Thursday, October 8, 2009

More evidence that sometimes email is not good enough

Email continues to be a source of security risks. You can look at a recent report here or search the internet for similar cases. But the bottom line is very simple. If you are a SaaS vendor in the legal industry ask yourself these two questions:
  1. Do you consider your SaaS application to be mission-critical?
  2. Does your application send notifications to its users via email?
If you have answered "yes" to both questions then you may be opening yourself -and your customers- to an attack similar to the ones described the report above. 

On a brighter note, Bellefield is working to address this very issue.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Enabling Effective Collaboration

One of the guiding principles of Bellefield's collaboration framework is that it must provide the building blocks necessary to enable users to collaborate effectively. It may sound obvious, but the reality is that when you look at most of the current offerings in the market they lack some of these basic building blocks.

For example, a very basic feature that any collaboration application should have is single-sign on. For the non-technical user, single sign-on means that you get logged in automatically into the applications or websites you use without you having to remember or manage two dozen different sets of usernames and passwords.

Single sign-on is a great idea, however not very many applications in the legal market take advantage of it (see NetDocuments as an exception). And without single-sign on users are stuck with having to manage all these passwords, usually by their own means.

How do they do it? Most use a simple Excel spreadsheet to keep track of their website/username/password combinations. Some use Post It notes under their monitors. Some others just re-use the same password over and over again in different websites. Neither of these systems can be called “best practice” or taken as very secure, but what else can a user do? And what are the risk implications for the law firm as a whole?

We’ll address risk in a future post, but for now let’s write down a simple usability rule: the harder you make me work to access your website the more I will avoid using your website.

And if your website happens to be about collaboration then you should be encouraging me to collaborate more, not less. In Bellefield’s view, single sign-on is a required building block of an effective collaboration framework.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another call to move beyond unsecured email

Here is an interesting article predicting a shift in the legal industry towards encrypted communications within the next 2-3 years. Knowing a bit about the legal market we would rather bet on 3-6 years, but regardless of the timeframe the overall shift is undeniable and already under way. And the pace will only accelerate as technology advances and regulations press on.

Even today there are very few reasons -other than convenience- for attorneys to continue to use unsecured email to communicate and collaborate with their clients. Email is too unreliable and too risky, and almost any inbox ends up growing to unmanageable size.

There are many vendors that provide secure web-based workspaces for collaboration, but even those vendors resort to the use of unsecured email in one way or another, even if only to keep members up to date with recent changes inside a workspace. Is it possible to build a reliable collaboration platform on top of an unreliable communication mechanism like email? Probably not.

According to the article, a better solution may soon be needed.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bellefield featured in the September issue of The American Legal Technology Insider

We love The Orange Rag, Charles Christian’s news blog, for the depth of his posts and for his continuing effort to keep us up to date with the most current news in the legal technology field. For the same reasons, we appreciate the reference to Bellefield and our new Legal Collaboration Framework in his most recent September publication.

You can download the Legal Technology Insider September issue from:

The American Legal Technology Insider (ALTi) recently celebrated its one year anniversary and its subscriber base is growing rapidly. Only one year into publication, the circulation has topped over 18,000.

Bellefield Announces Collaboration Framework for the Legal Industry

On September 9, 2009 we announced the formal launch of Bellefield and our Legal Collaboration Framework.

As one of our offerings, we are building a simple yet robust collaboration framework that leverages the latest technologies to address some of the traditional shortcomings of current collaboration solutions.

For more detail you can download the press release from:

The response so far has been very encouraging. Thank you all!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bellefield Now a Member of Microsoft BizSpark

We are happy to announce that Bellefield is now a member of the Microsoft BizSpark program for startup companies. The goal of this Microsoft program is to support early stage companies by providing them with free software licenses, technical support, education, and access to their network of partners.

In practical terms, this means that every staff member at Bellefield (up to 25) has now access to a fully licensed copy of the software and tools we will be using to develop our next-generation SaaS collaboration platform for the legal market. Here are the tools we are planning to use: 
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2008
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008
  • Microsoft Office 2007
  • Microsoft Expression Blend
  • Microsoft Expression Web
  • Microsoft Expression Design

The BizSpark licenses are good for 3 years and after that we will need to pay Microsoft a symbolic $100. That’s it. Sounds like a deal? Your company may be able to apply as well, read more about BizSpark here.

Obviously Microsoft does not do this out of the kindness of their heart: their goal is to eliminate any pricing objections that startup companies may have to building their solutions on the Microsoft platform. And with all those free open source alternatives for building SaaS applications, why would you want licensing costs to be the deciding factor?

We think this is a very smart move by Microsoft. It is likely that those successful startup companies will continue to use Microsoft’s technology well beyond their startup phase. And that means real revenue for Microsoft. And for those startups that fail, well, at least you have a team of people that have learned and are familiar with a number of Microsoft’s technologies and not some competing alternative. It is a win-win for Microsoft no matter how you slice it.

In Bellefield’s case, we will work hard and do our best to make sure we are one of those successful startups Microsoft is looking to foster. Big thanks to Microsoft!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bellefield is now a Microsoft Partner

Today we are announcing that Bellefield has joined the Microsoft Partner Network. This means we now have a direct connection to Microsoft and access to the vast network of resources and investment (about $2 billion each year) that Microsoft directs to its partners.

Joining this program is a significant development and will enable Bellefield to move even faster as we build our next-generation collaboration platform for the legal market. More information is available in our recent press release

Stay tuned, we'll have more news from Microsoft pretty soon!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Welcome to Bellefield

Welcome to Bellefield, a new technology startup from Gabriela Isturiz and Daniel Garcia, the co-founders of the eBillingHub. We are a couple of engineers with lots of ideas, a passion for solving problems, an entrepreneurial streak, and a great deal of good luck.

For many years both Gabriela and myself have been intimately involved in all aspects of building both traditional and SAAS applications for the legal market, from the conception of an original idea, to the development of software, and to the ultimate delivery of software and services to many law firms worldwide.

During the past few weeks we have been asked numerous times what are we up to. And we must admit that we have been searching for the answer ourselves. We have spent a lot of time thinking about the things we enjoy the most, the things we are good at and our plans for the future.

So while thinking about what projects to tackle next, we realized that the basics continue to be in place: we are still a couple of engineers with lots of new ideas, we still have a passion for solving problems, and we seem unable to get rid of our entrepreneurial streak. And yes, we hope good luck is still in our corner.

Bellefield is our new vehicle for the expression and development of those new ideas. Our ultimate goal, however, remains unchanged: to build a better world through innovative software and services. And we hope you will help us along the way.

Once again, welcome to Bellefield.