PracticeEvolve has published a report regarding the implementation of cloud technology in SME law firms across the UK and Australia. Based on a survey of 161 business leaders and representatives, along with in-depth interviews of senior business leaders, the report reveals that while there are similarities in broader business IT strategies, there are also intriguing differences in attitudes towards cloud and overall IT implementation.

The report highlights that 43% of Australian respondents described their approach to cloud technology as “cloud first” – where all systems should be moving to the cloud – compared with 29% in the UK. Additionally, 36% of Australian respondents have already moved all or some of their systems into the Cloud, while only 17% of respondents in the UK say that their firm has no plans to move to the Cloud at all. Among those firms that are open to Cloud investments, 46% in the UK have moved all or some of their applications over, while another 15% are in the process.

Irrespective of whether businesses plan to move to the Cloud or not, the general benefits of Cloud software are acknowledged in both markets. For instance, a significant proportion of respondents recognise that Cloud reduces the need for onsite infrastructure, enables data backup and disaster recovery, and has utility for improved workforce mobility. Moreover, the biggest share of those choosing Cloud is motivated by the need for business efficiency and process improvement. Integration is also a key motivator, although respondents in Australia are keener to improve integration of internal business systems than their UK counterparts.

The report also identifies some of the barriers to Cloud adoption in the legal industry. The biggest reason cited by 64% of UK respondents for not moving to the Cloud is that there is no identified business need for it. Meanwhile, 36% of UK respondents are deterred by security concerns, while 27% are wary of the high costs and complexity of migration. However, among those firms that are open to Cloud investments, 60% of respondents in the UK and 56% in Australia are confident that Cloud investments are on track to produce returns.

Law firms can overcome these barriers by following the following practical steps:

  1. Address the perceived lack of business need
    • Assess current IT infrastructure: Begin by assessing the law firm’s current IT infrastructure to identify areas where Cloud technology can improve efficiency, productivity, and cost savings. Evaluate how much time is spent on IT maintenance and support, server and data centre costs, and other related expenses.
    • Highlight the benefits of Cloud adoption: After identifying areas where Cloud technology can improve the law firm’s operations, highlight the benefits of Cloud adoption to decision-makers. Emphasise how Cloud technology can improve collaboration, increase mobility, reduce infrastructure costs, and provide a positive return on investment.
  2. Address security concerns
    • Research potential Cloud providers: Research potential Cloud providers to ensure they meet relevant regulations, data encryption, backup, and disaster recovery procedures. For example, are the selected providers ISO27001 compliant? It means you can rest assured your data is safe with all the latest security and patches implemented. Law firms can also consider using Cloud technology hosted by Azure or AWS, which are known for their best-in-class Cloud technology and high level of security.
    • Implement internal policies and procedures: Implement internal policies and procedures to ensure the safe and secure use of Cloud technology. These policies should cover user access management, data backup and recovery, encryption of sensitive data, and compliance with data protection regulations.
  3. Plan for data migration
    • Carefully plan and budget for data migration: Plan and budget for data migration carefully, considering factors such as data volume, types of data, and compatibility with Cloud systems. Inquire about the software provider’s data migration process and associated costs.
    • Test and validate: Test and validate the data migration process to ensure it meets the law firm’s requirements. Perform tests on a subset of the data first to ensure a smooth transition.
    • Ensure data integrity: Ensure data integrity by validating that all migrated data is complete and accurate, with no data loss or corruption.

Overall, the firms that are opting to adopt Cloud technology can expect to benefit from cost-effectiveness, increased mobility, and enhanced security. Cloud software eliminates the need for expensive hardware and the associated maintenance and upgrade costs. It also allows lawyers and staff to access information and applications from anywhere, at any time, and on any device with an internet connection. Furthermore, Cloud providers invest heavily in security measures to protect their customers’ data, offering enterprise-level security, including data encryption, backup, and disaster recovery.

Despite some differences in attitudes towards Cloud adoption among firms in the two markets, the report shows that law firms in both geographies have either begun to invest in Cloud technology or plan to do so. This strategic focus on Cloud resonates with many businesses globally across other industries, demonstrating that business leaders are making smart choices now that secure their future.

Whether you’re already invested in cloud technology or considering making the move, the Legal Industry Outlook 2022/23: State of Cloud – From Migration to Realisation is must-read.