How can cloud based software support legal professionals? Do security and data breach risks mean practitioners need to reconsider how they adopt systems such as these?

The theory of cloud computing has been around since the 1950’s, but really started to take off in the 90’s and has continued to be the driving force for the delivery of business and consumer applications and software.

Cloud computing is essentially the delivery of services through the Internet. Examples of cloud software and applications include CRM, storage and media streaming where an individual or business can access these through the Internet via their computer or mobile device.

Cloud based software, also known as Software as a Service (SaaS), is of great use to legal professionals and firms. From a firm’s point of view, the benefits are extraordinary and include:

  • Ease of roll out – most cloud software is accessed through a standard Internet browser; this equates to huge cost savings on software and IT resource
  • Scalability – firms only need to pay for what they use and can also easily scale software to meet their business needs
  • Staying up-to-date – SaaS vendors are normally responsible for upgrades and maintenance
  • Client communications – provide clients with portals featuring data relevant to them, better communication leads to increased satisfaction.

From a legal professional perspective, cloud software is brilliant and liberating. Professionals can work from anywhere and any device connected to the Internet. Working from home is easy, as is demonstrating reports to clients at their premises. Cloud services are also designed to work on mobiles, tablets and other devices meaning access to critical business information is nearly always available.

Security is imperative and must be considered when investing in business critical software, especially sensitive data held by legal firms. However, there are no significant data security differences when comparing cloud software to on-premises installations. Any reputable software vendor will ensure that security is a major component within their software to ensure data integrity.

Let’s assume that a legal firm has appointed a SaaS vendor with excellent security measures; the security and data breach risk responsibility belongs with the individual claims professional. Many high profile breaches, such as Jennifer Lawrence’s leaked iCloud photographs, could have easily been prevented by following these simple rules:

  • Create a strong password and keep it safe
  • Never access your cloud software via a shared or public computer
  • Beware of phishing emails trying to extract your passwords.

The benefits of cloud software are obvious, but educating legal professionals to ensure they avoid common security pitfalls is a must. By stopping individual mistakes; legal firms should be on solid ground to securely reap the rewards and freedom that the right cloud software can provide.