Legal Tech Is Inevitably Moving To The Cloud. Here’s why.
Certain legal firms, understandably concerned about insecurity in a cloud-based environment, avoid exposing their customers’ confidential data to the internet, preferring to keep it on-premises on servers and server-based apps. Who is to say, however, that on-premise servers are more secure than cloud-based servers? When even enormous corporations with massive IT resources are hacked, no computer is completely secure. Except one that is not linked to the internet, is turned off, is unplugged, and is buried in a lead case. Even then, we have our reservations…
Putting aside the jokes, it is evident that legal technology will eventually migrate to the cloud. We first believed that there would always be place for two distinct streams of legal IT: one for younger, brand-new, or more flexible companies that actively adopted cloud tools and balanced security and scalability, and another for established law firms’ tried-and-true on-premise approach. However, it no longer appears to be that straightforward.
Although hosted cloud servers have been present for at least a decade, they have yet to make a significant impact on the legal sector. While some law firms have chosen to replace their on-premise data center with hosted servers, many quickly discovered that while this eliminates a substantial capital expense, it replaces it with an even greater ongoing operational expense. And, because the legal applications remained identical, they were merely cloud-based replications of their current systems. Not precisely a giant leap forward, but more a cautious half-step.
The significant paradigm change toward what I refer to as complete cloud computing occurred only in the last few years. Law companies have three key data “silos” that all require cloud storage: email, files, and applications. Only until these three critical components are completely cloud-based can a law firm achieve a truly serverless environment and reap the inherent scalability, accessibility, and cost savings benefits associated with serverless computing.
Email is self-evident. Given that the majority of law firms use on-premise Microsoft Exchange servers, the shift to Exchange Online is natural. This is the easiest domino to fall, as the move will have minimal impact on existing integrations with other programs. However, I am not implying that it is simple. For many lawyers, email has evolved into their major work product, and moving decades of crucial correspondence is a time-consuming and delicate process.
You might believe that file storage would be the next domino to fall, given it is rather simple to upload files and folders to a cloud-based storage system. However, you would be incorrect. Programs require access to files, and legacy server-based applications do not play well with cloud-based storage. Thus, cloud-based file storage (and a truly serverless environment) will typically have to wait until all of a firm’s legacy legal programs are replaced with cloud-based alternatives.
Fortunately, actual cloud-based legal apps have gained widespread adoption in recent years. These programs are hosted on the vendors’ servers and can be accessed by a web browser or a mobile application. These applications do not necessitate the provision of server storage, memory, or computing capacity by law firms. They are able to incorporate access to cloud-based file storage systems, allowing the final two dominoes to fall simultaneously. Proceed cautiously, as transitioning to new legal applications is a behavioral as well as a technical problem. In the legal sector, opposition to change is a tremendous force, and overcoming such resistance is critical for a successful migration.
Encryption is the first line of defense for any cloud system when it comes to data security. Law companies should seek out solutions that are SOC II accredited and have been subjected to stringent requirements for confidentiality, privacy, security, availability, and processing integrity. A reputable service provider can discover and deploy the right secure solutions, enabling any firm to take advantage of the cloud’s agility and low cost while maintaining the environment’s security.
Once a legal firm has converted to a fully cloud (i.e. serverless) environment, where email, files, and apps are all cloud-based and hosted by vendors, they can truly leverage economies of scale and take use of all the cloud’s benefits. As more legal firms make the switch, software suppliers will no longer be able to afford to develop or support server-based apps for the shrinking number of firms that currently use them, and only cloud-based applications will remain.
If no server-based apps remain, law firms will no longer be required to offer their own servers, whether on-premise or hosted. Rather than that, they will be able to utilize the cloud vendors’ servers. Computing will someday become a utility, drastically lowering the cost of IT for legal companies. The migration of legal technology to the cloud is a foregone conclusion.
Need help moving your firm to the cloud or making sure your cloud is secure? Contact our team at Radiant Technology Solutions. We are here to help!