Cloud. It’s something that we all have been using for quite some time. Google Drive, Dropbox, One Drive are just some of the widely known examples of cloud-based software or better say cloud storage solutions in this case. Many internet users and also lawyers use Google Mail on a daily basis. This are just a couple of listed cloud-based applications.
Cloud or cloud computing refers to the servers all around the world that are accessed over the internet, and the software connected to databases that run on those servers. There are three basic service models of cloud computing:
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – Users access applications over the internet, while the applications are hosted on cloud servers. There is no need for application installation.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – Companies and users pay for the platform with everything needed to create their own applications. Providers host development tools, operating systems and infrastructure.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – Service providers rent cloud infrastructure, servers and storage, accessible through IP-based connectivity. It is the highest level of management control over user’s IT resources.
In this article we will concentrate on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – Cloud-based legal software.
Users and companies get many benefits of using such services. They don’t have to physically manage servers or run software on their local machines. It enables them to access files and software from almost any device, since computing and storage is happening on the cloud servers, instead of locally used device. Only thing user needs is a machine (desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet), a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc.) and internet connection. By using cloud technology data is accessible from any location and any device. At any time. No need for software installation and users don’t need to have a high-end computer with a last generation processor, double digit of cores and large amounts of RAM (Random-access memory). Its machine needs to be able to run a web browser. A minimum of requirements for accessing cloud applications.
There are three main reasons why using cloud-based legal software is so attractive: mobility (remote accessibility), costs and security. We already covered mobility. When talking about costs aspect, using cloud based legal software saves money. Since everything is happening on servers, cut on technology costs is significant. According to Information Systems Audit and Control Association’s (ISACA) report from 2017, How Enterprises Are Calculating Cloud ROI (Return on Investment), out of 1000 different companies, report found out that 71% of them achieved either ROI that was planned or higher than expected when moved to the cloud. Cloud technology does not require hardware investment and often comes without any long-term contracts. One of the biggest concerns with cloud is the risk of compromising the security of client’s data. With the importance for data security and legal responsibility companies have to protect client’s data, they need to be sure that software they are using protects their customers and staff. Also, cloud software providers can offer more competitive pricing and security features. Many cloud services provide more security than on-premise software. These enhanced security features cloud providers offer include: end-to-end encryption, backup servers, expert security teams, more efficient compliance analysis, more reliable security infrastructure, advanced protection against network attacks, low-cost disaster recovery and data storage, real-time threat detection and many others.
Some other advantages of using cloud-based legal software are:
Software updates – On-premise software requires from a user to manually update the system. Cloud-based software is constantly updated, automatically.
Software integration – Integrating software solutions is generally costly and time consuming. Cloud-based software providers have software that makes their software to easily connect with applications (Microsoft Office 365, Google Calendar, etc.).
Speed up your workflow – Lagging applications, frozen screens, other glitches – it’s all past with cloud. Navigate easily thousands of data with only a few clicks.
Enhanced accuracy – This is related to recovery systems and data backup solutions which are more advanced on cloud-based software. Cloud servers automatically and continuously sync and upload data. Also, cloud servers offer redundancy, if the primary server fails, cloud is able to utilize the secondary server. This means less downtime and much lower risk of losing important files.
There are already many cloud-based legal software solutions on the market which are trying to solve various legal problems. Some of them are made for small to medium companies/law firms, while others for the companies which are much larger in size. Based on the problem relating to legal practice which particular cloud- based legal software is trying to solve, LegalTech software solutions can be divided into following segments:
Case / matter management – Organizing cases and matter in the cloud, live tracking and updating of cases, controlling user access to cases;
Client management – Managing clients and contacts and linking them to appropriate case or matter;
Task management – Creating tasks with due dates and priority labels, changing status of tasks (open, closed) and assigning them to cases and staff;
Calendar – A full calendar allowing meetings and appointments to be scheduled with reminders and notifications;
Timekeeping / Time and expenses tracking – Useful for lawyers who bill by the hour, but also for ones who don’t;
Conflict checking – Advanced search box with ability to search full database with conflict checking feature;
Email client – A full email client that allows you to associate emails with cases;
Text messaging – Send and receive messages and link them to cases;
Document management – Managing documents (creating, editing, saving, sending to clients), automatically filling them with necessary information and assigning them to cases;
Document / Form assembly – Loading firm’s existing document templates (invoices, form letters, etc.) into software for easy use;
Basic bookkeeping – Keep track of your operating accounts and reconcile your balances;
Trust accounting – Tracking client trust accounts, including payments and expenses;
Full accounting – This makes additional accounting software unnecessary;
Billing and invoicing – Sending bills and invoices, and it can be an automated feature;
Online payments – Processing of online payments;
Secure client portal – Secured and authenticated online platform (typically a website) companies offer to provide their services and information to clients;
Open API – Application programming interface that is publicly available for software developers.
Many of the cloud-based legal software solutions offer most of the mentioned above core features. Some of them have those features as “basic” and others as “full”. Difference is that if user has a full feature, there is no need for additional software. Otherwise, if it’s a basic feature, additional software is needed to fully support it.
IV. Data Migration
One of the worries might be data migration from current on-premise legal software to cloud-based legal software. Most of the software vendors (if not all of them) offer this feature. They have teams of their people to work with user on data migration. One of the software providers, that offers their specialists to help user with data migration, has usually four different teams to perform this task – delivery team (train, guide and support), service team (template customization, data entry), engineering team (accurate data migration) and customer success team (customer support). Accurate and complete data migration is the key to successful implementation of cloud-based LegalTech software.
Cloud-based legal software is the next step in the evolution of software development which is already happening with the full speed. This is the future of doing many businesses and legal services are here no exception. Imagine you are working in a law firm, and you need to have access to your client database at any time and any place? Either you’re at court, your office or at home, you can check that one thing you might have missed. All you need is your desktop, laptop or smartphone and internet access. LegalTech cloud software can help save your time, make lawyer cost-efficient and a reliable service provider.
This article was prepared by Drazen Nikolic.