6 minute read.
Current statistics show 78% of law firms currently store client data in the cloud; another 8% have plans to do so in the near future1.
Where does your law firm fall? Are you working in the cloud?
Because like it or not, cloud computing is here to stay. The ability to store and access vast amounts of data without bearing the cost or responsibility for server maintenance is no longer revolutionary; it’s a no-brainer. And with continually improving security measures, the cloud has become a core solution for any organization intent on leveraging its data – critical or non-critical – to the fullest.
And yet, in many law firms, cloud adoption is often limited to non-critical applications. The desire to avoid disruption and concerns about data safety compel many firms to cling to on-site systems.
This delay tactic is a huge misstep. One that severely hampers progress and growth. It’s true that migrating your data to the cloud can be a major decision and, in some cases, a leap of faith. However, making the move has hugely positive repercussions to your firm’s wellbeing and viability.
Here’s a quick primer on why migrating to the cloud should be on your firm’s to-do list this year and what you can do to make it a smooth and successful transition.
How cloud computing impacts your firm’s viability
The long and short of it is if you want your firm to stay competitive in today’s marketplace, you’re going to need to leverage cloud computing. It allows your firm to be flexible and responsive in ways that on-site systems can’t support.
Consider these three cascading examples of how incorporating cloud computing into your firm’s environment can boost its viability:
- The cloud facilitates remote work. This capability was key for firms as they weathered 2020’s COVID lockdowns. Those with a cloud or hybrid system in place were able to pivot to remote work within 24 hours, limiting loss of productivity. Those without it lost precious billable time and compounded their crisis.
- Remote work infrastructure supports attorney mobility. Today’s workforce is mobile. In fact, 67% of attorneys and staff reported that they would like to continue working remotely even after the pandemic is over2. The traditional work-in-the-office structure is falling by the wayside. Organizations that support the new work-from-anywhere trend experience an impressive increase in work productivity. Cloud-based computing is at the heart of this new work model.
The number of U.S. lawyers who say they want at least one day per week of remote work has more than doubled from the pre-pandemic period, from 36% to 76%. Law.com
- Greater attorney mobility will lead to better talent retention. The upcoming generation of law professionals are device-dependent. To attract and keep quality talent, your firm needs to support their technology habits, i.e., remote work capabilities, device-friendly applications, etc. Again, cloud-based applications and networks accommodate this.
Putting your practice management applications in the cloud may seem daunting and risky, but the repercussions for not doing so can create major drag on your firm’s forward momentum.
Migrating to the cloud: why it’s a critical 2021 to-do
As previously stated, many law firms host their non-critical applications, like Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Reader, in the cloud. Now, more and more firms are making the choice to migrate their client data and finance/practice management applications (such as ProLaw) to the cloud.
Here’s why it pays to make this move:
- Accessibility. Attorneys are doing more work away from the office. With a cloud-based system, they can access relevant firm data any place, any time, from any device. This on-demand access facilitates better decision-making, improved communication, increased productivity, and, ultimately, stronger client relationships.
- Reliability. Cloud-based platforms can often accommodate more data and traffic than on-site servers. With the right hosting provider, you’ll experience fewer glitches and latency issues with applications living on servers miles away than you would if they were on servers down the hall.
- Scalability. For applications like ProLaw, cloud hosting makes it easier and more cost-effective to adjust user numbers; the service grows (or shrinks) with you.
- Security. Cloud technology has made significant advancements in recent years, much of it around security. Amazon and Microsoft spend billions of dollars annually to continually improve their cloud security measures making their cloud platforms a haven for your data.
Converting to a cloud-based system also facilitates better business intelligence by making your data easier for the right people to access and use. It allows for better and more accurate decision-making, which in turn leads to greater overall success.
The critical first step: choosing a cloud hosting provider
Of course, you can’t take advantage of cloud computing without a cloud hosting provider. These companies are filled with tech professionals who can help you design and create your firm’s new cloud-based “home.” There are a lot of them out there, so how do you find one that’s right for your firm’s needs?
Here are five key areas to consider when selecting a cloud hosting provider:
- Security. Safeguarding your data is the highest priority. Make sure you understand what processes and protocols your provider uses to keep your information secure. For instance, our ProLaw Cloud Hosting Services employ Microsoft Azure and its two-step validation process for maximum protection.
- Storage and servers. It’s important to know what your storage and server space looks like and where it’s physically located. Are you sharing it? Is it nearby or in another country? Both of these factors impact response times and latency (closer proximity equals faster service), which are key to daily productivity.
- Expertise. Capable cloud hosting providers are everywhere. However, how many of them have deep knowledge of the legal sector? Are they familiar with your best-of-breed applications? Choosing a provider who understands your world is important! As legal tech experts, we’re frequently called in to repair mistakes made by providers unfamiliar with the legal ecosystem.
- Customer support. It’s always good to be clear about what your ongoing support package will look like. Is it Monday through Friday only, or 24/7? Remember to consider that more and more attorneys are working remotely and during non-traditional business hours when deciding which type of support is best for you.
- Migration services. As crazy as it sounds, not all cloud hosting providers know how to properly migrate data to the cloud platform. This is another area to investigate when shopping for providers.
If you expect your attorneys to practice law efficiently and effectively going forward, your firm needs to fully embrace cloud computing. Remaining tethered to on-premise systems simply isn’t a smart business decision anymore; technology advances too quickly to make relying on these restrictive constructs a sensible choice.
Set your firm on the path for growth, success, and limitless possibilities. Step into the cloud.
Need more information about migrating your firm’s systems or applications to the cloud? Want to know more about Helm360’s cloud hosting capabilities? Contact us! We’re happy to help you get your firm moving in the right direction.
- The Great Law Firm Cloud Migration: In the Next Five Years, Most Law Firms Will be Using Someone Else’s Servers even for Critical Systems | Aderant