Best Practices

Why and How are Law Firms Moving to the Cloud?

Catherine Brock
Catherine Brock
June 8, 2023

More businesses across industries are moving to the cloud for improved safety, security, and efficiency. Let's dive into what cloud computing means, how law firms can use it, what the benefits are, and why there's still resistance to switching away from on-premise data storage.

What Is Cloud Computing for Law Firms?

Cloud computing is on-demand access to computing resources over the internet. Computing resources can include servers, applications, data storage, networking, and analytics.

Many people regularly use cloud-based applications for business and personal reasons, often without giving much thought to how the application is hosted. LinkedIn and Facebook are two examples. Users can access their profiles, stored data, and connections on these apps from anywhere, simply by logging in via the internet. Cloud-based law firms access their technology infrastructure in the same way—with an internet connection and login.

Importantly, cloud services for law firms typically include management of servers and related technology infrastructure. The law firm has no visibility into or responsibility for the backend systems. Hardware upgrades, software enhancements, configuration changes, and security patches all happen seamlessly in the background, usually with no input or action required from the firm.

For firms that are currently using physical servers situated in their offices, a transition to the cloud can enable full outsourcing of the technology administration function.

Cloud Services for Law Firms

Popular cloud services for law firms include data storage and subscription-based applications. The best of those applications support streamlined case management, time tracking, billing, client intake, and collaboration.

Because these solutions are hosted in the cloud and managed by the provider, there's no installation or maintenance required. Once registered, users can access their storage and applications with a secure login.

Are Law Firms Moving to the Cloud?

According to the LawPay & MyCase 2022 Legal Industry Report, 81% of law firms use cloud-based software. That's up from an estimated 73% adoption rate before the COVID-19 pandemic.


So, the answer is yes, law firms are moving to the cloud. But, as the ABA notes in a 2019 report, lawyers have been slower than other professions to adopt the internet-based technology.

There are reasons why law firms can be reluctant to move their technology infrastructure away from physical servers or paper files, which we'll discuss below. First, let's talk about the benefits of cloud computing for law firms.

What Are the Benefits of Cloud Computing for Law Firms?

Four primary benefits of cloud computing for law firms include:

  1. More efficient data storage
  2. Streamlined collaboration
  3. Remote accessibility
  4. Cost efficiency

1. Data Storage

Cloud-based data storage is easier and, usually, cheaper than keeping law firm files on physical servers or in file cabinets. Relative to storing documents on physical, on-premise servers, the cloud has much lower maintenance requirements. Law firms using physical servers need an IT specialist on call who can, for example, implement security patches and software upgrades or fix configuration problems.

Relative to paper filing systems, it's easier and faster to locate documents stored in the cloud. Typically, the process for finding a document involves accessing the client's digital folder or searching by keyword or document title.


Cloud storage is also easier to scale than other systems. Many cloud providers work on a pay-as-you-go system. The fast-growing law firm, then, doesn't have to call in the IT specialist to add more storage capacity or take away office space to make room for file cabinets. Instead, the cloud-based firm simply uses what it needs and the provider bills accordingly.

2. Remote Accessibility

Law firms can access their files on the cloud securely from any location as long as they have internet access.

Remote accessibility has big benefits for firms and their clients. Firms, for one, can offer their employees more flexible working arrangements. Lawyers and staff can work from anywhere at any hour of the day, and still have secure access to client files.

According to a 2017 article by Law360, law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP found that lawyers participating in a formalized remote work program were more engaged and provided better customer service.

More engaged lawyers and improved customer service generally produces happier customers. Those happier customers are more likely to generate referrals and return to the firm for future business.

3. Collaboration

Cloud computing also enables efficient document collaboration. Manual versioning of files can be a thing of the past, as cloud-based software typically tracks changes and versions documents automatically.


That means a team of lawyers in a cloud law firm can easily add their comments to documents simultaneously and from separate locations. This collaboration capability expedites idea-sharing and brainstorming, which ultimately raises the quality of your firm's legal representation.

4. Cost Efficiency

Setting up a server-based system requires a large outlay upfront. New law firms will invest in hardware, software, security solutions, data backup systems, and support. They'll also allocate square footage in the office to house the system.

Then, there are ongoing costs to keep on-premise servers running. These costs include hardware upgrades, software license renewals, technology support, and energy costs to power the system.

Paper filing systems have lower upfront costs versus on-premise servers, but they do get expensive over time. As the firm grows, the file cabinets take up more space, eventually impacting rent or lease costs.

Law firm cloud solutions typically have minimal upfront and ongoing costs. There's usually a monthly subscription fee that includes systems maintenance, a large amount of storage, key applications, and the ability to scale as needed.

Why Do Some Law Firms Still Resist Cloud Technology?

As noted, law firms have been slower to adopt cloud technology than other industries. Much of that delay stems from inaccurate or uninformed assumptions about cloud computing. Five of the most common cloud computing myths, according to LawPay's Cloud Technology Myth-busting ebook, are demystified below.

1. The Difficulty of Switching to the Cloud

The best law firm cloud providers have simple migration options. Typically, the process involves a quick registration and setup, then file uploads. There may also be some customization so that the file structure and applications align with the firm's workflows.

Law firms can choose to upload all their files at once, or not. Firms that are still digitizing their files can start new clients on the cloud, for example, and migrate existing clients as time permits.

2. Security Concerns

A reputable cloud solution will be more secure than paper files and files stored on a local server. Locked doors protect paper files and physical servers, but these can easily be overcome by force.

Cloud-stored files are encrypted and backed up regularly. They're additionally protected by firewalls and continually updated security protocols.

3. Cost Concerns for Smaller Firms

In reality, cloud computing is usually more affordable for smaller firms than server-based systems. Many cloud law firm solutions are structured with a monthly, per-user charge—which can be as low as $50.

The combination of no upfront costs and a low monthly fee makes cloud computing very affordable for both solo practitioners and smaller firms.

4. Technical Concerns

Lawyers are experts in the law, not technology. So, it's understandable that some lawyers may be intimidated by cloud computing, or believe that cloud solutions are only suitable for tech-savvy lawyers.

In truth, cloud solutions are easier to set up and learn than on-premise server systems. Relative to paper-based file systems, the cloud does have a small learning curve. But if the transition is planned carefully and implemented with discipline, firms can start realizing the efficiencies of going digital very quickly.

5. The Cloud is for Remote Workforces

The cloud enables remote work for law firms. But that doesn't mean law firms must have a formal remote work policy to use the cloud.

There are benefits to having remote file access, even if it's reserved for emergency situations. As the pandemic made clear, unexpected circumstances can keep lawyers out of the office. Remote file access ensures business continuity when the unexpected happens.

How to Move Your Law Firm to the Cloud

Transitioning to the cloud isn't difficult, but it does require some thought. To start, identify the software and services your firm needs. The right software for law firms can easily facilitate your transition to cloud computing.

As an example, say you identify your firm's top needs as case management and electronic payments. You can implement an integrated cloud-based system with MyCase and LawPay.

MyCase is a full-featured, cloud-based case management solution. The application digitizes case management and key operations, including client intake, time and expense tracking, billing, financial reporting, and document management. You also gain the efficiencies and benefits of cloud storage, including document collaboration and remote access to case files, documents, and templates.

LawPay payments expands MyCase's capabilities to include secure, client-friendly digital payments that comply with ABA and IOLTA guidelines.

MyCase and LawPay are both fully managed solutions, which means you don't have to maintain or configure a server, or implement software and security patches.


Final Notes

With the right cloud computing solution, law firms gain efficiency, versatility, and scalability. Those benefits often translate into better, faster legal representation and happier clients. Schedule a demo of LawPay’s online payment processing or get a free trial of MyCase case management to see how we can facilitate your firm's transition to the cloud.