The legal industry relies heavily on the ability to store large quantities of files for long periods of time. This data needs to remain accessible and secure. It may seem like that’s asking a lot, but with the cloud, it’s really not. With advanced backup, failover, recovery and computing, the cloud is accessible for any legal firm. Data and document storage apps and backup are the most popular uses of the cloud in the legal industry today, and that’s because firms are reliant on quick retrieval of the information they need. Not only will your legal data remain safe and constantly accessible, but cloud solutions are scalable so you can just keep storing more and more without worry. Unfortunately, many employees currently use the cloud without management approval. This open, unmonitored use is risky, and that’s why it’s time for legal professionals to get ahead of the curve and implement cloud services and standards so adoption is done the right way.
So how exactly does cloud computing benefit the legal industry? Let’s take a look.
Storage and Security
In the past, legal professionals have been wary of putting information in the cloud, as one of their main responsibilities is to protect client confidentiality. This makes moving data to a provider’s infrastructure a bit frightening. People still aren’t sure exactly where they stand with cloud security. Fortunately, professionals today are realizing that in most cases, cloud computing is just as secure, if not more secure, than traditional data storage. In many cases, lawyers should be more concerned with their current storage and security systems.
With the cloud, data like documents, contracts, notes and billing information is remotely stored in a secure data center that is owned and managed by the cloud provider. The information is more secure in this location because the provider has both legal and financial responsibilities to implement the highest security measures and ensure constant backup.
Of course, it’s not just about secure storage. Legal companies also care immensely about the lifespan of their data. Information must be safe from destruction, which can come in many forms: system failures, natural disasters, etc. There are countless examples of firms losing both original and backup data due to these situations, and that’s because they didn’t have a strong, cloud-based disaster recovery plan. With the cloud, even if a data center is affected by one of these occurrences, redundancy ensures that your system is up and running, uninterrupted, via a different data center. You can experience automatic backups and geographically diverse remote storage for your important information. 40.5% believe that disaster recovery and data backup capabilities are the highest value benefits delivered by cloud computing. (LexisNexis)
With cloud computing in your legal firm, you don’t have to worry about managing your computing system. The responsibility shifts to your cloud provider, which means you free up a lot of time. You don’t have to worry about installations or maintenance issues. Instead, you can focus on what you do best: running your firm. This will lead to a higher quality of work, greater client service and business innovation – and it’s all thanks to the cloud. Already, 31% – that’s nearly one third of all lawyers – report using cloud computing software to manage their firm (ABA Legal Technology Survey). And according to LexisNexis, that percentage might actually be closer to 40% now.
With cloud computing, firms experience costs based on a subscription model. This means that instead of paying a huge upfront sum, the attorney or legal professional pays monthly, based on their usage, users or needs. Cloud requires no additional hardware purchases or installation, saving even more money. Better yet, the end environment is intuitive and simple, allowing users to pick it up without extra training. The costs actually shift to the cloud provider. These include the costs of maintaining and updating infrastructure, data centers and software. You simply pay to use the resources.
Additionally, cloud solutions like applications are constantly upgraded, allowing you to work with the latest features and remain up to date. With traditional software, upgrading is extremely pricey. Firms can now store client data, financial records, legal documents, and more on the cloud for a fraction of the cost, in a secure facility instead of at risk in-house.
45.2% of attorneys agree that mobility and freedom of access are the highest value benefits expected from cloud services. (LexisNexis) With cloud computing, working with this flexibility becomes a lot easier. Your applications and data are accessible via the Internet across multiple platforms, browsers and devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones. It’s easy to work on the go or from various locations, like home, the office or on a business trip, because software is tied to the individual, rather than the computer. This ensures that in any situation, even a disaster, you can be up and running as usual.
This flexibility leads to efficiency because you are constantly connected to your data. Finding everything you need at the click of the button is much better than poring over papers and files hidden in desks and boxes.
25% of legal professionals believe their employees are already using cloud tools without the law firm’s knowledge or approval (LexisNexis) – why risk improper usage when you can implement the cloud and improve your entire environment? Wherever you stand, it’s clear that cloud technology is poised for mass adoption in all sectors, including legal. Cloud computing will soon become a routine part of everyday work and we’re sure to see adoption soar this year.