Per the Data: Remote Work is Not a Phase in Legal

Is remote work merely a short-term necessity or will it have legs when it is again safe to work in the law firm office? As we head into one full year of remote work, I set out to see if there were data which would substantiate the direction of remote work.

What I learned paints a compelling rationale for remote work continuing. For some people, it might be for only one or two days a week. But the preference for a hybrid work model is clear.

There are two supporting dynamics:

  1. The economics of remote work were positive in 2020. Law firms will likely make changes, for instance in leases, to capitalize on this going forward.
  2. Attorneys made a positive adjustment to working from home and would like to retain some of that flexibility in the future.

In this post, I highlight a few of the interesting data points which I found. You can view and download (no registration) my full slide deck, “Remote Work is Not a Phase in Legal” here.

A key law firm financial metric is Profitability per Equity Partner. The results show that for Big Law and mid-sized law firms profitability grew significantly in the 12 months leading up to November of 2020. In part this was due to law firm rate increases established in December 2019 and to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), both on the income side.

Graph Profit per Equity Partner
Profit Per Equity Partner Growth 2019 and 2020

However, on the expense side, it is also due to law firms cutting overhead expenses in all but two categories, technology and Knowledge Management.

Graph Overhead Expense Growth
Overhead Expense Growth by Category 2109 and 2020

Both of the above charts are from a terrific resource, “2021 Report on the State of the Legal Market” by Thomson Reuters and Georgetown Law Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession. This report is chock full of data. I highly recommend reading it if you work in a law firm. And, as good attorneys say, “read the footnotes” for gems. You may also listen to the podcast, “Was the Pandemic a Tipping Point for Law Firms?” which is based on the report. Bob Ambrogi interviewed Jim Jones, Senior Fellow at Georgetown and Director of its Program on Trends in Law Practice. Mr. Jones is a contributor to the report. He adds interesting color to the report findings in this interview.

A funny thing happened while attorneys toiled from home. They appreciated the benefits. The greatest benefit to attorneys and staff is the time gained by not commuting. For time-keepers the extra hours per week can add up to several days per year of additional billable hours plus additional leisure time to boot.

Now 85% of attorneys want to work from home at least one day per week.

Image Remote Work
“Lawyers put in 20 extra work days when working from home,” Legal Cheek, Aishah Hussain, January 8, 2021

Finally, here is an infographic with a few of the more illustrative points regarding remote work in law firms. You may download the Remote Work infographic PDF here.

Remote Work is Not a Phase in Legal infographic

How does this compare to your experience of working from home this past year? What work model would you like to see going forward?

-Maureen

F5 Labs on Phishing in 2020

Last week in my post on Okta’s 2021 Businesses at Work report, I mentioned the F5 Labs 2020 Phishing and Fraud Report. It is cited in the Businesses at Work report for its warning on Office 365. In brief, that warning is that Office 365 is a rich target because if an attacker breaches Office 365, they have access to email and much more, including potentially to SharePoint and OneDrive. F5 Labs warns to use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) with Office 365.

The F5 Labs Phishing and Fraud report is full of useful information. It’s a tutorial on phishing, a source of exploit data, and a guide as to how to protect from phishing.

In this post, I share 3 of the many images in the report to tempt you to looking at the full report.

Phishing Incidents Dealt with by F5’s Security Operations Center – F5 Labs

We’ve known for years that phishing is the number one cause of data breaches. F5 Labs estimated, as shown above, that the number of phishing incidents in 2020 was projected to increase by 15% compared with 2019.

Sample Phishing Subject Lines – F5 Labs

As anyone who has an email inbox knows, phishing perpetrators are nothing if not topical. In addition, they prey on fear. These cyber-criminals were quick to capitalize on COVID-19. Starting in March 0f 2020, fear and false information about COVID-19 became a hot subject for phishing, as this list conveys.

Steps in a Phishing Attack – F5 Labs

The report explains financial fraud, deception techniques such as custom URLs, and the trajectory of phishing in the report. It concludes with pragmatic sections on “Protecting the Business” and “Protecting Users.”

F5 Labs also explains financial fraud, deception techniques such as custom URLs, and the trajectory of phishing in the report. Phishing is a challenging problem. It is social engineering. The attackers’ schemes mutate. We humans are the weak link. F5 Labs has useful research here, free tor the reading.

-Maureen

Okta’s 2021 Businesses at Work Report

Each year I look forward to Okta’s Businesses at Work report. Okta anonymizes data from its more than 9,400 customer entities. These are customers which use the Okta Identity Network (OIN) with its over 6,500 integrations with cloud, mobile, and web apps, and with IT infrastructure providers. The report is free, not even a registration is needed. To my knowledge no other public report provides this level of data on cloud application usage.

For data lovers it’s a treasure trove of facts about cloud usage. There are over 28 charts and tables. Download it here. I’ll share a few of my favorite insights from the report.

Most Popular Apps by Number of Customers

Microsoft 365 wins. I attended a legal technology conference in 2014. In a session on SharePoint, hosted by Microsoft, the roadmap showed that Outlook, Exchange, and, yes, SharePoint were all moving to the cloud in the form of Office 365. People exited the room in fury. At that time, most law firms were adamant – No Cloud. While there will always be law firms, especially “Big Law,” which will keep Outlook, SharePoint, and the Office Suite on-premises, the adoption of Office 365 or Microsoft 365 in the legal sector has been swift over the past two years. The Okta data reflects this.

This chart shows that the gap in usage between Microsoft 365 and all other applications, including AWS and Salesforce, has only widened in the past 5 years.

Most Popular Video Conferencing Apps

This graph highlights the steep curve in Zoom usage which we all lived through in 2020. At Mobile Helix, we started using Zoom heavily in 2017. We even perform our LINK system deployments remotely over Zoom in about two hours. When the pandemic hit, we were easily able to deploy LINK with IT staff who were themselves working from home. Customers favor our over-Zoom deployment over an on-site visit as it ends up taking less of their time.

Customers Authenticating With Each Factor

Phishing has been up 220% during the pandemic per F5’s 2020 Phishing and Fraud Report (an excellent report on phishing). The Okta report quotes, “F5 warns that the login page of our most popular app, Microsoft 365 (M365), is one of the most popular targets for generic phishing because attackers know that stealing Office 365 credentials can grant them access not only to email but also corporate documents, finance, HR, and many other critical business functions.”

Strong Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) should be used with M365. The chart above shows that of Okta customers authenticating with a factor in addition to, or instead of a password, 82% use Okta Verify. The good news here is that weaker factors such as SMS and security questions are on the decline.

One of the positive conclusions from Okta’s 2021 Businesses at Work report has to be that as difficult as 2020 was, with 38M people applying for unemployment, if it had happened even 10 years earlier, how many people would have been unable to work from home? The growth of web-based applications, cloud-based services, and mobile apps resulted in most office jobs successfully transitioning to work-from-home in two or three weeks.

2020 was The Year of the Cloud.

-Maureen

Phishing Never Takes a Holiday

No. I’m not referring to the now infamous GoDaddy employee $650 holiday bonus email. Employees who responded to the email with the requested information were later informed that they had failed the company phishing test. If you have not yet read that dispiriting story, it’s here.

I am referring to this charming email which I received this morning.

Phishing Email and Fish
Phishing Email from “noreply@freeinvoice.it”

It is from: “Mobilehelix passwordexpiration.”

Presumably, that would be warning enough for your employees to hit the “Delete” button posthaste.

If not that, then maybe those over-sized blue bands which overlap the line below would be a tip-off.

(I have obscured the recipient’s email address.)

This is a very good opportunity for me to show you a security feature in our LINK App. When you open an email in LINK you will always see the alias and below it the sender’s email address. You don’t have to tap or do anything else to display the email address. It’s there.

In this case the alias is the aforementioned, “Mobilehelix passwordexpiration.”

And the email address is, “noreply@freeinvoice.it.”

If your employee were uncertain as to whether to hit that “Delete” button, I think that seeing that the email is from “noreply@freeinvoice.it” would be the icing on the cake. This email is definitely not from the company IT department. Delete.

We are serious about security at Mobile Helix. Much of what we build into the LINK system, such as certificate-based device registration in the new user registration process, is behind the scenes. It’s invisible to your employee and works in the background.

But this security feature is a designed to help your employees to be watchdogs for senders with devious intentions. 90% of organizations experienced targeted phishing attacks in 2019. Humans are the weakest link. This is one simple tool to help all of us to be vigilant.

-Maureen

Originally published in LinkedIn on December 28, 2020

Home Screen: Grid or List Mode

We are updating the LINK App User Interface, starting with the Home, My Files, Settings, and Login screens. We are redesigning to give you a more polished and consistent appearance throughout LINK as well as to provide improved ease of use.

LINK’s new User Interface is lighter and in keeping with contemporary iOS and Android apps. LINK is now using the OS “system colors” so that features like Dark Mode will be supported in LINK.

Now users may choose their preferred home screen layout, per device. In Settings, select the familiar Grid mode with rows, or the new List mode. List mode is especially useful on a phone so that you can scroll through your apps.

In the LINK Controller the LINK Administrator may set view mode defaults

  • Always use Grid Mode
  • Always use List Mode
  • Grid Mode on Tablets; List Mode on Phones

Users can always override the defaults by using the Settings tab on the Home screen.

Grid View on iPad
List View on iPhone

Go to the Home screen Settings tab to:

  • Select Grid or List Mode
  • Select a default app in LINK. For example, to have LINK open directly to DMS or Email.
User Settings
User Settings: Default App and Grid or List Mode
Example of all four options on a phone. The same four options are available on tablets.

We are excited to roll out to you these new enhancements in LINK.

More to come!

Maureen

LINK App: New – List All Files

Here is another fantastic feature request from a LINK user.

Sometimes you need a list of every file in a folder or even in a Workspace in iManage Work or NetDocuments DMS. Search may not help as you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. Now in LINK you can create the list, annotate it, then Air Print, email, import to iManage or NetDocuments, or save in LINK to My Files.

To create the list, tap the ellipsis icon to the right of any folder or Workspace. Tap “List All Files.”

The list is displayed.

To annotate, tap the Paper & Pencil icon and mark away.

After annotating, you can use the icons in the lower right to Air Print, email, import to iManage, or save in LINK to My Files. Or, tap the X in the upper left to get a succinct menu with options to import, email, or save to My Files.

Don’t you love it? 🙂

-Maureen

LINK App: New Editor in our 3.8 Release

LINK now has a new rich text editor. We think that you will like the look of the new User Interface. In addition, the new editor provides a much more comprehensive set of editing tools.

New Font & Page Format Tabs

The new editor has four major formatting tabs:

  1. Font Formats, shown above
  2. Page Formats, show above
  3. Insert “+”, for inserting hyperlinks, tables, special characters
  4. Undo

Also, now when Send-and-File is on, the Envelope icon is green. Tap the Envelope icon to toggle Send-and-File on and off per email.

This new editor component is used to:
• Compose emails
• Compose calendar event bodies
• Compose Outlook notes
• Compose Outlook task bodies
• Create HTML notes that are saved directly in a mobilized file system (e.g., DMS or SMB shares)
• Create signatures in email settings

One of the things that I like about our new editor is that its behavior feels a lot like Word. Since we have muscle memory for Word, it’s a natural feel.

Let us know what you think!

-Maureen

LINK App: Send-and-File to DMS

We are receiving more and more requests to Send-and-File to iManage and NetDocuments. Our LINK app has done this for years.

Filing email to DMS is becoming important from a governance perspective. Not only do law firms want emails to be accessible in DMS with the Matter. But some law firms want to reduce the risk of years of email in Outlook. One of our law firm customers deletes all email at the 90-day mark. Truly. Another firm archives all email after 90 days. Retrieving email from the archive is possible but time-consuming. Therefore, filing to DMS becomes more attractive to attorneys.

Even without such law firm email policies, filing email to the Matter is increasing. The key is that is filing to DMS needs to be easy.

But Send-and-File on mobile devices is rare. It requires a tight integration of DMS and Email, as well as comprehensive security to protect confidential client data. LINK provides both the easy workflow and the security. Draft the email, tap Send, then tap a Recommended, Recent, or DMS folder to file.

LINK has predictive filing, too. LINK learns where you file a certain correspondent’s email and will show you Recommended, Recent, and DMS folders. In many cases you can file to one of these folders with a single tap.

New in LINK, the attorney can now go to the LINK email settings to turn Send-and-File on or off by default. The attorney can also toggle Send-and-File off and on, per individual email by tapping the envelope icon in draft email. When the envelope is green, Send-and-File is on.

Send and File Setting in LINK

Watch this brief video to see all of LINK’s Send-and-File features.

If you have questions, just write to us at: contact at mobilehelix.com. We’re ready to help you.

Learn more about LINK’s encryption, authentication, and secure container in this 5-minute video: LINK’s Security and Data Protection.

-Maureen

IRM Master Class at ILTA>ON

Learn about Information Rights Management – what it is and how it is implemented – on Wednesday, 8/26/2020, at ILTA>ON.

Our CEO and Chief Architect, Seth Hallem, will be presenting an educational Master Class on using Information Rights Management to prevent data leakage at ILTA>ON. Note: this is an educational session, not a promotion of our LINK app.

What You Will Learn

What is Rights Management? This class will dive into what rights management is, how it works, and who the major providers are. The introduction to the class will discuss the goals of Information Rights Management, what specific security problems IRM solves, and some of the major challenges IRM presents, particularly focused on how to navigate the trade-off between protection and practicality with IRM technologies.

Microsoft (Azure) Information Management: We will then spend the second portion of the class diving into Microsoft’s Information Protection (formerly known as Azure Information Protection) technologies, how those are implemented both on-premise and with Azure, and how they work for documents and emails. In this section we will dive into the architecture of Microsoft’s Information Protection, the benefits/disadvantages of this architecture, and how this particular implementation fulfills the security promises of IRM outlined in part 1.

Challenges with IRM: We will also dig into the challenges with IRM, and why IRM has not yet become a standard requirement for a secure enterprise.The class will conclude with a step-by-step outline for how to get started with Microsoft Information Protection. The goal of this section is to provide enough hands-on details to allow the attendees to get started down the IRM path with a clear vision of how it works, how to get started, and how to manage the trade-offs between security and flexibility based on the protection requirements for a particular client or matter.

When: Weds., August 26, 2020 at 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM CT / 5:30 – 6:30 PM BST

Where: ILTA>ON Registrants will join via Zoom

Bonus: All attendees will be entered in our drawing for a $200 Amazon Gift Card.

Recording: If you would like a link to the recording after Aug. 26th, email me at contact@mobilehelix.com or request it via the ILTA>ON platform.

-Maureen

LINK App: New Safari Button

Here is a great new feature in LINK which I use several times a day. When you open a web page in the LINK app using LINK’s browser, you can now tap the familiar Safari button to open the page in the device’s Safari browser.

You can open a link in an email, or in a document, or from an application page, then tap the Safari button to open the page outside of LINK. Here is an example.

Tap on link in Email
Opens in LINK’s browser
Tap Safari Button
Opens in Safari
Tap on “Link” to return to LINK app

I use the Safari button when I receive a link to an uncommon video conference or signature service (we test the popular ones in the LINK browser), or when a page is not rendering correctly. I also use the Safari button when I want to read something, but not now. I open it in Safari. It stays open in Safari. Then I can go back to LINK and continue working.

Sound good? Here are other benefits of the Safari button:

  1. Safari is where you do your personal browsing. If you are logged in to nytimes.com, for example, those cookies are cached in Safari. If you click a hyperlink in Link, your cookies/password manager are not available to you. Better to just browse in Safari.
  2. The LINK browser routes all traffic through your office network. The Safari button allows you to move all personal web browsing into your personal browser. This (a) keeps your work network safe, and (b) prevents web proxies that your company establishes from intercepting and monitoring your traffic. It is a simple matter of employee privacy – you should always have the ability to keep your personal business personal.
  3. Native Safari has special capabilities that LINK does not. In particular, Safari has knowledge of all the apps on your device and many sites will use this capability to automatically launch a mobile app, rather than continuing to view a website in the browser. Safari also has a few important features that are not implemented in LINK’s browser. Chief amongst them is WebRTC, which is a protocol for real-time applications like in-browser video conferencing.
  4. IT can control when Link automatically pushes hyperlinks clicked in email to the native Safari browser. For example, IT can configure Facebook links to automatically open in Safari outside of the LINK container.

Have any questions? Let me know at contact@mobilehelix.com.

-Maureen