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Law Technology Today


A Guide for Migrating On-Premise Legal Tech to Cloud-Based Solutions

Hilary Goldman


  • Law firms are becoming more comfortable with cloud-based solutions and are looking to adopt more cloud tools.
  • Cloud-based tools offer law firms advantages over on-premise solutions, including enhanced security, connectivity, and collaboration.
  • If your firm is considering a cloud-based system, here are some key features and benefits to look for.
A Guide for Migrating On-Premise Legal Tech to Cloud-Based Solutions Kuban

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Across the legal industry, there’s been a significant shift to cloud-based solutions in the last several years. According to the International Legal Technology Association’s 2023 Technology Survey, which tallied input from more than 500 law firms and 150,000 attorneys, 80 percent of respondents said their email was in the cloud or headed there within the next year, up from 74 percent in 2022 and 50 percent in 2020.

These and other statistics show a growing use of cloud technology in legal. While many legal tech solutions used by law firms remain on-premise, their migration to the cloud is underway. For example, 57 percent of respondents said their document management system (DMS) or enterprise content management (ECM) libraries were cloud-based, with 28 percent saying they were on-premise. By comparison, the survey reported DMS/ECM libraries were 46 percent on-premise and 35 percent cloud-based four years ago. About 7 in 10 who responded to the ILTA survey said their time and billing system was on-premise, but nearly three-quarters of respondents said their firm was planning to upgrade to a new cloud-based system.

As law firms become more comfortable with cloud-based storage and solutions and start looking to utilize more cloud tools, here are some considerations and best practices to ensure a successful migration.

How can the cloud help my law firm?

Let’s say your firm wanted to implement an enterprise legal case management system on-premise. That would require hardware, software, servers, and technology staff to install the system on physical computers and laptops, and maintain the software when it needed updates or upgrades. By opting for a cloud-based system, the law firm gets the benefits of the software, but doesn’t need to worry about physical software or servers, or staff to maintain those systems. This option makes trying new technology less risky because there isn’t the commitment of the on-premise option — you can simply unsubscribe instead of absorbing the sunk cost of the now-dormant physical software and servers. 

Legal organizations of all sizes can benefit from migrating to cloud-based legal tech, especially solo and boutique firms that don’t have the resources for a robust IT staff and infrastructure.

According to the ILTA survey, firms with fewer lawyers were more likely to use cloud storage: 60 percent of firms with 50 or fewer lawyers said their DMS/ECM libraries were on the cloud versus 34 percent on-premise. On the other hand, firms with over 700 lawyers, 44 percent use the cloud and 24 percent use on-premise storage.

Selecting the right cloud-based tech for your firm

If your firm is considering a migration of on-premise legal tech to a cloud-based system, or a purchase of new cloud-based tech, here are some key features and benefits to look for.

Security: Whether it’s a case management system, document storage, or billing and accounting tool you’re looking to add, this is a critical feature. Cloud storage suppliers like Amazon and Microsoft as well as legal technology software providers spend millions to maintain high levels of security — likely greater than what your organization can achieve on its own. Large third-party cloud suppliers’ success depends on security, and by leveraging scale, all customers benefit from updates made to their cloud security.

Availability: On-premise storage means upkeep of servers, usually in one physical location. That means that simply tripping a fuse, for example, could shut down all your work and require someone on your firm’s payroll to be on the clock and on location to fix the problem promptly. Major cloud data and software providers have multiple backup systems that can keep your data accessible 24/7 and reduce the risk of encountering significant and unpredictable downtime.

Updates: Cloud software updates are usually seamless and automatic, unlike on-premise software, which requires manual updating to take advantage of the latest version of the product. Legal tech, like litigation software, is constantly adding new tools and features that reduce the time it takes to organize and manage your case information. By using cloud software, there’s no missing out on these features by waiting for patches to download or calling IT for help installing them.

Connectivity: This is another critical benefit. While on-premise software keeps users tethered to a physical location, cloud-based storage and software means your team can work from and access files from anywhere. Also look for cloud-based legal tech that integrates with your existing tools and other cloud solutions, like email and document management systems. This way collaboration is instantly improved. All members of your firm or your litigation team have access to all relevant information, regardless of location, and can be sure they’re viewing the latest version of each document, without having to jump from server to server or enter multiple passwords. And your team can collaborate simultaneously, seeing updates in real time.

Questions to ask before you migrate

If the features and benefits of cloud software and storage sound right for your firm, the next step is to evaluate whether you’ve found the right vendor and are ready to migrate to the cloud.

As we’ve said, security is a critical feature. By working with a vendor to store data or provide software, your firm’s data will be shared with a third party. Some questions to ask include whether your vendor’s cloud software meets industry standards for information security, such as an ISO 27001 certification; how your data will be encrypted; and whether other parties will have access to your data.

Regarding availability and updates, ask how your provider guarantees access to your software and data, including an audit of when their services have gone offline, whether it was an expected or unplanned outage, and how long were services down. Ask what their protocol is if their service goes offline, including how you’ll be notified, and how often your data will be backed up. Also look for a vendor who will be an ongoing partner with your law firm after the initial purchase, proactively ensuring that your tools are updated, working properly, and delivering value.

Plan for a smooth migration

Before you commit to a new cloud solution, consider making migration and implementation plans. The new solution can only work if your team uses it, so have you asked key stakeholders whether new tools will reduce pain points or increase productivity? Does the new tool align with the pursuit of internal goals and metrics? And if so, can your vendor provide training and support for your staff so they’ll actually use the new software? 

Regarding your data, look for a vendor that has years of experience migrating legacy software projects to a modern solution and follows best practices for data migration, including data cleaning, secure transfer methods, and ensuring data integrity.

Overall, you want to work with a vendor who will collaborate with you to develop a transformation plan so everyone in your firm can benefit from the new cloud solution. 


Cloud-based technology offers law firms many benefits and advantages, from lessening the responsibilities and burdens associated with maintaining on-premise solutions, to improving connectivity and collaboration. 

With careful planning and execution in migrating to cloud-based legal technology, your law firm can not only prevent migration mishaps but position themselves for greater efficiency, security, and a competitive advantage.