Cloud hosting for law firms

By Legal Futures’ Partners The Access Group

At our Access All Areas virtual conference, experts Chris Swailes, Louise Abbott and Julian Purser presented a session on the growing importance of cloud hosting technology for the legal industry, how it can be implemented and how we already helping businesses with state of the art cloud hosting solutions. This hot topic has garnered greater interest in recent years as more and more companies seek to adopt a more digital-centric operating strategy as on-premises software dwindles.

We have also developed a Proclaim Cloud Hosting Guide covering everything you need to know.

Freedom to work where, when and how you want in complete safety

What is the cloud?

Cloud hosting refers to on-demand computing resources held in a data center rather than an on-premises server. Data is accessed remotely via a secure internet connection directly in the data center, meaning it is always available, securely protected and backed up.
Cloud Hosting vs On-Premises

Even before the Covid pandemic, law firms were looking for ways to work more efficiently and expand their lawtech and digital capabilities. With the pandemic forcing the industry to embrace a remote working approach, law firms have found themselves facing new challenges, but out of these have come opportunities. The ability to be a safer and more resilient business, the ability to empower staff to work anywhere, anytime, and the ability to free your business from IT costs and hassles.

To make the most of these opportunities, in a remote and flexible working environment, you need reliable and secure technology. Traditionally, this technology could be on-premises, take up space, require maintenance, and could lead to a host of issues or risks. Cloud hosting eliminates the need for your own on-premises systems and removes potential associated issues.

Benefits of Cloud Hosting

Security – Cybersecurity remains a major challenge for law firms and the industry is increasingly targeted as firms hold large amounts of sensitive data and client money. The PwC Annual Law Firm Survey 2020 found that cyber risk is the second biggest threat to law firms that meet and/or exceed their ambitions by 2022, with only Covid-19 ranking higher.

With our cloud-hosted software, your business can benefit from tighter security features while allowing flexible and easy access for staff. All of your servers can be run on a secure environment hosted in a UK data center, so you can have peace of mind that all your data is safe and protected from attack. In addition to this, we use multi-factor authentication, when your users access the network, and use the latest firewall and virus protection against threats. If you have an on-premises solution, it is possible for criminals to enter your offices and gain access to confidential or sensitive information. During Covid, some companies removed some of their IT security features as a simple way to allow staff to work remotely, but that also meant easier access for cybercriminals.

Costs – You can physically save space in your offices that would otherwise be filled with large servers and cooling systems. In addition, complex hardware requires extensive maintenance and continuous updates, which again incurs costs for employing the necessary technical staff and can lead to downtime. Some companies are already considering downgrading their offices, as the work-from-home culture has minimized the need for larger offices. The average cost of real estate, according to PwC’s 2020 Annual Survey of Law Firmsfor the top 100 companies, equals 8.4% of their overall P&L.

Cloud hosting relieves this pressure, performs necessary updates automatically, and dedicated engineers are available 24/7. This allows you to focus on what you do best: providing exceptional legal service to your clients.

Performance – Performance is key, no one wants slow processing systems affecting end user productivity or an application that doesn’t run seamlessly. This leads to demotivated users, a poor experience, and wasted time that law firms cannot afford. Cloud hosting will optimize the user experience when using apps and tools. At Access, we differentiate ourselves by basing cloud technology on apps, monitoring and tracking their usage, and ensuring they meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.

Scalability – As your practice grows and evolves, you need a cost-effective platform that can support your growth. Our cloud-based software allows you to add new users, increase computing power and storage effortlessly. Expansion of the on-premises network results in significant costs for installing hardware and software and ongoing additional costs for additional staff or training to maintain new functionality.

Productivity – Cloud-based technology enabling flexible working and always-on access inevitably leads to greater productivity, but a huge benefit for businesses is that IT teams can focus on business growth projects rather than on hardware configuration and maintenance, software patches and other time-consuming IT chores. Freeing up IT resources could also allow your business to focus more on front-end digital experience and functionality for customers rather than back-end systems.

Reliability – do you want to continue to operate and invest in an in-house technology stack that requires constant maintenance? Or do you want to join the digital workplace and the revolution where everything will be delivered for you, with built-in resilience and regular improvements and updates? Moving to the cloud facilitates data backup and disaster recovery, which strengthens your business continuity because your data can be replicated to multiple sites on the network.

Practical steps to migrate to the cloud

Moving your entire IT infrastructure to the cloud can be a big undertaking and fundamentally transform how your practice operates. Below are five simple steps we use to help our customers migrate to the cloud:

Survey – study your current environment and understand your needs
Server environment creation – we create a server environment, tailored to your needs, on our Access Cloud platform
Access team testing – a copy of your data is moved to the new hosted environment for testing
User testing – your teams start testing and using the system before it goes live
Full Migration – A copy of your live system is migrated to the hosted environment, and you can now use your hosted Proclaim software

In addition, depending on your needs, you can opt for a phased or partial migration approach. Gradual migration involves moving your system to the cloud in stages, while partial migration only moves certain software and applications to the cloud.

Cloud hosting designed for you

Our solution is designed for the specific needs of your business. It’s not a one-size-fits-all platform, we look at your needs, and create and configure dedicated resources based on your needs. Proclaim Cloud works seamlessly with our Proclaim case and practice management solution. You get the most out of both when you use them together, so we always encourage users of one to implement the other, reducing the need for a third-party solution that might not work at the same level.

For more information, contact your account manager or download our cloud hosting guide.