to remind staff and clients alike of upcoming trial dates, mediations and document signings.

For more guidance on increasing the productivity of your law firm or practice during this confusing time, you can depend on Afinety. Not only is our cloud platform specifically designed to support lawyers, but we also offer resources to help them succeed. Contact us today to learn more.