12 Questions on the Cloud We Hear from Law Firms Other than Security, Part 2

legal software

12 Questions on the Cloud We Hear from Law Firms Other than Security, Part 2

by Josiah Chaves and Tara Levin, Esq. (Click here for Part 1)

Despite the fact that cybersecurity remains a top concern for firms considering cloud technology, it’s no longer remains the only question they are asking. As we shared in the last edition of Think Tank, firms are curious about migration of data, configuring and customizing to their needs, reporting and ease of use.

In part two, we bring you some of the other questions we get asked most often about the realities and details of cloud adoption.

7) Where is the data hosted?

Techies joke that the cloud is just someone else’s computer. This means your data is, in fact, on a computer somewhere, it’s just not one that’s in your office anymore.

Knowing where your vendor stores data is important for you to know because it could be a server in a garage in Silicon Valley, a local data provider in Cincinnati, or a data center overseas. The data is sitting somewhere, and it could be subject to a local jurisdiction or international rules.

At Aderant, we use Amazon Web Services (AWS) because, in our view, it’s the gold standard for security, scale and performance.

8) Who owns the data in the cloud?

You do, or you should.

A firm is responsible for putting data in and taking it out of the cloud. The cloud provider’s job is to make sure the firm has access to it. That’s what we think is the right answer with the caveat that it depends on your provider and is not merely as obvious as reviewing the terms and conditions (T&Cs).

As the old saying goes, possession is nine-tenths of the law. It’s important to look at how a vendor provides access. Can you only access the data through a single dashboard, or have they written tables that allow you to move data as your firm needs?

9) Will the cloud save money?

The short answer is probably – and this can broken out into two parts.

First, most cloud solutions convert capital expenses into operating expenses. In other words, instead of buying servers and software and hiring people to deploy and manage it – all upfront costs – most run on a subscription basis.

This is important because it brings into account the total cost of ownership (TCO). TCO is an idea popularized by the technology analyst firm Gartner and urges organizations to consider the cost of a technology over its lifetime, rather than just at procurement.

To that end, it’s easy for a firm to tabulate numbers on IT infrastructure and understand the expected annual expenses. What is harder to quantify, but just as important, is the efficiency a law firm gains when every lawyer and staff member has access to the systems they need, whenever they need it.

This leads us to the second, and arguably the more important answer: The cloud enables law firms to transition resources from worrying about hardware, to making processes more efficient.

10) What type of employee roles do I need with the cloud?

The cloud will change the roles that you need in a firm because you no longer worry about the hardware. Still, we think it’s about evolving the business of law roles that you have, rather than eliminating them.

Consider, for example, how the role of a database administrator might evolve with a cloud deployment. If you move the cloud, your firm will no longer need someone administering the database to make sure it’s running optimally.

However, that staff role can evolve to thinking about process improvement such as how the firm might get time entered faster or building out new analytics. The database experience that person has could prove very valuable.

11) Does the fact that a legal technology is in the cloud really matter?

There are very clear benefits to the cloud. There is a big upside in the resourcing advantages for a law firm that doesn’t want to manage an IT infrastructure, or can’t manage it with the high level expertise of a business dedicated to that line of work.

Whether your firm chooses a legal technology product that is designed for an on-premise deployment or a cloud deployment, consider the product first. Where and how you deploy a product isn’t going to matter if you haven’t selected the right one for your firm. In other words, examine the product first, and think about the cloud second.

12) What does a firm give up when it moves to the cloud?

There’s a principle in human psychology that has a profound influence on our ability to make a change. It’s called loss aversion and it boils down to the idea the losing hurts twice as bad as winning, so people resist change, because it’s painful to give something up.

What do you lose by going to the cloud? In our minds, it means your firm loses that server in your closet. Good riddance!

* * *

Cybersecurity will always be a concern whether on cloud, on-premise or a hybrid environment, and rightly so. It should be the top priority when considering any procurement process. Beyond that, be sure to ask the questions we’ve shared, and any others that you’ve been curious about.

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