In Data Management
Secrets for a successful law firm conversion

Your firm has G-Suite but you may want to leave it and make the conversion to Office 365. What problems should you expect as a legal professional?

Migration Basics

First, we need a basic understanding of the process.

There are several ways to transfer the data. The best, in my experience, is to use a tool like BitTitan or SkyKick. This will copy and sync your Google data to Office 365.

This process starts with sync where the source (G-Suite) copies information to the destination (O365). During this time, you can continue using G-Suite. The change in user mail flow is live once all users finish the sync, and everyone will begin using O365. More on the mail flow portion later.

Warning: If the IT partner says they are going to do a PST export/import, RUN! Sadly, I have made this mistake. This process is slow and never as simple as it may seem. The PST export/import might be less expensive, but it’s not worth the hassle. Unless maybe you’re a solo…even then probably not.

Calendars

Legal professionals could be disbarred and/or sanctioned by the court for a missed deadline. Missed deadlines can even result in a case dismissal. So, the calendar transfer is paramount.

Fortunately, the transfer of appointments and their details goes over rather well. But there is one main issue of which you should be aware.

Secret – editing transferred events: When you move a Gmail event with multiple people to Outlook, the participants are not transferred as you might expect. Essentially, Outlook creates a group, and all parties are in that group. This makes adding and editing people on an event difficult. You should prepare for this possibility. It’s easy enough to work around by recreating events as needed then deleting the older one.

Email

Email also tends to transfer without significant issues. But minor conveniences may need to be recreated after the migration. For example, email rules, groups, signatures, responses, categories/labels and autocomplete may not follow. Much of this depends on whether you were using Gmail only, or Outlook with a Gmail back end. This is true for Calendars as well.

Secret – mailbox size limits: Attorneys, to my dismay, see their large mailboxes as a source of pride. However, Office 365 doesn’t care, and there are limits O365 mailbox sizes. Usually 50 GB or 100 GB based on the plan. To make the migration easier, work with the IT company to look at options to reduce mailbox sizes.

Shared Access to Email or Calendars

Most of my IT experience has been in the legal world, and I can tell you it’s very common to share mailbox access. The short version is that this shared access does not transfer, so it will need to be set up, again, once the migration is complete.

Secret – hidden opportunity: This may sound like an annoying disadvantage. But I see this as an opportunity to clean up bad habits, gain more insight to who has what and improve the way firms manage shared access

The Cutover

At some point, you need to change mail flow. Think of this as moving to a new house. You need to update your out of state relatives, so they go to the right home. Well, the world/Internet needs to know your mailbox has moved.

This information needs to propagate through the internet. This can take time.

Secret – Questions to ask: Ask the IT company planning to do the migration, how they plan to address this problem. If they don’t have a good plan, you could be checking two mailboxes for up to five days, while the information propagates.

What if there is an issue

You should always have a rollback plan, or rather the IT vendor doing the conversion should. If something does not transfer, it can usually be resynced and “true-ed up” without creating duplicates. Additionally, I suggest keeping your Gmail alive for a few months in case you needed to reference something. Yes, this is expensive, but think of it as part of the project cost.

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