Are you looking to move to a cloud-based legal practice management software for your law firm?
Perhaps you are doing some research on the topic to better understand what is a hosted legal practice managed software solution.
What are the advantages of a cloud-based legal practice management software?
No matter the reason, you are at the right place.
In this article, we will look at what is a cloud-based legal practice management software, objectively look at its advantages and disadvantages, give you some pointers as to what you should consider if you are looking to purchase a cloud-based legal practice management software and more.
This article is divided in the following sections:
- What is a cloud-based legal practice management software?
- Advantages of cloud-based legal practice management software
- Disadvantages of cloud-based legal practice management software
- Things to consider when evaluating a cloud-based legal practice management software
- Cloud-based legal practice management software takeaways
Let’s get this started…
1- What is a cloud-based legal practice management software?
A cloud-based legal practice management software is a hosted software solution accessed through secure Internet connection from anywhere, managed by your third-party service provider and where your data is stored on your service provider’s servers.
With a cloud-based legal practice management software, you do not run any particular software in your law firm’s internal network and infrastructure.
You do not need to maintain any software solution internally or have qualified personnel to handle it for you.
On the other hand, an on-premise legal practice management software is installed within your private internal network and you are responsible to ensure the software remains up-to-date and operational at all times.
You can run your law firm from anywhere
A cloud-based legal practice management software will allow you to run your law firm essentially from anywhere at any time.
You’ll have a significant advantage to be able to stay on top of your law firm operations, client data and case information through your cloud-based system whether you are at the office, at court, at your client’s facilities or even on a business trip.
When compared to an on-premise deployment or a type of deployment that does not allow you to have easy remote access and usage, you and your teams can achieve a lot more through a cloud-based system.
Lawyer’s are reluctant to go cloud
Lawyers are very conservative by nature.
When we say cloud-computing or even suggest that your case files will be stored on your service provider’s servers, we lose 75% of the lawyers around the table!
If you are thinking about the future of your law firm and your overall competitiveness in the market, it is inevitable that you must deal with the elephant in the room: should you go cloud?
For many, the first thing that comes to mind is that an on-premise deployment will provide you with greater security than a cloud-based system.
This used to be the case but times have changed!
With today’s technological advancements, cloud-based service providers are generally in a better position to provide you with a more secure network than what you can achieve in-house.
Let’s face it, you are in the business of running a law firm, you are not in the technology business or cloud-computing, cloud infrastructure and security best-practices.
A vendor in the technology space will be in a much better position to implement security best practices and protocols surrounding their network than you will be able to accomplish in-house.
That’s their core business.
When you objectively analyze your own capabilities, technologies, personnel experience and competencies against that of your cloud service provider, you may quickly realize that you’d better stay in the legal business and let the technology folks do their technology thing!
Cloud computing has evolved
Cloud-computing has evolved tremendously over the past years and is now one of the most secure ways of doing business.
With the breakout of the COVID-19 and the entire world reassessing its digital strategy, cloud-computing will take on a whole new significance.
This applies to you lawyers out there!
I’m a lawyer writing this article and believe me, for many years, I was as reluctant to think of cloud-computing to be suitable for law firms.
My reasoning has changed based on hard facts and data.
It is now important for you to consider cloud-based legal practice management software to help you run your legal show.
2- Advantages of cloud-based legal practice management software
There are many advantages in using a cloud-based legal practice management software eclipsing in most cases the benefits of an on-premise deployment.
Important cost savings
With a cloud deployment, you can achieve important cost savings as you will not need to purchase and manage any physical hardware to deploy your application.
You will not need to hire experienced personnel in managing your hardware, performing the updates and keeping your system operational all the time.
Seamless access to latest software version
With a cloud-based application, you will achieve a greater competitive advantage over your competitors.
You will access the latest and the best software offering without having to spend time and money upgrading, updating, maintaining and evaluating new software going forward.
Speed of execution
You can accelerate your speed of execution with a cloud-based legal practice management system as your internal stakeholders could access your system from anywhere at any time.
They can even access the system through their mobile devices therefore allowing you to make decisions faster and more quickly.
Even though some people still claim that cloud-based applications are less secure, this is no longer the case.
Cloud-computing security has significantly improved in the past decade and today you can benefit from highly secure and robust cloud service providers.
Most service providers subject themselves to third-party testing such as functional and non-functional testing and get regularly certified for their software and organizational security standards.
Backup and data recovery
With a legal practice management software hosted on the cloud, your data will be stored in your service provider’s servers.
The best software vendors out there have an amazing backup and data recovery processes in place.
You will benefit from multiple data redundancies, data backup in different regions and a data recovery program that will allow you to restore your entire production data quickly to the latest scheduled data backup version.
With a hosted legal practice management software, you will immediately improve collaboration between your internal teams but also with external clients.
You may be able to track and manage an important volume of files and digital documents in a secure cloud environment where you can exchange with your clients and collaborate.
This will eliminate a lot of time loss and data duplication that can lead to chaos and confusion.
Other important benefits
Other important benefits of a legal practice management in the cloud are:
- Ability for your internal stakeholders to access information and material on a self-service basis
- API access potentially available
- Web-based control and interfaces
- Location and device independence
3- Disadvantages of cloud-based legal practice management software
If we are going to really evaluate the merits of a cloud-based legal practice management software, we must also consider its disadvantages as well.
Let’s be clear, going cloud is a sensible and competitively the right thing to do.
However, going cloud means that you must acknowledge its limitations, risks and disadvantages.
You should be comfortable with your cloud strategy and address any shortfall or limitations head-on.
Depending on how many users will use your software system at the same time, or how many processes will be running on your server at the same time, your service speed and performance can vary.
This can translate into lower page loading speed, reduction in the application processing speed, delays in report generation or file saving and so on.
You can address this by ensuring your software vendor commits to service levels where any degradation of performance can result in price discounts or service credits.
You should also see how many other clients are heavily using the system to ensure that the software vendor’s solution can handle increased load and multiple processes.
You do not want to go to your vendor too often to seek credits or price reduction, therefore, before purchasing your cloud-based system, make sure you ask your vendor about their software performance.
Even though the benefit of a cloud-deployment is that you offload the hardware management along with the technical issues to your service provider, it does not mean that you will not run into technical issues.
The best of the best service providers will have their cloud systems run into some technical issues.
To mitigate that, negotiate your maintenance and support terms and conditions with your service provider so they remain on top of any issues you may get.
Make sure you have access to a 24/7 maintenance and support so your law firm can immediately communicate with someone in the event of a technical issue.
Earlier we mentioned that a cloud-based legal practice management software is more secure and now we are putting security as a disadvantage of cloud deployments.
This is not a mistake!
The reason why it’s important to consider security as a disadvantage when running a hosted application is that the security measures and best practices are not entirely in your control.
This is a disadvantage.
However, this does not mean it’s detrimental to you.
Remember, any company, any software provider, any service provider and your own law firm could be the victim of a security breach thereby exposing your data.
If you were managing your legal practice management software in-house, you will be at a a disadvantage compared to your cloud service provider as you may not have the technology and qualified personnel to be as good on the security front.
Nonetheless, you can speak with your service provider and ask them to share with you their security protocols, policies, best practices, testing and certifications.
Great software vendors will have industry-class certifications done by third-parties who put their systems to the test.
If your software vendor has certifications like SOC II certification, an auditing procedure that ensures your service provider securely manages your data and protects your business interests, then you can have more comfort about your vendor’s security.
You can also retain the services of third-party organizations who specializes in security testing to give you a report on your service provider’s network security for additional comfort.
4- Things to consider when evaluating a cloud-based legal practice management software
Investing in a cloud-based legal practice management software is going to be a big investment for your law firm.
You should not take this lightly.
When evaluating the software programs and vendors out there, you’ll need to do your due diligence to ensure that the software is right for you and that the vendor knows what it is doing.
Here are some questions that can help you in your journey:
- How much does your legal case management software cost?
- Will I need to sign a long-term contract?
- Will I need to customize the legal case management software?
- How will you handle the software implementation process?
- How does your legal case management software handle security?
- What is the future of your product?
- Should I get a cloud version or an on-premise solution?
Check out our article on 7 critical questions to ask a legal case management software vendor for more insight on what questions to ask a software vendor.
5- Cloud-based legal practice management software takeaways
To be competitive, your law firm will need to put all chances on its side.
One way you can do that is to deploy a robust legal practice management software to handle your law firm operations.
You can achieve even more by deploying your practice management software in the cloud!
In this article, we looked at the advantages and disadvantages of having your legal practice management software hosted through a service provider.
We have little hesitation in saying that the future of law firms and business in general, is cloud.
As lawyers, we can continue to resist some more but sooner or later, we will need to consider a business strategy leveraging a cloud-based infrastructure.
Why not do it now?
If you can leverage a cloud-based legal practice management today, you will be ahead of the game and give yourself significant competitive advantage over those law firms that do not have a cloud-based system.
We hope that you liked this article on the advantages of a cloud-based legal practice management software.
Are you using a cloud-based legal practice management software? What are the pros and cons according to you? We would love to hear from you. Drop us a comment.