23 Jun
2016

Benefits and Regulations Lawyers Need to Know About the Cloud

After much deliberation over technology choices in the legal sector, the jury is in favor of cloud services. Cloud-based solutions are increasingly common in today’s modern law firms. In fact, according to a survey by Ari Kaplan Advisors, 84 percent of legal organizations say they are open to the cloud.

Cloud services scale easily to accommodate changes in staffing and caseload, and they provide a level of infrastructure stability without law firms having to rely on a large IT team to keep things running smoothly. Let’s take a look at the benefits of the cloud and what regulatory and ethical concerns lawyers should keep in mind when choosing cloud solutions. 

 

Low Cost of Ownership and Improved E-Discovery

One of the biggest and most instantaneous benefits of adopting cloud computing is the total cost of ownership (TCO) savings. This is thanks to low overhead and fewer upfront expenses, particularly when it comes to e-discovery. In an article published by the American Bar Association, trial lawyer John C. Tredennick ran the numbers and says the cloud produces a whopping 36 percent, or $2.3 million, savings over software-based enterprise solutions. 

Cloud-based productivity suite Microsoft Office 365’s Security & Compliance Center has numerous e-discovery features that include permission-based search functions, secure file export and case management options. These enable users to work on documents without leaving the Microsoft suite. 

Attorneys are legally and ethically bound to maintain confidentiality, inside and outside of the e-discovery environment. Law firm Kelley, Drye, & Warren uses Microsoft 365 to foster better collaboration among legal teams and protect sensitive data. The firm’s CIO Judith Flournoy explains that it was difficult to know what happened to documents that were emailed to clients or outside partners, but now the data is more secure because only relevant people are given access to documents and they may not have the power to change them.

 

Secure Collaboration 

With legal sector employees and lawyers relying more than ever on smartphones and tablets, mobile collaboration has become an increasingly important part of a standard team workflow. The Global Legal Post notes that many lawyers access work documents on the go, which creates compliance and security headaches for law firms.

It’s vital that legal organizations use secure document management systems to ensure their records and files are protected during every step of the journey as they change hands. Boston law firm Fort Point Legal relies on cloud-based file storage service Dropbox as its central document repository. The Pro version of the tool includes high levels of encryption, which enables the firm to be compliant with Massachusetts’ strict data privacy laws. Steven Ayr, an attorney with the firm, says: “Another reason we prefer Pro is because you have access to more security features when it comes to team members, including the ability to remotely wipe devices.”

 

Industry Experts Approve 

It’s easy to make a compelling case for using cloud computing in the legal industry, but is it ethically and legally responsible to store client files and data in the cloud? The Legal Cloud Computing Association approves as long as certain standards are followed. CEO of Clio and President of the LCCA explains that the security standards let firms know the steps that cloud-based solutions have to take to ensure they keep data private. He also states that he hopes the LCCA’s standards provide a common set of standards that Bar Associations and Law Societies will support.

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