Yes, is the simple answer. All law firms can move their practices to the cloud. Attorneys and staff can work from the office or anywhere with an internet connection. They can use their local printers/copiers and do not have to buy new servers. Law firms can have everything and more by accessing their data through cloud-based systems.
So, how do you start? Many law firms start their migration to the cloud with their email. Microsoft’s cloud-based email, Office 365, can be used for any size law firm, from solos to the Am Law 100 firm. Firms can take advantage of Office 365 to provide email, access to your documents, encrypted email, archived email and more. Lots of law firms have already moved their email to the cloud and Office 365 is a great option.
The next step of moving to the cloud is determined by the size of the firm and the software it is using. Let’s look at some options depending on the size of the firm.
Since solo and small firms have fewer decision-makers and smaller practices, these firms will have the easiest time moving to the cloud.
Consider using one of the many cloud-based practice management and time and billing systems on the market. Clio and PracticePanther are examples of these popular systems that offer the most frequently used features including time keeping, billing, calendaring, and more.
If your small firm is using Quickbooks, consider using Quickbooks Online instead. Finally, adding a cloud-based document storage like Box.com, OneDrive, Dropbox for Business or Google Drive to your other cloud-based tools allows your solo or small firm to get to work in the cloud.
If your mid-size firm is not fully utilizing its server-based software, consider making a change to a cloud-based system.
Mid-sized firms may need more extensive docketing, workflows and document assembly features. Cloud-based systems have you covered by including these features and constantly improving their software and adding features.
The mid-size firm challenge is about data migration. Many of the cloud-based systems offer migration services to help you get your data out of your existing system and into their cloud-based system.
Mid-Size Firms – Part Deux
For those firms that are extensively using an existing server-based system, you have the most options of all.
Option 1. The first option is to migrate your data to a new cloud-based system. From Time Matters, to Amicus to Timeslips, programs like Actionstep and Centerbase are cloud-based programs that offer migration paths from more robust server-based systems into the cloud. Data and all. Most of these cloud-based, highly robust, workflow systems, will allow law firms to operate with the same functionality in the cloud.
Option 2. If you are a mid-size law firm that has multiple practice areas and uses practice specific software (think Soft Pro for Real Estate), your cloud-based system may look a little different.
With updated remote access technology, many mid-sized firms can move to hosted cloud-based servers. These hosted servers would shift the responsibility of all network and server support to the hosted server provider. Uptime Legal and Abacus Cloud are good examples of providers that are law firm specific and offer software and servers in a hosted environment. They migrate your data and programs and give you access to everything 24/7.
For large law firms with less restrictions on time and money, they can implement any combination of these options, hosted or cloud. However, with many decision makers and more established business processes, large law firms will need to move to the cloud with lots of time and careful planning. Remember, the larger and more complex the system you are migrating from, the more time and staff needed to make sure that nothing gets left behind or forgotten. Many law firms think that they cannot implement cloud-based technology in their firms because they don’t know where to begin or think that their systems are too complicated to move to the cloud. That is far from the truth. Firms of all sizes can take advantage of cloud-based technology, using their existing software or migrating to new software. Now’s the time to make that move.