Law Firms and the Cloud

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Law Firms and the Cloud

By Manasi Singh

The transition to web-based legal tools has been on the rise over the last several decades, but the one tool that law firms seem to be most hesitant about is the use of cloud technology.[1] Some lawyers are rightly concerned about the security implications of storing confidential information in the cloud, considering the risk of exposing their clients’ information to the world wide web. Instead, they cling to their on-site servers and server-based applications to store confidential information, but this fear assumes that on-site servers are more secure than the cloud, which is misguided.[2]

The reality is that no computer is 100% secure, except maybe one that’s disconnected, turned off, unplugged, and buried underground. So then, why should law firms prefer cloud-based servers instead of on-site servers? The answer is simple—cloud technology is held to a higher operational and infrastructure security standard than any on-site server.[3] On-site servers require a team to be on-site, manually updating the systems and security protocols.[4] This can be a problem if your on-site team has a high turn-over or can’t physically access your servers frequently enough, both of which can cause the systems to fall behind in required updates, which actually makes them even more vulnerable to security risks.[5] Cloud-based servers allow you to automate these processes, which improves your ability to meet core security and compliance requirements while also giving users the freedom to manage and control their data, as well as decide who gets to have access to the data.[6]

I think the move to cloud technology is inevitable for law firms, but the process of getting there has been slow. Cloud servers have been around for at least a decade now, but few law firms have taken any steps to make the transition. The lawyers that have taken steps to transition tend to stick to popular cloud services such as Dropbox, Microsoft Teams, iCloud, and Box rather than legal-specific cloud services such as Clio and NetDocuments.[7] Whether this is due to familiarity or popular usage, the answer isn’t as clear.

In order to promote the usage of cloud-based servers in law firms, it’s important to understand why lawyers are skeptical. The American Bar Association conducted a survey in which they discovered that the primary concern is confidentiality/security, which is closely followed by a lack of control over data.[8] The facts are that neither of these concerns hold up under any amount of scrutiny, and mitigating these concerns will be key to promoting the cloud in law firms.

[1] CDW, Cloud Computing and Law Firms (2013) [hereinafter CDW White Paper], https://webobjects.cdw.com/webobjects/media/pdf/Solutions/Legal/122223-White-Paper-Cloud-Computing-and-Law-Firms.pdf.

[2] Id.

[3] Tommy Montgomery, Why your data is safer in the cloud than on premises, TechBeacon (last visited Nov. 5, 2022), https://techbeacon.com/security/why-your-data-safer-cloud-premises.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Dennis Kennedy, 2021 Cloud Computing, American Bar Association (Nov. 10, 2021), https://www.americanbar.org/groups/law_practice/publications/techreport/2021/cloudcomputing/.

[8] Id.

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