May 7th, 2015 by admin
Cloud computing is a popular method for law firms. Cloud computing is a way for firms to reduce costs, improve remote connectivity, adapt to the mobile business, encourage company-wide collaboration, and protect sensitive client data. The versatility and configurability of cloud services make it an attractive solution, but a comprehensive evaluation of the firm’s needs and possible challenges is necessary.
Why Are Firms Turning to Cloud-Based Services?
Cloud computing services provide law firms with a wide array of tailored services to maximize efficiency, confidentiality and disaster recovery.
What are the Challenges of a Cloud System?
- Cloud services enable firms to run all of its legal applications through a remote server
- Allows firm employees to upload, store, collaborate with, and edit necessary documents remotely
- Provides immediate access to unlimited email storage, shared calendars and contacts on any device, from any location
- Virtualizes the entire IT system and complements existing IT solutions
- Secure online file sharing and data storage
- Allows for remote device management and antivirus solutions
- Improves time, billing and invoicing
- Allows firms to obtain electronic signatures
- Permits more efficient, secure and effective case and client management
- Encrypts email and documents
Considering the type of information law firms obtain, store and manage, a few challenges and concerns arise. The American Bar Association addresses ethics and security concerns:
Securing the Firm on the Cloud
- Accessing cloud services via open, unsecured Wi-Fi connections
- Public access and non-client access to stored data
- Where is the cloud services company located; where is the data being stored; how does a firm know it is working with a reputable service?
- Who has access to passwords?
- What happens to the data if the firm decides to terminate the relationship with the cloud service provider or the firm fails to make the appropriate payments?
- What are the legal restrictions and implications for using cloud-based services?
- How is the sensitive data protected and monitored?
- What is the process maintain data and infrastructure integrity?
With so many concerns, it is important for a company to do its research and work with a company that provides the best strategy. Cloud security for law firms is crucial. Firms must work with a provider that is recognized by the National Bar Association. A firm must work with a provider that caters specifically to law firms and understands its ethical obligations, legal expectations, and regulations regarding confidentiality and disclosure. When a firm finds the right provider, it is important to research and read before signing. First, know exactly where the data will be stored. Do business with a provider that is based out of the US and stores data in the US. A firm must ensure the data it owns actually belongs to the firm, not the cloud service. The fine print in a service contract reveals a wealth of information and concerns regarding data integrity and ownership. Discuss the encryption process and established security measures. Understand the subpoena process. The company must provide the firm with adequate notice when served with a subpoena.
Not only should law firms hold cloud service providers to high standards, but employees and partners must participate in smart business practices to protect the integrity of the firm’s system. Company systems should not be accessed on open, unsecured Wi-Fi connections, devices must be locked, passwords must not be shared, and the firm must remove an employee’s access as soon as the relationship with the firm is terminated.
Do not sign with just any cloud services provider. The company must be up to the task and highly experienced in working with law firms and the stringent rules and regulations to which they are required to adhere. Make sure they will secure the cloud for your company's safety.
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