A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.
Cloud-based data back up for lawyers
One of the most useful ways that lawyers can use cloud computing is for online data back up and storage. Cloud-based document storage offers lawyers many benefits, not the least of which is instantaneous data back up—a service that provides lawyers with both convenience and peace of mind.
Many platforms also permit online collaboration on documents stored in the Cloud, which benefits both attorneys and clients. Online document collaboration platforms streamline the process of sharing and editing documents, offering lawyers and clients a convenient alternative to traditional document management systems.
From the convenience of their homes or offices, and on their own schedule, clients and attorneys can review, comment on and make changes to a document in the process of being created. Clients no longer have to call the office to request a copy of a document in their file and instead can simply access the entire file at their convenience using the online portal.
Of course, these benefits mean nothing if the security provided by the cloud computing provider is insufficient for your needs. For that reason, it is imperative to carefully research your options and exercise due diligence whenever you consider using a cloud computing service, as I have discussed in prior articles.
There are many different online storage and collaboration platforms available and some are targeted toward, or developed specifically for, law firms. Many of these services include a 30-day free trial period and a number of them also offer smart phone apps.
First, there’s Mozy (http://mozy.com/pro), one of the better-known online storage platforms. It provides online data back up with no additional features and simply backs up data from individual computer and/or servers, depending on your needs.
Jungle Disk (www.jungledisk.com) is another popular online data back up system. One feature that makes Jungle Disk so appealing to lawyers is that the platform allows for the encryption of files before sending them to Jungle Disk’s servers. Jungle Disk also offers it users the option of choosing whether to store data on one of the two major cloud computing providers: Amazon S3 servers or Rackspace Cloud Files.
Another cloud-based data storage platform used by many lawyers is DropBox (www.dropbox.com). DropBox provides both online data storage and file sharing features.
Next up are a number of platforms created specifically for attorneys.
First, NetDocuments (www.netdocuments.com), which is a web-based document and email management system. Using NetDocuments, lawyers can organize, store and collaborate on documents in a web-based environment.
Another online collaboration platform is Firmex (www.firmex.com). Firmex provides secure, virtual data rooms, which can be used in a legal corporate environment to manage online due diligence, exchange closing drafts or create digital record books. Litigators can also use Firmex’s virtual data rooms to upload and share litigation documents.
Xerdict (www.xerdict.com) is another option. Xerdict provides lawyers with a number of different types of online collaborative workspaces, including a case management system, a litigation case management system and a project management system.
Finally, Mavenlink (www.mavenlink.com) is another online collaboration system created for lawyers. Using Mavenlink, lawyers can collaborate on documents with their clients, colleagues, partners, or administrative staff using a shared online workspace.
As you can see, there are a number of cloud-based data storage and online collaboration options available to attorneys. If, after researching the security and ethical issues, you decide that cloud-based data back up and storage is a viable option for your firm, there area wide variety of offerings from which to choose.
Nicole Black is of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach in Rochester. She co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise, and is currently writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by the ABA in early 2011. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org