In a special episode of New Solo, legal tech whiz Adriana Linares tackles a topic that baffles many legal practitioners: the dreaded Microsoft suite of services. What do you really need and what are you missing?
Many lawyers jumped into Microsoft’s 365 universe during the pandemic. Sharing files and working collaboratively from home is appealing, but there’s a lot to learn about the array of products. OneDrive? SharePoint? Secure document sharing?
Learn the difference between personal and private accounts and how to juggle them. Stop paying too much and wasting time in this confusing – but often vital – suite of services (hint: none of us want the $5 monthly service). And yes, it’s OK to ask for professional help; a little instruction doesn’t have to be expensive and pays off in the long run.
And we begin another New Insights series as veteran attorney Liz McCausland offers new solo Stephanie Larenas three suggestions for growing a new practice.
Have insights, tips, inspiration to share? Want to be a guest on the New Solo podcast? Contact us at [email protected].
- The evolution of Microsoft’s 365 suite of products.
- The difference between private and professional accounts and how to leverage them for efficient office management.
- Pricing options, security, and your practice’s needs. What’s enough? What’s too much?
New Insights, brought to you by Nota by M&T Bank
- New series: Former therapist turned personal injury attorney Stephanie Larenas talks with veteran attorney and mediation professional Liz McCausland.
- Liz offers insights for new solos building their business. Overhead? Branding? Networking?
Special thanks to our sponsors, Lawclerk, Alert Communications, Abby Connect, and Clio.
Adriana Linares: Before we get started with today’s episode, I want to make sure and thank our sponsors, Alert Communications, LAWCLERK, Clio, and Abby Connect.
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Adriana Linares: Hi, everyone. Welcome to another episode of New Solo. I am your host, Adriana Linares. I’m a legal technology trainer and consultant. And today’s episode is kind of special and a little bit different, because I wanted to take the time, myself. So, I guess basically, I’m today’s guest. To address a couple of issues that I have been helping lawyers and law firms with, they’re very simple and vey common. And this is really bubbled up since the pandemic started. So, I’m hoping to give you a real simple explanation about two things, Microsoft Accounts, and the difference between Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint, because many of you jumped on the Office 365 if you didn’t have it before the pandemic started. And then many of you also decided to start taking advantage of Office 365 and all of the wonderful things it has to offer because of that pandemic. I don’t ever want to thank the pandemic for anything it has done, but I do think it deserves a little bit of thank for really catapulting some of you and some of us further into the use of technology that we did it so fast and with such haste that there are of couple of things that keep coming up. So, I thought I would take a few minutes to explain at least in my own words something that I think will help a lot of you. And consider this a Primer, because the other thing I’m going to do is ask you to send me your questions about Office 365 and Microsoft and any confusion you or your firm may have about the products and services that it offers. We’re going to do sort of a mail bag. You can send your questions in to [email protected]. I’m going to take those questions, gather them, put them together and then we’re going to get a real expert on and answer those and hopefully address even more issues and questions for you, so that as we go into the new year, you are better prepared with your Office 365 accounts.
So, the first thing we’re going to address is Microsoft Accounts, because it can be very confusing and a lot of you are confused, and you may be paying for services in the wrong bucket. There’re two buckets when it comes to Microsoft Accounts. There’s a personal account and a work or a business account, and this is where you need to figure out what you have. And chances are especially if you’re a Windows user that you have both, because Microsoft often has us create a personal account when we are configuring a new laptop or a new desktop. So, you went to Best Buy, brought a new laptop home and you’re walking to the setup process and Microsoft says, “Let’s set up your Microsoft account.” You may now that you already had a Microsoft account and maybe for it, you used a Yahoo! address or a free Outlook address or a Gmail address, but it wasn’t your law firm’s name or your domain name. Those are typically personal accounts and you get some free services with those. And what those do for the most part is get you logged onto your machine. Sometimes, you might go into the app store on Microsoft on an operating system and try to log in with your work account and you get a message that says, “This account does not exist,” and you knock your head and you go, “What do you mean? I know I have a Microsoft account.” In that case, when it says it doesn’t exist, it’s because it’s trying to log in to a service that is geared toward and for personal Microsoft accounts. So, that’s the first thing you’ve got to figure out. And like I said, typically it’s not going to be your work or your professional name or email, but it could be. So, now let me talk for just a few minutes about the work accounts. The work accounts are Microsoft 365 where you get the OfficeSuite, OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams and a slew of other services. With the personal accounts, you don’t get Teams, you don’t get SharePoint, you don’t get the business services if you want to think of it that way.
So, Teams by the way is always free for anybody and everyone to use. It’s kind of like Skype was a while ago. It’s just free and it’s available, but you would have to set up Teams with your personal account separately and then it comes with your Microsoft 365 business account. So, long story short there is the first you’ve got to do is figure out if you’ve got to do is figure out if you have a personal account and a business account or if somehow you have been using your personal account as a business service even though it’s not really what it is. So, let me talk real quick now about the business account. So, these are enterprise level but not really, because anyone of us can go to Microsoft 365 and start paying $5, $8, $12 or more dollars a month. So, let me explain really quick what happens here. Microsoft has given professional users four or five tiers of service. The first one, if you could just go and Google the words “Microsoft 365 pricing.” Once you do that, you’ll see a couple of ads and you don’t need to click on those, but you should see the first hit that’s not paid for should say, “Compare all Microsoft 365 plans, formerly Office 365.” So, they changed the name a few months ago from Office 365 to Microsoft 365. When you do that, you’re going to see two tabs, one that says Home and one that says For Business, and that is the whole difference that we’re talking about here.
If you look at the For Home options, that’s where you see you can have Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, OneDrive and Skype. But if you click over on the For Business tab, you get a bunch of options, $5, $12.50, $20 or they scoop the $8.25 over to the end. Let me very quickly explain the difference between those. None of you want the $5 version, so we don’t have to spend a lot of time on that. But what that does is it gives you only Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook on the web. Meaning, it’s a webpage and you go onto the web pages and you only work on the web. Here’s what I’ll say about that though. It’s really great. So, let’s say you’re crazy and for some reason you want to work on a Chromebook. How are you going to get Word on a Chromebook? You’re going to use the web apps for Microsoft. I know most of you are probably not using Chromebooks, so like I said, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on that, because I have never directed someone to go pay the $5 a month per user. Where most of you that I work with and talk to fall into is either the $12.50 or the $8.25 plan. So, the $12.50 per user by the way, so there’s five people in your firm, each one of them is going to pay $12.50 or you’re going to pay for them if you’re in charge, or you’re going to pay $8.25 a month per user. The apps and services that you get start with the basics that you get from a personal/home account, but now we’re also adding Exchange, SharePoint, Access and even something like Publisher plus a slew of other small services that they have inside the accounts.
Now, the big difference between the $12.50 and the $8.25 a month is, if you do not need email service. Why would you not need email service? One, you are a true Solo and you don’t necessarily need to share your calendars and your contacts with another user. Or two, you already have an email service provider. So, I’m a great example of this type of user. I use Google Workspace, which is Google’s version of a business level of OfficeSuites. And I like having Google as my email service provider, but I cannot live without Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. And actually, I could live without Access, it is my kryptonite. But I need those services and I need them as desktop apps or I want them as desktop apps. So, if you are a true Solo and you don’t have an email service provider and you’re starting your new firm and you just want to put all your eggs in one basket, then you’re going to go to the $12.50 a month version, because that’s how you get email through Microsoft and Exchange which allows you to share contacts and calendar with other users. If you’re like me who uses Google or some other service provider and you really just need the desktop apps, then you can usually stop at the $8.25 version. Of course, if you’re a little bit bigger firm and you want more services and they have better security options and they do more monitoring and a lot of other stuff, then you can always look at the $20 a month version. But the truth is you should have an IT person that is helping you make these decisions. But what I really wanted to explain here and get you to go and investigate, so that you know which accounts you have, is your personal versus your business account.
Now, you can have both accounts logged onto your Windows machine at the same time and I do. As a matter of fact, I have three Microsoft accounts that I can switch between seamlessly on my computer. I have my personal account, which is $99 a year. And what I keep in the personal home Microsoft account are things like my personal taxes, my bills, my health information, my insurance forms. All of that, I keep completely separate from my work world. So, yes, I have a Microsoft 365 home account and you might have that. You also might have it for your whole family, because they’ve got a family deal. So, what happened when the pandemic started is many of you just continued using that home account, and maybe for you it’s working and that’s fine. But often what’s happening or what happened, so lot of you also ended up with the business account. So, I have my personal account logged on to my Windows machine where I’ve got a OneDrive, which has all my personal stuff in it. Then right below it, I have another little OneDrive account and this is all inside of Windows Explorer that says OneDrive for business and that is the $8.25 I am paying for Microsoft 365 that comes with things like SharePoint and Publisher and Access. So, I hope that helps a little bit and gets you to investigate which accounts you have and which ones are logged on to your computer.
Now, when I say you can be logged on to multiple accounts, here’s what I mean by that. So, as I started to say, I’ve got three accounts. I got my personal where I keep all the Adriana’s personal stuff that does not have anything to do with LawTech Partners, my company. Then I’ve got a OneDrive that contains all of the files for my clients, my business, my training documents, my website files. Everything that’s related to the business seats over in OneDrive for business, LawTech Partners. And then finally, if you’ve been a listener for a while, you know that I also work for the San Diego County Bar Association. Of course, I have an email, [email protected], which is completely separate account, but it’s given to me, provided to me by the San Diego County Bar. So, I have three Microsoft accounts on my computer that any one time I can switch between them. What does that mean that I can switch between them? I’ll give you a great example exactly from today. With the paid version of personal Microsoft, you get a spreadsheet called My Money. If you got to pay for Microsoft 365 Home and then you can download this template that helps you connect to you bank accounts and your investment accounts and blah-blah-blah. So, in order to get to that template, I had to go to Excel and on the top right hand corner of all of modern Excel and Outlook and Word versions, you should see your name. And if you click on your name, if you only have one Microsoft account that you’re logged into, you’ll only see that one. But what I am able to do is see my Gmail account, which is my personal, see my LawTech Partners account and also my San Diego account. So, I can very seamlessly switch and say, “Okay, now I want to be logged onto my personal, because I want to use My Money template.” Okay, now I’m going to go work on some documents for San Diego and I want to make sure when I’m going to save to those documents, I’m saving into the OneDrive for the bar, so I switched and it’s seamless. It’s literally just click and pick, and I can switch accounts, and that immediately directs the file save as and the file open to the OneDrive that’s associated with that account.
I know it can sound confusing, but once you get this, it’s really going to help you be less confused and also be able to find your files because what happened with the client last week is, he kept losing his files. He couldn’t figure out where they kept going, and sometimes he’d be able to find them and sometimes he wouldn’t. And it took me doing a share screen with him to quickly see. For me, it was easy to see. I go, “Click on your name on the top right hand corner,” “Look at that, you’ve been saving to your outloock.com email account,” which I know is the personal account. Meanwhile, I had helped him set up his domain name and get his Office 365 account for business setup. So, if you’re having those issues with not being sure where your files are going or you’re in this OneDrive and not that OneDrive, take a look around and spend a few minute trying to figure out which Microsoft accounts you have and then which ones are logged on to your machine, and realize that you can have more than one logged in at a time. Before we continue, we’re going to hear from the Legal Trends Report Minute by Clio, which today highlights client expectations regarding your use of technology.
Joshua Lenon: Here’s a fact. Fifty eight percent of your clients want their lawyers to use more technology. I’m Joshua Lenon, Lawyer in Residence at Clio. What does this data mean for you and your law firm? It’s an indication that client expectations are shifting and a lot of this shift is being driven by technology.
According to industry data, in the past year, 52% of clients say they use more types of technology than ever and 50% say they become even more comfortable with that technology. When it comes to working with a law firm, over half want to meet through video conferencing and handle their documents electronically. Law firms that don’t adapt to the shifting needs of their clients, will inevitably fall behind. To learn more about what clients today are looking for and much more, download Clio’s Legal Trends Report for free at clio.com/trends. That’s Clio spelled C-L-I-O.
Adriana Linares: Hey everyone. I hope you have enjoyed new insights over the past two series. We’re starting a new series today with Stephanie Larenas and Liz McCausland. We’d like to thank Nota by M&T Bank for their support of this segment. To learn more, visit trustnota.com. Terms and conditions may apply. Let’s meet them. All right, Stephanie, tell us about yourself.
Stephanie Larenas: Adriana, thank you so much for having me here today. My name is Stephanie and I actually have been a therapist for 10 years. I decided to go to law school, because I wanted to continue to create change in people’s lives. I was born in Ecuador. I moved from Ecuador to the United States for a better life. My parents said that. And now that I’m an attorney, I decided to go solo. I knew I wanted to go Solo when I was in law school. I became a mom in law school and I know I wanted to work hard, live the American dream and also find freedom with my schedule. My plan is to go Solo and work helping people in personal injury.
Adriana Linares: And Liz, a little bit about you?
Liz McCausland: Hi. I’m Liz. I serve people who struggle to pay their bills. I help them resolve their debt, so they can have financial peace. I also help them modify loan mods and mediation. I also mediate, helping parties to hopefully settle a matter between them. Lastly, I train attorneys from all over the United States on how to get loan mods and bankruptcy. I mediate in five different states right now, and I’ve mediated over 4,000 loan mods and bankruptcy. I am a self-proclaimed gadget geek and I’ll happily talk apps or travel or tech with anyone who will listen. So, if you’re interested, please look me up and we can trade our favorite apps.
Adriana Linares: Okay, Stephanie. What’s your first question for Liz?
Stephanie Larenas: Hi, Liz. What are three suggestions you’ll have for a new lawyer and a New Solo that would help me grow my business?
Liz McCausland: Hey, Stephanie. Congratulations. I heard you passed the bar. The hardest part is behind you. That bar is just a beast and I remember taking it myself, but be proud of yourself, be confident in the career that you’re going forward. Remember always why you became a lawyer and that’s going to help you going forward in the future. Always for a New Solo, I always start my advice with keep your overhead low. You don’t have to try to compete with the big firms. You’re never going to outspend them. So, really, it’s about honing in on what are the necessities of your practice and keeping that overhead low. Next, I would say, let people know what you do. So many times, people assume that as a lawyer, everyone knows what area of law they are practicing in and that is not always true. So, let your family and friends and other lawyers know what area of law you practice in. And especially for lawyers, there’s a short window of time where lawyers won’t remember what you do and want to send you business. So, be sure to let them know what you do, what kind of cases you’re looking for, what kind of clients you want to serve and that will bring business into you.
And then lastly, of course, there’s always networking, but make sure you only network at events or at places that you’re interested in. Then ask others about themselves, be authentic in your conversations with them and it won’t feel like networking, instead it’ll feel like going out and meeting your friends for a drink.
Adriana Linares: That was Stephanie’s first of four questions for Liz. Stay tuned for her next three.
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Adriana Linares: All right everyone, we’re back. And in the first segment, we talked about the difference between personal Microsoft accounts and work Microsoft accounts. So, now what I want to explain is OneDrive versus SharePoint. And why some of you might be using OneDrive the wrong way but why some of you might never want to start using SharePoint. So, in order to have a discussion about Microsoft and SharePoint, you really have to understand that you do not get SharePoint with a personal account. It comes with a paid for business account. And due to pandemic, many of you were trying to figure out how to get rid of a server or how to get rid of a shared NAS box or a shared workstation, because you needed to be able to remote in and you realize that it’s really helpful if everyone can access all of the documents that they need to work from wherever in the world that they are. How do we do this without a server? Obviously, Microsoft has helped us with this and they’ve given us two options, OneDrive and SharePoint. Remember, with a personal account, you do get OneDrive; and with business accounts, you get OneDrive, each user gets their own OneDrive, and only with a business account do you get SharePoint. So, what’s the difference?
OneDrive is designed for one person, OneDrive per one person. SharePoint is designed to be a replacement for a server where everyone who has access to the things that they should have access to can just go get them without having to get permission. What does that mean? Here’s the best way I can explain it. It’s the difference between keeping files locked in your desk and having files out in the storage cabinets in the hallway. The files that are in the hallway, unless they’re locked, everyone can open and have access to it. So, everyone with the right roles in the firm can get to those files without having to ask someone for permission. The way OneDrive works is the person who owns the files has to right click on the folder that they want to share and purposefully share it with anyone and everyone in the firm. This has been really confusing for many of you and I understand why, because we have OneDrive and we want to treat it like Dropbox and that’s what OneDrive is. OneDrive is Microsoft’s answer to Dropbox. And just like Dropbox, it’s your Dropbox account, one person owns it even if it’s the business version, but then somebody has to sit there and set the right to who can see which folders. That’s what OneDrive is like. So, if I’m the OneDrive owner and every user with a Microsoft business account gets a terabyte of data in their personal OneDrive, here’s the other thing I always say too. When I call this your personal OneDrive for work, I don’t mean that this is where you should store your granddaughter’s pictures from her Quinceañera. No. That’s not the personal I mean. I mean personal work. Files that are drafts, files that are your templates, files that no one else should see going to OneDrive. Although, you can of course share them, right click share and give someone rights inside your firm or outside your firm. So, Microsoft OneDrive requires one person to decide who else can have access to their files.
Now, SharePoint is designed to replace the server, and SharePoint can be a little bit intimidating and it’s hard to manage. You really have to have someone who’s a SharePoint administrator that knows what they’re doing with SharePoint to set up your sites. So, SharePoint is the underlying foundation for Microsoft 365, for Teams, for a lot of the services that you use now with Microsoft 365. It’s very much connected to Teams. Every time you create a Team, on the backend, it’s creating a site on SharePoint. So, SharePoint is Microsoft’s answer to a server and on there, you can store the firm files and everybody that has access to firm files has access to everything that goes into firm files. But like I mentioned, it can require someone with some knowledge. Believe me, it’s not impossible, right? You don’t have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to get your SharePoint set up or I don’t think you should, but it does require an administrator that will regularly be there to add users, make sure they’ve got access to the right sites. And very quickly, I’ll just say when I say a site, Microsoft has moved from sort of servers and folders to web inspired sites. So, a folder will be stored on a site and that site might have a team connected to it, and then that site or that team, let’s say it’s your litigation support team, they can share files, they can share a calendar, they can share apps.
It’s basically a collaboration site. So, it’s a lot more than just folder and file storage the way OneDrive is. OneDrive is very much like Box or Dropbox or any other sync and sharing services. So, keep that in mind with OneDrive, and then SharePoint is designed to be more of that centralized location for sharing much more than just files and videos and images you can do a lot more with SharePoint, but like I said, often times, it does require a SharePoint administrator. But I just want you to keep in mind, OneDrive, one person. If you’re a true Solo, OneDrive is going to work for you. If you decide to contract with an assistant and they’re remote, you can right click on one folder and give them access only with that one folder at a time. Or if you’re going to contract with another attorney and they’re helping you with this one specific case, and you’ve got all your cases inside of a folder called clients and they only need to see that one folder versus all of your clients, you can share it with them that way. But it is manual sharing that you’ll have to do out of OneDrive for every folder or every file, while SharePoint is again a little more collaborative and more of an open community, but it does have of course intense rights to it. So, if you got files in a site, because you got to start thinking about SharePoint in sites instead of folders that has all of the firm administration and HR information, obviously, the rights to that site are going to be set so only people who have the need to have access to those files would see them. We call that role-based access. What access to what things does this person need to get their job done? You can very much do that pretty intently and intensely with SharePoint.
With OneDrive, you’re basically saying this folder, this file, they can access it, they can edit, they can download. It’s a lot of management I think sometimes. When people ask me if their law firm should use SharePoint for storing their documents, while I like SharePoint a lot and we use it at the San Diego County Bar Association, because it’s a bar association, not a law firm, my typical answer is, “I don’t think SharePoint is the best place right now for firm files.” And that’s because if you’ve been a listener for a long time of New Solo, you know that I’m an absolute document storage and email management snob, and I think you have to have a really organized way of saving, organizing, searching for and retrieving documents. And for me, that involves profiles like many of our enterprise, document management systems have given us over the years, and you all know how much I love NetDocuments. So, I still tend to gear firms toward NetDocuments for document and email storage, but they have a team’s integration. So, there are a lot of things to consider and I don’t want to overcomplicate it right now, but I really wanted to explain the difference between OneDrive and SharePoint as I have explained it many, many times over the past year and a half with the pandemic and helped the people get that figured out. An important note for all of you who are Mac users and I know there are plenty of you out there, everything I have said applies to you on a Mac. Meaning, you can have multiple Microsoft accounts and you can have multiple OneDrive accounts on your Mac without a problem. The only thing that doesn’t count obviously is the ability to log in to a Windows device with your Microsoft account log in. So, what we’re going to do now is I’m going to ask you all to send me your questions about Microsoft 365, about SharePoint, about OneDrive. Anything you want to know from a Microsoft expert, send a question in to [email protected]. We’ll get those questions answered and hopefully set you straight. Until then, thanks so much for listening. This has been another episode of New Solo. If you like what you’ve heard today, please leave a five-star rating and make sure you email me, get those questions into me. I’d love to hear from you and love to help get those answered.
Podcast transcription by Tech-Synergy.com