The ruling on cloud computing

Monica Brink, director of marketing EMEA at cloud infrastructure provider iland looks at the advantages of cloud adoption in the legal sector.

When it comes to digital transformation within the legal sector there are understandably many questions about how to handle sensitive information without compromising client confidentiality. This is also true when dealing with the internet as a whole, but particularly when it comes to cloud computing. In a survey by the Cloud Industry Forum it was revealed that 70 per cent of IT decision makers regarded data security as one of their biggest concerns when deciding whether to move to cloud-based services, up from 61 per cent the year before. Law firms are notoriously cautious about moving to the cloud and whilst many of them are planning to invest in new technology over the next two years, many are concerned about the risks involved with this decision.

The transactional nature of legal services means that IT availability is paramount, and the IT team must protect the business against threats like power outages, ransomware and other malicious attacks. Updating the IT infrastructure that legal firms use to do this, for example by migrating to the cloud, is now becoming key to enhancing operational efficiency, increasing IT security and ensuring the overall future success of individual legal firms. 

Advantages of cloud migration

Increasingly, law firms are beginning to migrate to the cloud. Recently, New York law firm Graubard Miller and Thames Valley based solicitor B P Collins, migrated to the iland cloud for both Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service and cloud hosting services. This reflects the overall market need for reliable, secure and cost-efficient IT resilience, particularly in the face of growing business threats.

With the backup and disaster recovery services that are available, migrating to the cloud provides a much safer, secure and compliant option for businesses within the legal sector. Whilst there is still a bit of a misconception that the cloud presents a risk for legal firms, storing confidential data and client information in the cloud is actually a viable security measure protecting against both human and natural disasters. 

Graubard Miller, for example, leverages on-demand testing functionality in the cloud to ensure everything will run smoothly should they need to fail over, as well as employing a hybrid cloud solution which seamlessly protects both physical and virtual machines. In addition, features such as role-based access control, two-factor authentication, turnkey security and compliance reports greatly simplify auditing processes and these measures provide an effective, efficient and easy alternative to traditional onsite IT systems.

As with any business, cloud computing offers law firms an effective means for storing large amounts of data in an easily accessible, cost-effective manner. When properly implemented, the cloud enables lawyers to work from anywhere, resulting in increased productivity and an enhanced work-life balance. More cloud providers also now offer cloud management via mobile apps, providing the user with even more freedom to access data. In addition to this, as data can be accessed and shared securely anytime from anywhere, collaboration among lawyers can be significantly improved.

Furthermore, the cloud offers potential cost savings for legal firms. This is largely due to the fact that the cloud reduces the need for in-house servers, therefore cutting down on the high cost of investing in and managing IT hardware. B P Collins, as an SMB who leverages the iland cloud through Managed Service Provider,Wavex, has benefited from opting for pay-as-you-go pricing in the cloud, making a significant saving on their IT infrastructure. Organisations are also often able to outsource cloud and data management to their cloud provider, saving costs and easing the load on their IT teams.

However, it is not a ‘no brainer’ decision

Migrating to the cloud is not a decision that should be taken lightly, and legal firms must be aware of the options available to them to ensure their journey to cloud is the most secure and compliant it can be. 

Law firms should always consider the security measures of a cloud provider when choosing the best option for them. Confidentiality is vital to the lawyer-client relationship, therefore cloud providers must meet international best practices when it comes to complying with rigorous enterprise security and control standards such as data encryption, intrusion detection and vulnerability scanning.

Firms also need to consider data sovereignty and privacy regulations and the implications of the legal domains in which cloud content is stored. Many countries do not allow certain types of data to be stored outside of the country; therefore the firm needs to know where the cloud provider is physically located and whether it provides mitigation strategies to properly safeguard stored data.

Cloud is vital to remain competitive

In order for law firms to remain competitive they must update their technology to ensure their services continue to evolve. As with B P Collins, operating within the cloud enables legal firms to work with individuals and organisations to provide a range of services, from securing international acquisitions to supporting individual needs and safeguarding clients’ interests.

In this ever more mobile age, lawyers are frequently required to access trial-critical documents on the move, rather than just from the office. This is why its important law firms embrace cloud computing securely to ensure their workforce is working as smartly as possible and their IT systems are highly available. If lawyers are spending a large proportion of their time every week out of the office, the ability to access data becomes a necessity.

Making the decision to adopt a cloud first strategy not only ensures high availability, data protection and increased IT security for legal firms, but also results in considerable IT cost reductions and enhanced lawyer-client collaboration. If technology is utilised well, migration to the cloud can only have a positive impact on the overall operational efficiency and ultimately the success of the firm.

PCR’s Sector Spotlight on the Cloud – in association with Westcoast – is running throughout September 2016 – click here for more articles

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