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Legal Technology: Dual Stance by Law Firms: Up in the Cloud for Some, but Terra Firma for Others

Legal Featured Article

December 21, 2012

Dual Stance by Law Firms: Up in the Cloud for Some, but Terra Firma for Others

By Mini Swamy, TMCnet Contributor

The December 2012 issue of the magazine The Law Technology News contained an exclusive report about the surge in use of cloud computing by major law firms but also brought to focus the trepidation and reluctance that still prevails, preventing total adoption.

Award-winning reporter Alan Cohen (News - Alert), in his cover story –“Forecast Cloudy,” highlights the fact that, although the percentage of law firms using hosted cloud services in 2012 increased from the previous year, the truth is that the adoption of cloud computing has been restricted only to cost-intensive functions that involve normal business operations.

This implies that law firms still don’t trust Web-based services enough to process confidential client information in the cloud. The glaring concern of security and perhaps the question of ethics are factors that make law firms cautious about migrating all their business and client information to the cloud.

"Just 13 percent of law firms use cloud-based storage and only 8 percent have turned to the cloud for document management. Firms are rightfully hesitant to take the leap where there is any security risk that client confidentiality could be compromised," observed Monica Bay, editor-in-chief of Law Technology News.

Cohen backs his conclusion by citing the 2012 Am Law Tech Survey of law firm technology chiefs and profiles three firms that have used hosted services in different ways, adopting totally different strategies to cloud computing.

The survey indicated that 63 percent of large law firms use hosted services for electronic discovery and litigation support while a smaller percentage used it for human resources and e-mail management. While a large percentage cited support and maintenance as the biggest benefit, others highlighted the ability to “get by with less hardware in-house.”

These results not only substantiated Cohen’s claims of how law firms are reinventing themselves in the cloud according to their own specific requirements but also how they preferred the terra firma when it came to sensitive data- financial and customer related information.

A decade ago, a lot of hype surrounded the cloud but there were no takers, then gradually the air cleared and cloud adoption increased, so who knows in ten years from now, a lot of the terra firma may also be “up in the cloud.

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Edited by Rich Steeves



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