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The use of cloud service providers has become increasingly common, for law firms and many other businesses. The “cloud” simply refers to data being stored on servers located remotely and accessed on the Internet instead of your own computer’s hard drive.
Use of cloud storage ensures data is safely and regularly backed up, and that all members of your team have access to the most current information and documents, even while working remotely.
You are already using cloud software if you have a cellphone, use remote data storage facilities like iCloud or Dropbox, use Microsoft Office 365 products or use modern practice management software like Clio or CosmoLex.
Moving to the cloud does, however, require a law firm to consider factors such as privacy, security, regulatory compliance and service availability.
Benefits of cloud computing
Cloud computing services have several distinct advantages, including:
- Cloud storage facilities often have more physical and digital security measures than law firms.
- The cloud service provider is responsible for backing up and preserving the safety of your data.
- Cloud storage is virtually unlimited and inexpensive. The amount of data you can store locally is limited by the size of your hard drive.
- Cloud storage capacity can be easily and quickly adjusted to meet your needs.
- Business continuity and ease of collaboration amongst team members. You can access your records from anywhere on any device.
- The software needed for cloud computing is regularly and automatically updated to respond to the latest security risks.
- Small and medium sized law firms cannot afford to maintain full IT departments equipped with the latest knowledge and tools. Cloud providers can and do.
Risks of cloud computing
Cloud computing is not without risks. Some of these risks include:
- If the data you store with your cloud provider is not encrypted, others may have access to it. Some cloud storage providers offer full encryption. Others do not.
- Your service provider may get hacked. Despite extensive security measures, no one can rule out the possibility of a security breach.
- The cloud server may go out of business or become unavailable for a time.
Choosing the right cloud provider
To help you decide whether to move your practice to the cloud and to choose among service providers, we encourage you to review two helpful documents prepared by the Law Society of British Columbia:
The Law Society of Saskatchewan has also prepared a useful guide:
Written by: Len Polsky, Manager, Practice Management