Azure modernizes law firms, police departments
Today, lawyers and police officers routinely find themselves navigating archaic processes. For instance, practicing attorneys handle as many as 100,000 sheets of stock copy paper per year, according to research from the international law firm Arnold and Porter, Conservatree and Purdue University. And despite the development of advanced computer-based policing technology, detectives and patrol personnel still search file cabinets for essential case information and use obsolete desktop programs to sift through computerized assets.
Fortunately, firms and police departments across the country are slowly moving into the modern age with help from Microsoft Azure.
Going paperless with the cloud
Despite the ascendance and demonstrated benefits of cloud computing, many law firms are reluctant to adopt cloud-based services, fearing data breaches that could compromise private client information or jeopardize cases. Fortunately, industry organizations such as the American Bar Association and its state affiliates are attempting to calm these fears. In recent years, a number of state bar associations have okayed cloud computing. Currently, firms in Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Main, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin are free to deploy cloud services. The bar associations for the remaining 31 states have yet to offer opinions on the technology, but so far none have issued rules advising against its use. Lawyers across the country are trading in their hefty, paper case files for Microsoft Azure cloud services.
Of course, enterprising firms across the country have already taken action, modernizing their operations with nimble yet secure cloud-based solutions. In 2011, Fredrikson and Byron, a global law firm based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, set out to source secure cloud services to support its 275 attorneys, many of whom traveled to service international clients in a variety of industries, including the banking and real estate sectors. As a result, the firm needed a solution that offered secure access to confidential legal documents from anywhere. Ultimately, it turned to Microsoft Azure.
The development team crafted a robust cloud-based platform equipped with the Windows Azure Multi-Factor Authentication module, which required users to pass a two-step security process to gain system access. Fredrikson and Byron launched the solution in 2012, achieving near instant impact. Attorneys at the firm could securely view sensitive documents from any location.
“Windows Azure Multi-Factor Authentication definitely helps us reduce risk by giving us stronger authentication controls,” Bob Morrison, head security engineer for Fredrikson and Byron, told Microsoft. “That enhances our security posture and helps give our clients peace of mind.”
Because of such success stories, more law firms are gravitating toward cloud technology. Last year, the ABA conducted its annual technology survey and found that 31 percent of respondents use cloud services. The study also revealed an increase in the number of managing partners leveraging cloud-based tools, with more than 50 percent identifying as users.
Modernizing enforcement and engaging communities
Like their courtroom-bound counterparts, law enforcement professionals have been slow to adopt cloud services. However, Microsoft is catalyzing a technological shift that could soon envelop local forces across the country, according to Fortune. Last June, the tech giant announced that it had developed Azure-based data-storage solutions for a number of local departments, including the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Oakland Police Department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. These systems now store essential case information like fingerprints and surveillance footage and are searchable, meaning beat cops and detectives can easily locate important information with a few keystrokes.
“Local law enforcement professionals are leveraging Microsoft Azure to improve community policing efforts.”
Other local forces are leveraging Microsoft Azure to improve community policing efforts. In 2015, the Miami-Dade County Policy Department worked with Microsoft to create the cloud-based mobile Community On Patrol Application, according to a statement from the department. The solution allows the citizens of Miami to easily report criminal activity and upload content, in real time, to substantiate these claims.
“As mayor of Miami-Dade County, I believe it is important to utilize technology to engage citizens in improving their quality of life,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in the statement. “The Community On Patrol Application will allow our 2.6 million residents to aid our police officers in ensuring Miami-Dade County is a safe place to live.”
In the coming years, Microsoft will surely continue to support those in the legal and law enforcement professions, equipping them with modern tools they need to address present-day problems.