The greatest development in legal practice management technology in recent years, however, has been the shift from on-premise, server-based software, to hosted cloud services. As firms shift to cloud-based software, they’re able to take advantage of seamless remote access, greater time savings, better security, 99.9% uptime guarantees, and significant long-term cost savings.
For lawyers, a comprehensive management system manages all cases, time tracking, billing, and more in one central location—bringing together every aspect of your law firm, so that everyone can coordinate resources and collaborate for better efficiency and productivity.
Today, lawyers work more and more from home, client offices, hotel rooms, on the road, and in court. Cloud-based software gives you access to the information you need, when and where you need it—without dealing with version updates or the inconvenience of VPN.
What is the cloud?
The tech industry loves buzzwords like “Big Data”, the “Internet of Things”, or, recently, “5G”. The problem is that a lot of us use those abstract, sometimes nebulous tech terms without knowing what they actually mean – and we might just be too embarrassed to ask our tech-savvy colleagues.
The cloud is one of those terms.
The cloud is essentially a network of hosted resources that you can access through the internet. Cloud-based software runs directly from company servers, which you can access through a web browser or dedicated app.
If you’ve ever used Dropbox, Facebook, Evernote, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Amazon Drive, Apple’s iCloud, SkyDrive, Gmail, or Amazon, you’ve used cloud-based technology
While firms may prefer the idea of having information stored in-office, there are a number of inherent problems such as:
Why move to the cloud?
Cloud computing solutions are convenient. The ease of use and the possibility to access programs through a web browser like Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome etc. without the need to download applications to a physical computer makes the cloud a big on-demand deal for law firms.
The cloud allows lawyers to work nimbly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as they can forgo additional hardware and high-end machine purchases to get work done (in fact, some offices make “computers on a stick” or cloud-based computers like Google’s Chromebooks a low-cost option).
The cloud’s services are elastic. If your office needs to access additional resources on the fly, you can scale quickly in the cloud; if you need to reduce resources, you can do so just as easily. The scalability of cloud-based solutions allows law firms to pay for only the space that they need to service the practice’s legal template and document management and daily operational needs while providing for flexibility as the practice grows.
Convenience, economy, and improved productivity have emerged as just some of the measurable benefits you can reap when moving your office’s data and operations to the cloud. There’s a notable shift in mindset at many offices, moving away from the question of “should we switch to the cloud?” to “why haven’t we done so already?”.
Increased data security: – Almost two-thirds of lawyers cite security concerns as a reason for not adopting the cloud. The great IT myth of our time is that the cloud is less secure than on-premise storage. In reality, major cloud storage providers have security equal to or better than most enterprise data centers.
Increased mobility and efficiency: – Mobility and efficiency are the main advantages of the cloud. Cloud services are relatively cost effective, with a quick set-up. Cloud storage can scale alongside your firm; as you get more clients (and therefore more data) you can increase your capability.
It also enables flexible and mobile working. If you are at a client’s office, or even in the courtroom, you can access everything you need in the cloud across devices. For example, if you need to quickly access your notes on a judicial decision you can do so, anytime, anywhere.
Reduced downtime: – If your servers go down, you don’t just lose revenue and data. Your brand image, as a reliable source of legal advice and services, can suffer a considerable blow. If your clients can’t trust you, your firm is in trouble.
Having monitored cloud services reduces the chance of downtime for your firm. IT professionals with expert knowledge of the hardware and software in use monitor and maintain the cloud resources, resolving any issues that occur.
Data analytics: – The cloud lets your firm become more focused on data analytics which can offer a ‘faster route to insight-driven decision-making and business outcomes. This allows you to view data which can help track metrics that benefit business growth and help you become more efficient.
The legal industry functions on the principle that decisions are evidence-based. The cloud can increase profits for partners through avoiding the fines associated with data breaches and the revenue lost during downtime. It also improves firm performance through better working practices and data analysis capabilities.
In short, the precedent is clear, embrace the cloud today for a better business.