THOMSON REUTERS ELITE

WINTER 2014 EDITION

Forefront
 

Why UK Law Firms Are Ahead in the Cloud Computing Game

Security in cloud services has long been a hot topic among cloud skeptics and first-time buyers. So why is it that one of the most highly regulated and security-conscious industries is a front-runner when it comes to UK cloud adoption?

Our research highlights that CIOs within UK firms are not blocking cloud adoption. Instead, they’re viewing it as a means to simplify IT processes, freeing the IT team to help manage workflows and implement efficiencies rather than having to simply make sure the technology is working.

This time last year, along with cloud lawyer for DMH Stallard Frank Jennings, we interviewed some of the top technology directors in the legal sector to find out their opinions on cloud computing. Aside from a few early adopters, many were keen to explore their options but were hesitant due to a distinct lack of guidance from regulatory bodies like the SRA and the Law Society.

We re-visited the same directors 12 months later. This time, opinions were very different. Since our initial report this time last year, a lot has happened. Not only has Edward Snowden revealed just how much access US and UK governments have to our data, but we also have seen a slew of new initiatives from the USA, EU, and UK governments to address those concerns.

Since then, we’ve seen reports and practice notes from the SRA and the Law Society looking at the risks of cloud computing for law firms. The Law Society is actually due to release a new report next month containing fundamental advice for firms who may not have specialist in-house IT support. So now there is guidance available.

With adoption on the rise, and cloud-confidence at an all-time high, attention has shifted to whether the right balance has been struck in terms of cloud-specific guidance to law firms. This is especially true since talk of the Law Society selecting one preferred supplier for practice management software to the sector has emerged.

Opinions are pretty unanimous: the majority of law firms are happy with the “guide” not “prescribe” approach that has been taken with cloud computing so far. There is a common feeling that a pre-approved list of preferred cloud service providers would stifle flexibility and may reduce the chance of finding a supplier who best fits each firm’s needs. This is much the same opinion that we’re hearing now in response to the practice management software proposal. Firms appreciate guidance, but they still want the autonomy to select the services that best work for them.

Ultimately, law firms work best when they can self-assess their suitability to certain services, since no one understands their processes or needs better than they do. This is one of the core reasons they have been such successful adopters of cloud services: they already have robust security measures in place. Data security and client confidentiality is second-nature to them, and they understand how easily they can transfer these processes to a cloud environment if they’re already strong within their own server room. They understand and are embracing the true benefits of cloud computing.

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