How to Choose a Cloud Storage Solution for a Law Firm
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Legal documents are foundational to any law firm — but with thousands upon thousands of documents to store, managing them all can be a challenge.
Most law firms have made the transition away from extensive (and expensive) physical storage of paper documents. On-premises document management systems (DMS) allowed law firms to begin storing documents digitally, however, these systems are no longer able to keep up with the speed of modern business.
Now, there’s a much more powerful, efficient, and flexible option for law firms to store their documents securely: the cloud.
Cloud document management systems offer a superior document storage option for digital files and client information, while also providing a robust set of productivity and collaboration tools.
In this article, we’ll share some of the benefits of cloud storage as well as key features a law firm should consider when evaluating cloud storage options.
Benefits of Cloud Storage for Law Firms
The American Bar Association(ABA) cites anytime/anywhere access, low cost of entry, predictable monthly expenses, and robust security features as key factors pushing law firms to pursue cloud technology.
Cloud storage enables attorneys and other legal professionals to access files securely from anywhere and on desktop and mobile devices — without the need for a notoriously-unreliable VPN connection. This provides users with greater flexibility, including the ability to work remotely or get things done outside normal working hours.
Cost Savings & Scalability
Compared with on-premises solutions, the setup and ongoing costs of cloud storage platforms is much less expensive. Typically, law firms will only pay one-time implementation costs plus predictable monthly user fees for cloud storage. In contrast, an on-premises storage solution will incur high costs for system set up, hardware, software licenses, maintenance, and more.
In a similar vein, scaling an on-premises system to expand your data storage capacity can be difficult and costly. Cloud storage solutions, on the other hand, can easily scale to fit your firm’s needs.
Believe it or not, cloud storage solutions can actually be more secure than an on-premises system. Whereas on-premises systems rely on a law firm’s own IT resources, cloud service providers have a strong incentive to commit extensive resources to securing their customers’ data.
This means stronger security measures built into the platform, quicker response to emerging threats, and more agile bug fixes. It also means that updates can be automatically pushed to customers without the need for system downtime.
If you are concerned about how to handle local information residency requirements with the cloud, don’t worry. Cloud-based solutions can offer geo-aware content storage to keep you compliant while still giving you access to all the benefits the cloud has to offer.
Storing documents in the cloud also makes it easy for attorneys to share files and collaborate with colleagues and clients. Whereas on-premises systems may require you to export documents to a third-party storage solution or extranet in order to collaborate with external users, cloud computing makes it simple.
Be aware, however, that commercial cloud storage solutions such as Box, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive are not designed to meet the stringent security requirements of legal work.
Cloud Storage Features for Law Firms
When your firm is evaluating potential cloud computing solutions — including cloud-based document management systems — there are a few things you should keep in mind.
- How will the solution enhance your security posture? Strong data security is of paramount importance when choosing your law practice's cloud storage platform. Your reputation depends on it.
- Can you control user access down to the document level? Ensure that you have granular control over which user permissions and who can access which documents and folders. Make sure that the system you choose will keep confidential information protected from unauthorized eyes.
- Does the solution offer version control? Managing reviews and collaboration can quickly become a headache if multiple, conflicting document versions emerge. Choose a secure cloud storage service option that helps you keep track of file versions, along with a complete version history.
- Is it integrated with your favorite work tools? You want to be able to move seamlessly between working on documents and keeping them stored. Your storage solution should integrate with your practice management, apps, and the tools you use every day (including email) so you can streamline your productivity. Automatic sync between systems is preferred.
- Does it offer any additional tools to support collaboration? Collaboration is more than just passing documents back and forth. Look at solutions that can help you create workflows, communicate via real-time messaging, leverage custom metadata, and more.
- Will the solution support any file type? Modern legal matters often involve many types of files beyond just documents, including images, audio, and video files. Make sure the solution you choose will allow you to save a variety of file types.
- Will your provider help you stay compliant with regional regulations? Check to see whether your cloud storage provider offers the tools you need to stay up-to-date with the compliance regulations that govern your region, including any client data or client files under your care.
How NetDocuments Can Help
NetDocuments is the preferred secure cloud storage solution for law firms. But what our platform offers is so much more than storage.
Our legal-centric document and email management system delivers the best cloud storage solution for law firms with advanced security while increasing your firm’s productivity with an array of tools and features to keep you organized, align your team, enhance collaboration, and much more.