Transitioning to the Cloud
By Wayne Nitti
For many law firms, transitioning to a cloud-based practice environment represents the next logical step in an effective modernization strategy. “Having practice data in the cloud offers myriad benefits, including mobility, scalability and flexibility” which can benefit any organization. As with most significant changes to business practice, however, a move to the cloud “creat[es] new challenges that need to be addressed and resolved.” These obstacles should be identified and addressed before starting the office conversion.
While the hierarchical decision-making structure of the typical law firm can present its own impediments, the greatest resistance to changing the status quo will likely come from the firm’s human capital: the partners and associates, all of whom have legitimate concerns about how they practice law, maintain confidentiality, solicit new clients and generate revenue.
There are a number of reasons that firm partners may be resistant to change. For one, long-practicing lawyers may be set in their ways – perhaps even a bit technophobic. These partners “may have a greater bias against the use of technology than younger lawyers, indicating that it may be easier to encourage the adoption of new tools as the rising generation of younger lawyers become partners.” New lawyers moving up the ranks may be more easily convinced that cloud computing and online case management are viable – and secure – solutions to client demands for competitive pricing and a la carte services. The costs of rolling out new technology represents another potential barrier to implementation. Partners focused on the bottom line may be unwilling to shoulder the upfront expense and time commitment associated with a new technology initiative.
The firm’s associates pose a different kind of obstacle – their hectic schedules often make it difficult to set aside time for learning new technologies. “[T]he focus on collecting hours gives lawyers little time think about incorporating new models or learning new tools.” To overcome the press for billable hours, it is critical that the firm recognizes the importance of legal tech in their lawyers’ workflow, and sets aside adequate time for training. Ideally, this training would take the form of “concierge rollouts” – interactive, customizable sessions with the firm’s IT department to help ease the lawyers’ transitions to the new tech platforms. If your firm does not have an IT department, appoint a tech savvy employee as your firm’s software guru or bring in an outside consultant to introduce and train employees on the new platform.
A further concern is the integration of new legal tech with legacy platforms and software. “Most law firms use Windows, including Microsoft Exchange Server, and iManage; a major challenge is working within the integrations offered by Windows.” Before making any kind of purchase, thoroughly investigate case management systems that are flexible and adaptive, scalable and versatile. One expert suggests:
Use a similar approach to one used by technology or business companies to integrate or design a new system, called the “system development life cycle” or SDLC. The SDLC can help you plan/analyze your current situation, implement the best cloud product, and provide training, support and future maintenance. Using this process will help firms document the present approach and provide a future assessment and auditing tool.
Moving to the cloud, however, does not have to be an all-or-none proposition for your firm. When you’re in the market for a shared solution, Case Anywhere’s online case management platform allows firms to leverage the benefits of remote access on a case-by-case basis. We can set up a dedicated litigation hub or arbitration hub for all parties in a case without any upfront investment. Alternatively, firms looking to join forces on one side of a case can leverage our collaboration hubs – ‘plaintiff only’ and ‘defense only’ sites utilized by counsel to efficiently share information and communicate on case matters. Contact us to learn more. We look forward to seeing you in the cloud.