For law firm IT professionals, moving to cloud-based software solutions, as opposed to on-premise software, is a strategic move for both your firm and your career. Why? The cloud frees up your time (and your staff’s time) so that, instead of spending your time troubleshooting VPN issues, you can tackle your firm’s greater informational technology needs.
More and more law firms are moving to the cloud. Consider: 63% of law firms predict an increased adoption of cloud services for their firms, according to ILTA’s 2017 Technology Survey. Simply put, the cloud-based future for law firms is now.
Here are eight things law firm IT professionals can expect when moving firms to the cloud:
1. Stronger security
Legal cloud computing has come a long way. Many legal professionals have come around to the reality that the cloud is actually more secure than on-premise software for many law firms.
Simple economies of scale have led cloud computing vendors to invest aggressively in security infrastructure that is orders of magnitude more secure than what a small to medium sized law office would be able to invest in to protect on-premise servers. Clio, for example, spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on security, penetration testing, a dedicated security team, and much more to make sure all client data is secure.
Plus, features such as the ability to require all lawyers and staff to use strong passwords for their accounts will help you maintain security best practices within your firm.
Consider this quote from Jay Heiser, research vice president at Gartner, from a Gartner article on cloud security:
CIOs need to ensure their security teams are not holding back cloud initiatives with unsubstantiated cloud security worries … Exaggerated fears can result in lost opportunity and inappropriate spending.
In other words, embracing the cloud will keep your law firm on the leading edge of tech, and will help lighten the load when it comes to law firm data security (especially in light of changing regulations such as the UK’s General Data Protection Regulation).
2. Simplified software updates
Whether there are five or 5,000 computers at your law firm’s office, making sure everyone’s software is up to date and working properly can be a pain. If you’re still using an on-premise solution, you know what it’s like to block out large chunks of time for you and your team to tediously update the latest version of the software—you may even need to pay your provider for these upgrades as well!
With cloud computing, providers consistently implement software updates to constantly improve performance and functionality. All of this happens automatically and without any additional cost to your firm, and without any time investment needed from you.
3. No more VPN struggles
Having the option to work remotely is now table stakes for all industries, including law firms. According to the ABA Journal, 26 out of 28 of law firms surveyed by Diversity & Flexibility Alliance offered a formal flex work policy.
That’s a pretty large percentage of firms, and we’re betting your firm either has an official policy, or an ad hoc system, that allows associates and other staff to work from home. All of this to say, when you’re practice management software is on-premise, virtual private networks (VPNs) are needed to allow access to essential interfaces and documents.
Not so with cloud-based solutions. With Clio, for example, lawyers and staff can securely access files and collaborate on cases from anywhere—no VPN required. There’s even a mobile app, so lawyers can check in on key details on-the-go, from the palms of their hands.
4. Improved compatibility with other software
As an IT professional, you’re tasked with navigating complex tech stacks to keep your firm up and running, keeping both core platforms and complementary software securely ticking along. With on-premise software, the process of integrating additional software solutions can be time consuming and costly—if possible at all.
However, leading cloud-based software providers build software that makes this process easy, allowing you to connect to other tools you already use, start working with new ones to build a more tailored tech stack, or even build solutions of your own. Clio connects with an extensive portfolio of apps and services, including Microsoft Office 365, QuickBooks Online, Fastcase, and more, and also provides an open API.
5. Better support = fewer IT requests
Feeling stuck spending too much of your day on minor IT requests? There are probably a million other things you can do with your time, and switching to cloud-based software means you’ll get that time back. Top-tier cloud-based practice management companies provide stellar support to everyone who’s using the software, not just IT staff. With a robust knowledge center, live chat, and phone support, basic tech questions don’t need to be routed through your team.
6. More room in your IT budget
The cost of on-premise servers alone can make up a major chunk of your IT budget, not to mention the costs of storing, maintaining, and running these servers. But unlike on-premise software systems, cloud-based solutions don’t require you to buy and maintain servers at all, putting more money back in your budget.
7. Simpler scalability
As an IT professional, your role is critical to your firm’s ability to grow. With on-premise solutions, that means budgeting for additional servers, setting up tech in new offices, onboarding new team members, training them on software usage and security policies, and much more.
With cloud-based software, this process is greatly simplified: Cloud-based software providers often operate on a subscription model, which means that onboarding a new staff member is as easy as adding a new subscriber to the program—without worrying about additional servers for growing offices or new locations.
If you’re a law firm IT professional, the cloud can be a boon for both your law firm and your career: Secure cloud-based solutions simplify your day-to-day, giving you more time to focus on projects you care about, and on projects that can truly make a difference for the success of your firm.