Microsoft Teams is quickly becoming the go-to-meeting application for law firms. It’s a popular platform that combines workplace chat, meetings, notes, and attachments, and integrates with the Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite that includes all the applications you use every day.
Whether you run a small legal practice or a large law firm, your partners and staff must meet to discuss cases and projects. And because you’re all not always all in the same location, you need an efficient way to do this. Attorneys, paralegals, and their employees have found that Microsoft Teams provides an easy way to collaborate on projects and simplify teamwork.
Share files, edit documents, exchange calendars and more in a team-based text chat where everyone gets together from wherever they are. Think of it as a hub where team members share ideas, content, and to-dos. The chats and conversations are easy to follow and you’ll be alerted when new chats appear.
Teams originally used Skype for Business voice or video chats to allow you to communicate verbally and visually with your teammates. Now, Microsoft is doing away with Skype for Business and moving everything over to Teams so you won’t have to leave the program for face-to-face meetings.
Teams is linked to other Microsoft Office services such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI, and Delve, as well as its cloud storage and sharing services such as SharePoint.
These are just some of the ways Teams can save you and your workmates time and trouble:
Of course, you should never share confidential client information over Teams. Although it’s safe to use for most purposes, you don’t want to take any chances. For confidential discussions about client cases or projects, it’s best to use a private phone line or meet face-to-face.
Although Teams is very versatile, it can’t do everything. You won’t want to use Teams to house important data. You should use the enterprise cloud-based backup that your IT provider set up for you for this purpose.
Although Microsoft Teams has the ability to upload or exchange files, there’s no way to export this data. So, if you think you’ll need to refer to data that you’ve input into Teams, make sure you have it stored in another program as well.
You can enable Microsoft Teams right from Office 365. Simply open Microsoft Office 365 and go to Microsoft Teams. Go to “Create Team” in the bottom left corner of the screen, name your team, and enter your members’ names and email addresses. You can also easily add or remove team members as needed. To save time, use your Microsoft Outlook groups rather than entering individual names.
Next, select “Done” and select “Add channel” give your channel a name and click “Add.” (You’ll see that you have a channel called “General.” This can be used for other purposes. Use the Settings tab to edit member permissions, customize your team picture and digital workspace with stickers, custom memes, emojis, and GIFs, and turn features on and off.
Finally, create a FirmName Team for general firm announcements. Don’t needlessly build Teams by department or role. If you’re not sure whether you’ll need a Team for a particular group or purpose, you can always add one later on.
It’s best to create Teams according to your processes, projects, workflows, and practice area. If your practice areas have the same members, create one team with separate channels according to the area (Family Law, Estate Planning, etc.).
On August 15, 2017, Epona announced that their Legal Matter Management is being Beta tested with Microsoft Teams. They will leverage the Microsoft Teams Desktop application with the Epona tools and Matter Center, so you can work in their application and access your contacts, email, DMS SharePoint stored documents, Time & Billing solution and more.
“We have been working on this since the launch of Teams by Microsoft earlier this year. And have already begun providing a few firms with beta instances for testing”, said Marcel Lang, President, Epona USA. He added, “As Microsoft continues to improve the Office 365 offering with powerful products and capabilities such as BI, Planner, Groups, OneDrive for Business and more, Epona continues to find ways to make lawyers even more productive by holistically combining traditional DMS with the power of Office 365.”
Epona’s approach builds on the Teams desktop application by integrating the full power of SharePoint DMS, and Time & Billing, with a simple dashboard for all matter-related elements in Microsoft Teams.
For more information about Microsoft Teams and how to use it in your law firm, contact the “Team” at SemTech IT Solutions. We’re your go-to Legal IT Solutions advisor in Orlando.
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