The definition of “cloud computing” includes a number of concepts that are familiar to the typical attorney. For example, accessing the internet or storing data in the cloud are typical ways to use the technology – and the concept – effectively. But there is another type of cloud computing that includes the software many law firms use each day. These products are offered by software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers. SaaS vendors are simply software providers that offer access to their products in the cloud.
This post covers some of the SaaS providers in the legal profession. From practice management to billing to eDiscovery, who are some of the hottest SaaS providers in the legal cloud universe these days.
Uptime Practice recently published their review of some of the best in practice management software providers for 2017. Some of the cloud computing software companies that made the list include:
Clio is a very popular cloud computing software vendor that is geared toward the solo practitioner or very small firm. You’ll find case and client management, document collation, calendaring, task lists, and time and billing. Clio smoothly integrates with some of the other cloud computing platforms like Zapier or LawPay.
CosmoLex is a cloud computing solution that offers accounting, client and case management, calendars, task management, time tracking and billing. If you use this software, you could eliminate accounting software such as QuickBooks completely. Subscribe to the TOSS C3 blog
LexisNexis offers PCLaw, a practice management tool for lawyers. The platform handles accounting and billing for the small to the midsize law office. You can manage the three c’s of lawyering: clients, cases, and calendars from one portal. There’s time tracking, and billing, along with financial reporting.
ProLaw by Thompson Reuters, is a practice and project management and accounting tool. It’s one of the few cloud computing tools that integrates with all three of these services into one hub, which is why it’s popular for small practices. Services start at the 10-user license and go up from there.
While these are just a few examples of SaaS providers in the market, what are the benefits of these cloud computing models? The American Bar Association (ABA) has weighed in on these vendors and what they say may surprise you.
ABA, Cloud Computing, and SaaS “…traditional legal software tends to have a very wide range of features and functions, but it can also be complicated and less-than-intuitive for new users.”
The ABAs website has a fairly thorough assessment of cloud computing and how it could help your firm, particularly if you have less than five attorneys on staff. They suggest the following benefits of cloud computing SaaS models:
Cloud computing models are more user-friendly, adaptable, and interoperable between multiple platforms.
Updates and upgrades happen constantly in the cloud, which means lawyers are better protected against security as they happen in real time.
Many software providers offer a free trial to test their services.
SaaS vendors typically provide support as part of their service offering.
Most SaaS cloud computing providers offer video training and user forums to help new SaaS users adapt to the technology. The SaaS vendor typically offers intensive hands-on training as part of their service as well.
Traditionally, legal software can be incompatible between hardware and software platforms. It can be unwieldy and expensive to install on premise. But cloud computing uses a simple dial-up to access the tools – and you can do it from anywhere. That ease of use and constant access are key features of any cloud computing product.
The cost of SaaS is typically much lower than traditional software. In addition, cloud computing completely eliminates the need for purchases of on-premise hardware. SaaS is a standard monthly expense that lawyers can budget for each month.