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August 4, 2017
Cloud computing has normalized into a model that most lawyers are comfortable with. That’s according to the American Bar Association in their 2016 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report. The report found a significant increase in cloud migration by law firms of all sizes and this is predicted to continue.
This article looks more closely at trends in cloud computing and cloud services for law firms. But for those of you lagging behind, let’s start with some basic terminology to set a baseline for what we believe will be your inevitable migration off premise and into the cloud.
Setting a Baseline – Cloud Computing and Cloud Services
While everyone has heard about cloud computing, there are still some litigators who are more expert in legal standards than technology. The phrase, “the cloud” is interchangeable with the term “Internet.” Cloud computing is simply slang for your digital connection to the Internet. Cloud services are the software that you access through the Internet.
Cloud computing has profoundly affected the legal profession over the last decade. Many of the documents we used to access in a file box or on microfiche, have now been scanned and are accessible online in PDF. Interestingly, health care has undergone a similar transition with traditional paper medical records charting evolving to the modern electronic medical records system.
For lawyers today, the cloud is ubiquitous; cloud services encompass our communication (Slack, BaseCamp, Salesforce), and our legal tools (Rocket Matter, Clio, Bill4Time). Interestingly, despite the migration of law firms to cloud services, it is the small to mid-size company that is leading the charge. Larger firms continue to hold their documents close to the vest in on-premise (on-site) computer solutions. Now, let’s look more closely at what the trends are showing.
Cloud Computing Trends – Law Sector
The American Bar Association in their 2016 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report found some of the following trends in the United States:
The survey found that cloud computing is an effective model for law-related tasks. Software-as-a-service, or cloud service offerings remained particularly popular with small firms. Finally, while lawyers remain very concerned about the security of their data, very few are taking action to prevent cyber breach.
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Benefits of Cloud Services Models for Law Firms
The ABA survey illustrates some of the benefits of cloud computing. Solo practice attorneys and smaller firms tended to take advantage of the lower costs associated with cloud services. These approaches allow small firms to access big tools to run their practices, at an affordable monthly subscription. This is a budget-friendly option for lawyers who would prefer to avoid the cost of adding and maintaining on-site equipment.
Too, cloud service models help eliminate some of the worries associated with maintaining the security of firewalls and other technologies to protect on-site data from hackers. Internet service providers have extensive network security protocols in place. Managed service providers and security firms such as TOSS C3 can add encryption and 24/7/365 network monitoring services that continue to exceed the typical digital security found at large law firms that have on-site servers.
While the incidents of cyber terrorism at law firms is increasing, the ABA’s suggestion that law firms are not acting to secure their data is concerning. The reality is, cloud computing models are currently safer than legacy on-premise platforms that lack updated security protocols.
These are just two of the benefits that the ABA survey found to be beneficial for law firms of all sizes. Interestingly, their survey concluded that half of the law firms surveyed expressed a lack of knowledge about the latest technology trends in cloud computing. Fortunately, there are companies like TOSS C3 who are devoted to staying up-to-date on all things in and out of the cloud.
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