The cloud beckons, and industries are heeding the call.
In 2018, three in four businesses already had at least a portion of their computing infrastructure in the cloud, with most of the rest expecting to follow by the end of 2019.
Why the rush? Simply put: Speed, scale and technology. Most companies are moving to the cloud to accelerate digital transformation and drive business growth. Why? Not because there is a plan; often, migration occurs because many of the most advanced technologies are either unavailable on-premise or, if they are, suffer from challenges in performance, maintenance, and integration.
Law firms are no exception. There is an increasing pressure on attorneys to improve efficiency and better serve their clients. Often, however, the firms that are not looking to technology for solutions are the ones falling behind. According to the International Legal Technology Association’s 2018 Technology Survey, over two in three (69%) of all responding firms said they’re increasing their cloud-based solutions in 2019 – an increase of 6% from the year before.
That is much more than the number of firms embracing Artificial Intelligence (AI). Only 43% are actively pursuing AI and Machine Learning technologies. A deeper look into the data reveals that the larger a firm is, the greater the chances they are investing in AI. Almost all (97%) large firms (350 to 699 attorneys) are taking action, but only three in four (73%) mid-sized firms (150 to 349 attorneys) are exploring AI. When you put small firms in the mix, the figure drops to less than half. There is a clear spectrum here with smaller firms taking less of an interest.
Typically we see smaller firms embracing new technologies more quickly than enterprises. But it is particularly alarming to see this trend reversing in AI of all areas.
Already small firms who are pitted against large corporations are inundated with busywork, which makes it close to impossible to sustain a legal battle against an opponent with significantly more resources. Artificial intelligence (AI) will drive huge efficiencies for large firms in the discovery phase that will only exacerbate these advantages. Imagine how much more unfair it will become when the opponent can get a machine to do the legwork during discovery, forcing opponents without AI to do more manual labor.
Contract management is another area where cloud technologies can drive efficiencies at scale and increase profit margin. This allows larger, more prestigious companies to cut costs and compete more effectively with smaller organizations.
4 Reasons for Small Law Firms to Embrace Cloud Computing to Pave the Way for AI
Cloud computing is like plugging into a central power grid instead of generating your own power.
There’s low upfront costs, its simple to setup and configure, it has built-in disaster preparedness and can be taken anywhere there’s an Internet connection.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of adopting cloud computing is a firm’s ability to access critical information, documents and tools anytime, anywhere. When dealing with sensitive information, mobile device management software is recommended to help manage device security policies, remotely wipe a device and view detailed device reports.
We all hear about large hacks that “devastate” large organizations, costing hundreds of millions or more, but small legal practices don’t recover from these tragedies because they don’t have the capital. Cloud security (like Intuition+) offers some of the most secure solutions on the market.
Cloud applications allow law firms to become more efficient by automating processes and organization. It can help streamline finances, improve customer service and even create company-specific apps. All of this saves money by reducing the number of man-hours otherwise required for menial tasks.
In the cloud it is much faster and easier to lock out departing team members and add new users and workstations. The manager is in control of who sees what — and can do so from any device.
In all these areas cloud computing provides huge benefits, but the door is closing on the opportunity for firms to jump across and eventually achieve AI deployment.
The implications of technology on jurisprudence will be extremely interesting in the coming decade, but firms with AI will have more sway over the rules.