What Flavor of Cloud Storage Should I Use?

Vol. 34 No. 3

Catherine Sanders Reach is director of law practice management and technology for the Chicago Bar Association, providing members with an array of new services and programming including continuing legal education seminars, technology training (both online and in-person), and fee-based consulting services such as website review, technology review, and strategic technology planning. For more than ten years she was the director of the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center.


Even if you don’t know what cloud storage is, you may already be using it. Drop-box, iCloud, and Google Drive became household names by letting users store electronic documents, pictures, albums, and other digital data on their “cloud” for free. So, what is “the cloud”? According to the Pennsylvania Bar Association Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility, the cloud is just “a fancy way of saying stuff’s not on your computer” (Formal Opinion 2011-200, tinyurl.com/d4dmgsx, quoting the definition from the article “Byte Rights” in Maximum PC, September 2010). Opinion 2011-200 also correctly suggests that an attorney using webmail such as Gmail is using “cloud computing.” In the ABA LTRC 2016 Survey Report: Law Office Technology (tinyurl.com/hevcsct), only 38 percent of attorneys responding asserted that they used cloud computing or SaaS (software as a service) for law-related tasks (10 percent don’t know). In a demographic breakdown, solo respondents maintained they used the cloud at 42 percent and small firms of two to nine attorneys were at 46 percent. Of those who used the cloud, the top three products used were Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud. So, why are so many solo and small firm lawyers using cloud storage? What should be considered before using cloud storage? Who are the big players in the business market? What security issues need to be addressed? Read on!

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