As a law firm IT professional, eschewing on-premise software in favour of cloud-based solutions is a strategic win for your firm—and your career. It’s simple: Cloud-based software makes routine activities more efficient and effective, freeing up valuable time so that—rather than wasting hours troubleshooting VPN issues—you can focus on your firm’s greater informational technology needs.
More and more British businesses, including law firms, now use the cloud in their daily working life, with research showing that the overall cloud adoption rate is now as high as 88% in the UK. Simply put, the cloud-based future for law firms is now—and IT professionals can lead the way for their firms.
Below, we consider seven reasons law firm IT professionals are moving their firms to the cloud:
1. Enhanced security
Legal cloud computing is more than just an equal alternative for law firms—the cloud is actually a more secure solution than on-premise software for many law firms.
Simple economies of scale have led cloud computing vendors to invest robustly in security infrastructure that is significantly more secure than what a small-to-medium-sized law office could invest in to protect on-premise servers. Clio, for example, spends hundreds of thousands of pounds each year on data security, testing, a dedicated security team, and much more to make certain all client data is secure.
Consider this quote from Jay Heiser, research vice president at Gartner, from a Gartner article on cloud security:
“[Chief Information Officers] 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, while helping to ease the burden when it comes to law firm data security—which is particularly important under the strict standards set by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
GDPR, which took effect in May 2018, requires all UK and EU businesses to protect clients’ personal data. GDPR is an immense responsibility—failure to comply can result in a loss of trust from clients as well as fines—but using the cloud can help law firms stay compliant through cloud-based features like automatic security updates, provider support, and safer data storage.
2. Simpler software updates
It doesn’t matter whether there are five or 5,000 computers at your law firm’s office, it can be a nuisance ensuring everyone’s software is current and working properly. If your firm is still using an on-premise solution, you and your team are likely spending considerable amounts of time tediously updating the latest version of the software. What’s worse? You may even need to pay your provider for these upgrades as well.
Cloud computing providers consistently implement software updates—constantly improving performance and functionality. These software updates occur automatically and without any additional cost to your firm, so you simultaneously save time and money.
3. Relief from VPN struggles
Having the option to work remotely is now commonplace for all industries, including law firms.
Whether your firm either has an official flexible work policy or an ad hoc system, more and more firms allow associates and other staff to work from home. Unfortunately, when you’re practice management software is on-premise, virtual private networks (VPNs) are required to allow access to essential interfaces and documents.
The case is different 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 software compatibility
One of the key challenges you face as an IT professional is navigating complex technology stacks to keep your firm up and running, keeping both core platforms and complementary software securely functioning. With on-premise software, the difficult process of integrating additional software solutions can be time-consuming and costly—if it’s even possible at all.
However, leading cloud-based software providers build software that simplifies this process, allowing you to connect to other tools you already use, start working with new ones to build a more tailored technology stack, or even create solutions of your own. Clio connects with an extensive portfolio of apps and services, including Microsoft Office 365, Xero, Klyant, and more, and also provides an open API.
5. Improved support for fewer IT requests
If you’re like most law firm IT professionals, you likely dedicate a significant portion of your day to dealing with minor IT requests—which adds up to a lot of time, energy, and money lost over time.
Switching to cloud-based software can make a major impact on how much time you spend dealing with minor issues. Top-tier cloud-based practice management companies provide stellar support to everyone who is using the software—not just IT staff. With a robust knowledge centre, live chat, and phone support, basic technology questions don’t need to be routed through your team.
6. More room in your IT budget
It’s plain: On-premise software systems are costly. From the price of initial purchase to the costs of storing, maintaining, and running these servers, on-premise servers consume a considerable portion of your IT budget.
Conversely, cloud-based solutions don’t require you to buy and maintain servers at all—which equates to more money residing in your IT budget.
7. Simpler scalability
Your role as an IT professional is critical to your firm’s ability to grow. With on-premise solutions, that means budgeting for additional servers, setting up technology 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.
The time for cloud is now
The cloud can be extremely useful for both your practice and your career as a law firm IT professional. By using secure cloud-based solutions, you can instantly simplify your routine while enhancing security—giving you more time and budget to focus on projects you care about, and on projects that can truly make a difference for the success of your firm.
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