Cloud computing has become commonplace for businesses, but lawyers remain reluctant to make the move to the cloud, according to a report from Jeff Chandler in Law Technology Today.
Jeff Chandler is President of American Technology Services and reports that the cloud migration “end-user spending” is expected to exceed $180 billion by the end of this year and the benefits of using the cloud are clear: significant improvements in processes and evidently an 82 per cent cost saving.
That’s significant for any business, including law firms.
So why the reluctance?
.. many law firms remain reluctant to migrate to the cloud due to continued concerns about the security of client data, the reliability of mission-critical applications, and potential legal liabilities stemming from data privacy regulations.
The cost savings alone make this an evident no-brainer. The use of the cloud means:
- less need for in-house servers
- reduction in hardware costs
- free service and software updates
- maintenance is frequently included in the service deals
And apart from that there are the numerous benefits.
As with other small business users, the cloud offers law firms an effective means for storing massive amounts of data in an easily accessible, cost-effective manner. Properly implemented, the cloud enables attorneys to work from anywhere, which translates into increased productivity and an enhanced work-life balance. Most cloud services also offer mobile apps, meaning the user is not restricted by which device is available. And because documents can be accessed and shared anytime from anywhere, collaboration among attorneys can be significantly improved.
There is also the ability for lawyers to buy an buy-what-you-eat approach with considerable advantages in terms of flexibility and the ability to ramp up storage and capacity as and when needed, or dropping services that are unnecessary or not needed.
What about the key, security concern?
. . so long as the firm is dealing with a reputable provider, the cloud will provide increased stability and security. Reputable providers employ the most up-to-date security measures, including sophisticated tools to manage the system and monitor unauthorized access. Such providers also offer robust disaster recovery and business continuity features which are more powerful and effective than most law firms are likely to have in-house.
Risk-averse lawyers should look for cloud providers that provide top security. Confidentiality is an issue and as Jeff Chandler notes: ” cloud providers must meet international best practices with respect to rigorous enterprise security and control standards. Cloud solutions should also integrate security with business processes and workflow.
For this reason, law firms need to understand the different types of clouds available (public, in which the entire cloud is available for public use; private, in which the cloud is used by only one entity; or community, in which the cloud is shared by several organizations, usually in the same industry). In virtually all cases, a private cloud is the preferable option for a law firm.
Data privacy regulations and other issues are also important. Many countries do not allow certain types of data to be stored outside of the country, the firm needs to know where the cloud provider is physically located and whether it provides mitigation strategies to properly safeguard stored data.
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