Today’s law firm technology is increasingly dominated by cloud-based services that are changing the landscape of the legal service industry. From electronic recordkeeping to video-conferencing to smart phones, there have been several innovations over the years that have helped attorneys serve their clients more efficiently. Yet, by the time it’s all said and done, the latest tech trend—cloud-based data services—may have just as much lasting impact on the industry.
To wit, this law firm technology has created an entirely new business model—the virtual law practice—in which attorneys can manage their law office remotely from any computer or mobile device. Combined with telecommunications, the modern-day law firm no longer requires a brick-and-mortar location. And while some lawyers split the difference by leasing an office suite, nearly any type of firm will benefit from cloud computing services.
An Introduction to Cloud-Based Solutions for Law Firm Technology
Basically, instead of software that’s downloaded and run through your office computer, all the key functionality delivered by the software is maintained through off-site servers and continually accessed through the web. This web-based delivery system is also reflected in the cost structure: Instead of buying/licensing software products, you lease cloud-based software as a renewable, business-to-business service.
Data management and storage is the foundation of these remotely located software solutions. However, solutions developed specifically for law firms should also include more dynamic functionality such as:
• Electronic document filing.
• Online billing and payment processing.
• Automated dashboard reminders.
• Virtual receptionist tools.
• Legal research aides.
Our Practice Management Platform: If you’re looking for an example of cloud-based law firm technology, look no further than our practice management platform. Available for only $1/month, this platform can be combined with our software apps to deliver all of this critical functionality through any or multiple PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet devices.
Overcoming Your Tech Anxiety
Many attorneys are apprehensive when first deploying this type of cloud-based practice management solution. Even tech-savvy attorneys are naturally concerned about the security of their client’s information when stored on off-site servers. But much like the difference in automobile versus air travel safety, you shouldn’t assume that your client’s information is any safer simply because you feel like “you’re in control of it.” Software firms that offer cloud services recognize they can’t compete without maintaining a sterling reputation for protecting their client’s information.
Several legal ethics opinions have already argued this technology can pass a reasonable standards test for protecting client information. Moreover, even the most diligent attorneys can not entirely safeguard their confidential information: On-site office computers are not impervious to software crashes, break-ins, or vandalism. Fortunately, as the adoption rate of cloud software services increases across the legal industry, the myth is quickly dying that lawyers can not employ this law firm technology, while also maintaining responsible client information security practices.
The Proof is in the Marketplace
Establishing virtual law service capabilities is often most appealing to lawyers who are entering private practice for the first time. Many established attorneys may wonder why they should consider cloud software services when their current practice management system works just fine. The answer is that maybe you don’t, but you better watch your back. Solo attorneys and virtual law practices—not to mention the glut of recent law school grads—are driving down the cost of legal services in many locations and practice areas. Trust in your local community only goes so far when the competition is under-cutting your formerly competitive fees.
Moreover, many big-name firms have been down-sizing to better compete in a marketplace increasingly populated with firms that leverage new technologies into lower operating costs. Cloud-based management solutions have substantially de-valued the business infrastructure employed by these high-profile firms. In fact, some of these firms are implementing cloud-based software, despite their existing infrastructure, to attract and retain top-level talent. The option to work from home when their caseload allows is a huge selling point to many lawyers and is typically only possible with cloud computing technology. This trend also explains why the knowledge and experience level of veteran attorneys—which cloud-based services can not replace—is as highly coveted in the marketplace as ever.