Lawyers have been slower to adopt cloud technology compared to other industries. Cloud usage in law firms increased by only 1% in 2021 (up to 60% from 59% in 2020), the 2021 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report reveals. At the same time, the number of firms that report not using any cloud services dipped slightly from 28% to 25%. Small and medium-sized firms, on the other hand, have been the fastest to adopt cloud technology (around 65% in total now use it). Although data security remains a key concern slowing down adoption, new security features are ensuring law firms can embrace cloud technology with confidence and peace of mind.
Security is key
Although the cloud is increasingly popular, a degree of concern surrounding cybersecurity remains. Law firms deal with copious amounts of sensitive and confidential data on a daily basis and need to adhere to rules surrounding client-attorney privilege, which naturally means data security is a key issue when it comes to adopting cloud technology. However, compared to regular on-premises IT infrastructure, cloud technology offers inherent security benefits: storing confidential data and client information in the cloud can protect against both human and natural disasters, for example. Additionally, modern cloud solutions are designed to enhance legal privileges and data security, along with effectively improving financial management systems. Law firms should of course always assess a potential cloud provider’s security measures and ensure they meet international best practices for data encryption, vulnerability scanning, and intrusion detection. It’s also important for law firms to consider the country where cloud data is stored and consequent privacy regulations – many countries don’t allow certain types of data to be stored beyond their borders.
Cloud features strengthening security
Above all, a cloud vendor should prioritize data encryption to ensure the highest security standards for your law firm. Encryption ensures client and firm data remains confidential. Additionally, third-party verification is another key security feature – it ensures the security of the vendor is verified and ensured by reputable third parties (such as, Digicert or McAfee, for example). Cloud document management software is also continuously improving to provide legal professionals with a safe and secure way to create, edit and store documents anywhere and on any device. A document management system that features state-of-the-art security infrastructure and broad governance protocols, in particular, ensures data is backed up, secured, and properly regulated for ultimate peace of mind. Geographical redundancy is another essential security feature. So, check your cloud provider uses multiple server locations — this is necessary to ensure your firm’s data remains secure and backed up.
Cloud technology: improving cost and efficiency for law firms
In addition to being secure, cloud technology adoption is also cost-efficient for law firms. It minimizes the need for in-house servers, which in turn eliminates the need to otherwise invest in and manage expensive hardware. Moreover, cloud technology also makes the “virtual office” possible, which means staff can work from any location, ensuring data can be securely accessed and collaborated on remotely. Commercial space and other expenses like utilities and furniture are no longer essential with the cloud – therefore eliminating upfront costs, reducing overhead, and allowing law firms to devote more of their budget toward key issues like marketing and client acquisition. Furthermore, cloud service providers also offer 24/7 support for law firms, which is essential since they’re often operating without big IT teams. Support packages typically include continuous monitoring along with fast responses as needed in the face of emerging threats. Providers also usually help firms scale their cloud resources either up or down as needed.
With the cost of cloud technology only continuing to decrease, more and more law firms are implementing the technology into their operations, including in areas like marketing, communications, and business development. Nevertheless, data security is a key concern as firms need to prioritize fighting against common cyberthreats (namely, data breaches, ransomware, and phishing attacks) and protect client data. Fortunately, with modern cloud solutions that provide security features like strong encryption, third-party verification, data loss prevention, and intrusion detection and rapid response, legal firms can successfully adopt cloud technology while improving efficiency and saving money.