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Tips for Using OneDrive in Your Legal Practice

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

There are a lot of cloud storage options out there, for lawyers and laypeople alike. But Microsoft's OneDrive stands out, largely because of its ubiquity. The online file hosting service comes included with Windows 8 and 10 and integrates directly with Microsoft Office applications, like Word and Excel.

But getting the most out of OneDrive takes a bit of finesse. Here are our top suggestions to attorneys and legal professionals who want to make OneDrive work for them.

1. Get OneDrive for Business

Microsoft offers several OneDrive plans, ranging in price from free to $10 a month (and more if you're including an Office 365 subscription with your OneDrive account.) If you're using OneDrive, don't try and cut corners with a personal account.

You'll want OneDrive for Business for a couple of reasons. First, you get more space, which is great if you're going to be storing a lot of large files. Second, you can opt for advanced encryption, keeping your data a bit safer. But most importantly, OneDrive for Business lets you use SharePoint, which allows you to control a host of permissions, from who can edit a document to what kind of documents can be uploaded.

2. Turn on Two-Step Authentication, Advance Security Management

Storing your documents online creates a risk that confidentiality could be compromised. That doesn't mean you shouldn't use the cloud. (Pretty much every ethics opinion to address cloud computing has approved of its use, so long as you exercise a "reasonable standard of care.") But it does mean that you should be cautious.

Thankfully, OneDrive allows for two-factor authentication. Turn it on. You should also sign up for Advanced Security Management. For just $3 more a month, ASM will detect abnormal usage and allow you to monitor how your documents are being accessed and used.

3. Get Customer Lockbox

You'll also want to make sure you don't get locked out of your account. Some users have found themselves exiled from OneDrive after Microsoft detected violations of its terms of service, including the storage of nude photos. As Anna Massoglia points out on Lawyerist, Microsoft automatically scans files to spot pornography and obscenity.

"Although these types of scans have proven useful for catching child pornographers," she writes, "it becomes a stickier situation when those same photos are exhibit B in a lawyer's file."

Microsoft's Customer Lockbox feature might be a good solution, as it grants you increased control over the information Microsoft can access -- at least when it comes to dealing with Microsoft help engineers. It may not be, however, full protection against Microsoft's file-scanners, so if you're worried about those, you might want to seek out alternative clouds to store your documents in.

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