Inside Afinety: Meet Frank Mariello, Senior Director of Legal Services



Q: What is your role at Afinety?

Frank: As senior director of legal services, my role is to manage Afinety’s engineering, support, and implementation teams.

Q: What’s unique about the legal tech industry that someone in mainstream tech may not experience?

Frank: I have spent most of my career in the legal technology industry – nearly 25 years. Legal is unique because of how highly integrated a law firm’s digital desktop has become. Though separate tools within the legal desktop are relatively simple, the challenge is bringing them all together into a fully integrated platform where all the applications are working together appropriately.

Whether the applications are document or practice management, time, and billing, and more, integrating the products into a cohesive and operational solution is relatively complex. However, that is what makes it rewarding for people like me who enjoy the challenge. At Afinety, I get to do what I love doing – delivering hosted legal desktops that work. Since the Afinety solution is a complete hosted desktop platform, I can work with the entire technology stack.

Q: How did the pandemic impact Afinety and its law firm clients?

Frank: The pandemic put everyone’s disaster recovery plan to the test. No one could have anticipated a global pandemic. Because Afinety was so focused on remotely hosted desktops already, our clients had a fairly easy transition into remote work during the pandemic. Our clients were equipped to work from home, and they experienced the exact same look and feel of desktops from home, office, anywhere. The pandemic was an affirmation of our solution’s value because many other law firms had to seek out what Afinety inherently had in our remote hosted desktop platform.

Q: How has Afinety’s technical approach changed now that cloud-based solutions are so popular among law firms?

Frank: Afinety has been around for 30 years and about 6-7 years ago, they transitioned to providing cloud hosted desktops when cloud really started to find its roots in legal. I have been working with companies providing cloud-based desktops since 1999, believe it or not. Initially, small, and mid-sized law firms were reluctant to take their servers out of the closet down the hall and put them in a private data center. The public cloud wasn’t an option at that time. The cloud conversation became far easier 5-6 years ago and these days, we spend far less time convincing firms to go to the cloud and more time focusing on the firm’s business needs. 

Another relatively recent driver of the cloud has been Microsoft’s success with Office 365. Once firms accepted Office 365, that paved the way for other cloud products and the rest fell in line.

Q: What security trends are you seeing impact law firms?

Frank: Over the past several years, the number of security incidents and the level of complexity of attacks has risen exponentially. Bad actors have become far more sophisticated. One of the biggest trends we see is the adoption of next-generation antivirus/antimalware products or EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) EDR solutions take advantage of technologies like Machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide significantly more protection than previously available.

Due to increased security threats, Afinety has pivoted toward creating a more controlled, regimented “least privilege” environment. We give end-users the tools they need but limit the amount of control they have over their environment. By doing this, we effectively limit the attack surface of the solution. We also enforce the use of security tools like multifactor authentication; multifactor authentication has become a requirement. Any potential inconvenience it may add for end users is far outweighed by the security benefits it adds.

Q: What has been your experience working at Afinety, having spent most of your career in legal technology?

Frank: Afinety prioritizes client service and a “high touch” approach. We are very focused on taking good care of our clients – it’s what differentiates us from our many competitors in this space. We really want to make sure our clients are receiving a world-class support experience. Bigger companies can sometimes lose sight of customer service, but at Afinety, it’s our top priority.

Q: When you aren’t working, what might we find you doing?

Frank: Spending time with my wife and our two sons. Cooking on the grill or doing projects around the house.

Q: What is a fun fact that people might not know about you?

Frank: I have two. I played ice hockey throughout my life including for a time in college and am a big boxing fan.

Q: Finally, what advice do you have for prospective Afinety candidates?

Frank: Be prepared to have a relentless focus on client service and to set high expectations for yourself.