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MS Teams for Lawyers

MS Teams for Lawyers

Legal Professionals should look to MS Teams for secure remote meetings.

While everyone rushes to use Zoom, it’s important for legal professionals to look at Microsoft Teams for secure remote meetings, collaboration and file sharing.

Ever since Microsoft integrated its Skype for Business communications platform with Teams and Sharepoint, a mature file sharing and collaboration software, Microsoft has been investing serious development efforts in Teams. It has added ease-of-use features and integration with other Microsoft software as well as “hooks” into third-party software solutions. Many of those features can be of great use to attorneys in keeping data safe while allowing for flexible sharing and collaboration with people inside and outside their organizations.

Some of the features that help keep data safe are a function of Teams being backed by Microsoft’s leading cybersecurity architecture which uses many of the functionalities built into Office security protocols as well as Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Protection.

There are several leading remote meetings and collaboration platforms on the market such as the recently popular Zoom as well as GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, ReadyTalk and Join.me. Each of these solutions has its own benefits. However, for lawyers and law firms, Teams provides the high level of security you’re used to receiving with Microsoft, and it integrates with and enhances the rest of the MS Office 365 environment. 

Many law firms and corporations rely on Teams already for online collaboration, file sharing and secure remote meetings. Additionally, using MS Teams increases a law firm’s ROI in the MS Teams platform. For other lawyers working with fellow lawyers and clients online, MS Teams warrants a serious review.

Ethical requirements and secure communications.

Ethics rules require lawyers to keep client communications confidential (this includes client data, such as attorney work-product). Because of those ethical guidelines, there are a number of considerations law firm IT departments should take into account when choosing remote meeting technology.

First, security is key. If data is maintained in an encrypted state, many of the ethical obligations related to confidentiality are automatically satisfied. When using MS Teams for secure remote meetings, all stored information, such as shared documents, chats, phone calls and video conferences are encrypted. For users already logged into Microsoft 365 or Office 365, accessing Teams is seamless; for guests joining a secure remote meeting, accessing that meeting in MS Teams is simply a click away. MS Teams also has multi-factor authentication (MFA) turned on by default which adds an important layer to securing data within the platform.

Even Zoom (as of April 5, 2020) has added a password requirement for login which validates the need for lawyers to examine the security of any SaaS apps used, especially in collaborative and online meeting platforms.

But for lawyers, security is only one factor to ensure confidentiality – the other is privacy. And Zoom in particular has privacy concerns (related to uninvited parties hijacking calls) that are too serious for lawyers to ignore.

Using MS Teams for remote meetings is a great choice for attorneys because it is secure and private. Additionally, Teams has many collaborative features, such as chat, document sharing, a document repository functionality, links to Outlook calendar and video recording features.

MS Teams, for lawyers who use it as part of their broader use of Office 365, carries additional benefits such as meeting management integrated into calendar invites and the ability to set up meetings in specific MS Teams channels. These features allow for an additional layer of security and better organization of content. For attorneys, secure MS Teams channels have access controls and can be created to mirror legal matters (i.e., cases), so that all related meetings, chats and documents can live together in one secure, accessible, online location.

Due to these uncertain times and work-from-home mandates, whether you are using your current remote meeting solution as a stop-gap or because you are accelerating your evaluation of the best software solutions to use for secure remote meetings, MS Teams is an option that lawyers should be giving serious consideration.

To read more about the questions lawyers should be thinking about with respect to security, see our article, eDiscovery Security: Essential Questions to Consider.