Microsoft Vs Google For Your Law Firm [Or a Surprise 3rd Option?]

14 September 2022 by Anith eDiscovery Microsoft Google

Takeaway: Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 have similarly-priced document creation/management tools for law firms of all sizes. But they aren’t ideal for eDiscovery-specific reviews. For these, you’ll want to explore affordable, Cloud-based eDiscovery software options.

Most law firms now see that the Cloud revolutionizes business.

The beauty of cloud computing is that none of your data sits on a single hard drive or device. Instead, it’s spread across a global network of servers we collectively call the Cloud. And this comes with a bunch of advantages. For one, you’ll never lose your data since it’s backed up on multiple cloud servers. And you can access it from anywhere – all you’ll need is a laptop and an internet connection. Moreover, many vendors now offer their services over the Cloud, so you won’t need to download, install, and maintain/update their software. Instead, you’ll access it via your web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, etc.) as you already do with email. And since this cloud hosting saves vendors money, they can price their products more competitively. (It’s how services like Westlaw’s online legal research tools are so popular.)

This Cloud presence is why Microsoft and Google have cornered the document review market.

Services like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace offer law firms a range of powerful, Cloud-based tools to create and review emails, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more. Both also offer Cloud storage and traditional business apps (like calendars and contacts) with pricing options for law firms of all sizes. This sheer range of apps, services, and affordable pricing pushes Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace ahead of their competition.

So, which of these services is better? Well, it depends. For starters, how comfortable are you with the Cloud?

The first notable difference between Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace is that Microsoft lets you stay half-in/half-out of the Cloud. That is, you can get desktop versions of all your favorite Microsoft 365 apps (for offline work), with options to sync them online if/when needed. In contrast, Workspace is entirely Cloud-based (via your web browser). Many of its apps do allow you to temporarily save your work in offline caches but this feature is designed for short-term use only. You won’t want to spend days working in offline mode.

Remember, though, that if you choose desktop applications, accessibility might become an issue.

With Google Workspace or the Cloud version of Microsoft 365, your operating system (OS) is irrelevant because you’re accessing everything via your web browser. So, you can use all their services on a PC, Mac, or Linux system with no real difference in performance. But with 365’s desktop version, your OS matters. Yes, there are Mac versions of all your favorite 365 apps, but they’re designed slightly differently. So, you’ll have to use alternate tutorials and troubleshooting guides, depending on your OS. And since 365 is a Microsoft product, they optimize it for Windows systems. So, you’ll find a few advanced features missing from 365 for Mac.

This Windows vs Mac difference affects app integrations, too.

Using 365’s desktop version on a Mac OS will affect its app integration, too. For instance, Word for Mac doesn’t integrate well with SharePoint (Microsoft’s collaboration tool to store, manage, and share digital information). And it doesn’t offer Digital Ink (a freestyle drawing tool) or allow you to use embedded fonts. But the Cloud version of 365 doesn’t have these issues, giving you the same level of seamless app integration as Google Workspace. For instance, Microsoft’s OneDrive works smoothly with Office Online, the same as Google Drive does with Google Docs. And both Outlook and Gmail do a great job linking to their respective calendar, task, meetings, chat, and contacts apps.

Only a few apps exist in one ecosystem but not the other.

Both 365 and Workspace are complete business solutions for law firms. And they each have comparable apps for email, calendaring, task management, chat, collaboration, word processing, etc. But they each also have a few apps that the other doesn’t. For instance, both 365 and Workspace can help you build websites – but 365’s Sharepoint app only lets you build private websites (for internal collaboration within your firm), while Workspace’s Sites app lets you create private and public websites. Conversely, Workspace doesn’t have an equivalent to 365’s Bookings app (which works as an online appointment bookings service). You’ll see the same thing with some in-app features, too. For instance, Gmail offers ‘labels’ which you can use the same as Outlook’s folders, but also as keyword tags to add context to your emails. On the other hand, Gmail’s search engine can only search your emails, while Outlook’s can search your calendar entries, tasks, contacts, etc., too.

You’ll also want to consider how much storage space you need.

Both 365 and Workspace offer ample storage at affordable prices, but with slightly different setups. For instance, Workspace’s Business Standard plan offers 2 terabytes of storage space (on Google Drive) per user, while 365’s equivalent plan offers just 1 terabyte (on OneDrive). However, 365 gives you an extra chunk of 50 GB dedicated solely to your mailbox. (Of course, all this is negotiable if you upgrade your Microsoft 365 or Workspace plan and/or pay for more storage space.)

And this brings us to pricing. Both Workspace and 365 have similar pricing plans, with two exceptions.

Both Workspace and 365 mirror each other with most of their plans for businesses.

  • Starter plans: Both offer ‘starter’ plans at $6/user/month
  • Standard plans: $12/user/month (Workspace) and $12.50/user/month (Microsoft 365),
  • Premium plans: $18/user/month (Workspace) and $22/user/month (Microsoft 365).

The major difference is that 365 has three separate ‘enterprise’ plans ($8, $36, $57 per user, per month), while Workspace offers only one (pricing available only from their sales team). Also, 365 has an apps-only plan (with fewer add-ons) for $8.25/user/month. (For more info, see Microsoft 365’s pricing and Google Workspace’s pricing).

So, it finally comes down to personal preference because both 365 and Workspace have all the tools you’ll need.

Either 365 or Workspace will work fine for your law firm, so it comes down to personal preference. Smaller law firms might like Workspace’s simple, all-inclusive storage plans, while larger ones might prefer 365’s range/choice of enterprise plans.

But remember, neither 365 nor Workspace are designed for eDiscovery-specific file management and review.

365 and Workspace are great for general file management and review, but not for eDiscovery reviews. That’s because specialized eDiscovery applications come with a different toolset with features like inbuilt OCR, a powerful search engine to find niche files and keywords, document tagging and redaction options, and an in-depth production wizard to prepare files for external review. Learn more about eDiscovery-specific tools.

To explore file review for eDiscovery, try a Cloud-based eDiscovery service like GoldFynch.

GoldFynch is an eDiscovery service designed for small and midsize law firms. And it comes with the following popular features:

  • It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know exactly what you’re paying for: its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing files is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
  • It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free trial case (0.5 GB of data and a processing cap of 1 GB) without adding a credit card.
  • It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch, and you’re good to go. Plus, you get prompt and reliable tech support.
  • Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

Want to find out more about GoldFynch?