Practicing Law in the Age of Cloud Computing
Lawyers may not have historically run their practices using technology, but maybe it’s time to get their heads in the cloud.
People often perceive the cloud as a mysterious space which can only be of use to those who understand it. This perception unfortunately excludes many businesses, such as law firms who are not familiar with what exactly cloud computing involves.
This article will explain what cloud computing is, and how law firms and sole practitioners can benefit from this technology.
What is the Cloud?
Contrary to popular assumption, the cloud is not a place but rather a way of delivering IT resources. It replaces the need for physical machines on-site with virtual infrastructure instead. In this article, we refer to the cloud as a place to store documents on off-site servers.
Easy Access to Documents and Data
As the cloud can store all client information, it becomes easy to access the data at any location through any mobile device. This mobility is convenient for practitioners who, for example, might need to access certain information while in a meeting with a client. The service provided by the lawyer is immediately improved by the fact that the necessary information is available at that exact moment (rather than information being checked later on and then sent as a follow-up to the client). The experience becomes much more fluid and complete.
In law firms that have a team working together on a matter, cloud computing allows a ‘virtual workplace’ to be formed so notes can be shared and updated. This makes the teamwork flow much more smoothly as there is no need for meetings to update team members. No emails must be sent every time there is a change in strategy, and there will be no confusion resulting from multiple copies of the exact same document. Everyone in the team will have access to the same resources and updates will be loaded in real time. Collaboration technologies are also useful for event management in calendars, updating any changes in meeting times or locations straight away.
For practitioners who are unsure about the future direction of their practice, traditional technology infrastructure means that a choice must be made between small-scale or large-scale capacity. For sole practitioners who expand into a firm with larger capacity requirements, the change in infrastructure comes with costs. Similarly for small firms who overestimate the growth of their practice, they will be paying for unnecessary technology. The cloud however will be able to grow or shrink depending on the demands of the business. This means there will be reduction in costs when operation capacity changes.
There are many technologies available to law practitioners that can improve efficiency and reduce costs. Cloud computing is definitely one such technology that will benefit both sole practitioners and law firms if used.
Kayal is a Legal Tech Intern at Lawpath as part of the content team. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws with a Bachelor of Science (major in Cyber Security) at Macquarie University.