June 13, 2021

Volume XI, Number 164

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June 11, 2021

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Law Firms are Switching to the Cloud. Here's Why

Cloud computing has become ubiquitous in modern society, but law firms have been slower than most in adopting the technology. Recently, however, law firms switching from on-site data management to the cloud has become the norm due to rapid advancements in cybersecurity, increasing client demand, and the appeal of improving efficiency while cutting costs. 

So, what are the most common reasons why cloud computing is still so controversial among legal professionals, and what has caused the industry shift toward cloud migration?

Cloud Computing and Confidentiality 

One of the driving forces that used to keep many law firms from using cloud servers is client confidentiality. When practicing law, attorney-client privilege is essential and cannot be taken lightly. Even today, concerns about confidentiality and ethics are the main reasons why cloud computing can be a contentious subject among those in the legal industry. 

In the early days of cloud-based systems, these issues were a valid reason to avoid outsourcing data storage to an off-site server. However, cybersecurity advancements have led to the cloud often being more secure than on-site servers. Small to medium sized law firms are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks since they often don’t have the infrastructure or expertise to keep their servers secure. Even with a secure firewall, a Wi-Fi connection can leave information and files vulnerable to a data breach. 

Cloud services offer end-to-end encryption, backup servers, teams of expert IT professionals, and physical safety measures, such as securely locked rooms with top-of-the-line camera systems and 24/7 monitoring. These procedures are impossible for law firms to enact at a lower cost than outsourcing. 

Cloud-Based Law Practice Management Software is Efficient

The benefits of being able to integrate and automate systems is one of the greatest advantages to companies using cloud technologies. Time consuming and tedious tasks such as scheduling, billing, invoicing, file management, and the creation of legal documents are all streamlined on the cloud. 

With a low barrier of entry and the ability to access their important information whenever and wherever they need it, many legal teams that were hesitant to make the switch are now migrating over to cloud-based systems, as Zoom meetings and online court hearings have become the norm. 

Is the Cloud More Reliable than In-House Systems?

While it has been a long-standing belief that in-house servers are more reliable and secure than cloud systems, this is no longer the case. Cloud servers offer redundancy that is unmatched by internal servers, since the cloud is able to utilize a secondary server if the primary system should fail. This leads to less downtime and a much lower risk of losing files to equipment error, damage, or a data breach. 

It is also common to forget to create local server backups, leaving law firms vulnerable to data loss. Cloud systems are able to continually sync and update, so companies don’t have to worry about being able to access files or documents. 

Cloud Technology Saves Money 

While efficiency is important, at the end of the day, companies are trying to improve their bottom line. Cloud technology saves law firms money by allowing them to increase efficiency while eliminating the high cost of local data storage and maintenance. Not only that, but they are able to budget better by avoiding unexpected costs, which are inevitable when dealing with aging hardware. 

Another significant cost-saving feature of cloud-based law practice management software is the ability to scale. When data is kept on site, scalability is considerably more expensive (and difficult). Law firms using cloud technology are able to grow without updating or adding equipment, software, IT staff, or other expenses associated with keeping data management in-house. Being able to focus on the growth of the business and having predictable, consistent data management costs is a notable advantage when scaling. 

Despite the obvious benefits, many law firms are still reluctant to take the plunge into the cloud. Some of the common reasons why include: 

Unpleasant Past Experiences

Whether a law firm was an early adopter of cloud technology, or recently had a poor experience with a particular cloud service, unpleasant transitions can sour an entire legal team against the idea of cloud technology altogether. Since there have been remarkable advancements in cloud computing recently, past exposure to cloud services shouldn’t be considered representative of how most cloud servers operate.  

Difficult Migrations

One of the most common complaints law firms have when attempting to switch over to cloud-based technology is a difficult migration process. It’s important for companies to check reviews and find out more about what’s required to import their data to the cloud before committing to a cloud computing service. 

Security Concerns

Due to the added scrutiny and obligations regarding confidentiality that legal teams are required to abide by, security concerns persist as an important reason why some law firms remain dubious about using cloud technology. However, modern cloud computing services typically offer considerably more secure data storage options than what law firms can provide in-house. 

Control and Possession of Data 

Some legal professionals feel as though migrating to the cloud means giving up control over their data and important documents because it gives them peace of mind to have their servers physically nearby. This kind of thought pattern inhibits growth by limiting their ability to scale; in reality they are not giving up control or possession of their data, they are simply moving it to a safer location that is easily accessible. 

© Copyright 2021 PracticePantherNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 130
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