Are You Really Protecting Your Electronic Data?

Last week, I gave a presentation to a group of attorneys and LLM students to discuss legal technology, start-ups and the future of legal services, and one attendee made a surprising remark: “I’m not very comfortable storing my client files on the internet, so I keep everything on my own computer.”

A couple weeks before that, I did a radio show with an attorney who told me he had spent thousands of dollars on a server to backup files in his law firm. Yesterday, I read that a recent survey by Lawyerist showed that 11% of their readers who responded to a survey on cloud computing said they will not entrust client data to a third party.”

I spend a lot of time promoting legal technology and SaaS products, working with technology experts and networking with like-minded professionals. The last few weeks, however, reminded me that there is still a surprisingly large segment of the legal industry that is SaaS-phobic.

When SaaS experts talk about the pros of cloud computing, however, we often fail to mention the cons of traditional electronic storage.

Here are a few seemingly obvious yet often overlooked points that some attorneys often fail to consider when deciding how to store their data:

  • Your office computer is not as secure as you might think.If you give cleaning staff and other third parties access to your office, they also have access to your files.
  • It is nearly impossible to practice law without entrusting client data to third parties. If you ever email your clients, you are already using cloud services and third parties to export, import and store important data.
  • Many SaaS providers have comprehensive security and privacy policies, and they hire technology experts to ensure backups and proper handling of your files. As an attorney, you may have control over your personal computer, but do you really have the expertise to properly maintain, back up and restore your files?
  • Your office computer or personal server is not immune to accidents or weather disasters just because it is in your possession and under your personal control. Many SaaS providers store data on servers in highly secure facilities that not only protect against unwanted intruders but also protect against fire, flooding, weather damage and other physical risks. In addition, many companies store data in multiple geographic locations for added protection. If you are keeping all of your paper files and electronic documents in a cheap storage space or on the hard drive under you desk, your data is at a much greater risk of physical destruction.

For more information on client data and cloud computing, check out Sam Glover’s recent article on the Lawyerist.