Cloud for law firms: Reduce risk, increase performance

Today in the legal sector, technology is one of the biggest drivers of disruption and change.

LegalTech businesses which were mere start-ups a few years ago are now redefining the way law firms work: automating tasks which were previously done by lawyers, managing workflows which were managed by their support teams and at the leading edge, using AI to inform the advice they give.

Conditioned by their digital experience as consumers, clients now expect new standards of service based around the effective use of digital tools to collaborate and deliver work at speed.

Technology is also redefining the reach of all law firms, removing geographical boundaries, allowing them to compete in cities or across industry verticals which would have been impossible before now.

The future of law couldn’t be further from the profession which entered this century still reliant on paper bundles and elbow grease.

Despite that, many law firms – even larger ones – are still built around old ways of working with old technology and systems underpinning the way the business runs.

For firms who want to get fit for their digital future, cloud computing can provide the foundation they need to compete effectively in this fast-changing market.

Cloud is where your clients and competitors are

One of the most compelling reasons law firms to consider moving to the cloud is because that’s where your clients, competitors and the legal sector are heading.

According to research from the Cloud Industry Forum, 88% of UK businesses now use cloud-based IT, making it a trusted, mainstream technology.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice is migrating to a cloud environment as has HMRC with the Courts & Tribunals Service starting its own cloud deployment.

Smaller and newer law firms typically take a cloud-first approach to technology and for larger law firms, 2019 marked a tipping point which saw the slow death of on-premise IT.

This means that firms who aren’t working in the cloud will fall behind the rest of the sector.

A secure foundation

A major factor behind the move to cloud IT is that it solves many of the operational challenges that law firms face. Chief among this is security.

Client confidentiality and the exchange of data and documents are at the core of every law firm’s business. Keeping correspondence and casework secure is critical but in an environment when data breaches are commonplace – 43% of organisations suffered one in 2018 according to the Government’s Cyber Security Breaches survey – this is increasingly a hard task. Add to that the punitive fines being levied by the Information Commissioner’s Office and reputational damage caused by security lapses, this means that every firm should be seeking out best-in-class protection for their IT systems.

We frequently hear people make the case that owning and managing their own servers and IT infrastructure on-premise is the best approach to security. But this isn’t the case anymore.

With research showing that around 60% of security breaches are caused by lack of routine maintenance and timely patching of vulnerabilities, this is not the case. Most businesses don’t have the time and resources to stay on top these tasks, particularly in an environment where people need access to your systems through multiple devices, in and outside of your office.

Rather than relying on your IT manager or IT team –if you have one –with cloud IT you benefit from the billions of investment that the likes of Microsoft put into ensuring client data is protected and kept secure in real-time.

Put simply, in an environment where understanding and managing security is increasingly complex, cloud simplifies the challenges, minimising the risk to your business.

As well as increasing resilience, cloud storage also gives every law firm the peace of mind that in case of a business disaster they will be able to access or recover the resources they need to continue operating.

Flexibility for your firm

A second challenge for every law firm today is to ensure their people have the right tools to work effectively.

The ability to work remotely or on the move, reducing paper – for reasons of security as much as any other consideration – collaborating and sharing data are all basic operational necessities for any law firm now.

Equally, as firms expand – whether that is by opening a new office or renting space in serviced accommodation – or move, they need IT infrastructure that can flex around their needs.

The pay-for-what-you-use nature of the cloud allows you to add or subtract IT resources depending on your need.

By taking away the need for hardware, there’s no more big-ticket capital investment needed to support growth or for when servers reach their end of life. Cloud IT guarantees that your productivity apps, storage and security are always up-to-date.

Boosting productivity and profits

With every billable hour of each member of staff making the difference between profit and loss on client work, one of the biggest most important challenge for every law firm to ensure everyone in the firm is as productive as possible.

A business which is built around the axis of filesharing via email is one which is working ineffectively by failing to use the new generation of productivity apps which allow teams to collaborate and manage their workflow.

With many of these apps automating everything from design to invoice creation, the chances are also that your people are doing jobs which could be done at the push of a button.

This means there isn’t just the risk that you become uncompetitive in the eyes of your clients because you’re charging too much for your work.

Your firm also faces the prospect of becoming unattractive to current and prospective employees you need to compete in the future.

Stepping onto the cloud

While partners and managers may be sceptical about the risks and benefits of cloud adoption, what many don’t realise is that every law firm will be using the cloud in some way. This could be filesharing through Microsoft Teams, using webmail or simply the cloud-based software that helps your business function daily, such as Office 365.

This demonstrates two important points about cloud adoption. The first is that this unwitting adoption will most likely have happened by stealth, rather than in a planned way, considering what will best suit your firm. The second is that moving to the cloud doesn’t have to happen with a big bang: it is typically phased in line with the needs of the business.

Knowledge that counts

Whether your IT is managed by one of the partners, an operational manager or an IT specialist, it’s unlikely you’ll have all the current skills and knowledge to audit and plan your IT needs for the future.

Moving part or all your business to the cloud requires knowledge of which tools are right for your business, a roadmap to get you there and technical support along the way.

By working with a specialist like CloudDirect you can benefit from our experience of helping firms like yours chart the best route to the cloud. We can also help you manage costs, performance and security, allowing you to do what you do best: winning new clients and growing your firm.