Collaborating in the Cloud

Vol. 1, No. 11

Jack Newton is the cofounder and CEO of Clio, a cloud-based practice management system for small- to medium-sized firms. Jack holds an M.Sc. in Computer Science, and has more than ten years of experience in building startups and cloud-based applications. Jack is a nationally recognized writer and speaker on the security, ethical, and practical aspects of cloud computing. He can be reached at jack@goclio.com.

 

  • Learn the advantages of web-based legal platforms.
  • Find out about enhanced communication security.
  • Discover how to be responsive from nearly any location.

 

Cloud computing can help law offices realize additional gains above and beyond IT efficiencies by improving and streamlining client communications and collaboration.

With traditional desktop-based software, making status updates, documents, and other communications easily accessible to your clients was a technical and security nightmare: How do you make just one portion of your network available to your client? What program do they use to view their data? How can you be sure they can’t see other clients’ data? These and other challenges slowed the adoption of “client portals” or “extranets” among lawyers for the last decade.

Many of these technical and security-related challenges have been eliminated with new web-based collaboration tools, ranging from online word processing tools (such as Google Docs), cloud-based file storage services (such as Dropbox and Box.net), and web-based legal platforms (such as Clio, DirectLaw, and Total Attorneys). With your data living “in the cloud,” secure collaboration on aspects of a case with a client has become a reality. Benefits of leveraging online collaboration tools include:

  • Competitive Advantage. Google has replaced the Yellow Pages. Your clients are increasingly likely to find you online, and in many cases will prefer to interact with you online. Using cloud-based collaboration tools will set your practice apart from the competition and establish you as an innovator in your field.
  • Time Savings. Communicating with clients online can often be more efficient and focused than in-person meetings, realizing substantial time savings.
  • Cost Savings. Cloud-based collaboration can eliminate many of the costs and inefficiencies typical in many law offices—printing, courier, and mail costs—and can allow for the opportunity to work out of your home or a lower-cost office location.
  • Real-time. In a world dominated by Facebook and Twitter, clients expect enhanced, real-time communication from their lawyers. Cloud-based collaboration offers you the capability to communicate more easily and directly with your clients.
  • Security. Unlike unencrypted email communications, all communications through a properly secured cloud-based portal are secured using SSL encryption. This is the same type of encryption employed by banks and e-commerce sites to ensure secure, confidential transmission of sensitive data.
  • Freedom. The freedom associated with a cloud-based collaboration system may be something you only truly appreciate once you’ve taken the plunge. You’ll realize you can get your work done anywhere and provide responsive, professional service to your clients on a schedule that works for you, regardless of your location. If an urgent situation with a client comes up while you’re on vacation, you’re only an Internet cafe away from being able to meet their needs. Cloud computing creates an opportunity to gain more control over your time, and often more freedom to enjoy time away from the job.

Using cloud-based collaboration tools in your practice offers a convenient and low-overhead method for you deliver better, more responsive, and more secure service to your clients. Try one of the many offerings out on your next case!

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