Modern technologies are increasingly making their way in almost every industry and the legal sector is also not untouched with the magic of their benefits. Even law firms and lawyers of this modern era are also interested in incorporating these technological advancements in legal activities and procedures. In spite of that, there are many lawyers and law firms who are skeptic about adopting modern technology in their day-to-day activities. Cloud computing is constantly evolving and is widely being used in many businesses. Law firms can take the next step towards technological advancement and can adopt cloud computing in their operations. But before doing so, they should clearly understand the concept, applications, advantages, and disadvantages of cloud computing to ensure its successful utilization.
When we use cloud computing, we are running programs and storing data on the internet, rather than using the computer’s hard drive. In cloud computing, the computer is merely used as a gateway to the application, and the software and files are stored online. A large number of cloud-based technologies are used in businesses these days including Google Docs, Dropbox, and Carbonite to maintain a backup of data. Take up Cloud courses to master Cloud Computing concepts and services such as AWS, Azure, and GCP.
Cloud computing technologies have been in use since the 1950s, but the important question is can it be properly used in law offices, for example, cloud-based legal billing and trust accounting soft wares. To answer that, the benefits and challenges of cloud computing should be considered.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
From the perspective of the legal profession, there are many benefits that cloud computing can offer to laws firms. Cloud software can play many important roles as a virtual attorney. These benefits have been highlighted below.
Legal firms nowadays are connected to various computer systems at the same time. One can access information anywhere and anytime from any corner of the world with the help of internet connection. It provides a tremendous advantage in courts or mediation sessions when the lawyers have access to all their files and documents while these opposing attorneys don’t.
Cloud soft wares provide the advantage of operating system independence. Users can utilize Mac or Windows OS as per their convenience. Many applications can also be accessed from remote locations with the use of laptops, tablets, or smartphones.
Cloud soft wares cost less money for installation and almost zero or negligible maintenance costs. They require a very small monthly fee rather than a huge purchase cost. Moreover, there is no need of hiring dedicated IT staff or outside consultants to set up the software.
Recovery from Disasters
Major and minor accidents and disasters in the office can destroy client files, even if they are on the hard drive of the computers. Maintaining offsite backups are also slow and costly, and still may not protect against large-scale disasters. Maintaining backup files in cloud storages provide protection against disasters and even major catastrophes.
Challenges of Cloud Computing
Although cloud computing provides numerous benefits, there are also many potential drawbacks of moving to the cloud. Firms should properly asses the liabilities and compare them with the advantages to make sure whether the cloud is the right step for them. The challenges in using cloud computing for the legal profession have been described below.
Cloud computing may make things easier and time-saving, but can also bring some ethical issues. Attorneys should always be careful that technology doesn’t threaten their ethical responsibilities. Many law firms have taken opinions from their state bar associations before adopting new technology. Till date, all state bar councils have supported cloud computing usage as long as attorneys utilize it ethically.
Lack of Control
Law firms should carefully and judiciously use cloud computing technologies. Firms cannot control their cloud service provider who may tamper with sensitive information. These service providers may share sensitive data with other parties or may make a duplicate copy of their case notes. Law firms should always properly research their cloud computing service provider. They should make sure that the service provider that they are opting for has a trustworthy professional record.
Breach of Data
Sometimes keeping crucial data on the internet proves unsafe since chances of the data getting hacked or stolen will always be there. Law firms should opt for cloud services which employ strong protection and security measures, which cannot be easily broken. Firms should make a note of what protections are in place against a breach, and what actions need to be taken when a breach occurs and should take necessary steps accordingly.
Issues Related to Access
An important factor in cloud computing technology is internet access and availability. If law firms are situated in areas which don’t have internet access, then it is better for them to perform activities manually without computer applications. Moreover, a Denial of Service attack can sometimes bring down the cloud provider’s servers. This may leave the law firms with no access until they come back up.
Cloud computing is an advanced technology with its mixed bag of advantages and disadvantages. Law firms should judiciously use cloud computing technologies making proper utilization of its various opportunities and advantages, and overcoming and dealing with the related challenges. If utilized thoughtfully, cloud computing can work wonders for law firms and can contribute to their growth and success.