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Secure file sharing and collaboration made easy through Workshare
[December 10, 2012]

Secure file sharing and collaboration made easy through Workshare

(City A.M. (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The important and often sensitive documents produced by the legal profession can be famously long and famously dense. To complicate matters, modifications or amendments to these documents may come from myriad sources,making it difficult to keep track of changes.

Barrie Hadfield is CTO of Workshare,a provider of document collaboration software to 18,000-plus customers across legal firms and enterprise legal departments in more than 70 countries with more than 1.8 million users. Taking an insider's view of these challenges,Workshare has developed software with built-in security features which simplifies the collaborative process and pinpoints exactly how one version of a document differs from another.

Simplifying processes Essentially, these are tools designed to make a legal professional's life easier but without changing the way he or she currently works.

"It's our job to simplify customer experiences around information," says Hadfield,"and find better ways of multi-party collaboration and communication across departments, between offices, clients and among partners." The legal industry has special requirements in this regard, however, because of the sheer number of documents it produces.

"The legal profession always aims to produce its content as efficiently and as securely as possible," says Hadfield. "But because of today's technology, there's recently been a change in consumer expectations. The clients of law firms now expect to have secure, easy access to their legal documents across mobile, desktop,tablet and other devices." Comparison capabilities Workshare's software includes Workshare Compare, which features document comparison capabilities to streamline and secure the collaboration and review process. It also allows communication with other members of a team within the document itself.

Workshare's Protect software, meanwhile, is a fail-safe way to ensure that sensitive or confidential information is automatically removed or redacted from documents before they are sent outside the company.

Cloud security This software is available as cloud-enabled file-sharing, synchronisation and collaboration platform, which means the legal profession can now have access to a robust, secure and proven cloud platform."For me,cloud is another kind of delivery mechanism," says Hadfield, "and a very effective one. We now have 10,000 cloud users including government and private organisations, plus top management consultants and professional services firms." The Workshare platform now includes the same level of data protection and collaboration features that its users have been benefiting from in their internally hosted or deployed desktop application. This means that Workshare has bridged the gap between protecting IP and sensitive documents and making it easy for users to work on and share documents. No other vendor today offers such a rich user experience while conforming to security mandates in the cloud.

Cloud take up in the legal profession certainly appears to be growing. A 2012 survey from the ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) noted that "70 per cent of all respondents have either added cloud computing to their IT roadmap or are currently using or implementing a cloud solution (5 per cent increase from 2011)." Some companies have voiced concerns about data security in the cloud, yet Hadfield says that storing documents in the cloud is vastly more secure and manageable than sending the same information by email.

Greater control "Actually, I would argue that 100 per cent of all legal companies have been utilising cloud," says Hadfield, "because they've been sending emails for the last two decades. Email is the world's biggest cloud-deployed infrastructure, but one that companies have no control over.

"What our cloud service does, however, is provide an infrastructure with built-in data policy enforcement and protection something that email can't do.

"Cloud also gives users much greater control. For example, if sensitive legal information needs to be recalled and deleted, a firm can do that easily in the cloud. With email, you can't. Once information has been emailed and it's 'out there'; there's no getting it back.

"So cloud offers a very secure way of working, yet allows users to access information and content anywhere and from any device." This flexibility of being able to work on the move and being able to access information or documents at any time has also proved to be a major plus for many legal firms.

Complete solution Even so, admits Hadfield, companies used to having information 'on site' can still be nervous about surrendering control to a cloud provider. Workshare has therefore created the perfect solution. "A firm's concern usually pertains to the geographic location of the information," he says. "They want to know where and in which country it will be kept. So we allow them to retain that geographic control and choose where the data is located, and as you would expect, we also include encryption to ensure that their firm and only their firm can access their data." The integrated mobile, desktop and tablet solutions reduce the commercial risk posed by inadvertently sharing confidential or sensitive documents. Today more than 98 per cent of AmLaw 200 and 62 per cent of fortune 1,000 legal departments rely on Workshare to protect and collaborate on documents.

Workshare recently launched a new Send Link feature for its Protect and Professional applications.

This allows users to upload (and clean) attachments to the Workshare cloud platform and send recipients a link to the document.

This means that valuable email storage isn't taken up with multiple versions of large files being stored. Additionally, these attachments are then stored in a single place which enables all parties an efficient and troublefree collaboration experience.

TONY GREENWAY (c) 2012 City A.M.

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