Cloud Migration Tips for Attorneys

Adnan Raja
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  • ABA: Many Lawyers Migrating to Cloud
  • Why the Legal Cloud Trend?
  • Migration Checklist
  • Partnering with Experts

ABA: Many Lawyers Migrating to Cloud

The 2014 Legal Technology Survey Report from the American Bar Association (ABA) revealed that attorneys are rapidly migrating to the cloud in 2015. Although only 30% of respondents said that they were currently using the cloud, 35% of non-cloud firms reported that they were planning a cloud transition within 6 to 12 months.

Recognizing how prevalent cloud technology is becoming in the legal profession, the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC) released a list of migration advice through its Law Technology Today blog.

Here are highlights from the report.

Why the Legal Cloud Trend?

Obviously, attorneys are not moving to enterprise cloud computing simply because that’s where the crowd is going. They are open to cloud because it meets a number of different needs:

  1. Lawyers are able to use the newest, most innovative applications.
  2. Firms with on-site data centers appreciate the chance to get rid of the servers and treat their technology systems as an operating expense.
  3. Law offices are looking for help protecting their data. After all, the sophistication of hacker efforts is apparent with the growing list of intrusions at multinational enterprises such as Target, Home Depot, and Sony Pictures. Cybercriminals want your data, and if they make their way inside your network, they remain there unperceived for a long time – although the final “bomb” the North Koreans planted at Sony slashed and burned the studio’s infrastructure in just 10 minutes, intruders had been waltzing around undetected for months.
  4. Like other businesspeople, attorneys want to be able to access their files and systems on-the-go through their own laptops and tablets, with cloud server enabled “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies.

“Fortunately, the right cloud provider can make these headaches disappear by offloading hardware, software, security and network maintenance,” the ABA explains, “and leave the firm to focus on what it does best—the practice of law.”

Migration Checklist

The ABA provides the following checklist as you strategize your move to cloud:

  • Don’t give away your data. At the beginning of the Internet, it was not uncommon for small businesses to build websites through third parties who exploited ignorance and bought the domain themselves. Although that practice seems hard to beat in terms of lock-in, it could be worse: you could end up accidentally ceding control of all your digital information. You must ensure that you would still own the data if you later decided to switch providers or if the cloud service went bankrupt.
  • Where is the data center? Where will your information be physically stored? Some services spread information worldwide. You want the protection of US law. Ask the provider about keeping all data within American borders.
  • Check your service-level agreement. The ABA notes that “most cloud providers only [offer a] 99.9% uptime agreement, with little in the way of financial incentive to ensure that SLA is met.” They recommend choosing a host that instead offers 99.999% uptime (which actually reduces acceptable unscheduled downtime 99%, from almost 9 hours to 5 minutes annually) or above.
  • Understand the pricing. You want to work with organizations that are customer-centric and transparent with costs, especially since a high-profile 2014 survey found that clarity, simplicity, and support are top priorities for cloud clients.
  • Verify that the hosting service can do anything. Law offices understandably don’t want to have to spend their time patching security vulnerabilities. Your provider should allow you to build and develop your own infrastructure, with public and private components (the hybrid cloud model) as desired.
  • Verify access neutrality. Your provider should be device-neutral to facilitate full access.
  • Verify software neutrality. You also want to be able to continue to run the same programs rather than conducting a complete overhaul. “Choose a provider who will support your choices of practice management, time-tracking, accounting, collaboration and other tools,” the ABA advises.
  • Check security mechanisms. As discussed above, we live in a world in which hacking has become increasingly common, with law firms often targeted for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) details. The ABA specifically recommends providers that have been audited to meet SSAE 16, Type 2, the robust version of a standard developed by the American Institute of CPAs.
  • Standard backup. Backup should, at a minimum, occur automatically every 24 hours, says the ABA. You should also be able to quickly retrieve backups.
  • Business continuity. Backups of individual documents are small fish in the grand scheme of things. What if a “man-made” or natural disaster occurs? You want the data to be replicated at a second facility, also located in the United States.

Partnering with Experts

The above recommendations are just the beginning. You really must believe in the practices and reputation of your provider.

Our client Roy Johnson, CIO of HD Publishing Group, explains why HD chose us: “The fact Atlantic.Net has been around since 1994 and operates a profitable business with extremely low debt adds an extra layer of security in today’s tough business environment.”

By Moazzam Adnan

 

Atlantic.Net can assist with cloud, managed, dedicated and HIPAA-compliant hosting solutions – contact us today for a consultation.


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