Legal professionals have a weighty list of must-haves, both to succeed in representing cases, and to meet the complex, and non-negotiable structural, filing and regulatory requirements of the industry.
What would it take to create a vertical-specific cloud solution that would meet the needs of such a demanding industry? Luckily, a road map for partnership and recycling delivered an answer.
Challenge: The Cloudless Courtroom
It would stand to reason that law firms would have a comprehensive and suitably robust cloud solution to meet their unique needs. As a cloud-centric technologist working in this industry for more 13 years, I’ve seen the same challenges keep arising: Existing software solutions were largely desktop hosted, making true collaboration and connection across the network of co-counsel, experts, and others extremely difficult. On top of that, many courtrooms had notoriously balky internet service, making access to collaborative software difficult at precisely the moment content and interaction was needed.
It was time for the legal industry to fully climb onto the cloud and leverage the technology’s ability to provide seamless, synched document sharing, real-time collaboration, and on- and off-line access. But, was it necessary to create an entirely new solution? As it turns out, no, it is not.
It turns out Microsoft (News - Alert) had seen the same challenge, and created a team-specific solution to serve the needs of its internal legal department. Seeing the value of such a solution for the industry at large, Microsoft removed critical, proprietary code, and released Matter Center into an open marketplace as an early step into providing an industry-wide, comprehensive cloud resource.
This is where CloudTitan stepped in. We customized code for the Matter Center platform, creating a highly usable multi-tenant solution. The thinking and strategy behind this, we hope, will be a helpful road map for the industry. So, here’s our recycling template roadmap for other cloud-based partners and technologists. We’ll walk through the steps we used to retool a specific cloud platform into an industry-wide solution.
The Key Steps
Create positive partnership
By working with Microsoft to get buy-in on modifying and expanding the market opportunity for its existing cloud solution, we were able to create a positive partnership and serve an expanding market.
One-size-fits-all cloud solutions are generally not the answer for many verticals. Our first mission was to identify the precise pain points of the industry and use that research to drive the very specific features that would fill in the missing pieces for the legal industry.
Create the must-have deployment list
After finalizing our research and first-hand experience, we identified a must-have requirements list for the legal industry performance. This is good idea for anyone looking to customize their own cloud solution for any vertical.
Understand who will be using the technology
Lawyers frequently team up with co-counsel from other firms, experts, witnesses, and others outside of their own offices. We coded the industry’s first multi-tenant legal industry collaboration feature into the Matter Center platform to address that.
Support current technology usage
Attorneys primarily rely on Microsoft Outlook and Word, with operational focus on such mainstays as QuickBooks, Excel, and more. We focused on delivering a platform that integrated with Office 365, so attorneys and legal industry professionals could seamlessly work offline or online within the cloud.
Understand service and support needs
There are few industries as time- and deadline-focused as the legal industry. For this group, a remote support service or delays in problem solving simply wouldn’t work. So the finished Matter Center technology platform uses a channel-only approach utilizing a local reseller distribution model. This way, any purchasing legal firm has local and swift access to troubleshooting support from a local support team rather than working with a distant call center.
Factor in non-technology requirements
Attorneys can work with a global cast of co-counsel and other resources. Matter Center needed to perform across time zones and across the globe. To date, the platform has been adopted across the Australia, Canada, Europe, the U.K., and the U.S.
Who gets data control
Let’s put this succinctly: Attorneys always, always, need to control data and content. The Matter Center technology was designed to ensure this need is met, and the content is always under the eye of the attorney.
The Matter Center cloud solution now has a broader mission, with reworked coding and an expanded opportunity to serve a multi-tenant base across the legal industry. Microsoft is happy to see its internal-specific solution re-engineered to serve a broader market need, and our team has the satisfaction of seeing immediate global market response.
Billy Forte is CEO and founder of cloud automation technologies solution provider and Microsoft partner CloudTitan.
Edited by Alicia Young