What is cloud technology?

Cloud technology is a blanket term for a service offered over the internet. Digital resources (like software and storage space) are available to users who can log in from anywhere to use those applications and work on files remotely. Cloud technology cuts ties to a physical location and frees firms from the traditional expense of in-house infrastructure (and the costly tech team who managed it). That $80,160 spent per low-level IT employee now transfers to an outsourced Managed Service Provider (MSP) who shoulders the burden of managing a highly-scalable cloud environment on your behalf, fortifying your hardware and software, and monitoring your cloud technology with dedicated support—all for a flat fee.

This is good for law firms whose focus is grounded firmly in law, not IT. It is especially good for the legal field where client information is more sensitive than in other fields. When it comes to legal cloud technology, privacy and security must tailor to the size of the firm and the amount of data that requires protection.

The cloud is the norm for the business world. Tools like Slack, LinkedIn, Salesforce, BaseCamp, Monday, Gmail, DropBox, Evernote, and Microsoft 365 keep employees organized, collaborating, and communicating (from wherever they happen to be). For the legal industry, cloud services like PCLaw, Clio, Rocket Matter, NetDocuments, Practice Panther, MyCase, and TimeSolv fit that bill.

But lawyers are hesitant to use them.

 

What’s the Difference Between Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds?

Cloud technology has been around now for over 20 years. So it’s not surprising that the Cloud has a differentiated menu of services: public cloud, private cloud, and a hybrid cloud version.

Public Cloud

The public cloud is the classic cloud model. Users pull from a large pool of computer power provided by major vendors (like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google) over the internet with scalability assured by the largest data centres in the world.

Private Cloud

The private cloud option sounds boutique, doesn’t it? It is. A private cloud solution hosts client systems (data, programs, and virtual desktop) in a secure online environment. Private clouds are tailor-made to the exact needs of the company and are hosted internally or externally. Private clouds, unlike public clouds, isolate data from the outside world. 

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud, as you can guess, is a mix of public and private solutions. A virtual private cloud (customized to the client) uses public cloud resources but isolates a private space, taking advantage of massive computing power but in a private corridor. Why is this a good idea? Because private clouds, though secure, have comparatively limited hardware resources; once the server is at maximum capacity, another server must be purchased to scale. But with a virtual private cloud, more private space is simply unlocked. There’s also the human factor to consider with private clouds—the weak link in any secure environment. Public cloud companies hire the best security teams on the planet to keep information safe and a virtual private cloud piggybacks off that bank-level security (and the assured disaster recovery protocols provided), safeguarding humans from opening backdoors to threat actors unintentionally.

Which cloud option is the best for law firms in Toronto? That’s a question for a company that specializes in cloud technology for Toronto-based lawyers.

So Why Don’t Law Firms Like The Cloud?

The legal field as a whole doesn’t leverage cloud technologies as much as other industries. Looking at the 2019 Legal Technology Survey, the adoption rate for legal cloud technology hovers between 44% and 60%, with solo and small firms leading the way at the 60% mark. 

This is an alarmingly low statistic because law firms are high-level targets for threat actors. The ABA annual legal cybersecurity survey puts the virus rate for law firms last year at 36% and data breach rates at 26%. And yet, only one-quarter of law firms encrypt their data or have an incident response in place.

At a minimum, slow adoption of security policies leaves law firms wide open to the sort of attacks that damage a firm’s reputation. Worst case scenario, a breach is comprehensive and the firm cannot recover from it.

So why the resistance?

Part of it is mindset. Law is a slow creature on purpose. The tenets of precedence require it and lawyers embrace tradition; and tradition isn’t fast. On top of this, lawyers are naturally wary about protecting case file confidentiality and ethics. The fact that legal cloud technology lives in a faster world “up there somewhere,” breeds skepticism—speedy change and responsive agility is not at all admired in the world of law. So there’s a striking dichotomy between the world of law and the world of IT. 

Why else has law carefully trudged its way toward the cyber secure doors of legal cloud technology? Because change is disruptive, there is a lack of understanding, and new tech takes budget dollars away from other things more top-of-mind (like court dates and client meetings) for those who practice law and manage law firms.

Fully half of lawyers practicing today haven’t advanced their IT strategy because they don’t have time to “step away from business as usual.” But not doing so leaves firms exposed to a data breach that could mean civil or criminal action—something with which lawyers are extremely knowledgeable. This explains why the law field is finally gravitating toward the Cloud. That, and the growing pressure coming from clients who want lawyers to safeguard their data. Client confidence (demand) is a good motivator. 

The solution law firms most often pursue when it comes to migrating data to the Cloud is the smart one: outsourcing IT to an IT authority. 67% of law firms turn to MSPs to solve their security woes with legal-focussed cloud technology. A Managed Service Provider builds IT ecosystems that mitigate risk in the most cost-effective way. But not any IT provider will do when it comes to law. Vendor reputation matters to law firms. That’s why an MSP that narrowly focusses on best-in-class cybersecurity, IT stability, and tech stack performance specifically for lawyers in Toronto is the smartest choice.

From where we stand, there are nine reasons to make the move toward legal cloud technology sooner than later:

  1. Updated tech (Microsoft 365)
  2. Low entry cost/predictable monthly expense
  3. Automated case management levers
  4. E-discovery (legal research)
  5. Confidential document security
  6. Remote access/communication
  7. Smart contracts
  8. AI and predictive analytics
  9. Support/training

The legal profession is modernizing because lawyers need access to information and communication tools that facilitate sharing that information between partners and clients who no longer show up for face to face meetings. 

68% of firms that do leverage legal cloud technology see a profit increase. Those tech-savvy firms are expected to use smart contracts, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics by 2022, empowering them to work faster, more securely, and more efficiently when conducting legal e-discovery, managing e-contracts, or interfacing remotely with clients. 

The technology gap between firms is growing. Progressive law firms that outsource IT to protect the integrity of sensitive information and safeguard staff and client shared spaces stand to win.

Technological leaps allow smartphones to run paperless workflows. Law firms use secure SaaS tools to manage everything from accounting to marketing to electronic signatures to backup and storage; lawyers are more mobile than ever before and law firms are leaning on cloud functionality to connect staff to the working parts and to clientele. 

With a greater understanding of what the Cloud offers comes an increased investment in legal cloud technology. The other half of law firms who haven’t moved to the Cloud won’t stay relevant in today’s innovation-driven legal market.

MSPs give law firms access to high-quality IT systems, talent, and processes so they can compete with larger competitors without the expense of an in-house IT manager. Vertex has niched its services to a selective offering—Managed IT for the legal industry in Toronto. We did that on purpose. It is our mission to partner with law firms, designing tailor-made cloud computing solutions that offer lock-tight security and unmatched training and support. Toronto’s most recognized legal firms trust Vertex as their IT partner. Our dedicated professionals work hard to protect your firm’s success. Call us today (416-860-7555) and talk with one of our seasoned legal cloud technology consultants.