Lawyers are in the cloud, just like everyone else these days. The ABA Legal Technology Survey Report showed that, while law firms are lagging a little further behind national trends, cloud adoption continues to rise. 74 percent of the attorneys surveyed in the report shared that the convenience and low cost of cloud computing models is exactly what is so attractive to these firms – especially the small to mid-size providers who are leading all legal sectors in cloud adoption.
But there is one type of cloud-based solution that is particularly important to the small law firm. It’s a service that you are probably using today. We’re talking about Software as a Service (SaaS) and it is one of the best cloud offerings for solo practitioners and mid-sized law firms.
SaaS consists of on-demand computer applications that you access through the Internet. The software can be accessed from any digital device as long as you have WiFi and your data is stored on the vendor’s server, instead of at your office.
These models do not require you to purchase the software, but just a users license via a monthly or quarterly subscription service.
Here are some of the most typical SaaS applications that lawyers are using today:
Clio for case management
Dropbox for file storage
Efax for faxing
EverLaw for eDiscovery
Evernote for note taking
Fastcase and Westlaw for legal research
Gmail or Outlook for email
Google docs for document collaboration
PayPal or Square for payments
QuickBooks for accounting
Salesforce for client relationship management
Skype for video conferencing
Ravel Law for data visualization
The benefit of SaaS models for the small to mid-size law firm is that these are powerful tools that are now available at a lower cost. Other benefits of SaaS models include:
Intuitive and user-friendly interfaces that make these applications easier to use. Many legacy software applications in the legal profession have been developed over years and as a result, these platforms are feature-rich but unwieldy. The newer SaaS applications have been built from the ground up to be more intuitive with a better user experience.
Improved customer support is included as part of most SaaS subscriptions. With traditionally installed on-premise software applications, you may have to purchase individual or group licenses that allow for technical support. SaaS has tech support built right into to the monthly fee.
Free training and user forums characterize SaaS models today. Many offer online training tutorials to help you learn more – if you even need to.
Accessibility and access are one of the biggest benefits of SaaS applications. Many legacy legal platforms are not compatible across all digital devices. For example, one software program may not work well with a PC operating with Windows XP. Traditional legal software often cannot be used on mobile devices or has other limitations that will slow users down. But SaaS applications are web-based, and therefore compatible with all browsers (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc.), all phones, and any computer operating system.
Security is of paramount importance for all law firms. There is an argument to be made that on-premise installed software is actually less secure than SaaS. SaaS applications store your data on remote servers. This makes the information secure from on-site accidents, like a server crash, fire, flood, or other disasters. The vendors that run these applications have very elaborate security measures, including backups, upgrades and security patches, redundant systems, and entire teams devoted to keeping your information safe. Can your law firm boast these same resources?