How to Use Cloud Computing to Your Advantage in the Legal Space

You’ve heard of cloud computing and you probably use it without realizing it in your personal life. Is now the time to commit to using it in your professional life as a paralegal as well?

Cloud computing is essentially a way to get data off of your computer sitting on your desk, or even a local server in your office, and to put that data on to remote servers hosted on the Internet. If you’re using iCloud to store photos you take with your phone, you’re already using cloud computing. Or you might use Dropbox, Google Docs or even Flickr without realizing that those are all cloud computing as well.

In fact, cloud computing has become so mainstream, we really don’t think about it. We just use it, in our professional lives too.

Cloud computing is beneficial for you as the paralegal, the lawyers in your office, and your client because it enables easy yet secure access to documents, faster turnaround time with those documents, simpler payment processing, and more.

Three ways to use cloud computing as a paralegal

If your law firm has been looking for ways to upgrade technologies and processes in your office, it might be time to look at cloud computing from a paralegal point of view. As a paralegal, you can use cloud computing to:

  1. Store client data. This means all information is in one place, so anyone in the office (with permission) can access the files they need when they need them.
  2. Store financial records. This can mean less hassle when it comes to charging fees, because you’ll have accurate records for charges and services.
  3. Store legal documents. This has several benefits, including fewer paper piles on your desk and fewer digital files on your computer.

Any time you can move storage off of localized computers and servers, you both make information easier to access and decrease storage capacity concerns (i.e. having to call in IT people). In addition, cloud computing servers are managed by the provider, so you won’t have to worry about software upgrades or patches, nor calling for tech support when something goes awry.

The many benefits of cloud computing in the law office

When deciding whether to implement cloud computing as part of the way you run the law firm or your paralegal business, consider these benefits:

  • You can lower your overhead costs. Because you’re not paying for storage on servers in your office, you’re not paying an IT guy or gal to keep your technology up-to-date or to add storage capacity to the server.
  • Lowering your overhead costs helps to lower costs for clients.
  • Clients get easier access to files. When clients can access information themselves because you’re using cloud computing, they might be more willing to test out your services.
  • You can offer increased access to legal services. This enables solo and small law firms to become more competitive, putting smaller law firms on a level playing field with the bigger firms.
  • With increased access to information, both for those in the office and for clients, you can increase productivity, and therefore increase margins.
  • You can offer un-bundled legal services in a client panel. Clients no longer feel pressured to use all of a firm’s services, and they won’t be turned away by a forcible bundle offer.
  • With a secure yet personalized legal space, attention to clients can be more personalized, and personalization among your clients is key. It helps them to know you are involved in their unique case.
  • You’re keeping up with technology, which appeals to younger generations, both as potential employees and potential clients.
  • With cloud computing, information can be updated quickly, in just hours or days rather than months. This enhances the degree of customer service you offer, and you have few clients calling about deadlines.
  • You don’t have downtime when software is upgraded or goes down. That’s all on the cloud computing provider. Nor do you need to worry about backing up files or disaster recovery. All of that should be taken care of by your provider.

One caution about cloud computing: security

Although cloud computing offers many benefits, it offers one big risk and that is security. For a law firm with confidential client information at risk, security is an even bigger concern. In order for cloud computing to serve useful to your firm rather than damaging it, you must make sure it is secure, so don’t choose just any cloud computing solution.

If you want to learn more, check out the cloud computing resources pulled together by the American Bar Association. There you can dig into the specifics about compliance and guidelines, choosing a cloud computing solution, how to make full use of cloud computing as a law firm, and more.