The trickle of mid-sized firms moving their IT into the cloud in recent years has become a steady stream that is getting bigger all the time. Having watched many large law firms embrace the cloud already, mid-sized law firm leaders are thinking seriously about what the cloud has to offer.
They find the robust security afforded by public cloud providers extremely appealing. They may be looking to deploy certain solutions that can only be found in the cloud. They certainly need the accessibility cloud-based legal tech solutions provide, so that the whole firm can access documents, data, and digital tools in any location. The very nature of what a law firm office looks like has changed, and with it, the rationale for hosting on-site systems.
But there is a greater, longer-term driver of cloud transformation among mid-sized law firms. As leadership considers the future of their business (and the expectations of their clients) the push to modernize their technology platform becomes stronger and more strategic.
Access to modern technology like the cloud gives mid-sized firms a distinct advantage over their same-sized peers and even some larger law firms. Those with more up-to-date tech infrastructure and streamlined ways of operating are in a better position to attract new and bigger clients, either at more enticing rates or with a more powerful value-add proposition, than larger firms that may be facing greater challenges adopting new technology.
Many considerations come into play before giving the green light to a migration to the cloud, often including a blend of the following:
Major public cloud providers like Microsoft® are committing billions each year to cybersecurity. Those huge resources are being deployed to detect and neutralize active threats, as well as investing in automatic backup systems, disaster recovery, identity and access management, data encryption, host and storage security. That’s why Thomson Reuters uses Microsoft Azure® to host its cloud solutions. These measures are critical to firms of any size, but they are out of reach for many in the mid-sized segment to undertake themselves, to safeguard their own on-premises systems.
Cloud solutions are scalable, allowing their services (and fees) to increase or decrease according to the needs of their customers. This pay-as-you-go approach helps insulate law firms from either overspending on on-premises IT infrastructure that goes unused, or underestimating their needs and constantly having to add to their hardware investment.
Affordable solutions tailored for the needs of mid-sized law firms are also now available on the market. For example, 3E Essentials is a new, simplified version of 3E, the practice and financial management solution from Elite used by large law firms globally. It allows mid-sized firms to benefit from the same financial management insights and efficiencies previously only available to their bigger rivals, in a cost-effective way.
In comparison to on-premises systems, cloud-based solutions have a much quicker, less costly initial implementation. In the case of 3E Essentials, which comes pre-configured and requires no customization, you can be up and running in as little as four months.
What’s more, ongoing performance is actively managed by the provider. Periodic updates happen automatically, and are less disruptive because they take place in the background without requiring any system downtime, as is the case with on-premises systems. And since the leading cloud providers have multiple data centers in various geographies, they provide automatic redundancy (i.e. a back-up or failsafe) so that business continuity is assured.
Most corporate clients have various national and global offices and they are used to working across business units via cloud solutions already, using it for a range of functions including document sharing, contract management, hosting deal rooms, and spend management.
Increasingly, they expect their external law firms to do likewise: driving improvements in the legal service delivery model by offering cloud-based solutions that enable collaboration and create efficiency. Most requests for proposals or invitations to bid on partnering programs include a detailed analysis of the type of legal systems a firm has and some even ask whether the technology can be shared. How a firm works with its clients is under scrutiny like never before.
Access to innovation
Many legal tech software companies are creating innovative cloud-only solutions that can be applied by law firms or corporate legal departments of all sizes. Those that don’t deploy the most cutting-edge, competitive solutions on the market risk missing out on opportunities to optimize the way their business runs or to increase their competitiveness compared to their peers and bigger firms.
For forward-thinking mid-sized firms, the benefits of the cloud are already apparent: security, performance, and innovation, and many are moving themselves into the enviable position of being able to publicize their cloud-based systems to attract additional clients.
For law firms that haven’t yet made the switch, it’s time to have a candid discussion about their business needs, the demands of their clients, and how the cloud can create an advantage that will level the playing field with bigger firms and help them win – and keep – more work.
With pre-configured cloud-based financial management software like 3E Essentials, your firm can stay competitive and operate on par with larger law firms.