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Microsoft takes aim at lawyers with Matter Center for Office 365

Say what you will about lawyers, but the profession is a necessity to protect the rights of citizens. Sure, there are some questionable ones that chase ambulances or advertise on late-night television, but there are many noble ones looking to prosecute bad guys and defend the innocent.

Whether a lawyer or any other law professional is noble or not, they need quality tools to research cases and archive documents. However, unlike other businesses, the law profession has some specific needs and requirements that other industries do not. And so, law professionals can't just buy a single software package and easily accomplish their goals. Today, Microsoft announces that this is changing with Matter Center for Office 365.

"Addressing the unique document management and collaboration requirements of today’s legal professionals, Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced a preview version of Matter Center for Office 365 at the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) annual conference in Nashville, Tenn. Matter Center, an intuitive document management and collaboration solution catered toward law firms and law departments, works seamlessly with Office 365 and offers legal professionals a way to easily find, organise and collaborate on files without leaving the familiar Microsoft productivity tools they use the most", says Microsoft.

John Frank, vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft explains that the company "has built a security-enhanced, cloud-based document management application that allows our professionals to quickly locate and collaborate on documents with our counsel from virtually anywhere. We've decided to make this solution more broadly available at the request of our outside counsel, who want to utilise it in their own environments".

Wow, how cool is that? This solution was first designed for the internal legal team at Microsoft. In other words, it was organically designed to address internal needs, but worked so well, that the company is making it available to outside legal companies. It is very refreshing to see a solution born this way.

Microsoft touts the following benefits of Matter Center:

Your briefcase in the cloud. Matter Center works with OneDrive for Business, providing 1 TB of individual storage and a personal briefcase, which automatically synchronizes your documents so you can access them online and offline from virtually any device. Get more work done together. Share your files with others, both within and outside your firm. Work simultaneously on your documents with other attorneys, and easily track changes with automatic version control. Robust matter and document search. Easily search and find matters and related documents directly within Outlook or Word. Track or pin frequently used or recent matters and documents. Integrated and automated document management. Drag, drop and save emails and attachments from Outlook into the right matter. Tagging and sharing each document separately is no longer necessary, as the matter documents are automatically saved with the right metadata, permissions and version control. Security-enhanced access and permission controls. Users can be granted or excluded access to a matter. All subsequent documents associated with the matter will inherit the same permissions, thereby reducing the worry about ethical walls and data leakage. Reduce overhead and maximize time with clients. Matter Center helps you to reduce the amount of administrative resources needed to support a document management system, enabling you to spend more time working with clients.

What makes this exciting, is that Microsoft is acknowledging that there isn't always a one-size-fits-all solution.

The needs of various industries can be unique. Still, there are many shared needs; having the ability to add additional software to the Office 365 package for legal professionals is not just great for that industry, but all industries too.

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