Climbing the Cloud Learning Curve
It would be unusual not to have heard about "the cloud" in this day and age. You can't go a day without an advertisement for a company that stores data appearing on one platform or another. Yet, as the Law Institute of Victoria discovered many lawyers remain unsure of how cloud-hosted software solutions fit into the legal landscape.
A cloud-based software solution is any software hosted on a server computer accessible to users via the internet. The law firm does not run the software, or store the client files and data the software manages, on its own server computers. Instead, the firm pays a fee to a cloud-hosted software provider for access to the software's functionality and storage space via the web.
Ensuring the Security of Client Files and Data
When learning about cloud technology for the first time, it's not uncommon for lawyers to blanch at the idea of sensitive client information being stored outside of the firm. That's understandable. Law firms have a critical obligation to keep client files and data secure. Many lawyers wonder, can we meet our confidentiality obligations when client data must be loaded into a cloud-hosted practice management solution stored on a server computer outside of the office, and maybe even in a foreign country?
In short, yes. The mere fact that firm data is not physically stored in-office need not, necessarily, pose issues for complying with client confidentiality rules. In fact, particularly for smaller firms that lack the resources to invest in sophisticated IT infrastructure, it's a good bet that cloud-hosted data will be more secure than it would be if stored on the law firm's own computer hardware. That's because cloud-hosting firms like LawMaster benefit from economies of scale that allow them to invest in security technologies that would be out-of-reach for most small and even medium-sized firms, and because the cloud-based software is updated for security and reliability automatically instead of whenever a firm's IT staff gets around to it.
Of course, as this practice note from the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner of New South Wales points out, a law firm must choose its cloud-hosting solution with care to ensure that the provider implements appropriate levels of security and data encryption. Depending upon the specific circumstances, a lawyer may also need to obtain client consent in writing before uploading sensitive documents or data to a cloud-hosted system. And, lawyers should be aware that many cloud-hosted legal practice management solutions host their data on servers overseas, which introduces the need for law firms to ensure that the laws applicable in the jurisdiction where the cloud-hosting server is located do not put client data at risk of disclosure.
Australian law firms adopting LawMaster's cloud-hosted practice management solution can rest easier in evaluating these and other cloud security issues. For nearly three decades it has been our business and mission to serve the needs of Australian law firms within the context of the strict confidentiality rules that govern their practice. Our cloud-hosting servers are Australia-based and run on the ultra-secure Microsoft Azure platform. Updates and security patches are automatic. LawMaster also employs state-of-the-art redundancy to give firms confidence that their client files and data will always be available.
To learn more about LawMaster's cloud-hosted legal practice management solution and how it may be the right fit for your law firm, contact us today.