If your law firm has been hesitant to embrace cloud services, you’re not alone. Only about one in two law firms are using these services, according to a 2018 report from the American Bar Association. But despite concerns about cloud security, confidentiality, and data control and ownership, cloud computing is an essential inevitability for law firms.
Cloud services are any software or service accessed via the Internet, where the application is not installed and maintained locally as part of a business’s own network infrastructure. A whopping 96% of businesses overall are using some form of cloud solutions, according to a 2018 study on enterprise cloud computing. But historically, law firms have been hesitant to adopt anything “cloud,” largely due to perceived security risks. But with the right platforms, cloud computing is necessary for firms to scale, remain competitive, and provide the user experience that staff and clients have come to expect in the digital age.
When choosing which services will be best suited to the unique needs of your law firm, there are three questions to consider:
- Will it provide sufficient security to keep our internal and client data safe and compliant with clients’ industry regulations?
- Will it help streamline and improve the employee experience, productivity, and ultimately increase time spent on billable hours?
- Will it improve your clients’ experience with your firm?
- Will it help the firm scale quickly to adapt to changes in how companies and individuals seek legal services?
With these questions in mind, we’ve done the research to determine the top 5 cloud services for law firms:
1. For Enterprise Business Services: ServiceNow
Law firms have traditionally relied on an in-house IT team to maintain network infrastructure. This team typically develops its own particular workflows and service delivery model, but as the firm grows and matures, so must its processes. For example, asking attorneys and staff to resolve their IT issues via phone calls and emails will eat up valuable time otherwise spent on billables. Or even more critically, if an attorney has issues with their devices while they’re in court, the results could be catastrophic for them and their firm.
IT service delivery issues can be solved in one fell swoop by implementing ServiceNow’s IT Service Management (ITSM) platform. ITSM consolidates all IT-related services and functions in one place. With ITSM, your IT team will use battle-tested best practices for delivering and managing IT services. ServiceNow is the top ITSM platform, ranked by Gartner for the past five years as an ITSM Magic Quadrant Leader. IT leaders in law firms use ServiceNow's ITSM automation to reduce the time employees need to deal with IT issues so that employees have more time doing what's truly important... client work. And ServiceNow does more than just manage IT services. ServiceNow facilitates enterprise business services of all kinds, from HR onboarding to asset management to project portfolio management.
2. For File Storage and Sharing: Microsoft OneDrive
One of the most important cloud services for law firms is file storage, sharing, and collaboration. Law firms often use services like Dropbox without really even thinking about the fact that the service they are using is a cloud-based service. Indeed, Dropbox, the industry-leading service for storing and sharing files, is used by 60% of law firms, and another 36% use Google Docs.
But while these tools are among the most used, they are standalone solutions that don’t benefit from being part of a law firm’s enterprise security ecosystem. By contrast, Microsoft OneDrive and Sharepoint offer the same file storage and sharing options. And because they’re part of the Microsoft 365 suite, they handle the confidentiality and security of client data much more comprehensively and systematically.
3. For Legal Practice Management: Clio
Law firms can benefit greatly from cloud services developed for businesses in general. But they also have at their disposal services specifically for legal practice management. Instead of manual processes for managing functions like client intake, case management, and billing, law firms can implement solutions designed for the legal profession.
The industry-leading solution, known as Clio, is used by about one in ten law firms, according to a 2018 American Bar Association report. It offers firms a way to standardize, streamline, and automate daily case workflows, and handles a wide variety of legal-profession workflows, including client intake, case management, document management, billing, and timekeeping. And Clio is constantly introducing new, user-friendly features.
4. For eDiscovery: Logikcull
For many law firms, building eDiscovery infrastructure is a necessary and costly endeavor. Law firms rely on eDiscovery platforms to systematically collect, filter, and sort all relevant files and metadata. But that doesn’t mean eDiscovery isn’t an unwieldy, risk-prone process that many law firms struggle to manage effectively.
Fortunately, cloud-based solutions are now available that can streamline these data import and data collection processes, ultimately ensuring that data points relevant to a case can be reliably extracted and managed. The top eDiscovery service is Logikcull, which specializes in supporting not only eDiscovery, but also internal investigations and open records responses. The review site G2 has ranked Logikcull the No. 1 eDiscovery service, with a near-perfect overall satisfaction score of 93 out of 100.
5. For Improved Governance: Microsoft Azure Active Directory
When law firms invest in a new technology, it often comes with a new set of access controls to keep the system secure. For the average staff member of a law firm, that means they need another unique username and password. For the law firm itself, that means adding another governance challenge: the firm must protect the new system from unauthorized use and security breaches. Although governance can quickly become a challenge for organizations, cloud services are a great solution, blending the ability to manage identity and access issues—and also streamline the end-user experience.
The top service for improved governance is Microsoft Azure Active Directory, a multi-tenant, cloud-based directory and identity management service. Azure enables a law firm to create centralized policy and rules for identity and access management. What this means is that the end user needs only a single username and password to log into all applications. This is commonly called a Single Sign-On (SSO). Once the user is logged in, Azure manages what data and features the user can access. This enables the law firm to assign permissions to each user, as well as set rules and policies for different types of users. Best of all, if you already use Microsoft 365 Business, Azure is already included.
Final Thoughts on Cloud Services for Law Firms
Increasingly, law firms are embracing cloud services as essential to keeping pace with demands from both clients and up-and-coming employees. And contrary to common misconceptions, cloud services today are both secure and well-designed.
Crossfuze is expertly positioned to help law firms get maximum value from investments in enterprise cloud-based business services, including ServiceNow ITSM, Microsoft Sharepoint and Azure.
To learn more about how Crossfuze can help you make the transition to cloud services, please contact us at LetsTalk@Crossfuze.com.