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Lawyers and cloud computing in 2016

Stacked3Here is this week's Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Lawyers and cloud computing in 2016

I started writing about cloud and mobile computing for lawyers nearly a decade ago, urging lawyers to learn about and consider incorporating these technologies into their practices from the very start. That’s because I understood the potential of cloud and mobile computing and the tremendous benefits that each offered attorneys.

Mobile computing was adopted fairly quickly, but cloud computing was a different story. At first, lawyers were skeptical and hesitated to use cloud computing tools in their law firms. But over time, as ethics committees across the country gave cloud computing their blessing, lawyers increasingly adopted cloud computing software into their law firm’s computing arsenal, as the latest statistics from the 2015 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report show.

First let’s look at mobile technology. The survey results show that the vast majority of lawyers now use laptops on a daily basis, with 76% of lawyers reporting that they use laptops as their primary computer. Interestingly, solo attorneys were the most likely to personally use laptops for law-related tasks at 82%, followed by lawyers from firms of 100-499, at 76%.

Most lawyers also use smartphones now, with 79% reporting that they personally used smartphones for law-related tasks in 2015. Lawyers are similarly incorporating tablets into their practices. 42% report using tablets in their practices in 2015, with 78% preferring iPads, followed by at Windows Surface at 12% and Samsung Galaxy at 11%.

Then, there’s cloud computing. Although the rate of adoption has not been quite as fast as it’s been with mobile technology, adoption by lawyers continues to increase. The majority of lawyers now use cloud computing for online storage, with over 59% reporting that they personally used online storage for law-related tasks in 2015, up from 45% in 2012. 62% of those lawyers are from firms of 2-9 attorneys (up from 40% in 2012), 61% are solo practitioners (up from 43% in 2012), 56% are from firms of 10-49 attorneys (up from 44% in 2012), and 50% are from firms of 100 or more attorneys (up from 52% in 2012).

Lawyers report that they use cloud computing for a variety of reasons. 71% report that they use it for the easy browser access from any location. 60% use it for the 24/7 access to their law firm’s data. 57% appreciate the low cost and predictable monthly expense. For 48%, the robust data backup and recover is important. 47% use it because it eliminates IT and software management requirements. And 46% use it because it’s quick and easy to get up and running in their firms.

In other words, cloud computing is more convenient and affordable than the more traditional premise-based software systems that lawyers are accustomed to, which accounts for the uptick in use by lawyers. So, like mobile tools, the use of cloud computing is on the rise in the legal profession, as lawyers become more familiar with the technology and the many benefits it offers.

Lawyers adoption of mobile and cloud technology into their practices is a promising development and one that has been a long time coming. Legal clients’ expectations have changed with the times and as lawyers adapt 21st century technologies into their practices, they are better able to respond to the needs of their clients and provide more effective and responsive representation.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.