It’s true that there’s still a hot debate about whether to invest in cloud-based legal practice management software or to stick with the traditional server-based management software located at your own premises.
In this article, we discover the benefits offered by cloud-based software as well as the downsides. After all, if you understand the technology, you’ll be in a better position to figure out which is the right solution for your legal practice.
Benefits of Cloud-Based Legal Practice Management Software
Essentially, going cloud-based means that you’ll be utilising computing resources that are based elsewhere than your own premises. In many regards, going cloud-based is a major move in terms of control of and thinking about your resources. What are the benefits of this shift?
Cost savings – There’s a large reduction in terms of investment with respect to infrastructure, including servers, devices for storage, and costly applications for virus protection.
Overhead savings – Going cloud also means you will spend less money on upgrading and maintenance of hardware.
Efficiency – Legal practice management software caters to automation, workflow management, and collaboration.
Accessibility – The cloud can be accessed from court, from client premises, from your home, or any place that has a workable internet connection.
Flexibility – For the most part, cloud-based software is paid on a subscription basis. In turn, you can invest in as few or as many licences as your law firm requires.
That’s all good, but what about the drawbacks of cloud?
Drawbacks of Cloud-Based Legal Practice Management Software
Cybersecurity when using the cloud is generally the main concern. That arises from the concept that data is always going to be much safer when it’s located on your own premises.
While cyber-attacks occur in different ways, most frequently, it emanates when software is not updated regularly and is then exploited. As such, all software applications must be updated to the latest version on a persistent basis.
Providers of cloud software continually update everything they provide as a service. What’s more, updates occur outside standard office hours which minimises downtime.
Storing Data at Your Premises
If you store your data locally at your own premises, you might think that it will be secure from theft or from physical damage. It’s more than likely you also make backups offsite. Or do you?
But, think about this: How secure is your local environment?
Your data (servers) is always open to theft. Your backups are always open to theft as well.
And what about fire? If your local-based servers succumb to fire, how long will it be before you recover all of your data if you ever do?
Most cloud-based legal practice management software companies provide theft and fire protection which is state of the art. Most cloud-based legal practice management software companies back up data in triplicate.
Which, then, do you believe to be the more secure system?
Where Should You Start?
Because cloud-based computing is the more appealing alternative of the two, how should you proceed if you wish to make the investment?
There are three key matters to consider here:
- The needs of your law firm.
- The needs of your clients.
- The type of cloud supplier that addresses both.
The Needs of Your Law Firm
Fact is that cloud-based computing will probably not be able to provide for all of your needs. Integrated legal practice management and accounts software, nevertheless, is a fundamental part of the scenario.
Do keep in mind that whichever cloud-based supplier you choose, the system must be more efficient than what you currently have, and it should provide functionality that wasn’t available to you before. Otherwise, there’s only one determining factor: Cost.
The Needs of Your Clients
Your clients will expect you to store their data in a safe and secure manner which is compliant with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) – at least for the time being.
Again, at least for the time being, if data is stored outside the EEA (European Economic Area) all security arrangements in terms of transfer of data, once again, must be in compliance with GDPR.
Though this may seem complex, it’s not: Simply choose a supplier that stores all data in the United Kingdom.
Cloud Supplier – What You Should Look For
Go for a specialist supplier as opposed to a generalist.
The Solicitor’s Accounts Rules by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority determine that specialist software must be used to ensure you are in compliance.
After that, look for a legal practice management software supplier which specialises in either the English or Scottish legal system, depending on where you are.
Next, once your supplier shortlist is much shorter, ask them the following questions:
- Where is data held?
- What are your commitments to performance and availability of services?
- Is data retrieval easy, both during the contract and at the end of the contract?
- If the service goes down, what are the backup arrangements?
- What is in place in terms of security?
Cloud-based legal practice management software and choosing a provider is about knowing that you, as well as your clients, will enjoy tangible benefits after you make the move.
But you should also take care with respect to your choice of supplier.
To find the best supplier, narrow it down to a shortlist, then ask questions. Asking the questions given above will help you to determine which is the right supplier for your needs.