Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, William Schmarzo

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Agile Computing, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Is the Cloud Ready for Legal? | @CloudExpo #Cloud

If done wisely, moving to the cloud can actually be very easy for law firms

Cloud applications are well established for many activities such as CRM, HR, and billing. With the cloud paradigm proven for so many enterprise tasks, the question of cloud vs. on-premises seems like yesterday's - or even last year's - debate. But is the cloud ready to handle the unique requirements of legal work? The answer is yes, with a caveat. The cloud is ready for legal, but a legal firm must ensure its cloud vendor, cloud applications and internal processes for dealing with the vendor and applications are all in line with legal industry best practices.

According to research conducted by Hyperion Global Partners, the cloud is the third-ranked functional capability valued by legal firms. This is not surprising given the need to manage huge amounts of content across the enterprise, the desire to share this information with vendors and partners beyond the firewall, and the fact that user-created workarounds for managing and sharing content rapidly introduce points of risk into legal firms. Still, firms contemplating a move to the cloud must fully understand where and how the cloud can fit into the scope of all their legal processes. The nature of legal work is changing. Document management has evolved through matter-centric collaboration to become what is now called work product management. Today's mobile, tech-savvy new professionals expect access to their work product from anywhere, on a variety of devices. New forms of communication including text, social media, photographs of whiteboard notes, and documents scanned with mobile devices are now considered standard business practice.

These capabilities clearly require a cloud solution, but when it comes to the legal industry, the cloud presents a number of challenges. The first is a generally misplaced concern about security. With the regular success of data breaches that use phishing attacks to trick employees into compromising their networks, it's no wonder that the legal industry may be hesitant to adopt a technology that some may mistakenly see as further opening the door to cyberattacks. Within the legal industry, Hyperion notes that "privacy concerns and fears of compliance risk continue to keep the migration of sensitive or potentially sensitive information toward external servers limited." An American Bar Association (ABA) study recently reported that 15 percent of respondents acknowledged that as of 2015 their firms had experienced a security breach - a slight increase over previous years - while 23 percent admitted they did not even know if their firms had experience such a breach.

This general security concern is certainly taking a toll. Notably, 12 percent of respondents to the ABA survey reported having a client request a security audit or verification of the firm's security practices. An amazing seven sessions at last year's LegalTech New York on cyber security reflect a prevailing fear of attacks. As a result a "herd mentality" may be preventing cloud adoption in the legal industry - despite the disconnect between the common targets and methods of successful breaches and increasingly secure cloud services. Writes Michael Kemps in Legaltech News, "Firms seek assurances that other (often competitive) law firms, colleagues and industries have vetted and validated the options.... Law firms - for the most part - want to follow, not lead and let others make the missteps before they invest in something new." This is especially true of small and mid-sized firms that typically follow the lead of larger firms.

In addition to this general industry resistance, a cloud solution for work product management must address important legal requirements around stewardship and security over client information, stability of service to handle mission-critical activities, very large file sizes, and integration with other systems and applications. A cloud solution must also satisfy the needs of new legal professionals, who want more control over their hosting environment, including secure access to critical information anytime and anywhere, with seamless transitions between cloud and on-premises systems.

Innovative technology solutions are emerging that address these concerns. A key tactic that is gaining popularity in the legal industry is a hybrid approach to the cloud. A hybrid cloud architecture offers full functionality both online and offline, giving professionals the ability to seamlessly work from any location, even when Internet connectivity is nonexistent. Leading firms that have adopted hybrid cloud strategies report significant improvement in attorney productivity and governance with lower hardware and software costs.

In addition, the tide may actually be turning when it comes to legal firms using the cloud. Small and midsized firms, under constant competitive pressure, have started deploying cloud infrastructures and software as a service (SaaS) solutions.

For example, mid-sized Pryor Cashman LLP found that only about 40 percent of its attorneys ever used an on-premises content management system because it lacked the features and user experience they required. When the firm moved to a cloud-based system, however, it found that the implementation cost was over 50 percent lower than the cost of deploying an on-premises system and that the system could be delivered in less than six weeks. Most important, by providing the features and user experience their attorneys required, the firm significantly increased the number of lawyers actually using it for collaboration and document retention.

Similarly, Denver-based Hall & Evans began its cloud journey with a Microsoft Office 365 initiative, and this led to broader adoption of cloud services, including a 100 percent cloud-based content management system that offered extensive functionality. The firm has since reported reduced hardware and software costs, increases in productivity and user adoption, better email filing, and enhanced sharing among attorneys and practice groups.

As such successful use cases become well known, the adoption of cloud-based content management systems by law firms of all sizes is likely to accelerate.

Foundational Elements of Cloud Solutions for Legal
In this context, for law firms' IT departments, the discussion in 2016 shouldn't be whether or not to use the cloud, but how to best use it based on the firm's specific situation and needs, and what kind of cloud architecture, features, and deployment options make the most sense. As firms assess new technology, four foundational elements should be considered. A cloud strategy for legal should be based on security, functionality, performance, and availability.

Security
Law firms and their clients want to be certain that cloud vendors maintain the latest security standards for confidentiality and privacy. As such, data centers should be certified to the latest information security standards including ISO 27001 and SSAE16 SOC Type 2. Customer data should be encrypted in transit and also encrypted at rest in data centers. There should be no co-mingling of customer data. This can be ensured using virtual machines and segregated virtual private cloud systems.

Functionality
A hybrid approach offers full functionality and scalable, reliable performance both online and offline. This gives professionals the ability to seamlessly work from any location. Users should have a choice of a tightly integrated desktop or mobile client that can function with or without Internet connectivity. Server and client applications should integrate with key technologies that provide users with email and content production applications such as Microsoft Office 365.

Performance
Legal professionals need un-throttled connectivity for uploads and downloads of large document files that may exceed 2GB each. Data centers should have the processing power to handle billions of documents. For optimum performance, modern data centers utilize solid-state drives for rapid search, responding quickly to user actions, and caching file input/output. Wide bandwidth firewalls and VPNs can help provide the level of performance new professionals demand. To minimize latency, data centers can be located near the largest user communities.

Availability
To ensure high availability, hardware may be architected with a highly redundant design. An optimum disaster recovery site uses identical hardware with the same CPU and solid state drives as primary sites. Modern solutions also use virtual machine replication to the secondary data center for rapid disaster recovery. Disaster recovery plans should be tested regularly. If vendors deploy a virtual private cloud for each customer, failure of a component for one customer won't impact other customers.

The Future Is Within Reach
If technology vendors are attentive to today's users, they can engineer cloud solutions that are ready to handle the unique requirements of the legal industry and the demands of new professionals. Law firms and legal departments contemplating a move to the cloud should consider these questions as they evaluate technology:

  • Does it work anywhere?
  • Does it work the way professionals do?
  • Does it provide control over content location, maintenance, and upgrades?
  • Is it secure and resilient?
  • Does it map to the regulatory environment?
  • Does it have a proven track record in satisfying attorneys and staff?

If done wisely, moving to the cloud can actually be very easy for law firms - with minimal changes but with a significant impact.

More Stories By Alan Turner

Alan Turner is director of product management at iManage, a global leader in professional work product management. He has over 28 years of experience in product development and product strategy for complex software products and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
In order to meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s customers, companies are continually forced to redefine their business strategies in order to meet these needs, stay relevant and continue to see profitable growth. IoT deployment and development is integral in this transformation, and today businesses are increasingly seeing the value of investing their resources into IoT deployments. These technologies are able increase ROI through projects such as connecting supply chains or enabling sm...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outscale, a global pure play Infrastructure as a Service provider and strategic partner of Dassault Systèmes, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2010, Outscale simplifies infrastructure complexities and boosts the business agility of its customers. Outscale delivers a secure, reliable and industrial strength solution for its customers, which in...
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will deployment. Storage, for instance, is more capable than where we read and write data. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Atwell, a Developer Advocate for NetApp, will discuss the role and value...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud computing technologies. Ge...
When NSA's digital armory was leaked, it was only a matter of time before the code was morphed into a ransom seeking worm. This talk, designed for C-level attendees, demonstrates a Live Hack of a virtual environment to show the ease in which any average user can leverage these tools and infiltrate their network environment. This session will include an overview of the Shadbrokers NSA leak situation.
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Interoute is the owner operator of Europe's largest network and a global cloud services platform, which encompasses over 70,000 km of lit fiber, 15 data centers, 17 virtual data centers and 33 colocation centers, with connections to 195 additional partner data centers. Our full-service Unifie...
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, will motivate why realizing the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insigh...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assis...
The 21st International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Interested in leveling up on your Cloud Foundry skills? Join IBM for Cloud Foundry Days on June 7 at Cloud Expo New York at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Foundry Days is a free half day educational conference and networking event. Come find out why Cloud Foundry is the industry's fastest-growing and most adopted cloud application platform.
For financial firms, the cloud is going to increasingly become a crucial part of dealing with customers over the next five years and beyond, particularly with the growing use and acceptance of virtual currencies. There are new data storage paradigms on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive financial data around the world without touching terrestrial networks. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Cliff Beek, President of Cloud Constellation Corporation, w...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
As enterprise cloud becomes the norm, businesses and government programs must address compounded regulatory compliance related to data privacy and information protection. The most recent, Controlled Unclassified Information and the EU’s GDPR have board level implications and companies still struggle with demonstrating due diligence. Developers and DevOps leaders, as part of the pre-planning process and the associated supply chain, could benefit from updating their code libraries and design by in...
Regardless of what business you’re in, it’s increasingly a software-driven business. Consumers’ rising expectations for connected digital and physical experiences are driving what some are calling the "Customer Experience Challenge.” In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Marco Morales, Director of Global Solutions at CollabNet, will discuss how organizations are increasingly adopting a discipline of Value Stream Mapping to ensure that the software they are producing is poised to o...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Cloud applications are seeing a deluge of requests to support the exploding advanced analytics market. “Open analytics” is the emerging strategy to deliver that data through an open data access layer, in the cloud, to be directly consumed by external analytics tools and popular programming languages. An increasing number of data engineers and data scientists use a variety of platforms and advanced analytics languages such as SAS, R, Python and Java, as well as frameworks such as Hadoop and Spark...