How the cloud helps legal firms improve competitiveness

The pandemic had quite a few law firms scrambling to get all their employees effectively working from home. Some firms stopped other projects in order to focus on getting staff members — paralegals and other administration staff — set up. That required getting physical hardware and software deployed. But it was also a time when many firms adopted the use of cloud-based software products for the first time.

“In the legal sector, a vertical that’s been technologically conservative, working from home is advancing the adoption of technology,” says David Cramer, Manager of Business Development – Legal & Professional Services at Blue Technologies, Inc. “Firms are discovering that technology provides greater value, better efficiency and better performance to get the job done effectively. That then enhances their business and provides a better return on investment.”

Smart Business spoke with Cramer about technology solutions for legal firms that are looking for secure and efficient ways to adapt to the remote work environment.

What obstacles have law firms faced shifting to remote work?

One obstacle was the loss of the ability to walk down a hall and ask colleagues questions. Fortunately, software with chat functions and different collaboration tools were brought in to address the issue.

Another challenge for firms as they worked remotely was security. Security, though, is not just one product or one solution. Security requires multiple solutions. One of those solutions is the ability to encrypt data and documents, both at rest and in transit. Some are doing that with their traditional on-premise document management system. Others are utilizing a cloud solution that provides that level of security.

However, there are some cases in both corporate legal departments and law firms that two or more firms must work together. When exchanging physical documents isn’t an option, everything gets done electronically, which requires layers of security — even when working from home. That increased the need for secure file collaboration.

What security solutions do these products offer?

Legal firms rely on products that offer different levels of security. In addition to encryption, there are also solutions that use artificial intelligence to identify bad actors by detecting behavior changes. The software learns the users’ behavior so that it can recognize any anomaly. For example, if a user tends to download a few documents each week, then suddenly downloads 10,000 documents in a day, that would get recognized as anomalous behavior. Or if an attorney works in one particular practice group, but begins accessing documents in a completely different practice group, that will also alert an administrator or security officer so they could take action. While the above use cases may apply to internal resources, it also applies if credentials became compromised by an external source, thereby providing protection against both internal and external attacks.

In what ways have cloud-based solutions affected other aspects of firms’ practices?

The pandemic has driven an acceleration from traditional on-premise applications to cloud-based applications. Now, legal firms are finding cloud-based solutions offer better reliability, easier maintenance, better up time and less in-house support than traditional on-premise solutions. These solutions are meant to be accessed remotely, so they perform better in a work-from-home environment.

Cloud-based applications also offer increased security compared with the on-premise solutions deployed in most small and medium-sized law firms — most of which don’t have the budget to build up a robust security foundation for all their applications. In that way, cloud solutions can level the playing field for small and medium-sized firms.

There are professional service providers that offer solutions and advice to guide law firms on these issues. They can help them find the right solutions to deploy securely in work-from-home environments while facilitating collaboration, keeping sensitive data protected and helping to level the competitive playing field.

Insights Technology is brought to you by Blue Technologies, Inc.