At ILTA 2014, we took a deep dive into Active Directory Windows Server 2012 R2. The new version of Active Directory attempts to meet the most pressing contemporary needs of businesses, but how do the features stack up for the modern law firm?


One feature the panel of technology experts noted was that ADFS (Active Directory File System) no longer requires IIS. This can be a plus for small or medium firms who want the benefits of Active Directory without the need to secure and support another IIS instance.


The proliferation of personal devices has increasingly become a subject of great importance for law firm IT administrators over the last ten years. Each year the number and variety of devices increases. Attorneys demand to be able to use the latest and greatest phones, tablets, and laptops from disparate manufacturers. From a security standpoint this presents what in the business is known as a veritable nightmare. To that end, Microsoft is adding a number of features which they believe speak to this need.


The core of Microsoft’s approach to meet the newfound security needs in Active Directory is through one feature called Workplace Join. Workplace Join allows personal devices to become known devices to the firm’s network. What this means is that the network will be able to prompt those devices for multi factor authentication and issue credentials, allowing the devices to gain an authorized lease to all firm network materials for a predefined duration. What this means for the attorneys is that they can use their brand new Android tablet on their firm’s network and have seamless access to all the firm’s resources (if IT were to allow it). This is great news for both techno geek lawyers and the IT people who are challenged with supporting them. The new Active Directory Workplace Join can also pass authentication information along to third-party applications (if they support it) so even non-firm material could be accessed seamlessly by a known device. This is the dream –  seamless access to more resources without having to fumble for a password on a tiny touchscreen.


One final feature I’ll leave you with is what Microsoft calls Work Folders. Think of Work Folders as Microsoft’s secure DropBox which would host the information on the firm’s servers. Does this sound like something you believe would be a useful feature in a large law firm? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments.

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