Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Shelly Palmer, Pat Romanski, Karthick Viswanathan, Liz McMillan

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Daiya Industry specializes in orthotic support systems and assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles in order to contribute to an extended healthy life expectancy. For more information, please visit https://www.daiyak...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...
"Our strategy is to focus on the hyperscale providers - AWS, Azure, and Google. Over the last year we saw that a lot of developers need to learn how to do their job in the cloud and we see this DevOps movement that we are catering to with our content," stated Alessandro Fasan, Head of Global Sales at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...
Enterprises are moving to the cloud faster than most of us in security expected. CIOs are going from 0 to 100 in cloud adoption and leaving security teams in the dust. Once cloud is part of an enterprise stack, it’s unclear who has responsibility for the protection of applications, services, and data. When cloud breaches occur, whether active compromise or a publicly accessible database, the blame must fall on both service providers and users. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben Johnson, C...
Many organizations adopt DevOps to reduce cycle times and deliver software faster; some take on DevOps to drive higher quality and better end-user experience; others look to DevOps for a clearer line-of-sight to customers to drive better business impacts. In truth, these three foundations go together. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 21st Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, industry experts will discuss how leading organizations build application success from all...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
Cloud-based disaster recovery is critical to any production environment and is a high priority for many enterprise organizations today. Nearly 40% of organizations have had to execute their BCDR plan due to a service disruption in the past two years. Zerto on IBM Cloud offer VMware and Microsoft customers simple, automated recovery of on-premise VMware and Microsoft workloads to IBM Cloud data centers.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cedexis will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cedexis is the leader in data-driven enterprise global traffic management. Whether optimizing traffic through datacenters, clouds, CDNs, or any combination, Cedexis solutions drive quality and cost-effectiveness.
Elon Musk is among the notable industry figures who worries about the power of AI to destroy rather than help society. Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, embraces all that is going on. AI is most powerful when deployed across the vast networks being built for Internets of Things in the manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, healthcare, government and other sectors. Is AI transforming IoT for the good or the bad? Do we need to worry about its potential destructive power? Or will we...
Why Federal cloud? What is in Federal Clouds and integrations? This session will identify the process and the FedRAMP initiative. But is it sufficient? What is the remedy for keeping abreast of cutting-edge technology? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rasananda Behera will examine the proposed solutions: Private or public or hybrid cloud Responsible governing bodies How can we accomplish?
Today traditional IT approaches leverage well-architected compute/networking domains to control what applications can access what data, and how. DevOps includes rapid application development/deployment leveraging concepts like containerization, third-party sourced applications and databases. Such applications need access to production data for its test and iteration cycles. Data Security? That sounds like a roadblock to DevOps vs. protecting the crown jewels to those in IT.