In the press: How will digitising courtrooms impact firms?

IMG_1128This plan to move the justice system from a paper-based system to an online one has actually been in the pipeline for several years but has only now received the investment it needs to roll out the process. In the Autumn Statement, a huge investment of £1.8bn was pledged to introduce new technology across a range of functions, including an allocation of £700m to digitise the justice system in the UK.

A number of factors will need to be addressed for the courtrooms to prepare for large-scale digitisation, however. The foundations for a digitised court system will require full system integration, a continuous (private or public) level of network access and a means of displaying evidence to the court digitally. This is just the base level of digitisation requiring investment. The government will also need to invest in robust IT platforms to ensure resilience, availability and performance. The sheer size of the deployment means that top-tier architecture and expertise are required.

Digitisation will simplify the document management process and reduce many time-consuming often duplicative tasks. Some tasks will even be completely eliminated. Automated processes will also reduce the exposure to human error, helping to protect document security. As a result, the time and resources dedicated to basic administrative tasks may also decrease.

Of course, many are also wondering whether law firms themselves are ready for such a major change. Without a doubt, firms that have yet to embrace digital are likely to encounter a number of knock-on effects.

Digitisation could quite easily become a security risk if some lawyers are not fully competent with digital technology. Data could be accidentally shared with the wrong people due to confusion about the correct processes to follow. In order for law firms to adapt to digitisation, it is therefore of the highest importance that all employees are thoroughly trained from the outset. This is easier said than done, so automatic controls and protection will need to be built in. Particularly in areas such as authorisation and encryption of data and communications.

Data protection will also continue to be a key concern for law firms; even after digitisation, law firms will still be responsible for the security of their own files and data. Questions are already being raised about what will happen after files are sent outside of a firm digitally. For example, to the courtroom or any third parties also working on a case?

It is crucial that the security of any data will be guaranteed by the government and the justice system, once it has been released for third party viewing. As it stands, law firms cannot be certain as to how this will happen. After a case is finished, the courts will, therefore, need to guarantee that any data provided will be securely destroyed once it is no longer needed.

Security must also be considered in terms of appropriate access rights for all individuals involved in a case. It is vital for the right people to have the correct level of access to any documents and files. Utilising solutions such as 2-factor authentication will be an essential process for law firms, ensuring that data can only be accessed by individuals with a suitable permission level. In this new digital landscape, the days of passwords are numbered.

As long as these security measures are implemented correctly, digitisation could arguably offer greater security protection to law firms. Due to the highly sensitive nature of client data, digitised courtrooms will still need to maintain robust security processes. Even if firms are no longer transporting physical files between locations.

As it stands, it is still unclear which specific processes the Government will use to digitise the court system. Which means that law firms may find it difficult to prepare for these changes. However, the move to digital will ultimately be a positive development for the legal sector. It will offer a greater level of control and a more systemised process, and make the UK justice system more economically efficient. Law firms that have yet to embrace digital technology must, therefore, take steps to seek expert guidance now in order to keep up with their competitors, remain secure and thrive under the new system.

Comment by Andrea Beech, Business Solutions Manager at QuoStar

Originally published in Global Banking and Finance Review

In the press: Solicitors told to up security after couple loses £45,000

solicitors must up security after a couple loses £45,000

Law firms have been urged to increase security measures in the wake of online scams where hackers pose as solicitors.

In a recent case published in the Daily Mail Online, a newlywed couple lost their £45,000 deposit for a three-bedroom home in Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire after sending the money to a hacker rather than their solicitor.

In this case, the hacker monitored emails between the buyer and solicitor. Then sent a fraudulent email from the solicitor’s address asking the deposit to be paid into an alternative account. It was only when the solicitor said the money had not arrived that the scam was revealed.

According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, around four companies a month are being targeted by fraudsters.

In response, Robert Rutherford, CEO of IT consultancy QuoStar, recommends that solicitors use encryption technologies and secure online portals to prevent consumers from losing their hard-earned savings.

Read the rest of the article online on Mortgage Introducer

In the press: Digitising the courtroom and the impact on law firms

Andrea Beech asks how digitising the courtroom could affect law firms.

the impact of digitising the court rooms

In the Autumn Statement last month, an increased focus on digital and technology was a common thread across all departments, from a £450m investment for the Government Digital Service to a £1bn investment in a 4G communications network for the emergency services.

As part of this huge planned £1.8bn investment in digital, over £700 million has been allocated to fully digitise the justice system in the UK. This removes the need for the current paper-based system and will ultimately generate taxpayer savings of approximately £200m a year from 2020. This will be due to the reduction in basic costs.

It is said digitising the justice system will remove the requirement for over 500,000 pre-trial hearings in the criminal courts. It will also significantly reduce court hearing times and the amount of time spent on basic administrative functions. All of these results would have a positive effect on law firms operating in the UK.

The positives of digitising the courtroom

One of the most obvious benefits here is the reduction in costs. This would be for both the taxpayer and the law firms themselves.

Read the article in full on Computers & Law

In the press: Digitising courtrooms & law firms

digital courtrooms and law firms

Digital was a key focus of the Autumn Statement this year, with a total of £1.8 billion in planned investments listed by the Chancellor at the end of November. Part of this embrace of digital included an allocation of £700 million to fully digitise the courtrooms, moving from the current paper-based system to an online one, which looks to revolutionise the processes within the justice system once rolled out.

According to the Statement, not only will over 500,000 pre-trial hearings in the criminal courts no longer be necessary, but this digitisation will also significantly reduce the amount of time spent conducting court hearings, ultimately generating taxpayer savings of approximately £200 million per year from 2020.

A digitised justice system has been in the pipeline for several years but is only being implemented now. For law firms who have yet to embrace digital, there could be knock-on effects that will need to be addressed. However, there are certainly many positives to this tech-focused change as well.

What if law firms have yet to go digital?

At the moment, there is definitely a question of whether law firms are ready for this digital change. Unless all lawyers within a firm are fully competent with digital technology, digitisation will almost certainly become a security risk. Private data could be, for example, sent to the wrong person due to confusion about the correct processes to follow. It is, therefore, critical that all individuals are thoroughly trained on the new system from the outset.

Are the courts themselves ready?

The courts will also need to prepare for this large-scale digitisation. Full system integration, continuous network (private or public) access throughout the courtrooms and a means of displaying evidence digitally will lay the foundations for a digitised court system. The level of data required within the courtrooms for each active case also means that the government will need to invest in robust IT platforms to ensure resilience, availability and performance on scale. This is simple enough in many ways, but the size of the deployment will require top-tier architecture and expertise.

Is security an issue?

Law firms will continue to be responsible for their data security in the new digitised system. What remains to be seen, however, is what happens after files are sent outside of a particular law firm. Whether this to the courtroom or to any third parties also working on a particular case.

It is vital that the government and the justice system as a whole can guarantee that the security of any data will be maintained outside the confines of each individual law firm. However, as it stands, law firms cannot yet be certain as to how data will remain secure once released for third-party viewing. At the end of a case, the courts will need to guarantee that the data provided is secure. Also that they will securely destroy the data once no longer required for evidence.

Once risks like these have been addressed, digitisation could arguably offer greater protection from a security standpoint. Due to the highly confidential nature of client information, digital courtrooms would need to have strong security systems. Even if firms are no longer transporting physical files between locations.

It is therefore crucial that the appropriate access rights are determined for all individuals involved with these documents. Solutions such as 2-factor authentication will be essential to ensure that data is only accessed by the right people. The days of passwords are over.

Law firms are increasingly becoming a target for cyber-attacks due to the high levels of sensitive data and access to monetary funds on-site. This is a real concern if the legal sector is being asked to become more digitally savvy, as this makes them an even greater target.

Looking ahead

At the moment, it’s still unclear which processes will be introduced to digitise the courts. This makes it difficult for law firms to prepare for these upcoming changes. However, the move to digital in the legal sector will ultimately be a positive one. It will offer more control, a systemised process and better security, in addition to increasing the economic efficiency of the justice system. Law firms must, therefore, take steps to embrace technology. It’s important to seek expert guidance now, so you can compete and thrive during this digital roll-out in the future.

Originally published on Legal Compliance Today

QuoStar launches new cloud platform for law firms

QuoStar launches Legal Ignite cloud platform

We’re excited to announce the launch of Legal Ignite – our new cloud platform, designed specifically for small to mid-sized law firms. Backed by our ten years’ of experience in cloud and our in-depth knowledge of the legal industry, Legal Ignite is designed to help law firms benefit from the security, scalability and convenience that cloud computing can provide.

Combining a robust mix of best-of-breed hardware and legal software, Legal Ignite has been built specifically with the legal sector in mind and can be adjusted to fit each firm’s exact requirements. It can even be delivered onsite for those firms which are wary of moving to the cloud.

Firms can use their existing software or opt for our chosen partners, for everything from time recording and practice management systems, through to CRM, email security, document management and case workflow. Other hardware and other IT related services can be delivered on a simple operating expense model.

The new cloud platform has been built to boost efficiency by being simple to use. It’s completely customisable and scalable, without compromising on security. Legal Ignite is hosted in the UK’s most secure data centres, which are operated to military standards. They also have ISO 27001 and other security accreditations and come with 100% uptime guarantee.

Legal Ignite also offers a built-in IT manager-on-demand and CIO-on-demand services to provide law firms with board level expertise to help them make business-focused decisions that support continual business improvements. Helping your law firm make the best business decisions as new issues, priorities and challenges arise in this rapidly changing sector.

“With competition in the legal sector more fierce than ever before, firms need to employ IT systems that help them work faster, smarter and more efficiently. Cloud computing can offer all of these benefits and more – but it’s vital that firms choose a mature, custom-built cloud solution that has been developed with the specific needs of the legal sector in mind,” comments QuoStar CEO, Robert Rutherford.

“Legal Ignite ticks all of these boxes by offering an easy-to-use solution that helps firms to compete more effectively, without compromising on security. We run a 24x7x365 operation, manned by seasoned and qualified engineers, to ensure constant uptime and availability. This way, firms not only benefit from having a modern flexible IT system that can help boost productivity, but also a strong support network of industry-focused experts.”

Discover the benefits Legal Ignite for your law firm. Book your free, no-obligation demonstration today!

In the press: Should law firms be worried about scam emails?

should law firms worry about scam emails

The rise in targeted email attacks to businesses worldwide continues to dominate the news headlines. Attacks like these are dangerous by their very nature. Not only are they increasing in frequency, but they are also becoming smarter by the day.

At the moment, we’re seeing a rise in activity related to of the Business Email Compromise (BEC) scam. This is where a cybercriminal tricks an employee into believing that they need to make a bank transfer to a known external entity but ends up sending these funds to a criminal instead.

Targeted spoofing is one of the biggest risks that firms currently face. This is not the age-old problem of SPAM emails, but something much more threatening. SPAM email involves a single email, branded as a well-known company such as a bank, sent to millions of addresses.

This ‘hit and hope’ exercise depends on a number of factors in order to be successful. The recipient must actually be a customer with that bank; the SPAM or anti-virus systems must fail to identify the email as a risk, and the recipient doesn’t recognise it as a dangerous email. As a result, the sender may not even get one bite from sending out hundreds of thousands of these emails.

Targeted email attacks are much more sophisticated – and now involve much more than just email; they merge emails, calls and sometimes physical visits to a target firm’s office– this is truly hacking for the masses. A number of hacking tools are now available for anyone to download, along with all the information they need to manipulate employees into performing actions or divulging confidential information – a key hacking term known as ‘social engineering’.

The truth is that the security systems that are needed to protect the majority of firms from the majority of hacks are probably already in place.

What does this mean for the legal sector?

Read the article in full in Lawyer Issue

5 extra benefits of document solutions for law firms

5 benefits of managed document solutions

For the majority of law firms, documents are a critical part of day-to-day business. Hundreds of pages are scanned, copied, faxed and printed every single day. However, this doesn’t mean that document management has to be time-consuming, frustrating and expensive.

In our original blog post, we shared five benefits of managed document solutions with you, but the positives don’t stop there. With the right provider, print and document solutions can have a positive impact on all members of your firm – from Managing Partners through to administrative support staff and your IT team.

Extra benefits of managed document solutions

1. Complete Vision

With detailed reporting, you view statistics such as; who prints most often; the average size of print jobs; the number of grayscale and colour pages, and the type of print jobs. Reports can break down statistics by individual, department or office. Use this data to set effective workflow rules, such as restricting access based on cost, colour mode or size, or to set optimised print budgets to each department. Determine which devices are over or underutilised, whether cost-saving features are being used and which department should be paying the bills.

2. Make employees more efficient

Printing, scanning and copying can sometimes be a frustrating and time-consuming task – but it really doesn’t have to be. Managed document solutions simplify document handling procedures, so employees can complete once lengthy procedures in a few clicks. Devices can also be configured so employees can print from anywhere, from any device, so they can make the best use of their time.

3. Maximise billable hours

When your time is billable you can’t afford to waste a minute. Improved workflows, increased search capabilities and straightforward device interfaces help you make the most of your time. Ensuring it’s not wasted carrying out lengthy tasks. Managed print also makes cost recovery and billing easier. Solutions allow staff to easily assign costs for each job to a cost centre or matter code.

4. Consolidate hardware

An in-depth, personalised analysis of your current systems, by an experienced print and process analyst, will allow you to establish a practical ratio of device per number of employees, for typical floor action. You can reduce the total amount of hardware by finding more efficient options to meet the needs of groups of employees. For example, multifunction devices (MFD) allow printing, copying, scanning and faxing within one machine, combined with a standardised set-up.

Smart load-balancing will ensure that your devices have as long as life as possible. While traditional printer pooling simply sends the document to the first machine available and prints automatically, an intelligent solution will send the document to the server. The user can then release the document at any printer with their login details. If the user realises they actually need to print in colour, they simply need to sign out and sign back in to the correct device. The document will still be waiting in the queue ready to print.

5. Reduce waste

Think you’re being prepared by bulk-ordering toner, paper and ink? Think again. You will end up with stacks of resources gathering dusted and taking up space in the cupboard. Your toner has a use-by-date so your stock could go out of date before you even need it. Some managed solutions have an “auto-order capability” which will place an order for you when stocks start to run low. Others will also have a “phone home” capabilities which can notify an engineer when a device in need of maintenance.

9 ways law firms can reduce printing costs with MDS

9 ways to reduce printing costs with MDS

Do you know how much your firm spends on printing? It’s okay, most firms don’t. Even they think they do it’s pretty much guaranteed that their actual spend is a lot higher. After all, there’s a lot of hidden costs when it comes to print, which many people don’t consider.

Luckily it’s easy to transform this environment and straightforward to get started. MDS – or Managed Document Solutions – can help to not only reduce your print budget but help you to better understand and allocate it. Along the way you’ll also be improving processes for employees, increasing efficiency and helping your firm to become more productive.

1. Reduce the number of devices

Personal printers may seem like the cheaper option but they’re probably costing you a fortune in ink. Even worse, you have no way to track who’s spending what. Reduce the number of devices by migrating users over to larger multi-function devices (MFDs), which allows printing, scanning, copying and faxing within one machine and are also durable enough to meet the needs of several users. Less equipment means fewer costs and fewer problems.

2. Create a digital environment

How many boxes of documents do you keep in your offices? What about in your offsite storage? For some firms, it’s going to be in the thousands per year. Offsite storage is an overhead which is ever increasing, plus then you have to add on the transportation costs of sending employees back and forth to collect necessary documents and the time they lose doing that. Rules-based scanning and routeing make it easy to transform your paper documents into digital ones – increasing security and search capabilities while reducing ongoing storage costs. Clients, other law firms and even courts are now accepting digital files in place of hard copies – for some a digital copy is now expected as the norm.

3. Think before you print

How many times do you print a document just to proofread it and shred it? How many times do you print an article just to read it and bin it? How often do you print a file in colour, only to realise you need it in black and white? These seem like insignificant costs individually, but if everyone follows these practices then the costs soon mount up. Detailed reports and analysis will allow you to see exactly who’s been printing what. You can break these reports down by office, department or individual to see who should be footing the bill. Some solutions can also be configured to display popup notifications when employees try to print certain documents to remind them: “do you really need to print this document?”

4. Stop printing twice

It’s a common occurrence, you finalise a document, press print and then spot a spelling mistake on the first page. They’re no way you can hand this off to a client now, but never mind because you can just print it again. Usually, when you hit print, the document is sent and printed automatically at the device linked to your computer. With a “follow-me” solution documents are held in a virtual printer queue, and are only released when a user signs in to the device and hits print. If you realise you’ve made a mistake, simply sign and delete the document. You can also configure your device to automatically delete documents in the queue after a set time period.

5. Track the paper trail

Somewhere in your office is an employee who feels the need to print everything. You don’t know why and, more importantly, you don’t know who they are (so you can’t track them down and stop them). How much is this wasteful printing practice costing your firm? When people are aware of how much their printing costs, then the amount they print usually declines. Start tracking and analysing how much each individual is spending on printing, and share these reports with individuals.

6. Prevent colour printing

Colour is sometimes necessary but it doesn’t need to be a part of everything you print. You can’t rely on users to check that grayscale box every time they print, but you can rely on colour printing rules. Deny colour printing from certain applications, like email, automatically route jobs to a lower-cost colour printing or prevent certain employees from printing in colour altogether.

7. Convenient Printing

MFD’s can be just as convenient for users as personal printers. Centralised software means that users can print from any devices on the network, as their files and documents are stored on a server and are only released once they sign in at a device. Yet the device isn’t the only thing standing in the way of convenient printing, workflows are. Custom designed workflows will allow employees to complete their most laborious or recurrent processes in a matter of clicks, improving their day-to-day activities and reducing printer-related frustration.

8. Reduce calls to the help desk

The centralised software allows for easy maintenance, by letting administrators easily see what happening on every device on the network, with the need for site visits. You can remotely schedule your devices to undergo maintenance, all at the same time, and ensure that each one is running the latest software version, helping decrease costly downtime. The virtual printer queue also ensures that at least if one device is down and unusable, then employees can simply sign in at another and print from there.

9. Recover printing costs

Do you charge your clients for printing costs? So many of the old Managed Print outfits sell ‘cost recovery’ solutions and also claim firms can profit from print. Honestly, there are not many clients who will swallow this and it will generally reflect negatively on your firm. You can, however, use the technologies for understanding where you are printing, i.e. against particular matters and clients. This is useful and can potentially aid you to address costing and identify workflow and process changes to protect your margins. You should be looking to reduce print, not profit from it.

5 ways law firms can benefit from document solutions

5 benefits of managed document solutions

When law firms think about how they can optimise their IT environment, it’s doubtful they consider the impact printing has on their business. After all, it’s a basic, everyday task and it can be difficult to see how changing it will benefit the firm in any way?

Yet in a document-intensive business like law print is a likely area where you’re burning through your crucial resources of time, money and manpower. So how can using document solutions help prevent this, and what benefits does it bring?

5 ways document solutions can benefit your law firm

1. Lower IT spend

How often do you print something just to proof-read it and throw it away? What about printing a document in colour, only to realise you really needed it in black and white and having to print again? These may seem like small costs individually, but if everyone in the firm is doing this on a daily basis then it soon mounts up. Even if you think you know your costs, your actual spend is likely to be more. MPS providers will be able to identify several areas your firm will be able to optimise the budget, from eliminating unnecessary hardware to ongoing monitoring of the print environment and making more efficient use of resources. Centralised, web-based administration software provides you with a comprehensive view of your entire print fleet and surrounding processes, removing the need for time-consuming site visits to configure each device. You can remotely schedule maintenance and update software versions for all devices whenever you need to.

2. Greater document and data security

Documents left lying about on the printer represent huge potential for a data leak. Just imagine if they contained highly sensitive client data and were picked up by the wrong person? Solutions like “Follow-Me” printing will prevent this. Instead of documents printing automatically, users will have to sign in to the device to release their documents. Users won’t be able to access the print queue of anyone else. Also as only one individual can log into one machine at a time, it prevents print jobs from overlapping and documents mix-ups. These solutions are simple to implement and can utilise existing methods of building security. If employees already use a fob for building access, this can be configured as their printer access key. Additionally, the centralised software allows approved system administrators to view previously printed material in the printer log to check who’s been printing what.

3. Improved workflows

There are a vast amount of solutions which can make printing, scanning, copying and fax quicker and easier. The right provider will learn end-user trends to help you develop workflows and rules that really meet their needs. This will help them to complete day-to-day tasks in a more simple way. With rule-based systems you can automatically send documents to be stored in the right place, providing quick and user-friendly access. Printing rules can be configured based on document size, type or volume. Larger jobs, like court bundles, can automatically be sent to the most cost-effective machine. Automate time-consuming recurrent processes to free up your employees’ time and prevent annoying mistakes.

4. A manageable environment

A new firm-wide, software solution roll-out doesn’t have to cause frustration and ongoing problems for your employees. If handled correctly, the impact of installation on day-to-day management should be insignificant. Having a consistent, user-friendly interface across all devices not only reduces training time but means it will be unlikely that you will need to retrain employees if you bring in a new device or upgrade a current model. It also increases the end-user adoption rate as they don’t have to set aside time to understand a new system, improving the overall cohesion of the office.

5. Reduced storage costs

The majority of law firms will not only have documents in-house but will also have offsite storage as well. Imagine how much employees waste searching through boxes of files for that one important memo? Then add on the cost of transporting that employee back and forth between your offsite storage facility and the office. It’s not going to be a one-off occurrence, and time and money soon add up. Rules-based routeing and scanning allow you to easily convert your paper documents into digital files. This increases search capabilities, saves time, improves security and greatly reduces ongoing storage costs. With an intelligent managed solution you can scan bundles direct to court, reducing costly paper files transportation.

At the end of the day, these are just a fraction of the benefits documents solutions can deliver. An optimised solution, from the right provider, will bring true operational enhancement and positively impact your bottom line.