Cloud Computing: A Guide for Lawyers
Cloud Computing or Software as a Service is the latest technology being adapted by legal firms across the world. Accessibility, affordability, security, usability, and freedom are some of the benefits for lawyers.
With the advancement of technology, internet services have become available to consumers on the go. One can access online services like Gmail, Yahoo, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Uber, etc., with any device like a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. This is only possible due to cloud computing.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is the availability of on-demand online services like applications, data storage, processing power, etc. It enables users to access software and online services from anywhere without needing any physical infrastructure. For better practice management, businesses of all sizes are typically customers of cloud service providers who can provide the required services like storage or applications. These businesses can then run their operations like contract management, litigation, intellectual property etc. effectively and cater to their consumers’ needs using cloud computing services.
The cloud services model can be broken down into three parts. Firstly, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), also called Hardware as a Service, is the computing infrastructure managed over the internet, such as servers, storage, and networking. Second, Platform as a Service (PaaS) is an added layer, including IaaS, that comprises tools and software that developers can use to create, manage, and run applications. Finally, Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to applications that users can access and use daily.
Cloud Computing and the Legal Landscape
The dynamic legal landscape is compelling legal firms to choose cloud-based practice management to stay in the game. According to the 2020 American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Survey Report, 58% of lawyers use cloud services. On average, an employee in a business firm uses 36 cloud applications and is familiar with such services. Further, 67% of lawyers use Dropbox, the popular cloud service for storing and sharing files, and Microsoft comes next with 49% usage.
As the survey was circulated pre-COVID-19, the numbers are expected to change drastically by 2021. Contract management is also being reformed with the use of artificial intelligence (AI). The technology is projected to register a CAGR of above 28% by 2024, creating and managing contracts more efficiently.
Increasing the use of cloud computing can be seen at a global level. In India, Provakil provides an integrated SaaS platform for all legal matters such as litigation, contracts, intellectual property, and compliance. Using cloud computing incorporated with the latest technologies like machine learning and AI, this legal operations management suite also provides customized workflows and analytics.
Benefits for Lawyers
There are many benefits to legal practice management with cloud computing, as listed below.
By using cloud-based software, applications and documents can be accessed from anywhere; the only requirement is an internet connection. Clients have continuous access to their data and all related material, even while travelling or in a remote location. Any changes made will be automatically updated on the application, thus providing error-free services. There is also no limit to the amount of data that can be accessed.
The costs of hardware, vendors, maintenance, IT staff, etc., can be significantly reduced by shifting to cloud-based legal practice management. There are low entry costs and no need to purchase servers or increase storage space. A small fee payment without any hassles can set the process in place. The cost savings for a legal firm will be in the range of 50%-75% from such a shift.
Data stored on servers is highly secure, as the data centers adhere to the latest auditing standards. Cloud computing vendors provide 24x7 security monitoring and advanced access procedures based on biometrics. Additionally, there is physical security for the data centers along with regular testing, ensuring that advanced data protection is delivered. The data is also encrypted, which ensures that the client and the legal firm’s data are kept confidential. The vendors maintain multiple server locations, so the data always remains backed up and secure.
Unlike other on-premise practice management systems that take time for setting up, instalment and training, cloud computing software can be deployed in any law firm quickly. The cloud-based solutions operate on web browsers, which can be deployed within minutes. There is also practically no learning curve during the training period as the majority of employees will be familiar with cloud-based applications.
With cloud computing, lawyers are offered an unmatched level of freedom, as they can complete their work anytime and anywhere. As the applications are available virtually, lawyers can access important documents, schedules, handle contract management and other crucial data easily.
The only concern that a legal firm should have with cloud computing is data handling by the provider. Customers should ensure adherence to data privacy, rules regarding access to confidential information, data encryption, and other issues specified in the terms and policies.
Shifting to cloud computing is a necessary solution for legal firms today. All the aspects regarding basic cloud computing were covered in this article, including the current status of legal firms and cloud-based solutions. A detailed explanation of the benefits of this solution to lawyers was also provided.
Provakil provides legal services through a single integrated SaaS platform that caters to legal firms, helping make their jobs easier. Lawyers can stay on top of their game by using these services for legal practice management, contract management to cater to their client’s needs.
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