- A Guide to Legal Software Cloud Based for Law Firms
Table of Contents
Automation, connectivity, interaction, data security, and other similar features have made the internet an attractive platform for a number of different businesses to use to boost revenue and improve operations. According to the ABA, cloud based technology has now become a standard in most legal offices.
Furthermore, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this adoption of cloud-based technology has become even more important. The pandemic was basically a catalyst for firms to understand the importance of being able to access data from anywhere at any time in the event that they’re not able to be present in the office physically.
This shift to legal cloud-based software can help improve firm success, improve security, and more. This guide explores legal cloud services in more detail, going over what they are, how they changed over time, and why they’re important for your firm.
What Is Legal Cloud Software?
Legal cloud based software is an evolution of legal technology that allows access to law firm information by lawyers from anywhere and from a wide variety of devices. The legal software is hosted in remote cloud systems that a SaaS vendor manages.
Legal cloud services can include a number of different types of technology, including:
Regardless of what type of cloud legal software a team is using, law firms are able to operate these programs directly through the internet without having to download them to a single device. Instead, the software lives in an isolated instance specific to the law firm, allowing the professionals in the firm to access it via a secure login.
How Legal Software Cloud Based has Grown Over the Last Decade
Cloud-based technology, not just in the legal field but in general, is still relatively new and goes hand in hand with the acceleration of connectivity, immediacy of processes, and society’s increased move to the digital world.
Many industries have adopted cloud-based technology to help foster more virtual scenarios and reduce the amount of face-to-face interaction needed. In the legal sector, in particular, the 2021 Legal Trends Report by Clio shows that 79% of clients are open to working remotely with lawyers, which has caused an increased need for legal systems that work seamlessly with a digital work environment.
In addition to the world’s general shift toward digitalization, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for cloud-based systems and remote collaboration. Although originally, this shift was due to health concerns and the need for physical social distancing, the shift to remote work seems to be here to stay.
The 2022 Legal Trends Report by Clio shows a significant shift from in-office work, with only 30% of lawyers working solely in-office. The report cites the COVID-19 pandemic as a major reason for this.
The rise in remote work, or hybrid work, has meant that lawyers need to be able to access in-office documents from various locations and collaborate with clients and team members without being physically present. Cloud-based systems allow lawyers to do this securely, making these kinds of interactions possible.
With the rise of the cloud law firm, digital online systems are becoming more and more critical.
How Legal Cloud Software Keeps Lawyers Connected
Cloud legal services allow connectivity and accessibility based on the fact that case, data, client, and other legal software solutions are based on the internet.
For example, for high-importance legal events such as court meetings, the relevant information will always be at hand and available, avoiding situations like missing documents.
These systems make it possible for lawyers to participate in courtroom proceedings and other legal processes both in person and remotely and still have secure access to any needed documents for the event.
In addition to access, the possibility of editing in real-time and synchronizing the information on the platforms are more ways that ensure that lawyers stay connected in this cloud with the entire team of professionals.
Cloud Based Attorney Software vs. Server-Based Legal Software
In order to properly understand cloud-based attorney software, it’s important to understand how it is different from traditional server-based legal software. In the past, server-based legal software was the go-to for teams using digitized documents and other digital legal services.
However, with law firm technology trends tending toward increasingly cloud-based systems, these server-based systems are quickly becoming obsolete, if they are not obsolete already.
The below table offers a breakdown of both types of systems and their differences.
Cloud Based Legal Software
Server-Based Legal Software
Data is stored on remote servers and uses the internet to allow connection to those servers.
The data is stored in an office on a computer or server.
Teams must have an internet connection in order to access services, and cloud based legal software is usually device agnostic.
Access doesn’t necessarily require an internet connection but usually must be performed through an in-office company device.
Continuous updates and security are included in most cloud-based software.
Professionals using these platforms are responsible for updating and managing the software.
Enables access from anywhere and at any time to these services.
Data can only be accessed from the device on which the software is installed
By securely storing all of the information in the cloud, there is no risk of losing it due to uncontrollable external factors. In other words, the cloud server providers will have redundancies in place.
There’s a risk of losing data and information due to external factors in the event that the device is compromised. At best, onsite servers require consistent manual backups to external hard drives that should be stored at a different location from the primary server.
Usually paid for with monthly or annual service fees. This usually leads to cheaper software overall.
Usually involve high-cost, one-time payments for hardware and physical space, support, and ongoing maintenance. This can make these systems quite expensive.
Cloud-based software generally offers support within the subscription package at no additional cost.
A team of IT professionals is necessary to provide personalized support.
Highly secured through additional protocols such as multi-factor authentication that reduces the risk of security breaches.
Is at greater risk of data breaches, and any security to the system is the responsibility of the owner of the device.
Why Is Cloud Based Legal Software Important for a Law Office?
Cloud-based legal software is important for law offices because it improves efficiency and collaboration. Additionally, it helps firms adapt to a changing legal landscape, helping them better serve clients and boost client satisfaction overall.
Beyond that, traditional systems are increasingly overshadowed due to global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to a changing business landscape, where clients are calling for more and more remote services and better accessibility to legal teams. In order to meet these changing customer demands, law firms need to be able to offer secure remote services with strong connectivity, both of which are possible in the cloud.
What’s more, the cloud can help firms save costs and automate processes. These time and cost savings can lead to an improved bottom line and better profits overall.
A few other reasons why legal software cloud based is so necessary include:
- Being able to offer more attractive packages to incoming talent
- Avoiding extra hires on unnecessary internal IT teams
- Staying updated with emerging trends and technologies
- Interacting with other professionals
All of these reasons make moving toward cloud-based systems and away from server-based systems important for legal teams that want to stay current.
Does Your Firm Need Legal Cloud Software?
The short answer is yes. It’s important to stick to trends and migrate to new spaces that allow a more fluid development of a lawyer's work. Following these kinds of trends helps lawyers stay competitive with other firms and remain attractive to new and potential clients.
Besides that, legal cloud services can be adapted for firms of all sizes. As a result, there’s no barrier to firms wanting to move from server-based solutions to cloud-based solutions, making them convenient systems easy for firms to implement.
Benefits of Legal Cloud Based Software
There are a number of reasons why legal teams choose to use cloud based software for law firms. However, among the top reasons named include:
- Better integrations with a variety of software and applications compared to legacy systems
- Software updates and maintenance are handled by the software vendor
- Increased security
- Better scalability compared to legacy systems
Let’s take a closer look at each of these benefits.
One major issue for legal teams using server-based software is that they don’t always integrate well with new tools the team introduces. When a new tool doesn’t integrate properly with your current tech stack, you can wind up having to pay hefty fees to do a complete overhaul of your systems.
On the other hand, many cloud-based systems offer integrations with other tools and software, reducing the likelihood of major overhauls. They also support simple integration, often just a few clicks, taking away the need for lengthy amounts of time spent on the project by your IT team.
Reduced Software Updates
With in-house, server-based software, IT teams are internally responsible for handling software updates. Cloud-based systems, on the other hand, typically include constant monitoring and software updates as part of your subscription.
Not only does this save you time spent updating outdated software, but it prevents bottlenecks in processes as your team waits for software to be updated and ready to use. Instead, cloud-based systems are constantly improving, ensuring that there’s no disruption to your use of the program.
Cloud-based legal software has a number of security measures in place to ensure that no unauthorized access is granted to key documents or sensitive information. With growing security concerns globally, this is an important feature for law firms.
Having increased security helps reduce the risk of data breaches within the firm and also helps ensure that legal teams are staying compliant with key regulations such as:
- PCI legislation
- PIPEDA (Canada)
- SOC2 Compliance
- GDPR legislation (Europe)
- CCPA legislation
As law firms grow they need to be able to scale up their current systems. With server-based systems, internal IT teams are responsible for purchasing and implementing new systems, as well as training new team members on how to use that software.
Not only does this take time away from your firm’s limited resources, but this also increases associated costs. The result can be a lot of time and money put into what might otherwise be a simple scaling process.
With cloud-based systems, however, the software provider takes care of scaling the system for you. They adjust the fee you pay, often based on the size of your team, and then adjust the scope of your system. This makes it easy to expand things like storage size or user access without having to incur excessive costs.
Features to Prioritize When Looking at Legal Cloud Based Software
When looking at legal software services, there are a few key features that your team needs to look for. A few of these features include:
- Conditions and guarantees
- Data migration
Let’s take a closer look at each of these features in a bit more detail.
Conditions and Guarantees
Before selecting cloud legal software, look at what guarantees each provider offers. Check factors, including what your responsibilities are as a client and what’s included vs. what’s not included in your subscription.
It’s also important to look at things like storage limits and how you can increase storage when you’re ready to scale. Knowing the conditions of the agreement and the limitations of the product can help you make a better decision for your team’s specific needs.
There are hundreds of different types of cloud legal software out there, and each one has unique features. Some are better catered to larger firms, for example, while others work well for small law firms.
Think about the size of your firm and what your needs are, as well as the client portfolio of the provider. This will help you determine whether what you’re getting makes sense for your firm or if you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Backups are another major consideration when choosing cloud legal software. One of the major advantages of cloud-based software for legal teams is that it gives you access to documents at any time and from any place.
However, without the proper backups, the information you’re accessing could become outdated in the event that information is lost. This can result in setbacks or errors in your legal processes.
When choosing legal cloud services, ask how the data is backed up and protected and what would happen in the event of a loss of data. Learn about what risks you’re taking and how much support each provider would offer in the event of data loss.
Another big advantage legal teams gain from moving toward cloud legal software is increased security. However, security measures look different for each software.
Find out in detail about the security features offered by different legal cloud-based software providers, such as access, security audits, if there is data encryption, and what would happen in the event of a data breach of privacy.
It’s very important to know what measures the company providing the software would take in these cases since it’s one of the advantages over traditional server-based legal tech.
Data Migration Support
Before contracting with software you should know that you don’t have to "marry" it. A great advantage is that you can change the cloud program if the one you initially chose no longer suits the level of work in your office.
The goal is that this doesn’t happen, but in case you need to move operations from one provider to another, find out how all the data can be transferred between existing systems, either cloud-based or server-based.
Providers usually have migration barriers with aspects such as:
- Proprietary cloud management tools
- Proprietary cloud APIs
- Customized cloud web services
- Premium configurations
- Data controls, and access
Ask about these potential migration blocks and learn how you can handle migrations in the event that you do need to make them.
Although the goal when adopting new legal cloud software solutions is to use them indefinitely, sometimes, you may need to cancel a subscription. Before choosing a cloud-based legal software, it’s important to know under what terms and conditions you are choosing a program and what happens, for example, in cases of subscription cancellation.
Get a feel for how the provider will handle the data in case this happens and whether you’d be entitled to any sort of money back.
Top 4 Legal Cloud Software for Law Firms
A few of the top legal cloud based software solutions that legal firms can implement include:
Let’s go over some characteristics of each of these systems in detail to understand how they work and why they’re so important to legal teams. The below table outlines a general breakdown of these systems, which are then outlined in more detail.
Ideal customer size
Small, medium and large
Small, medium and large
Small, medium and large
Small and medium.
Android, iPhone, IPad
Android, iPhone, Ipad
Android, iPhone, Ipad
Android, iPhone, Ipad
Operating system compatibility
Phone Support Video Call
24/7 (Live Rep)
24/7 (Live Rep)
AltFee is software for law firms looking to boost revenues through more accurate scoping and pricing of client legal matters. The software allows legal professionals to systemize and manage pricing activities, including:
- Collaborate with other colleagues to determine pricing structures for various legal matters
- Customize pricing guidelines to fit the law firm’s unique needs and enable quick and easy editing.
- Price client projects using historical pricing data and the company's pricing guidelines
Essentially, AltFee enables law firms to accurately price and manage alternative pricing arrangements through editable templates and the ability to collaborate with others in the firm directly in the software. With more and more firms turning to AFAs instead of the billable hour, AltFee provides a solution for pricing management unlike any other current offering in the legal tech market. If you’ve ever experienced that horrible feeling that you’ve underpriced a project and left money on the table, AltFee can help make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Clio's main objectives are to attract more clients, organize cases, and receive payments faster, and it has different competitive advantages within the market. A few of the top benefits of Clio include:
- One-click appointment scheduling
- Cloud-based document management
- Secure storage that’s compliant with industry regulations such as SOC 2
- 99.9% uptime guarantee
- 24/5 customer support
In addition to these benefits, there are also a large number of potential integrations with Clio. For example, clients can take advantage of the Clio AltFee integration to make Alternative Fee Arrangements by importing customer data from Clio.
Gavel is a software that provides automation tools specifically for document management. Formerly known as Documate, this cloud-based program seeks to facilitate all processes, such as document creation, information exchange, and data organization.
A few of the key features of Gavel include:
- Assembly of legal documents and their conversion into automated workflows.
- Creation of white-label web forms that collect data with decision tree logic.
- Management and storage of data in different formats.
- File storage and workflow analysis.
The software focuses on automating as many processes as possible, reducing drafting time by up to 90%. In addition, because it’s cloud-based, it allows legal teams to collaborate remotely and even launch scalable new tech products without the need for a developer.
Another practice management and case management software that is popular among legal teams is MyCase. MyCase is focused on productivity and seeks to make case management easier for legal teams.
A few key features of this software include:
- Personalized web pages for law firms with custom client portals
- Custom client intake forms
- Integrations with Google and Outlook calendars
- Task automation, such as automatic billing and expense tracking
- Text messaging services through the client portal
Thanks to these features, MyCase is one of the most popular legal software solutions.
Like many other industries, the legal sector has been impacted by our increasingly digital climate and shift toward remote workplaces. One way that it’s been affected is through increased use of legal software cloud based systems. These systems help firms meet modern challenges, such as client demand for non-hourly pricing options, increasing security needs, better productivity, and the ability to access data from anywhere.
One such cloud-based legal software that has been positively impacting firms is AltFee. AltFee’s integration with Clio and ability to create upfront price certainty for clients make it an excellent system for supporting modern law firms. Schedule a demo to learn more about AltFee and how it can benefit your firm.