Cloud storage for law firms

cloud-law

Cloud computing services are developing by the day and are getting more and more inviting for many businesses to use, law firms included. Some examples of useful services are web-based email and software as a service (SaaS). Saas in the form of customer relationship management (CRM) can make it easier for companies to manage the details of their customers and prospects. Cloud storage is a free or inexpensive way of keeping documents in one place and safe from loss due to hardware or software problems.

However, law firms have special issues to consider before signing up for cloud storage. These considerations are specific to their profession and relate to ethical rules which bind attorneys. Risks are also of a technical, physical and contractual nature. Cloud computing and storage are great when the agreements are carefully inspected and thought through.

Why is Cloud Computing So Good?

Let’s start with the money-saving aspect. The services cloud computing offers come at a low cost, because they don’t require in-house maintenance, capacities and infrastructure. With cloud computing, a law company can avoid using applications that would have to be on an in-house server. Moreover, cloud computing is often free or it costs quite little, especially when you consider which costs it avoids.

Documents stored on the Internet are available from any place and any device. Lawyers work round the clock and they need to be able to access information and files quickly, so they appreciate the constant availability of documents.

Purchasing cloud computing services allows the buyer to be flexible. A law company can buy a certain basic package for starters and later upgrade to a bigger storage space or some new features.

A law firm could also get more stability and security for their data if they choose a reputable cloud provider. Cloud companies which have been tried and tested with big clients, invest a lot into advanced security software and highly-skilled staff. Their staff is thoroughly trained and equipped with complex tools for managing permission, unauthorized access and disaster recovery. So, cloud computing could account for a better business continuity at a much lower price than firm-specific applications.

Ethical Rules

Ethical rules that apply to a certain law firm require due consideration. There are variations in these across jurisdictions, so the extent and nature of ethical rules should be researched, even though many principles coincide.

Ethical rules for attorneys commonly include duties of competence and confidentiality. The question here is whether the users of the cloud software will be competent enough to use the services without endangering the security and confidentiality of the data?

Duty to supervise would require a designated attorney to assign tasks to a non-attorney (for example, the cloud provider) and in that way make reasonable efforts to make sure the cloud provider’s practices are in accordance with the attorneys’ obligations.

It almost goes without saying that attorneys are obliged to safeguard the confidentiality of their clients’ information, files and documents. The firm should make sure that the cloud provider warrants a top level of security.

The duty to communicate with the client may require the law firm to inform its clients about firm’s decision to keep the files on a cloud storage or manage them through cloud computing. The law firm may even be obliged to ask for the clients’ consent.

What You Should Do Before Going Cloud

Conducting internal and external due diligence should help you get ready for the switch to cloud computing. These measures mean that, before a law firm transfers their database to cloud, they should ensure no ethical rules prevent them from doing so. Next, it should be checked whether the firm or some of its staff have a confidentiality or data use agreement that doesn’t allow transfer to a third party, in this case cloud providers.

Even without these agreements some documents and files are so delicate and confidential that uploading them on cloud might be a bad idea, or the upload would necessitate additional safety measures.

A law firm considering cloud computing services should also inspect the agreement with the cloud provider. Special attention should be paid to servers – their location, whether they host one or several clients of the cloud provider, the amount of security they guarantee and whether the network can switch to another server in the case of outages, so that continuous data access is ensured. The firm should carefully review disclaimers of liability, confidentiality, intellectual property and security provisions.

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WAMS, Inc.

The experts at WAMS, Inc. all have a background in the legal industry and understand the software and the demands that come along with it. That’s why all our clients receive a dedicated account manager and engineer with specific planning that works for your business needs. We didn’t break into the tech world to pinch pennies from clients. We go into every partnership to help their business scale gracefully. Your company growth is our company growth, always.