Legalizing the Cloud: Why the Legal World Must Embrace Cloud Technology

Any legal professional who isn't up to date with today's technology might just as well be carrying a roll of parchment and wearing medieval robes. As Law Technology Today aptly pointed out in a survey of legal technology, today's lawyers need to understand how to work with mobile devices, use encryption and secure client portals, and take advantage of social media tools for client development.

One shocking fact from the survey was that three percent of all legal professionals fail to back up their firm's computers. Attorneys must strive to protect their valuable client data and company work product -- and the most cost-and time-efficient way to do so is via cloud services.

However, the same survey showed that only 21 percent of respondents had ever used the cloud. And more than half failed to do so because they did not understand the technology.

This must change in 2013.

At LegalTech 2012, attendees learned that cloud services now can provide case management, document review, electronic data review, and transcript review toolsets. At the upcoming LegalTech 2013, which will be January 29-31, the preliminary list of exhibitors includes more than 225 companies, the majority of whom will be promoting various types of cloud solutions. Each of these companies believes that this will finally be the year in which legal professionals step up and begin using cloud services to support their litigation timelines.

In any litigation, cloud solutions are abound from start to finish. 2012 saw expansion of additional cloud solutions in the areas of pre-litigation, litigation-hold and discovery management. 2013 will be the year that court reporters and attorneys fully embrace these solutions.

The media has just begun to shine a light on what has been called a "Netflix for Lawyers" -- cloud tools for video depositions from companies such as mine that complete the coverage of cloud services in the litigation timeline up to trial.

"Legalizing the cloud" is crucial, as legal documents are among the most sensitive and important documents that exist; furthermore, a move to the cloud is proving cost-efficient and better for the environment -- as this example illustrates:

Across the Atlantic, British barristers are leading the way in legalizing the cloud. In London during the Berezovsky v Abramovich matter, the legal team adopted cloud delivery of all documents through the Magnum Cloud platform. It is estimated that cloud delivery in that one case saved over $40,000 and five million pages of paper.

Intel's Alan Priestley predicts that in 2013 companies will step up to adopt cloud computing. "Over the coming year IT managers will be increasingly willing to evaluate and deploy cloud computing to satisfy their business stakeholders," he commented. "Cloud is proven as a cost-effective and reliable solution now, so it will become the natural choice for many companies as its perceived risk falls." Priestley is not much disturbed by the small degree of security risk that remains associated with the cloud.

"We won't resolve all the questions surrounding security and access control in the cloud in 2013," he commented. "The business benefits of the cloud are compelling enough that companies will see the challenges as obstacles to work around, rather than barriers to adoption."

According to Forbes, there will be an increase in hosted private clouds rather than fully public clouds. Forbes also believes that we will see more industry-specific clouds, and cloud services brokerages. And Thomson Reuters recently announced that they will "jump on the cloud-and-mobile bandwagon" at LegalTech 2013. "It's the beginning of a new era for Thomson Reuters," observed Mike Suchsland, president of the company's legal division.

The signs all point in one direction. The cloud has become so extraordinarily useful and convenient to legal professionals that there will be little reason for firms that have been holding out not to adopt it in 2013