Five Microsoft 365 Tools to Change the Way You Work (Part 1)

It’s no exaggeration to say that almost all of the legal world uses Microsoft 365. Almost every lawyer is familiar with Microsoft Word and Excel. Unfortunately, only a small part of the legal community takes advantage of all the opportunities that 365 can use to make your legal practice more efficient and collaborative.

Think about how your company wastes time during each work week. You and a colleague may have to work together, but one of you is working remotely. Customers may take longer than expected to email a form or document back. Perhaps two of your lawyers inadvertently redouble their efforts on the same matter.

All of these problems can be resolved in the Microsoft 365 suite that you are already using and paying for.

Rohit Parekh, practicing attorney and vice president of customer success at Matter365, recently hosted a webinar with the American Bar Association – “Working on Microsoft 365 Tips and Tricks”. In this webinar, part of ABA’s free Industry Insight webinar series, Rohit discussed ten ways lawyers can leverage Microsoft 365 built-in tools.

Click here to view the webinar.

Here are five time-saving tricks from Rohit:

Tip 1: share documents and folders with OneDrive

OneDrive should be your starting point for collaboration within Microsoft 365 – both with colleagues and with customers outside of your company. Instead of emailing documents as attachments to emails in Outlook, you can use OneDrive as a hub for all the files you need.

With OneDrive, you can create folders and documents and give employees easy access by simply entering their email address. Suddenly you and a colleague can work together on a document in real time. You can also manage permissions and allow different levels of access for each folder or document – view, edit, or download. And it’s all backed by Microsoft’s security for business.

Tip 2: automatic versioning

Imagine working on a Word document and emailing it to a handful of colleagues for input. A colleague replies with the changes tracked in Word. Then another. Suddenly you are dealing with three different versions of the same document.

This is where the automatic versioning of OneDrive comes into play. OneDrive automatically saves documents as you work on them and saves any previous versions of the document. If necessary, you can view the version history and see what the document looked like before a colleague made their changes. Changes are marked with red lines. Next to each change you will find the date and time of the change and the user who made the change. All of these email attachments will be replaced with a dynamic live document on OneDrive.

If you’re sending a document outside of your company and don’t want users to see previous versions, just create a new document and you won’t see the version history.

Tip 3: chat in files

You may find yourself in a scenario where you are working on the same document as another colleague. Use the chat function in your documents for quick conversations. You and your employee can stay on the same page that you are working on – literally and figuratively. If a third user joins, they will not be able to see the chat until they joined and the chat will not be saved.

Use the comment function for a longer conversation. The comments are retained for other users after your session. Make another user aware of this by typing @ and then their username. The comments are displayed when they sign in to the document.

Tip 4: material management with Planner

Microsoft Planner is underutilized by lawyers. In a survey conducted for the webinar, only 11% of viewers use it weekly. The planner is one of the best tools for matter management. You can use it to organize and assign tasks that are due for a specific matter, keep track of appointments, and get a visual update of progress. There is also the option of communicating within Planner itself.

The planner is flexible and adaptable to the needs of your law firm. For more information on managing your affairs in Planner, check out this webinar.

Tip 5: assign tasks

An essential aspect of Planner is the ability to assign tasks and ensure accountability for the tasks to be completed. In the application, you can assign all members of your company to the tasks that apply to them and everyone can see what their colleagues are working on. Filter tasks by assignment, due date, priority, and more to understand which topics should come first.

The result is a dynamic task board with which everyone in your company knows where they stand with their work. Nothing will fall through the cracks.

If you are excited about these new ways to use the Microsoft suite, consider the only legal practices management solution that is fully integrated with Microsoft 365. Get started with your free trial of Matter365 today.

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