Lawyers and change don’t always mix. A profession that relies on labor-intensive, by-the-book work often isn’t the quickest to embrace new solutions to age-old problems.
Like it or not, the practice of law is changing – shifting to a technology-centric, interdisciplinary field. Mark A. Cohen, CEO of Legal Mosaic, sums this up well.
“Lawyers are not driving the change—consumers, entrepreneurs, technologists, and other professionals are,” Cohen wrote in Forbes.
“An insular industry rooted in precedent and reputation is morphing into an interdisciplinary one that values innovation and data.”
As Cohen points out, data is at the heart of the shifting tides of NewLaw. For many law veterans, the idea of transitioning to new cloud based software and technology, can spur anxiety. Protecting client’s data is paramount in this new landscape. Unfortunately, many legal practice management software options require users to upload their client documents, files and data onto an entirely different system. Suddenly, you’re paying a monthly or annual subscription to access your own data.
All this begs the question: If you have to pay your service provider to get your data back, is it actually yours?
Luckily, the newest law practice management software can do what might seem like the impossible; offer a simple transition to cloud-based data storage while ensuring that your clients’ data remains safe and secure. Most importantly, this new technology empowers you with the tools to maintain control of your data, not the other way around.
Cloud-based software can be difficult to embrace at first glance. Some lawyers may think that keeping their data “on premise” is the safest way to keep their clients’ information confidential. However, if you don’t have a dedicated team of IT professionals who are always (24-7) on guard against intrusion attempts and have constant synchronized off-site back-ups of your server, your data isn’t any more secure than in the cloud — and that’s without thinking of what might happen to all your data on a local server in the event of a power outage or more serious natural disaster.
Brian Mauch, CEO of BMC Networks Inc. Technology Services, says that it’s essentially impossible to ensure security while still operating in today’s tech-centric world.
“When large organisations with huge IT budgets are still getting hacked, no computer is 100% secure,” Mauch wrote for LegalMonthly. “Except maybe one that is disconnected from the internet, powered off, unplugged, and buried in a lead case,”
Because server-based data on-premises isn’t safer than keeping your data on the cloud lawyers who are slow to adopt cloud-based software are at risk of being left behind.
“Once a law firm has migrated to a full cloud (ie. serverless) environment, with email, files and applications all being cloud-based and hosted by vendors, they can truly benefit from economies of scale and realize all the advantages offered by the cloud,” Mauch said.
The cloud should be a lawyer’s friend. The problem is, many leading cloud-based law practice management softwares don’t offer lawyers the ability to maintain control of their data. Most of the time, law firms sign up for software and upload all of their files, documents, and data onto that software. Suddenly, the lawyer isn’t the one in control of their data. If they want to leave this software for something else, they’re asking the software company for their own clients’ data back, sometimes for a fee.
When searching for the right legal practice management software, law professionals should ask themselves the following three questions:
- Will I have control of my data?
- Do I have faith and trust in where my clients’ data is stored?
- Do I have to change the way my workflows to any new system?
- How do I manage my files once I’ve transitioned to a new system?