The typical picture of attorneys working a case involves legal pads, bankers’ boxes full of files, and a lot of pausing to find that case-winning document. But what if legal firms moved to the cloud? What changes would we see? We’d see some massive improvements. Here are 5 ways cloud computing services can help legal firms.
Broader Scope In Search
It’s a simple fact: written law is one thing, but case law is the most compelling argument during litigation. While there are standard cases cited, cloud computing allows for a far more intuitive and broader search which means that instead of relying on outdated citations and the standard cases that can be squeezed to fit every argument, attorneys can pinpoint their search to include the most recent of decisions to develop a more compelling theory of a case or argument.
Firms can easily upload searchable versions of briefs, rulings, transcripts and more to a cloud-based program and easily access anything they need, including decisions by a judge in front of whom they are scheduled.
Access The Brain Trust
Cloud-based documents can be viewed, commented on, and edited in real time making it easier for attorneys to collaborate on briefs, ask for insight, and prepare no matter where they are. Even something as simple as Google can take a significant amount of time spent mailing, faxing, couriering, back through simple pings. No need to send emails, either -- just comment and the person is notified.
Cloud computing also drives productivity. While anywhere, on almost any device, staff can look at shared files and make quick comments. One law firm found that cloud computing increased their productivity by 25% -- people are on their mobile devices while waiting, and getting a little work done, even just helping out a colleague, can be done with a simple click.
Take The Pain Out Of Clocking, Billing, Invoicing
As cloud computing becomes more prevalent, it’s reaching far being file management. Instead, most aspects of a law firm’s work can now be found in the cloud. Including the most disliked process: clocking, billing, and invoicing. Bill4Time and similar apps offer cloud-based firm management. Everything from clocking hours and tracking expenses to issuing reports and allowing for online payments are available in one, secure place. Cloud-based programs like DotLoop and DocuSign make it easy to get client signatures, especially when time is of the essence.
Build A Reputation
The ease of use for clients is an easy way to get more business. Rather than complain about making trips to the office or having a courier get lost, clients rave about the ease of signing documents online and getting instant notifications when things are ready to be signed. Taking the waiting time out of the equation offers peace of mind and builds a firm’s reputation as quick, responsive, and modern -- three things people seek when working with attorneys.
Accessibility and Simplicity
Cloud computing is accessible anywhere there is an internet connection and when law firms embrace them they find out that these are easy systems for accessing everything. Programs don’t have to be installed, memory isn’t used up, and retrieval is essentially instantaneous. Remote logins allow for access to the entire system: programs, applications, files.
But Is It Safe?
The cloud is here and it’s here to stay but with news of hacks and it being something new, many people question whether or not the cloud is safe for professionals who are governed by strict ethical and legal codes. Attorney-client privilege and HIPAA are often the first cited by those leery of the oft-considered amorphous cloud. In order to make the ease of cloud computing accessible to the legal field with its strict rules, many have found workarounds. One of the easiest is to use file sharing so that data is both in-house and in the cloud allowing the encryption keys to be owned by the company.
While many people are comfortable with the status quo, savvy law firms should start to explore how cloud computing can help them raise the bar and attract clients through a way of working that is far more suited to today’s professional.