Cloud technology offers law firms a number of advantages. It enables them to easily access their data from different devices, lowers the costs of maintaining the proprietary infrastructure and helps law firms to easily scale their storage space.
So it should come as no surprise that the number of law firms relying on the cloud to manage their records is growing. In fact, data from the ABA 2019 Legal Technology Survey shows that 58% of law firms already store their data in the cloud. The rest are expected to migrate in the near future.
Despite its convenience, cloud technology could be a slippery slope for many law firms. When dealing with sensitive data, it is crucial that companies do not lose any records and meet many compliance requirements that regulate data handling. This requires an extra precaution when migrating data to the cloud. Here is an overview of the pitfalls to watch out for.
Compliance with technology
Regardless of the industry they primarily specialize in, law firms must meet a wide variety of regulatory requirements related to data protection and record management. However, it is not enough to just implement IT solutions.
Instead, law firms need to be able to demonstrate that they have taken the necessary measures to protect their business records and customer information. According to the ABA rule 1.6“An attorney will use reasonable efforts to prevent the accidental or unauthorized disclosure, or unauthorized access of information relating to a client’s representation.”
In a more practical sense, this means that law firms must take appropriate steps to ensure that there is consistency between legal requirements and the capabilities of their cloud archive or a cloud-based tool.
These requirements can range from the frequency of data backups to the security protocols used to retention periods for certain business documents, etc. Before you fully move to the cloud, you should first understand what requirements you need to meet.
Management of electronically stored information
All electronically stored information (ESI) that law firms hold is highly regulated. For example, if your cloud server is in a different location from your law firm, you need to know if you are violating certain requirements governing where that particular information can lawfully be stored. Also, check to see if any servers are in areas prone to natural disasters. It’s not a common practice, but it helps to be safe.
Another aspect that law firms should consider and consider is who will have access to their information once it is uploaded to the cloud. The fact that your data is stored on remote servers can potentially lead to the temptation of someone without proper authorization to access the records. This can be a case of serious violations that can result in not only fines but also a damaged reputation.
Information retrieval speed
In the event your law firm receives a court order or an eDiscovery request, it is important that they can collect, export, prepare, and submit all relevant records in a timely manner. If your business records are stored on cloud servers, there may be delays in data collection that could cause your law firm to miss the deadline.
However, cloud technology is advancing rapidly so this is not the standard problem you would encounter. However, it is advisable to check with the provider about these specific requirements.
Lack of control
Before signing the contract with the cloud provider, law firms should also check what happens if the contract is terminated. In some cases, you may have to wait some time before your data is restored and returned to you.
However, there is one more pressing issue that you need to address and that is whether and how this vendor’s solution (this mostly refers to cloud-based solutions that law firms use on a daily basis) is compatible with other technologies.
You don’t want to spend time figuring out how to move your legacy data from one provider to another. Not only is this costly, but it can also lead to violations and violations.
Storage and management of documents
Records management is an important part of law firm compliance efforts. Therefore, it should be a large part of your plan to migrate to the cloud.
As a rule of thumb, you want your cloud solution to reflect your existing records management policies and procedures. This makes a quick transition easier as your colleagues and team members feel comfortable with the new technology.
Since managing records is an integral part of everyday law firm operations, here are some specific scenarios that you should customize your cloud archive around.
- Roles and permissions: Make sure that your cloud archive supports customizable roles and permissions so that only those employees who have the right and need to access information have access rights
- Formats: Business records now contain a variety of data formats. From the WhatsApp archive to social media to email correspondence with customers and communication between team members that can be done through social media or instant messaging apps, make sure you can capture and hold onto all of this information.
- Find Relevant Information: Check out how easy it is for lawyers on your team to find the critical information stored in the cloud. The main functionality of the cloud is to support your daily operations, not to slow them down. It is therefore worthwhile to carefully examine how different it is Cloud email archiving solutions Take care of your file management processes.
- Retention periods: Check if you can set automatic removal policies so that the data is removed after the required retention period has expired. Otherwise, you would have to search through thousands of business records and move them manually. It is doable, but also prone to errors.
Vulnerability to Cyber Attack
Many law firms shy away from the cloud for cyber attacks. And it’s understandable. According to figures, the number of cyber attacks alone has exceeded 15 million today Live cyber threat map.
Many large organizations, including Capital One Bank, have been victims of malicious cyberattacks that exposed the personal information of millions. Therefore, it makes sense for smaller law firms to be reluctant to share their data with third parties.
However, the technological aspect is only part of the equation.
The other part of the equation is people and how well they know about cybersecurity. For someone working with sensitive information, it is always a good idea to get extensive data protection training to avoid falling into the hacker’s trap. This type of training is one of the first steps law firms should take to increase the resilience of the entire law firm.
So there are clear “barriers” for law firms to successfully implement a cloud archive. Despite these rough spots, these technologies offer numerous advantages. Whether you choose to stay on-premise or not, or move some of the business to the cloud, the first thing you need to understand is what exactly your law firm needs.
The key to a smooth migration to the cloud is asking the right questions. And to do that, everyone on the team needs to be able to ask the right questions about their own work. This is only possible if the processes are clearly assigned. It will help you choose the right cloud provider and will help your law firm stay compliant.