Whether you are already using cloud solutions at your law firm and want to learn how to utilize the Cloud even better, or you are just putting out feelers to see if the Cloud could be the right investment for your firm, this quick article should help.
But before we get into the why of choosing the Cloud, let’s first start with the what.
(Already familiar with the Cloud? Then skip ahead to 5 Reasons to Choose Cloud Technologies for Law Firms here)
What is The Cloud?
In simple terms, the Cloud means software, services, and hardware that run on the internet, rather than locally from something installed on your computer directly or from a physical server sitting in your office.
This means that most cloud services can be accessed through an internet browser (like Google Chrome or Firefox), or even through apps right on your smartphone.
Here are some cloud services commonly used for law firms that you may have heard of:
- Google G Suite for office-wide collaboration and productivity
- Office 365 to use traditional tools like Word, Excel & PowerPoint online
- DropBox for secure document storage and sharing
- Salesforce for managing relationships with your clients
- DocuSign for gathering e-signatures from your clients when needed – no paper needed
- Slack to streamline communication between colleagues in your office
- WebEx/Zoom for secure video conferencing
Cloud Solutions VS
Servers & Physical Hardware for Law Firms
Up until recently, most law firms were running 100% off traditional, physical servers (like servers locked away in a closet) and programs installed locally on their individual devices (like a Microsoft Office license installed directly on your computer).
But these days, given that we already use the internet for so much of our other work, it makes sense for law firms to turn to a variety of solutions within the Cloud as well. Particularly as they are often easier (and cheaper!) to set up, use, and maintain.
Here’s an example of what a physical hardware solution VS a cloud solution might look like for video conferencing.
The physical hardware solution
10 years ago, if a law firm wanted to have video conferences with clients, their only option would have been to invest in an expensive, high-end video conferencing system – meaning it’d take a lot of time and money to get it custom built, and they could only use it when they were sitting at their office in a conference room.
The cloud solution
But today, rather than going through that effort above, there are many great cloud services (Zoom is a personal favorite of ours!) that does this very same thing for 14.99 a month. Since Zoom is run off the cloud and accessible via the internet, all you have to do sign up for an account, then log in and you can use it from anywhere.
There’s also a number of other benefits you get from using cloud technology that just aren’t possible when you’re working from servers and physical hardware, as you’ll see in the list below.
5 Reasons to Switch to Cloud Technology for Your Law Firm
- Running things from the Cloud allows you to work from any device, anywhere (even if that means working from a tablet while sitting on your living room couch Saturday morning!)
By running your firm through the Cloud, you won’t be tied to only being able to work from a single location (your office) or a single device (your desktop computer).
Since you’ll be able to access everything you need online, this means there’s no more need to drive all the way back to the office after hours because you forgot to respond to something, or skip that long weekend away because you can’t bring your work with you.
2. Cloud-based solutions are often cheaper in the long run than using physical servers and hardware.
For one, there’s the upfront capital expenses of purchasing servers and setting them up (clocking in at $3000 to well over $25,000). With cloud options, your upfront costs are much less (and can even be as low as $0 depending on the systems you select).
Factor in the cost of yearly server maintenance, updates, and even the number of billable attorney hours you lose by working with servers that are often offline or aren’t doing anything to help your firm work at peak efficiency, and it’s not hard to see how cloud options can end up significantly cheaper. Not to mention that you’ll pay for most cloud services based on usage or number of users – in other words, you never have to pay for more than you need.
As an example, a recent client of ours calculated that over four years they could save nearly $227,000 (yes, you read that number right!) between the purchasing and maintenence for all their hardware and software by swapping out these old systems and moving entirely over to the Cloud.
3. Keeping your data in the Cloud is the safest, most secure place to store it.
I know, I know. We’ve all heard plenty of stories about those big companies (like Facebook, Capital One, and Target) who’ve fallen victim to data breaches.
But though the news may not always talk about it, the truth is that small businesses are breached far more often than these big guys.
To put it into perspective: the American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey found that 23% (or an alarming 1 in 5) of all law firms surveyed experienced a cyberattack in 2018. And that’s only counting firms who detected their breach.
One of the biggest reasons that small businesses (and particularly law firms, given the “value” of the sensitive client data they work with) become targets for hacks is that they simply don’t have the resources these big companies do. Google, after all, has more than 550 full-time employees working on network security and spends millions of dollars each year on infrastructure technology. Safe to say, there’s not a single small business out there (yours likely included) that can compete with these numbers and the protections they have in place.
Put another way, storing your money in a bank is the equivalent of storing your data in a cloud-based data center. Sure, there may be the rare theft or breach, but it’s still a better option than leaving your money at home under the mattress or leaving your data sitting on a file in your closet. At the very least, the rates of thefts and breaches are much, much lower and there are a variety of other security features that you just won’t have at your home or office.
4. The opportunities for improving your office efficiency and personal productivity through the Cloud are endless.
With a server and other physical hardware, there are limits to the improvements you can make and to the tools you can use.
But with the Cloud, you have tons of options for automating dull tasks that are taking up too much of your time, developing systems that are easy and quick to follow, and just generally finding other ways to be more productive – from billing to client communication to scheduling appointments and more.
Servers simply can’t complete in this regards.
5. Switching to the Cloud means you’re powering your firm with leaner, lighter, simpler tech that causes less headaches overall.
As you’ll see throughout our about page and our services page, the root of our philosophy is to power law firms with leaner, lighter, simpler tech. And essentially, this is what moving to the Cloud helps you do.
The benefit here is that powering your IT systems with simpler, less complex tech means you’ll have less to break, less to insure, less to maintain, and thus less tech problems overall.
After all, it’s no big secret that servers are pretty unreliable – anyone who has dealt with them before has had enough outages, unresponsive servers & mysteriously undelivered email (courtesy of your Exchange server) to last a lifetime.
As we like to describe it at FeatherShark: having a server sitting in your closet is a bit like having a septic tank sitting in your office, whereas connecting to the Cloud is like being connected to the public sewer system.
What Our Clients Have Said About Their Transitions to the Cloud with FeatherShark’s Help
“I know a lot of law firms have had problems letting go of tangible tech like servers. But Feathershark has this motto to spend less money on hardware and invest in cloud options. And it’s absolutely worth doing…
I mean, everything that we have is now on the cloud. Having that is great because we can access our office anywhere on the planet. And Feathershark made that happen for us.
“Rather than making us spend more money on high-end items we didn’t need like our last IT firm, FeatherShark has better solutions…
Their idea is to simplify things and spend less money on hardware and instead invest in Cloud options.”
“It’s not unrealistic to say FeatherShark has had an impact in everything we do at our practice because they’ve helped up standardize our tech systems for email, calendars, data storage, management, and software by putting it into the Cloud…
Thanks to them, we’ve been able to run our firm 10X more efficiently.”
“Thanks to FeatherShark, I’d say we’re better technology-suited than a lot of other competitors our size because of the tech systems in the Cloud they’ve set up for us…”
Think a transition to cloud technology might be right for your law firm?
Then get started by scheduling a complimentary “fast track your law firm’s tech to the future” strategy session so we can discuss where you are at now with your tech and explore opportunities to upgrade your firm to the Cloud. You can schedule your strategy session here.