How to Help Attorneys Embrace the Cloud

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Helping attorneys use cloud-based solutions is about explaining why the technology is so valuable – that it has security, speed, access, and collaboration benefits for firms.


While just about every industry will end up using cloud computing environments, it’s growth has obviously been faster in some areas than others. For example, the cloud grew quickly with startups and SMBs, but it took longer for the technology to become popular in the enterprise. Cloud has increasingly become standard practice within healthcare. In fact, the Health and Human Services Department created an extremely thorough, wide-ranging, and fully cited document specifically dedicated to the topic (“Guidance on HIPAA & Cloud Computing).”


Another industry that has been more skeptical in terms of moving to cloud is law. For obvious reasons, law has extreme concerns in terms of protecting clients’ highly sensitive data to the greatest possible degree (as indicated by a datacenter whose infrastructure is verified and certified to meet the parameters of SSAE 16 compliance, short for the Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 16, a set of principles developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants).


Since it seems that the transition to cloud is increasingly occurring for law firms, it makes sense to figure out how best to help them smoothly make the migration with confidence. Here are a few things it is good to let law firms know when they are considering transitioning to the cloud:


#1 – Adoption rates suggest lawyers want the convenience.


Today, more lawyers are using cloud than ever before. The technology is appreciated within law as it is within all the other fields: it is incredibly convenient and allows you to access your systems from anywhere you can get a web connection.


Part of the reason companies are adopting cloud is that bar associations are helping to further the understanding of how cloud can be used responsibly by attorneys through ethics opinions. Attorneys are taking advantage of cloud platforms for their website hosting and email server; for sharing of files to allow collaboration with internal and external partners; for backing up of HR details; to provide security against intrusion of your networks; to be able to access and manipulate files from a remote place; and to take work off the slate of your IT team (so they can focus on innovation rather than infrastructure and maintenance).


The numbers back up this idea that the distributed virtual network model is becoming central to law: an American Bar Association (ABA) study from 2016 reveals that at least one cloud service has now been adopted by 37.5% of attorneys. That same figure was at 31% in 2015 and 20% in 2014 – so clearly a transition to this form of computing continues to occur. Actually, other figures suggest that adoption by law firms is even more widespread: among firms that that are in the Am Law 200 and answered The American Lawyer’s 2015 Am Law-LTN Tech Survey, 51% of those 79 respondents said they had adopted cloud computing in some form.


#2 – Part of the reason the cloud has become so much more prevalent is that it is becoming recognized more widely as a secure choice.


There is more belief within the legal community that security and privacy are properly delivered within cloud atmospheres. Those law firms that feel security is now considered extremely solid within cloud computing are correct: thought leader David Linthicum calls people who are unsure about cloud technology the “folded arms gang.” In the piece, he convincingly suggests that security is better within cloud environments than it is within traditional on-premise data centers.


#3 – Cloud can be used to enhance your mobility.


The cloud allows you to deliver data seamlessly to smartphones and tablets as needed when you are away from your computer but want to maintain productivity throughout the day. Having your information in the cloud means that it is on a distributed virtual infrastructure (at a remote data center managed by a third party, if it’s a public or managed private cloud) rather than sitting behind a firewall. You are able to get information on-demand, just as your clients are. You are able to share or retrieve files between attorneys in a straightforward, simple, and efficient fashion. You are able to get data back and forth from one party to another without putting it at risk, both when you are sharing materials with clients and when you need to get it to litigation partners within the firm or other attorneys outside it – allowing you to do it right now rather than having to wait to get back to the office.


#4 – You don’t sink money into hardware that loses its value as you go.


If you spend the capital on your own data center for a traditional solution (whether dedicated or virtualized), you are investing in machines that will depreciate over time, gradually becoming obsolete. With the cloud, you do not need to buy the physical equipment – and that equipment is updated and maintained seamlessly over time at a cloud service provider. The cloud provider will manage the equipment. You will not have as big of a price tag upfront to start the system with cloud since that hardware is not needed, as noted in Law Technology Today. Basically, everything is handled behind the scenes, and you are unaware when updates are taking place.


#5 – Cloud lets onsite IT take a breath.


24/7 support is provided through a cloud provider, which can be extremely helpful to a firm that does not have a large IT department (which is true of most). Support that you will get from the CSP includes real-time oversight and checking of systems for active threats. Plus, they will manage the system to maximize the scalability of a plan so that resource distribution is meaningful and fits the needs of users. Service level agreements give attorneys a sense of what will be guaranteed from the provider in the areas of support and service.


Again, as indicated above, you can set up mission-critical cloud apps so that you are able to use your system anywhere you want. By getting faster access to your digital environment, you are better able to move quickly and achieve healthier work-life balance. With cloud systems trending toward greater mobile management, people will have an even simpler time working with their data and systems from any location. In turn, attorneys will better be able to work together to yield better results for all involved.


#6 – You get a platform that is better designed to leverage data analytics.


For your data to have value, you must analyze it. Law firms are increasingly adopting cloud so that they can better run analytics – with cloud tools that improve how they can use what they have at their fingertips for business intelligence, possibly improving their success rate at getting clients to work with them. Cloud systems may also reveal inefficiencies.


Launch legal cloud within an SSAE 16 compliant setting


Are you interested in setting up a cloud solution that meets the needs of your law firm? The SSAE 16 Type II Audit is your assurance that Total Server Solutions follows the best practices for data availability and security. See our SSAE 16 audit statement.