Cloud computing

How Cloud Computing Gives Your Law Firm a Competitive Edge

Posted by David Smetana on October 8, 2020
Employees sitting on the steps outside an office (how cloud computing helps your law firm)

Cloud computing is no longer a ‘nice to have’ option for law firms: it’s an important resource and a crucial element of your operation.

The benefits of cloud computing go beyond mere cost saving. It facilitates collaboration, communication and innovation. Numerous studies by leading IT corporations such as IBM, have found organisations that deploy cloud computing gain a competitive advantage.

For law firms specifically, there are plenty of strategic advantages to cloud computing.

These include:

  • A competitive edge. Online legal services, such as Rocket Lawyer, are growing in market share. Your firm can better compete when it has the same advantages that they have, such as a modern IT infrastructure driven by cloud computing.
  • Reduced environmental impact. To do your bit for the environment, it’s best to create a virtual law office. There’s a clear trend for this in law, and it has its own financial incentives.
  • Better legal software. New legal software, such as those that use AI, are only affordable and easy to introduce when they come through a cloud computing solution.
  • Keep up with market needs. According to research, many people prefer to interact with law firms online. How can your business cater to this market if it’s stuck in an office?

So, it’s clear that legal firms can take advantage of many benefits if they embrace cloud computing.

However, it’s also true to say ‘the cloud’ still has an air of mystery surrounding it. And, there’s some confusion about what it is, how it works, and the core benefits it brings to a law firm.

Let’s take the time to answer some common questions regarding cloud computing.

What is cloud storage?

The term ‘cloud storage’ refers to when you save your data off-site, on dedicated servers in a data centre. Rather than saving data locally, to physical servers and hard drives that are in your office, you save it remotely, via an internet connection. It’s then always accessible via the web.

What is cloud backup?

Cloud backup is usually part of a managed service offering where a third-party vendor, such as Chalkline, will manage a business’ entire IT infrastructure. Using a cloud storage platform, your data is routinely saved to a remote server. It can then be accessible from multiple and connected resources.

Cloud backup doesn’t necessarily negate the need for a local backup strategy. But it does provide a secure and efficient solution for replicating data. You can encrypt this for another level of security.

It’s important to keep in mind that the benefits of cloud computing aren’t provided with the initial implementation of the technology. It’s the changes that it enables that make the difference. Making the change requires team buy-in and engagement, and often further training. This can be from either the vendor you partner with, or with one of your IT team. Depending on the size of the business, this is often a chief information officer, IT manager or operations manager.

But is the cloud safe enough for my law firm?

The many industry-specific regulations that law firms face, as well as general ones such as GDPR, mean that your law firm must handle data with the utmost care.

Afterall, data breaches can be hugely damaging to a law firm. Both in terms of immediate financial damage, and because of the resulting damage to your reputation.

Fortunately, securing your data is very achievable with cloud computing.

Choosing a cloud provider based in the UK will help you stay on the right side of regulatory needs. And the security guarantees and encryption technologies offered by providers such as Microsoft Azure will put your mind at ease.

A private cloud solution can be preferable to give you the higher levels of security and control you need. This might mean you have an all-private cloud solution, or a part-private, part-public hybrid solution.

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The cloud also offers increased accessibility

Increased accessibility is the jewel in the crown of cloud computing benefits. Employees and individuals are no longer restricted by local networks. This means flexibility of working is immediately improved. Data, documents, images, emails and much more are easily accessed from anywhere. Also, collaborative working (multiple people working on a document simultaneously) is now a breeze.

This is why cloud storage is so integral to changing the way businesses work. Instead of storage on hard drives and onsite hardware, the data is remotely centralised. This means that, as long as you have permission, you can access data and files from any location at any time. This leads on to a whole host of other benefits.

Embracing modern HR trends with cloud computing

The modern office environment has undergone a paradigm shift. The traditional ways of working are being challenged by a more dynamic and, in some ways, demanding workforce. We are waving goodbye to the traditional 9-5 working hours. And, staring at the same four walls in the office is, increasingly, a thing of the past.

Flexible working, remote working and ‘bring your own device’ are the modern workplace trends that SMEs are now implementing. This is with good reason – employees thrive under these conditions. Bill Gates stated several years ago that businesses that give their employees flexibility will have a competitive edge.

Studies have shown employees who can enjoy flexible working are more engaged, loyal and motivated. Flexible working can also offer cost savings on office space, utilities and equipment. This is made possible by initiatives such as ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD).

Interestingly, a study found that 75 percent of millennials would take a pay cut for flexible working arrangements.

Let’s put this into perspective. By offering flexible working options, your company would attract loyal, forward-thinking staff that don’t' just want a bigger paycheck. These are the staff you want to work for your firm, not a competitor. Also consider the question: how many of your competitors are already offering this?

Cloud computing can act as a catalyst for implementing these modern workplace trends. Ultimately, many of these changes will improve your bottom line.

Cloud computing adds resiliency to your law firm

The Covid-19 pandemic forced many organisations to embrace remote working to survive. And there’s no getting away from the fact that those with a developed cloud computing environment were better placed to make the transition.

It’s hard to know what the future holds. However, putting cloud computing at the heart of your IT environment will help your law firm prosper in a variety of unexpected situations. Whether there’s a fire, an incident at your offices, or something else, your business is more resilient when you use cloud computing. That’s because your staff can continue being productive from anywhere.

A closer look at cost savings

While we've touched on some of the cost savings, it’s worth detailing other areas where cloud computing helps. Firstly, it’s important to note that the cloud helps companies divert costs away from IT so they can instead invest in their core business.

Cloud computing is also good for cash flow. That’s because cloud computing does not require the hefty upfront investment of on-site solutions. There are also reduced maintenance costs as this sits with your cloud provider. Upgrades and annual license fees come with the package, while energy usage is also minimised because there is no longer energy-expensive hardware to power on site.

Cloud services also encourage scalability, offering resources on a pay-as-you-go model. This also reduces the burden of fixed costs and gives business leaders peace of mind that they can be aggressive in business growth. The cloud frees them to follow consumer and seasonal trends, but also scale back when necessary.

Tapping into international markets using cloud computing

Given the current political and economic uncertainty within UK borders, many law firms are keen to leverage the opportunities presented by countries across the globe. This is both from a hiring and new business perspective.

And, naturally, one should influence the other. If you are expanding into new territory, then it makes good business sense to employ individuals that reflect your new client base. Better to hire people who, not only speak the language, but also understand local business culture and customs.

Because cloud computing provides a foundation for remote and flexible working, it empowers expansion into international markets. Heightened methods of security such as encryption, multi-factor authentication and role-based access provides peace of mind. This protects sensitive documents, data and files in the cloud.

When you consider that cloud computing also helps support business travel, it’s clear that overseas markets are brought a little closer too. You simply can’t access local networks and storage drives when offsite. This means travelling individuals would have to risk saving items to a desktop so they could work and travel simultaneously, but this simply doesn’t need to happen with cloud computing.

Data analytics

It’s no secret that law firms rely on data analytics to direct strategies and maximise profits. It’s key for removing guesswork and reducing uncertainty.

Cloud computing enables firms of all sizes to analyse huge data sets with ease and efficiency. This information can lead to service development, improved marketing targeting and customer experience.

The real-time nature of cloud computing means law firms can respond immediately to business needs. Being able to undertake predictive and prescriptive analysis allows leaders to quickly apply findings and implement data-driven solutions.

Moving data to the cloud from all departments also means you can run concurrent reports and have a holistic view of your business.

Business intelligence and analytics services, such as Power BI by Microsoft, are worth exploring. They empower businesses to access insights that enable leaders to make fast, informed decisions.

You can transform this data into stunning visuals and share them with colleagues across devices. In this visual form, you can view and analyse both on-premise and cloud-based data in one view. Further to this, you can collaborate on customised dashboards and interactive reports in real-time.

The ability to align departments and react quickly and strategically in all areas will undoubtedly give law firms advantages. It brings deeper insights into customer and market behaviour and drives improvements in productivity and efficiency.

Why let your law firm fall behind?

In 2019, cloud computing rose to a 59 percent adoption rate in the legal sector.

Although worries still exist in the community around data security, the overwhelming advantages offered by the cloud are forcing many firms to step into the future and adopt the cloud.

By embracing cloud computing and cloud computing services, you’ll recoup time for your IT team. This means they can escape mundane tasks such as maintenance, updates and security patches. Now, they can focus on more innovative and strategic objectives that will add further value to a business.

So, there you have it, a deep-dive into how cloud computing can accelerate digital transformation, and give you significant advantages over your competitors. If you would like to hear more about what your firm could experience through cloud computing, contact us today.

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