Legal trends

Why the Cloud Makes Sense for Your Small Law Firm Overhead

LeanLaw Balancing scale inside light gray cloud

Part 2 in a series: How To Reduce Your Law Firm’s Overhead

Do you have to decide between Security and Lowering your Law Firm Overhead? In a word: No.

Client #1

I have a client, a solo lawyer, who was terrified of the cloud – didn’t trust it, thought she would get hacked. She has all of her clients’ information on hard drives in her office.

But what if her office gets robbed, the roof leaks, or there is a fire? All of that information would be GONE. Her business would be decimated. Not so safe.

Client #2

Another client of mine had his own server for his law practice. He thinks that if he’s managing the information on the server, it’s safer than putting it into the cloud. He spends a lot of time worrying about the server, dealing with IT guys when there’s a breakdown, figuring out how to upgrade every few years — he’s learning a lot about technology, but he’s still not an expert. He’s a lawyer, not an IT guy.

I have convinced both of these attorneys that they need to let go of their old ways and embrace the cloud. Since doing so, they have saved money, time and hassle.

How did I convince them?

The Downside of Rejecting the Cloud

Both of my clients knew their systems were awkward and insecure. But like someone hanging on to a bad boyfriend, they weren’t confident they had a better alternative.

My solo lawyer client manually transferred files to backup drives in her office. Of course, some weeks, she forgot or didn’t have time, so there was no backup at all for her clients’ files. And she kept buying extra hard drives to collect this information. Don’t even get me started on how this was (not) organized. If she had to find a specific document on one of those drives, that process was very needle-in-a-haystack. Didn’t cost much, but truly, it wasn’t worth much.

As for my small law firm client who managed his own server, he had a maintenance contract for about $600 each month to keep his server running. If it worked, great. When (not if) it broke down, he spent a lot of money and hours with technicians getting things working.

Was the cloud a better alternative for these lawyers? I asked them to look at a few of their key workflows to decide.

Communications & Scheduling

First: email along with calendar and contacts: I can’t imagine a scenario where a small law firm today should choose a server over cloud-based e-mail. There are two great cloud options: GSuite or Office 365. Both are native to the cloud, secure and reliable and cost a fraction of what it takes to operate a server. It is fairly straightforward to switch e-mail from server to cloud and there are good tools to automate most of the transition. For my two clients, this transition went smoothly.

Data Management

Second: Storage. The transition from server to cloud is more complex than email, but once you go cloud you’ll never go back. Box.com was selected by the U.S. Justice Department as its sole vendor to provide cloud storage and collaboration software. This is a huge government contract with practically no room for error on the side of Box.com. Box.com has lots of features that lend credence to this decision, but simply put, if it’s good enough for the Department of Justice, it’s good enough for my clients. Plus, it’s affordable.

For my clients, their existing document storage systems were a mess, so there was some pain transferring the data to the cloud. But once that was done, they have seen a remarkable transformation in ease of use, ability to find information, mobility and reliability.

First Steps to Becoming a Lean Law Firm

Both firms still have a ways to go to become truly lean, but they have laid the foundation to fundamentally transform their practices. They have already cut costs (in the thousands), increased security and decreased their IT hassle. The road is open to dramatically smoother workflows, reduced costs and integration of legal practice management software.

Because of this switch to the cloud, they have more time, money and energy to tend to their practices.

Quick note: I also encouraged them to purchase the fastest internet available. A cloud-based small law firm can’t mess around with weak connectivity.

If all of this sounds great, but you need help moving forward, give me a call or send me an email.

Join the LeanLaw Movement!

Gary Allen, Founder and Practicing Attorney

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