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4 Useful Studies that Help Law Firms Understand the Cloud

More and more studies suggest law firms are increasingly adopting cloud-based services, from secure file sharing to law firm practice management tools. But just because everyone else is doing it isn’t always the best reason to follow suit.  Besides, there are still a lot of smart and savvy people with that basic burning question:  What is the law cloud?

Knowledge can reduce anxiousness – especially when it comes to business decisions. To that end, here are four useful studies that explore the cloud, the adoption of cloud in law firms, and legal professional’s current views of the benefits and draw backs of cloud-based services.

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1. 2013 ABA Tech Survey.  
There are six volumes related to technology in this ABA study – and it covers all the major tech trends from mobile to research to practice management. We wrote a summary of our own of the findings as they relate to the law cloud as did several other bloggers.

Bob Ambrogi for example, focused on the cloud’s growth in law but he also honed in on some of the finer details.  He wrote that 72% of respondents identified confidentiality and security about law firm data in the cloud as their top concern, yet about half admitted they do not read the cloud service provider’s privacy policy:

The survey also asked lawyers who use the cloud about the precautions and security measures they take. Surprisingly, fewer than half (44 percent) say they reviewed the cloud provider’s privacy policy. Even fewer say they make regular data backups (41.1 percent), reviewed the provider’s terms of service (41.1 percent) or use SSL encryption (40 percent).

2. Global Cloud Survey Report.  This study published in 2012 by Legal IT Professionals and includes contributions from features writer and Legal IT Today Editor Joanna Goodman.  Like other surveys if found that generally perceptions towards the cloud are changing – law firms are warming up to the idea.  One thought-provoking result was whether or not cloud-based solutions will overtake the premise-based solutions:

Is cloud computing the inevitable future of legal IT? According to our respondents it is, with 57% predicting that it will overtake on-premise computing within five years and 81% within ten years. Only 16% feel that it will never happen.

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 3. 2013 ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey.  Like the ABA survey, this joint study by ILTA and InsideLegal explores several broad technological categories including cloud.  It also comes at things from an interesting perspective:  IT spending.  Where law firms are saying they are spending their money seems to substantiate the broader perceptions of cloud tools as expressed in other studies:

Is cloud computing on your firm’s roadmap?  70% of all respondents have either added cloud computing to their IT roadmap or are currently using or implementing a cloud solution.

4.  Law Firm Management in the Cloud.  This 2011 study conducted by the Legal Technology Institute provides us with an excellent (and historical) baseline for understanding the impact of cloud tools on law firms.  Unlike the first three links, this is not a survey, but rather a literary review of several studies and some analysis molded into a white paper-style format.  The paper gets after several cloud computing myths including the idea that confidential information isn’t safe in the cloud:

Client confidentiality and security are always at the top of lawyer concerns regarding any technology. “If my client data is stored off-site, how can I ensure that my confidential client data is secure?” By definition, a cloud-based system stores data off-site. Yet, according to the LexisNexis 2009-2010 Survey, 91% of small law firms already backup documents off-site; as well as case and matter data (82%); e-mail (72%); and billing/accounting data (76%).

Everyone uses e-mail and most lawyers send e-mail to clients without first encrypting it. According to the ILTA 2010 Technology Survey, only 10% of responding law firms use automatic encryption for e-mail. While lawyer e-mail is not a common target for hackers and thieves, plain-text e-mails without encryption can be read by anyone that can retrieve that message, similar to someone reading the back of a postcard.

Is there a study or data point that we missed and you’d like to see?  Please feel free to leave a comment or Tweet us a link @Business_of_Law

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
Research: Law Firms Warming Up to the Cloud

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.