Cloud computing: the legal profession starts to reap the benefits | Practical Law

Cloud computing: the legal profession starts to reap the benefits | Practical Law

David Sturges of WorkPlaceLive examines the benefits for law firms of cloud computing.

Cloud computing: the legal profession starts to reap the benefits

Practical Law UK Articles 3-555-5093 (Approx. 4 pages)

Cloud computing: the legal profession starts to reap the benefits

by Practical Law
Published on 30 Jan 2014United Kingdom
David Sturges of WorkPlaceLive examines the benefits for law firms of cloud computing.
Law firms are increasingly turning to cloud computing services when upgrading their computer systems (see Briefing "Cloud computing: navigating the clouds"). In 2012, the legal technology news service, Legal IT Professionals, conducted a survey looking at attitudes towards cloud computing in the legal sector around the world ( The survey revealed that more than half of respondents, almost 60%, predicted that cloud computing would prevail in five years, with one in five believing that it would prevail in three years.
When asked to pinpoint the main benefits of cloud computing, the respondents said that it would improve flexibility and agility (55%), bring greater mobility (54%), ensure business continuity (52%), increase scalability (47%) and deliver costs savings (40%).
In 2013, the Law Society held a seminar on cloud computing and, in November 2013, it published a detailed guide on cloud computing for law firms, indicating a growing interest from the UK legal profession ( The Solicitors Regulation Authority has also issued guidance on cloud computing for law firms (

Private cloud

Cloud computing technology is starting to revolutionise the way that many firms are operating today (see Know how article "Knowledge management in the cloud: more than a silver lining?"). To ensure optimal business performance, firms need to ensure that they have the right type of cloud computing systems for their needs.
One of the key distinctions that law firms need to make is between public cloud services like Gmail, Icloud and Dropbox, and privately managed services. While public cloud services are popular with many users, some customers may require more from their cloud service provider, such as knowing where their data are actually stored.
Companies using public cloud services often will not know where their data are held and so will be moving from their secure desktop environment to a potentially less secure one. The Information Commissioner's Office recently issued clear guidelines to businesses that stressed that they are responsible for where their data are held, even when using third-party sellers ( The onus is on organisations to know where their data are held and to take responsibility for their security.
If companies opt for a privately managed cloud computing service, their entire IT environment will be professionally managed and, depending on the seller, can be hosted in a secure UK data centre behind corporate grade firewalls. Once the service is up and running, companies are typically in an environment that is more secure than their previous local server set-up. They will also be able to call on a support team should they encounter any issues; this is more difficult to do with some public cloud services.

Business benefits

When choosing a provider, it is important for companies to seek references from other customers and to check for security accreditations such as ISO 9001, the international standard for quality management systems, and ISO 27001, the international information security standard.
The two main attractions of adopting a corporate-hosted desktop system for law firms are:
  • Greater workforce flexibility and mobility.
  • Cost savings resulting from reduced investment in IT and less administration.
The improved flexibility and mobility for employees can transform the way that they work by improving their responsiveness to clients and productivity.
The reduced need for IT management and administration frees up more time to focus on client work, billing and new business.

The virtual desktop

A hosted virtual desktop service enables employees to access all their own personal desktops, including their files, data and applications from any location and almost any internet-ready device with a web browser (see Briefing "Bring your own device: responding to the trend"). It provides them with a complete mobile office that they can access from anywhere.
The data are securely managed and are not stored on any device, which reduces security risks because if laptops, tablets or mobile phones are lost or stolen, the data will not fall into the wrong hands.
Another advantage is that organisations no longer need to buy or maintain expensive servers or perform IT tasks such as security management as the cloud computing provider will take care of many of these tasks (see box "Case study").
David Sturges is the Chief Commercial Officer at WorkPlaceLive.

Case study

London law firm, Burnley-Jones Bate & Co, found that, as its practice grew, the existing IT system was proving limiting and not conducive to running a professional law firm. The firm decided that a new system was needed that would allow the solicitors to access their client files, documents and calendars from any location and improve efficiency and productivity.
It was also crucial for the lawyers to know when court appearances were taking place. Previously, this information had been written on a board in the office but, if people were out of the office, they were unable to check it, so it was not an efficient way of operating.
The firm decided to move to a WorkPlaceLive cloud-based, hosted desktop solution, which has completely changed the way that the firm works. Everyone can now access the same diary so that staff always know where their colleagues are and when people are on holiday.
"Basically, we have a mobile office in place so partners can catch up with work at home or anyone can request to work at home if they need some peace and quiet to get something done. This would not have been possible with the old system," says Gerald Jann, practice manager at the firm. "We can also easily add new users to the system so it is a great platform for future growth."
"Like any law firm, the security of our client data is of utmost importance," says Jann. "We are confident that all our documents are far safer now than they were before. The migration to the hosted desktop system was seamless and it seemed to happen practically overnight and, if we have any questions, the support team are always on hand."