A platform almost purpose-built for a pandemic

DivorceMate’s cloud platform, built without a lockdown in mind, has proven invaluable to those who bought into it and increasingly attractive to those who haven’t yet

A platform almost purpose-built for a pandemic
Michael Perlman

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Michael Perlman spent the early part of the pandemic on the phone. The president of DivorceMate fielded calls from worried clients - family lawyers asking him how they could keep working on the platform now that their offices were closed and the IT infrastructure they had, loaded up with DivorceMate software, was stuck in the office. While Perlman fielded those calls, he noticed one group of his clients wasn’t worried.

Those clients, he says, had bought into DivorceMate’s new cloud platform. That version of DivorceMate, allowing web-based access from anywhere, has proven invaluable for family lawyers forced to take their practices remote. Perlman and his team certainly didn’t have a pandemic in mind when they developed the cloud platform, but it just so happens they had a product in their back pockets almost purpose-built for the challenges family lawyers are facing right now.

“When the pandemic hit, we offered free licences to our “desktop” users so they could reinstall the software at home,” Perlman says. “But that still meant they had to go back into the office to transfer all the files they were working on to their home computers, and vice versa as they return to their offices now. It has been very cumbersome for our users and time consuming for their teams. Had they been cloud DivorceMate users, much of this angst could have been avoided.”

Perlman says he’s been pushing the cloud platform as a solution to this problem for years. He notes that many law firms around the world have shifted to cloud based operations, but in Canada, for a multitude of reasons, lawyers have been reticent to use the cloud. He says that while young lawyers are ahead of the curve on the cloud, it’s tough to convince lawyers who have been using the desktop version of DivorceMate for years to move. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed that. Perlman says lawyers who really didn’t want to change the way they used tech to operate now see the cloud as a possibilty. He’s seen an uptick in conversations with users about the platform and a growing number of users migrating directly to the cloud.

To assist in this process, Perlman and the DivorceMate team have built bridges between the desktop and cloud versions of the platform, allowing for intake information and client data stored on the desktop version to be migrated directly onto the cloud platform. He says this will help users more seamlessly transition to the flexible cloud platform.

Perlman acknowledges that security concerns have long been a reason Canadian lawyers remain wary of the cloud. He says, however, that many of these concerns stem more from a misunderstanding of the cloud, than from a real security concern. DivorceMate’s cloud software is housed on the Microsoft Azure platform which has an incredibly high level of security.

“Security has become a top priority at Microsoft,” Perlman says. “They spend over a billion dollars a year in cybersecurity”. 

On top of the high levels of security implemented into the Azure platform, DivorceMate hires a third party security firm to test-hack their system every year and have always passed with flying colours.

He says, as well, that while it may feel safer for a small family office with no dedicated IT team to store their matters internally, most small family law offices don’t have anywhere near the level of security a cloud network like DivorceMate’s can provide. While the concerns are there, he says he sees the cloud platform’s security as an improvement for most firms.

The nature of the times, Perlman says, has been the major driver in the shift to his cloud platform. He says it’s likely to be a shift for the good for family lawyers across Canada.

“It’s become clear now that this is the direction in which all firms need to move,” Perlman says. “And while we still have a long way to go, the pandemic has been the impetus needed for lawyers to understand and appreciate the benefits of the cloud and to move their practices into the 21st century.”

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