How are legal firms developing their cloud strategies?
Steve Newton

New research provides an insight into the ways that legal firms are planning for the adoption of cloud technologies and why a cloud-first strategy is proving particularly popular.

How are legal firms developing their cloud strategies?
How are legal firms developing their cloud strategies?

This is the first in a short series of blogs looking at some of the main findings to emerge from the recent benchmarking study Hybrid Working & Law Firms’ Long-Term Cloud Journey undertaken by Legal IT Insider in association with Philips.

One of the main aims of the study was to gain an understanding of the progress that law firms are making and the strategies they are developing in relation to their migration to the cloud. It did so by questioning a range of firms, predominantly in the UK and North America, that varied in size, from the large (with 67% having over 100 lawyers) to the small (with 5% having up to 10 lawyers).

Progress to the cloud

Cloud computing has experienced rapid growth in all business sectors, so it’s unsurprising that the views of the law firms surveyed reflect a similar trend. In fact, 68% of respondents confirm that more than half of their core systems are now cloud-based. In contrast only 9% are still using predominantly on-premises solutions.

In addition, it typically includes an assessment of which on-premises solutions could be migrated to the cloud in order run more efficiently.

By adopting a cloud first strategy, businesses can move away from maintaining and managing their own on-site technology. A further benefit is that the cloud provider will manage the support of their own systems, maintenance, resilience and security. This is important, since one of the biggest areas for malware and security risk exists in legacy apps, particularly those that are no longer supported by the original software supplier.

Strategies for cloud adoption

The growing shift to the cloud was emphasised in terms of the overall strategy adopted, with 12% of respondents reporting that they are already entirely cloud-based. What’s more, a further 23% plan to be entirely cloud-based within 18 months, whilst 19% intend to follow suit in three years.

In terms of cloud models, it was interesting to see that almost 60% of the respondents have opted for a mixture of private and public cloud offerings.

Of course, in a public cloud a third-party cloud service provider is responsible for handling and controlling all the hardware, software, and the general infrastructure, making their services available to anyone who wants to use or purchase them.

The private cloud approach, on the other hand, requires greater in-house technical capabilities, as the law firm itself maintains the services and infrastructure on a private network, using them exclusively and, potentially, providing a higher level of control.

It’s important to recognise that, despite the growing attraction of the cloud, it’s certainly not the case that all law firms are beating a path to its door. Indeed, there are those that still appear to be unconvinced about the value of a planned migration to the cloud, with 23% of respondents admitting they do not currently have a strategy for its adoption (though it’s possible that a number of these are actually progressing on an ad hoc basis).

Increasing reliance on SaaS products

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has rapidly become a commonly used method for delivering cloud-hosted, ready-to-use online business applications quickly and efficiently and this is certainly the case in the legal sector. Indeed, around 60% of respondents confirmed that over half of their cloud software is now made up of SaaS products, with only 9% having less than 25%.

Given the growing move to hybrid and remote working, the attraction of SaaS is easy to see in the way it allows for anytime/anywhere access to applications, enabling users to work with them on any device with a browser and an internet connection.

Overall, the research clearly shows the ways in which firms in the legal sector are making rapid progress in their adoption of cloud-based technologies, providing them with the opportunities to better support hybrid and remote workers and offer enhanced services to their clients.

In future blogs within this short series, we will investigate these areas further by looking at:

  • How law firms are planning to take advantage of the opportunities presented by hybrid working in terms of the policies they are implementing for their staff and the technologies used to support this new way of working.
  • The reasons why both law firms and their clients are increasingly confident about the ability of cloud service providers to protect their data from the growing range of cybersecurity-related threats.

Read more detailed results of the benchmarking study here: Cloud Report 2023

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