Cloud computing lets you access software and services via the internet—from anywhere. Instead of working with costly on-premise, server-based solutions, cloud-based providers leverage economies of scale to provide powerful, secure software as a service (SaaS).
More and more law firms are using the power of the cloud to stay competitive in an ever-changing legal landscape.
Here’s what law firms need to know about cloud computing.
Key features of good cloud-based software
Cloud computing offers many benefits, but not all cloud-based companies are equal. If your law firm is considering a switch to the cloud, here are a few key features to look for in a good cloud provider:
You have a duty to keep your clients’ data secure. Make sure that any vendor you work with provides the highest standards of security for your practice, including:
- Encryption. Ask your vendor about data encryption to ensure client and firm information stays confidential.
- Third-party verification. Ensure your vendor’s security has been verified by third parties, such as McAfee and Digicert.
- Geographical redundancy. Ask your cloud provider about multiple server locations—this is a must for verifying your firm’s data is always backed up.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is now in effect, and as a lawyer, it’s more important than ever that you adhere to rules and regulations surrounding privacy and data security. Confirm that any vendor you’re considering is GDPR-compliant before making your choice.
Some cloud-based software providers provide an exceptional support experience (for example, Clio’s support and customer service is award-winning). Before you sign on, ask about the hours of support, whether or not you’ll have to pay for it, whether you’ll have different options—such as email or chat—for asking questions, and what the average wait time is for a support call.
A big benefit of cloud-based software is that you can use it anywhere, on any device. Most cloud-based software providers that would be of interest to lawyers have intuitive mobile apps that complement their web apps—be sure to test these out before choosing a vendor, as you’re likely on your phone more than you think.
Cloud-based software used by law firms
The legal tech industry is booming, with new cloud-based niche tools for different tasks and practice areas coming online regularly. Here’s a look at just a few cloud-based apps and services law firms are using:
Case management software
First and foremost, any tech-savvy law firm uses cloud-based case management software to keep all firm information organised in one place. With intuitive interfaces, integrations with other tools you already use, and the ability to practice from anywhere, cloud-based case management software like Clio is the key to a modern, efficient, and profitable legal practice.
Document storage software
With cloud-based tools like Box, Dropbox, and NetDocuments, you’ll never need to worry about running out of room for your files again. Store your documents securely in the cloud, and access them when you need them—whether at a client meeting or while deep in research.
Note: Clio integrates directly with Box, Dropbox, and NetDocuments, so you can keep all the documents for your practice in one place.
Even your law firm’s accounting can be done in the cloud. For example, Klyant makes it easy to keep client and office money in check, and includes powerful reporting features to give you valuable insights into your firm’s finances.
… and much more
From client onboarding to IP docketing to business reporting and analytics, there’s almost nothing that cloud-based software can’t help your law firm with. Take the time to explore your options—you just may find an app or service that saves you hours of work.
Tip: See other cloud-based apps that integrate with Clio in the Clio App Directory.
The benefits of a cloud-based law firm
The cloud definitely has its benefits. Here are just a few:
- Improved security. Economies of scale allow cloud-computing vendors to invest 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. (For example, Clio 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.)
- Cost effectiveness. Without the need for constant software upgrades or the need to maintain an on-premise server, cloud-based solutions can lower IT costs.
- Mobility. Waiting at the dentist’s office? On the train? Waiting to pick up your child from school? With the cloud, you can take a few minutes to review a document, approve a bill, and much more—all from the palm of your hand.
- Automatic updates. No more waiting around for software updates: With the cloud, you’ll always have the latest software without any hassle.
- Seamless operations. Many cloud-based apps work together (Clio integrates directly with over 20 apps and services), so you can create your own technology ecosystem while keeping all of your firm’s data in one place.
- Better client service. Millennial clients want on-demand service, and since they’re set to make up 50% of the UK workforce by 2020, their needs are worth considering. With the cloud, your law firm can provide the quick updates and seamless service that millennials crave, keeping your business competitive and profitable.
Law firms that leverage cloud computing are most competitive
As of last year, 88% of UK businesses had adopted the cloud. In other words, cloud-computing is fast becoming ubiquitous, and law firms that fail to leverage the power of this technology may soon find themselves left behind.
Think about which tools you need, choose a few potential vendors, and ask the right questions to make sure you’re covered in terms of data security and GDPR compliance. Your clients—and your business—will thank you.