Ben M. Schorr is a senior technical writer at Microsoft. He is the author of several books and articles...
Are you getting the most out of your Microsoft tools? Dennis and Tom welcome Ben Schorr to discuss the current offerings from Microsoft and tips for their best uses for lawyers. They focus on Office 365 and outline the differences between home, business, and enterprise subscriptions. They also share insights on how lawyers can get more out of various Microsoft products & services, including SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, OneNote, and more.
As always, stay tuned for the parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation you can use the second the podcast ends.
Have a technology question for Dennis and Tom? Call their Tech Question Hotline at 720-441-6820 for answers to your most burning tech questions.
Ben Schorr is a senior technical writer at Microsoft.
Special thanks to our sponsors, ServeNow.
A Segment: Interview with Ben Schorr
Kennedy Idea Propulsion Laboratory’s Labnotes: https://paper.li/e-1576172687#/
The Kennedy-Mighell Report
All Things Microsoft! — Tools & Tips for Lawyers with Ben Schorr
Intro: Web 2.0, Innovation, Trend, Collaboration, Software, Metadata… Got the world turning as fast as it can, hear how technology can help, legally speaking with two of the top legal technology experts, authors and lawyers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Welcome to The Kennedy-Mighell Report here on the Legal Talk Network.
Dennis Kennedy: And welcome to Episode #254 of The Kennedy-Mighell Report. I am Dennis Kennedy in Ann Arbor.
Tom Mighell: And I am Tom Mighell in Dallas. Before we get started, we would like to thank our sponsor.
We would like to thank ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted, prescreened process servers, work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high-volume serves, embrace technology, and understand the litigation process. Visit serve-now.com to learn more.
Dennis Kennedy: And we also wanted to mention that the second edition of our book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies’ is available on Amazon. Everybody agrees that collaboration is essential in today’s world, but knowing the right tools will make all the difference.
In our last episode, we shared 20 of our favorite technology tips. We then noticed that a good number of our tips related to new Microsoft tools, especially Office 365, we decided that made it a good time to ask our friend and expert on all things Microsoft, Ben Schorr, to join us and bring us an update on the current world of Microsoft, what that means for lawyers and how our listeners can make better use of Microsoft tools.
So, Tom, what’s all on our agenda for this episode?
Tom Mighell: Well, Dennis, in this edition of The Kennedy Mighell Report, we will indeed be talking with our friend Ben Schorr about Office 365 and other things Microsoft.
In our second segment, we’ll continue the chat with Ben about his move from working with lawyers on technology to working at Microsoft and get him to share some of his new perspectives and reflections, and as usual, we’ll finish up with our parting shots that one-tip website or observation that you can start to use, the second that this podcast is over.
But first up, Microsoft and our guest, Ben Schorr; Dennis and I have learned so much from Ben over the years that we wanted to share him with our audience and pick his brain on some of our recent questions about what they’re doing at Microsoft and what we are liking that we are seeing.
One of Dennis’ — if you recall from a previous podcast, one of his 2020 resolutions involves standardizing even more fully than he currently has been on the Microsoft Office stack, and as proof of that I’ve already gotten him to move just in the past few weeks from Slack to Microsoft teams as our platform for working on this podcast, all of which brings us to Ben Schorr.
Ben, thank you for joining us. I can say all kinds of great things about you but we thought it best to simply let you introduce yourself. Thanks for joining us. Why don’t you tell everybody who you are and what you do?
Ben Schorr: My pleasure, it’s great to be here. So my name is, as you’ve heard, Ben Schorr and I work at Microsoft in a group called CSE, which is Customer Success Engineering. It’s a very fancy term. In particular I work on Office 365. I do user experience design which means a lot of the text and things you see onscreen in the products as well as work on our help and training content.
Prior to joining Microsoft about four years ago, I was a founding partner at Roland Schorr & Tower, which is a consultancy in the western U.S. that works with a lot of different kinds of companies, but especially law firms. That company Roland Schorr is still going strong in the hands of my former partner and the team I left, but I’m not with them anymore.
All told I’ve spent about 30 years in Legal Tech including about 10 in-house as the IT Director at firms in LA and Honolulu and I wrote most of the ABA’s books on Microsoft Office and Office 365.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, and it’s great work and in any way who gets a chance to see Ben present should definitely take advantage of that.
Maybe, Ben, we should just set the table a little bit and just sort of explain the basics of Office 365 as it exists in 2020.
Ben Schorr: Sure. So Office 365 is our suite of software and services and it comes in a variety of different packages depending on what a particular customer wants. We have both home and business packages available. Most of the packages do include the office desktop apps so that’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and so forth, and many of them also include some of our cloud-based services like OneDrive, SharePoint, Exchange, Teams and so forth.
Tom Mighell: So — and we’ve just mentioned SharePoint. I want to — I kind of want to dive in a little bit with that because in my job, in what I do, we are probably four-five, maybe a few more years ago, SharePoint didn’t have the same reception in companies and law firms that it probably does today.
What we have been used to seeing is IT departments kind of throwing it out to their users and saying here’s this great tool call SharePoint, use it and the users really didn’t have any guidance so they didn’t have a good experience with it but what we’re seeing now is that SharePoint has come a really long way as a document management tool and we are actually starting to recommend it more to our clients, is using it instead of purchasing a full-blown document management system. But, how would you compare it to traditional legal technology document management tools that we see in law firms? Can you kind of give the similarities and differences and kind of how it’s being used in conjunction with Office 365?
Ben Schorr: I think SharePoint is probably a little more flexible than the Traditional Document Management systems and that’s both a strength and a weakness. One of the advantages of the Traditional Document Management in fact for a lot of firms it’s the main selling point, is that it forces your documents down a specified path and it stores them in specifically designated areas.
So, for example, Document Management System probably hijacks the file save flow and requires the user it pops up a dialog box in front of the user and requires a client matter number, maybe a billing code, filename, you may have some other mandatory fields that you’re requiring your users to enter, and then once you’ve done that the file was scrolled away in a particular location by the DMS where it can be recovered later.
SharePoint can be configured to do that but out of the box it’s really a more open system. It’s got file libraries where users can create and store and collaborate on files, but it also has the ability to have lists which are basically little databases of various data and there can be all kinds of different kinds of lists. So I worked with attorney once who had created a to-do list in SharePoint which he then placed on the client portal because SharePoint can also do what we call Team Sites which are sort of Intranet portal pages, it can have web parts and articles, and files, and other content on them.
So he created this to-do list in which he would have to do items for himself and also items for the client to do. So maybe he had to generate a document and the client had to provide some information of some sort. These would all be to-do items, and so the client could at any time sign into the portal, see the status of the tasks on the to-do list, both their own and the attorney’s, they could mark things as done, if they’ve done them they could see what things the attorney had done and so forth. So, that was a feature of SharePoint using the to-do list and a Team Site to create a nice little client portal that he found very useful.
It’s also worth mentioning SharePoint and Office 365 is generally SharePoint Online, there are some hybrid deployments but that’s a little deeper than we want to get into here, but SharePoint Online which means it’s in the cloud and it’s securely available to you anywhere you’ve got Internet connectivity on any device. That’s increasingly true, a lot of the Traditional Document Management systems too, though some are still on-premises and can be a little more difficult to access when you’re not on the local network at the office or don’t have a VPN started.
If you’re going to use SharePoint in your firm, I really encourage you to either have somebody inside the firm that either has SharePoint skills or is really excited to learn them or work with one of the great SharePoint consultants out there who can help you customize them.
Dennis Kennedy: Who can also give you training on how to use it once they set it up for you?
Ben Schorr: Oh yes. Yeah, SharePoint is a big powerful animal and I really feel badly for those users who were just thrown to SharePoint and said, use it, good luck, because it’s got a lot of capabilities but if you don’t know how to use it, you haven’t harnessed it properly, it can be awful.
Tom Mighell: Yeah, agree.
Dennis Kennedy: So let’s go back to simple, so which means what’s in front of me? So I’m using Office 365 Personal. It is my sort of one-person operation these days, and so as I looked at it and it is Tom and I have talked about some of the more powerful tools coming, there is sort of a progression, I don’t know if it’s progression but you sort of have the options of Personal and I know it has a specific name but let’s just call it business and then Enterprise, or it be the three choices, and so my question is when does it make sense for people or for businesses to move from one of those types of Office 365 accounts to another one and it’s personal enough for like the regular kind of very small law firm?
Ben Schorr: So Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home, those are our two home packages. Personal is for a single person and Home can be shared by up to six people in a family and those two packages have the Office desktop apps, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and so forth, and OneDrive consumer, that’s about it. For businesses even single person, a true solo lawyer, for example, I would really recommend one of the business packages.
So Office 365 Business Premium, for example, is the one that I see most law firms choosing, even the very small firms, that’s got the desktop apps, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and so forth, it’s got OneDrive for Business, it’s got SharePoint, but it also has Exchange Server, which is it gives you that Enterprise class email and calendar. Exchange is what nearly all of the Fortune 500 run, it’s what nearly all the Am Law 100 run for their email.
And it used to be that when you had to run Exchange on-premises as a local server it was kind of prohibitively expensive and complicated for small firms to do. It’s not a simple thing, but now because you can do Exchange online in an Office 365 plan, even the smallest firm can have the same platform that the big firms are using, which is really terrific.
You can have up to 300 people on a Business Premium license, so for most law firms that’s going to get you there or you could have just one. And last time I checked, I think it’s about $12.50 per month per person for the Business Premium. If your firm is bigger than 300 people then we have an Enterprise license called E3 that has pretty much got the same set of software and services that Business Premium has, it also has a few extra Enterprise administration features and things, but it’s for an almost unlimited number of users, companies like Goodyear Tire, for example, they are on Enterprise class license. The City of Los Angeles runs it. So you can get quite a lot of users on the Enterprise.
I’m not sure what the price of E3 is offhand, I think it’s about $20 per month per person, last time I looked. I have had some firms kind of cringe at the subscription pricing, but a couple of things to think about. First of all, you can buy exactly as many licenses as you need. You don’t have to buy 5 packs or 10 packs or 20 packs, you can buy 1, you can buy 3, you can buy 11, and you can add or remove them kind of month-to-month. So, if you have one person join your firm, you can just add one more user. If you have somebody leave and you’re not going to replace them, you could just remove one user from your license. So, generally speaking, it’s pretty easy to have exactly the number that you need.
The other thing to think about is when you used to buy that box of Office software for $399 you can install it on your desktop and you can install it on your laptop, a lot of people didn’t realize you could install it on more than one machine, but you could put it on the desktop and the laptop, and that was it.
If you bought Office with your new computer your computer vendor, Dell or whoever, was probably adding a $100 or so to the price of the machine and you could only use it on that machine, and moving to a new machine if your machine had a problem or it was just time to upgrade, it was kind of a headache with those old ones.
With Office 365, any of our Office 365 plans you can install that same seat of Office on up to five devices at a time. So you might have a Windows machine on your desk, a laptop in your bag, Mac at home, you can install that same seat of Office 365 on all those machines, and two more, for no extra cost, it’s all part of that $1,250 a month if you’ve got Business Premium, plus smartphones, iPads, etc.
When you factor all that in the price gets pretty cheap, plus when you get a new machine it’s trivial to move Office to it, you just sign in and go. You can get your Office software on the new machine, no problem.
Another thing a firm might consider is that you can get some things in Office 365 à la carte, so for example, I worked with a hundred user firm in Phoenix that had all their servers on-premises and they had an old Exchange Server that was about due for a replacement, this was a few years ago, and they called Dell and they asked for a quote, and for the hardware/software licenses and everything that quoted about $24,000. At the time that was a pretty fair price for what they were looking at.
And their Managing Partner called me up and said is it possible to move just their Exchange Server to Office 365? They didn’t want to move all their documents, they’d want to upgrade their Office software, they didn’t want to move their time and billing or anything else just Exchange. And I said, sure, you can do that. They said, how much? I said a hundred users just for Exchange Server about $400 a month.
It was a kind of a long pause on the phone and he said it would take me a long time to spend $24,000 at $400 a month. I said, oh, there you go, plus you don’t have to maintain it.
So depending on the firm there’s options. You can get just the Office desktop apps, you can get just Exchange Server, you get exactly how many licenses you want, but for most firms I think Business Premium is really the sweet spot.
Tom Mighell: So I’m going to skip around in my questions a little bit. I want to go to kind of my current favorite part of the whole — it’s not part of the traditional Office 365 Suite but it plugs into all of that and that’s Microsoft Teams. I mentioned that I’ve asked Dennis to come over to Teams from Slack. I’ve used it for quite a while now at my office, the consultants we use it for all of our projects and really enjoy doing it, but I talk about it on the podcast but I’m going to guess that a lot of the people to listen to this, a lot of lawyers don’t really fully understand what Teams is and how they might use it to collaborate, how they might use it as part of a law practice.
What are some of the use cases you would recommend that lawyers make out of Microsoft Teams? Maybe talk about what it is first and then what the use cases are?
Ben Schorr: So, Teams is kind of a new take on an old way to communicate. The foundation of Teams is the channels you can set up, and in those channels you have live text chat that’s kind of the main communication medium. You can also have shared file libraries, you can do shared OneNote notebooks, and a lot more. The thing that really makes Teams interesting is you have so many different kinds of apps right inside the Teams’ window, so even Microsoft Office apps, so you can use Word, Excel, PowerPoint right within the Teams’ window. You don’t have to switch around to a dozen different apps.
And there’s also a really large and growing array of third-party apps that have integrated to Teams like Trello or Kronos or Adobe Sign. Our friends over at LawToolBox have Teams add-in for their court deadline system, there’s just a lot of different add-ins from different companies that you can plug into Teams so you can work with it right there. I mean, it’s really powerful for situations where you have multiple people working together on a matter or a project.
So, for example, you could create a team for a big client who has multiple matters and then you could create separate channels for the different matters. Maybe you also have a channel for client relations or billing where those kinds of conversations happen.
So that’s kind of a powerful way to use it. You could also create a team around a particular practice area and then have channels within that team for different sub areas of interests within that practice group if you wanted to.
Traditionally, all the members of the team could see all the channels and everything happening in those channels on the team, but one of our most popular feature requests was for private channels that would be limited to just a subset of the team members, and so we did roll that feature out at the end of last year, so now you can set up private channels if you want to within a Team.
And then the last couple of things I would say about it is, you can invite guests, people outside of your firm to a Team but keep in mind that the guests can see everything in the Team other than private channels, they’re not included in. So do be mindful of that because if you invited the client for example to be a guest member of the Team, anything said in the Team they’re going to be able to see it too. So that’s important.
And then last thing would be, at Microsoft we also use Teams as our phone system, so if you’re on the right skew of Office 365 you can actually use Teams for your calling and even a lot of the desk, if you like the desk phone a lot of the IP phone handsets will plug into Teams and you can use Teams as your phone system, which we do.
Tom Mighell: I will say the one thing that I like and when I talk to people about Teams and I can say this but where you might not be able to say this, which is, people say, well we’re used to using Slack, we really like Slack, I think what sets Teams apart is that it integrates into Office 365, so if you’re in the Microsoft world for your Suite of productivity tools, it just makes sense to use it, because Slack doesn’t connect to any of the Microsoft tools. It connects to Google, but not in the same way and I think just having that seamless interaction with all of your — all your documents can stay in one place and you all collaborating them in the same place and there’s not multiple copies hanging around all over the place and to me that’s really the most powerful argument for using it in a law firm, is it just kind of keeps it all together.
Ben Schorr: Yeah, and those file libraries and Teams are dedicated to the channel, so if you have set up a channel for a particular matter then you’ve got a dedicated file share for that matter and that could be really nice.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I mean what, Tom was showing me how we could collaborate in a OneNote document right in Teams and it was just — it saves you a couple steps and I could see how — I mean this is a nice feature just starting to use if I can see over time how it could be really powerful, which leads me to talking about, I think you and I have a — share a common love for OneNote and have for a long time and so I was originally going to ask whether it’s possible to love OneNote too much, but I guess —
Ben Schorr: So we question —
Dennis Kennedy: Let me ask it this way, how awesome is OneNote and how can lawyers use it even more?
Ben Schorr: Yeah, on a scale of awesome to really awesome, it’s beyond awesome. Especially now that we’ve announced that we’re bringing back OneNote 2016, which was a very popular customer request.
So, yes, if you like the — what we call the Win32 the full-featured Windows version of OneNote, that’s coming — that’s back now, we are once again developing it. So I’m a heavy OneNote user myself, as you no doubt surmised, I even prepped for this call in OneNote and I’ve been known to do hour-long sessions just on OneNote, but let me just give you three tips real quick on how lawyers can use it more.
So first of all one of my favorite features Insert Meeting Details. Every Friday afternoon I have 30 minutes set aside, every Friday afternoon to look at my next week’s meet calendar and I’ll go into OneNote and I will create a blank page for each of the meetings where I think I’m going to be taking notes, which is probably 80% of my meetings.
And for each of those pages I click on the — it’s either on the Home tab or the Insert tab, depending on the version of Outlook you are using, you’ll see Meeting Details, and when you click that, it lets you pick a meeting from your Outlook calendar and it’ll create a OneNote page about that meeting that includes the time and date, location, who’s been invited, the invitation message if there is one, all that, and a link of course back to Outlook where that information is.
So I’ll create a page for each meeting just like that. Then during the week when I’m in those meetings I have that page open and I actually ink my notes for the meeting on that page. Great feature.
Second, drag-and-drop web content. So if I’m researching something on the web and I find a useful page or a bit of content, I’ll highlight the title or the section that I’m interested in or found interesting and just drag and drop that to a OneNote page. It will try to preserve the formatting including any images, but most importantly, it also automatically creates a hyperlink back to that original page. So later when I’m reviewing my notes, I can just click that link to see the original article or content in context, and of course, that’s all full-text searchable.
And then third, OneDrive, if you store your notebooks securely in OneDrive or SharePoint then you can access them from any device that has an Internet connection. So I have OneNote, I have my business OneNote notebooks on our company OneDrive of course and I have my personal ones on my personal OneDrive and I can access any of those from my smartphone, from a tablet, from the web, from any of my laptops or desktops, it’s really great to be able to just have your notebooks anywhere.
Tom Mighell: So I want to switch to a relatively new feature of Office 365 and I’m not sure you may need to help me out whether this is available with all licenses or only some licenses and that’s something called Power Apps which we’re starting to use in our business to create front ends for the retention schedules that we developed for our clients.
So the basic premise as I understand of Power Apps is that you can create custom applications using something called Low-Code, can you kind of explain what low-code is and whether or not is there a they’re there for lawyers, is there something that lawyers can make of Power Apps that might be useful to them?
Ben Schorr: Sure. So let me address the first question, which is the licensing, although actually I kind of prefer to skip it, only because I’m only 95% sure that Power Apps are included in all of our business schemes.
Tom Mighell: Yeah, I just wasn’t sure.
Ben Schorr: I think it — I think they are but there’s a small chance that I’m wrong about that, but I think Power Apps is included, and as for low-code sure, so low-code means kind of what it seems like it would mean, it means you can create applications using a visual development environment to create applications without actually having to write very much code, sometimes that, well, for most people I think if you’re not a developer or developer curious, let’s say, I think that the big obstacle to writing your own applications is seeing all these arcane syntax that you have to try to figure out and learn and it feels like you can go down the rabbit hole of learning all that code, which you can, but with a low-code solution like Power Apps a lot of the development environment is more visual, so it’s almost like putting together a PowerPoint slide deck more than writing code, and the tool writes the code underneath the hood for you.
So you can create actually pretty useful applications without having to write any code, and so the kind of applications an attorney could make with it, I mean it’s limited kind of just by your imagination I suppose, I mean up to a point, for a Hackathon, not too long ago, I created a Power App that let you add and edit items in a SharePoint list. It took me about 30 minutes to do it and I didn’t have to write a single line of code that I can remember, in fact most of the time I spent was actually making it look the way I wanted it to. The actual operation of the app, the actual reading and writing and editing of SharePoint items took me about five minutes before that was working. It’s amazing.
So Power Apps is a really powerful way to write some stuff like that. I know there’s a — one of our clients has written a Power App to track their company shuttles, things like that, you can write Power Apps to track files, you can do a lot of things with Power Apps if you want to get into it.
Dennis Kennedy: So I want to — I just wanted to touch on something that as Tom knows, you and I spent about 10 minutes before the podcast talking about — because I liked it so much and that gets us into the world of what I call smart assistance and even AI, and so the best example and there are a couple, and you mentioned the other one definitely in Excel, but in PowerPoint there’s something called Design Ideas and a Design Menu that I just think is spectacularly useful for presenters, so you kind of talk a little bit about that and maybe even the Excel version of that.
Ben Schorr: So Design Ideas in PowerPoint, that’s one of a collection of tools that we’re rolling out across Office 365 and they leverage a lot of back-end machine intelligence that helps you do stuff better. So, Design Ideas, as you know can offer you ideas, try to make your slides look better, especially if you have a mix of text and pictures.
I’m not a designer myself, but I have to create a lot of PowerPoint decks for work and Design Ideas helps make them look nicer.
Another really powerful tool we’ve got now, we were talking about before the podcast was live captions and subtitles, so you can be giving a presentation, and PowerPoint can transcribe your spoken words, put them on the screen for the audience, which is really powerful for making your presentations more accessible, and you can send it up to transcribe your words into a different language. So maybe your audience speaks French or Japanese, but you don’t, and PowerPoint can translate your words in real-time onscreen for your audience, and we support — we translate to about, a little over 60 languages right now, and we’re adding new languages all the time.
In Word we have a tool called Editor, which is goes way beyond a sort of traditional basic spell-check and into some really advanced grammar checking, inclusive speech and more things like that.
So it can do a lot of pretty advanced checking of your text to help you write better and it’s also one thing I want to mention about that, it’s very configurable. People think that they are just going to get these blue squiggly lines on everything they write, that may be true, but you have the ability to go in and configure it, so that if you don’t want it to check for certain things you can turn that particular thing off, so we do try to make them configurable.
And last you’d mentioned Excel, Excel has some of the most powerful smart assistant capabilities, it can not only recommend charts based on the data you have on your sheet, but it can also suggest insights from your data that might not have even occurred to you, which is pretty amazing. And it can also help you create pivot tables, which are a pretty powerful tool for looking at your data. That used to be kind of hard to create if you weren’t an Excel expert, but now we’ve introduced a lot of tools that can make it pretty easy.
Tom Mighell: Well, we have a ton of questions that we want to ask, but unfortunately, we don’t have enough time in this segment. So I’m going to steal Dennis’ last question and I’m going to ask it to you to close out this segment. What resources — for those who are interested in learning more about Office 365 or Microsoft tools in general, what resources do you recommend for people to get the most out of these products or to learn more about them?
Ben Schorr: Sure. So it’s funny. I was at a conference recently and somebody said, why doesn’t Microsoft offer training on your products? Well, we do. If you go to support.office.com, that’s a site where we’ve got tens of thousands of articles, videos, training materials all online and free. If you want something more advanced, you can search for Microsoft Learn, the URL is a little complicated, but if you search for Microsoft Learn you’ll find our Learn site, there’s a ton of technical training content, all of it free, and in fact I noticed yesterday there’s a free 51-minute module on getting started with Power Apps in there.
And if you are a LinkedIn subscriber you probably have access to all the training content at LinkedIn Learning, and finally, the last thing, a lot of people don’t realize that our retail stores can be a great resource, they’re not just a place to buy an Xbox, retail stores have cloud technology experts on staff and on site and you can make an appointment with them and they’ll be happy to consult with you about working with Microsoft 365.
Tom Mighell: Yeah, and they’re doing classes all the time there. All right, well, thank you Ben. That does it for our first segment. Before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a break for a quick message from our sponsor.
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Tom Mighell: And now let’s get back to The Kennedy-Mighell Report. I am Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy, and we’re happy to have our friend at Microsoft expert, Ben Schorr, with us today.
So, Ben, I’m really interested in your career boot from helping lawyers with technology as a consultant and then writing and speaking about office several books, to actually working at Microsoft, and so, I’m curious how that’s changed your perspective about lawyers, especially what insights has it given you about where lawyers are at in technology and how can we help lawyers with technology these days?
Ben Schorr: It’s been interesting going from the community as a Microsoft partner to being to actually working there. It’s kind of interesting to see the sausage being made, you might say from inside the halls, but one thing I didn’t realize before I joined Microsoft was how kind of customer-obsessed Microsoft is, I presented at the Missouri Bar’s conference back in October. When I got back I wrote up an eight-page report about the conference and about the questions that various attorneys were asking me and the great discussions we had, and the paper got circulated to several teams inside the company and I got a lot of email thanking me for it, asking follow-up questions.
So I was really glad to see how interested that inside Microsoft not only their customer-obsessed generally but even how much interest there was in working with the legal community. And so, there’s probably the thing that strikes me the most about how lawyers are using technology today more than where it’s changed from when I joined Microsoft about four years ago, is how they’ve really embraced the cloud.
I can remember ten years ago, you couldn’t get a lawyer, you go near a cloud with a ten-foot pole, but now, and I’ll admit, back then I was a little skeptical of the cloud as well, but I think the technology maybe wasn’t quite ready yet. But today it’s you can’t take ten steps in a conference without somebody talking about cloud technology, not only the AI but also cloud storage sharing. It’s really impressive to see how firms have moved to the cloud. I never would have predicted a company like Clio would become one of the dominant practice management systems 10 or 15 years ago, but now here they are, they are in every conversation it seems like.
Tom Mighell: All right, so the thing I hate the most about you working at Microsoft is that there are so many things I want to know about that you cannot tell me, but I’m going to try to structure this question that you maybe can. So you probably can’t get a lot of details about upcoming products but can you share with some of the things that you’re excited about that Microsoft is going to be rolling out this year, whether it’s Office 365 or we really haven’t touched on any of the hardware that they put out like surface devices and things like that, is there anything that’s exciting you that lawyers ought to look forward to in the coming year?
Ben Schorr: Yeah, sure. So the big thing is for me at least that I’m allowed to talk about are in a couple of categories. First of all, the AI tools that we talked about earlier. We have something we just announced for PowerPoint called Live Presentations that lets your audience follow along with your presentation on their own device, smartphone, laptop, whatever it is they have, and see the live translation that we talked about earlier in any of the 60-plus languages but they can each choose their own language. So maybe you have an audience that speaks a dozen different languages, well one of those people can choose their own language and see subtitles on their own device. So that’s something new that we’ve just announced. This is coming very soon and they can do a few other things too.
We’ve got a bunch of other really cool AI tools that I can’t quite elaborate on but just rest assured that 2020 you’re going to see, all year long new things rolling out to our Office 365 subscribers that are intended to bring that intelligence into office, in all the apps Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and so forth.
Our Surface team on the second area has some really cool hardware coming. We’ve talked about the Surface Earbuds a little bit. So those are coming, those are cool, but the thing everybody is buzzing about I think are the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo which are our dual screen devices that we announced a few months ago.
If you haven’t seen the videos for those, if you go on YouTube and look for Surface Neo or Surface Duo, you’ll see our announcement videos. They’re really beautiful. Just the videos themselves, even if you don’t care about the hardware, the videos are beautiful to look at, and so, I still get goosebumps when I see those videos.
So those are coming later this year, and of course, there’s a lot of buzz internally, a lot of work going on to make those happen. I’m pretty excited about those.
Tom Mighell: Well, there’s so much that we’d like to talk about and we probably should have recorded the conversation before we started it, but — so we might have to bring you back. So, let’s wrap up by asking you if there’s, if there’s anything you had hoped to mention while you were on the show that we didn’t give you the chance to raise already?
Ben Schorr: We got to quite a bit. I think one thing that we didn’t mention, Office 365 especially in our Enterprise plans has some really powerful eDiscovery tools. So like we have content search that lets you search an entire Office 365 tenant with a single search, you can create eDiscovery cases and litigation holds and so forth. If you’ve got the E5, that’s the Enterprise package, you get the advanced eDiscovery tools, which is, if you’re familiar with the EDRM model, then advanced eDiscovery kind of follows that model.
So it helps you identify and collect review so forth data from a review set, and if you want to know more about that, if you go online and search for Office 365 security and compliance center, get a caffeinated beverage and you can spend a lot of time reading about our eDiscovery stuff.
Tom Mighell: Well, thank you Ben. Now it’s time for our parting shots, that one-tip website or observation you can use the second this podcast ends, and Ben, we want you to start us out with the parting shot and we hope it’s a Microsoft tip, but it can be anything you want.
Ben Schorr: Okay, so in Outlook, if you’ve gotten yourself into an email conversation that you are not interested in probably because you’ve been added to a very long list of recipients, maybe there’s a reply all storm happening and you can’t get out of it. If you press — instead of pressing delete on the next message that comes in, press Ctrl+Del.
That’s ignore conversation, not only will it delete all of the messages in that conversation that you’ve already received but it will automatically delete any future messages you get in that conversation, I can’t remember if it’s 30 or 60 days, but it’ll basically mute that conversation for you, so it helps keep your Inbox a little tidier.
Tom Mighell: I hardly know any conversations like that, there’s nothing that comes up for me.
All right, my parting shot is not really legal or tech-related but it is something that I have enjoyed for a long time. I have been a longtime fan of the NPR show Fresh Air. They have such great guests and the show has been going on since the 80s, so it’s been 40 some years of interviews and they recently unveiled their Fresh Air archive and it is searchable, you can create playlists, there are over 8,000 individuals giving 20-some thousand interviews, and so, if you want to, just go, type a name and they probably have given an interview over the past 40 years, it’s a lot of fun to listen to, if you find something you like you can save it and share it with other people. It’s at freshairarchive.org, we will make sure to include it in the show notes.
Dennis Kennedy: So my parting shot is about something of mine and something I want to suggest other people take a look at and so there’s service called Paper.li that allows you to kind of collect links of various types, you can do save searches, you can pull things from Twitter, you can add pieces manually and it creates this nice little daily update like a little newsletter thing, and so I’ve been trying it and so mine I call it the Kennedy Idea Propulsion Laboratory’s LabNotes and it focuses on legal innovation and I learned this from my friend Ken Grady who’s used it for a while. There’s a free service and there’s paid service.
So far I think the free service will do well for most people, but if you like as Tom and I do, collecting links and sharing them especially on certain topics or something that you want to be known for it kind of a really interesting way to do that in an easy way and give you like a really nice looking, well-formatted result that you can share with people.
So, Ben, thank you for joining us. I know that people can find you through LinkedIn and all the usual haunts, but if there’s any other way that people should reach out to you let them know now.
Ben Schorr: Yeah, LinkedIn and Twitter are probably the two best ways to reach me. I also have maintained an Office for Lawyers Facebook group that you’re welcome to join, if you like there’s a lot of good discussions.
Dennis Kennedy: Oh, that’s excellent, that’s an excellent —
Ben Schorr: Yeah, that’s the best way.
Tom Mighell: We will include all of those in our show notes and that wraps it up for this edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report. We want to thank Ben Schorr and you for joining us on the podcast. You can find show notes for this episode on the Legal Talk page that involves this episode.
If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or on Legal Talk Network site where you can find archives of all of our previous podcasts along with transcripts.
If you’d like to get in touch with us, you can reach out to us on LinkedIn, or remember, we love getting questions for our B segment. Leave us a voicemail at (720) 441-6820.
So until the next podcast, I’m Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy, and you’ve been listening to The Kennedy-Mighell Report, a podcast on legal technology with an Internet focus.
If you like what you heard today, please rate us in Apple podcasts and we’ll see you next time for another episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report on the Legal Talk Network.
Outro: Thanks for listening to The Kennedy-Mighell Report. Check out Dennis and Tom’s book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies Smart Ways to Work Together’ from ABA Books or Amazon, and join us every other week for another edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, only on the Legal Talk Network.
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