Why Multifactor Authentication is Essential


If there’s one thing that law firms have in massive quantities, it’s information. From email inboxes containing clients’ addresses and signatures to file folders that detail highly sensitive particulars about financials, attorneys possess reams of data that can damage reputations and ruin lives should it happen to fall into the wrong hands.

While numerous methods of protection exist to keep eyes-only information just that – including passwords, firewalls, identity theft resources and physical security – there are equally as many ways of gaining access. Be it hacking, malware, phishing or skimming, bad actors resort to a wide assortment of underhanded tactics to expose and make off with private data.

Multifactor authentication throws a wrench in these malicious methods. Instead of entering just one password or inserting a single keycard, multifactor authentication – otherwise known as 2FA – requires two or more credentials for access to be granted. Generally speaking, the more that are required, the harder it is for information to be stolen. As noted by Carnegie Mellon University, 2FA involves several “somethings”:

  • Something you know (e.g. password, security question, PIN number);
  • Something you own (e.g. key fob, ID card, smartphone);
  • Something you are (e.g. fingerprint, face, voice, palm vein)

This latter something is a fairly new technology in terms of availability and usage. It involves biometrics, or the analysis of physical characteristics for authentication. Because no two fingerprints are perfectly identical, it makes them difficult to replicate or steal.

Given the effectiveness of 2FA, more industries are adopting it. Many handheld devices now require users to input two or more credentials, or at least provide this option.

“Many attorneys and law firms aren’t fully embracing this security methodology.”

However, whether due to resistance to change, in general, or unfamiliarity with technology, attorneys and law firms aren’t fully embracing this security methodology, ABA Journal reported. If you’re among them, here are a few reasons why you may want to reconsider:

Data breaches are more common than ever
At one time, it seemed like every cyberattack was reported by the mainstream media, particularly those that impacted retailers. They’ve largely fallen out of the news cycle, but that doesn’t mean they’ve become any less common. According to the most recent statistics available from the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of consumer records stolen in 2018 rose 126% from the previous year, totaling 446.5 million overall. That’s up from 197.6 million just 12 months earlier.

The chances of data being stolen are significantly lower when 2FA is in place. As reported by Forbes, household-name software providers say 99% of automated attacks can be successfully blocked by enabling 2FA. Several other telecommunications and technology companies also hail the effectiveness of multifactor authentication.

Firms are a top target
No business or industry is entirely immune from data breaches, and that especially includes the business sector, an umbrella that law firms fall under. Of the 1,632 breaches that took place in 2018, 907 of them affected business, ITRC reported from its findings. This equated to 181 million records, with healthcare in a distant second at 5.3 million records and 384 breaches.

Small law firms in the crosshairs
According to the most recent polling available, tracking how many practicing lawyers are currently in the U.S., the number sits at over 1.3 million, based on the ABA’s figures. The vast majority of these attorneys work for small firms. Conventional wisdom might suggest the big firms would be targeted the most, but as Attorney At Law Magazine reported, those that have fewer partners tend to receive the lion’s share of the attacks because there are more out there to potentially exploit.

2FA helps to guard against attempted data heists by adding an extra layer of security.

If your firm has transitioned to the cloud, you can’t afford a software solution that doesn’t incorporate multifactor authentication. Built on the largest cloud provider in the world – Amazon Web Services – Afinety leverages 2FA, firewall protection and unparalleled monitoring to ensure information stays under lock and key. For more information on the Afinety Cloud Platform and its offerings, contact us today.

States at Loggerheads Over Whether Law Firms Are ‘Essential’

For as much time and attention paid to the coronavirus pandemic by local and major news organizations, several aspects of the disease remain shrouded in mystery. The mortality rate originally ranged between 3% and 4% by health experts. But with more testing now taking place, the rate has since declined. COVID-19 typically produces symptoms that are similar to influenza, yet for many of the people who’ve tested positive, the typical manifestations of the disease are often non-existent. The contagion seems to target elderly individuals and those who have pre-existing health conditions, yet curiously, young children are largely left unaffected.

With most governors across the U.S. issuing stay-at-home advisories and mandating “non-essential” businesses to close their doors temporarily, the response aimed to contain the outbreak is leaving attorneys at law with another question: Does my firm provide services that qualify as essential?

The short answer? It depends. As noted by ABA Journal, several states have included law firms on the exemption list, meaning they can continue to remain open, although they may have to abide by certain restrictions. Among the states where firms are permitted to continue operations – Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

State of IllinoisIllinois is among a handful of states where law firms are considered essential business operations.

Patricia Brown Holmes, managing partner of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila, said it makes sense that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzer decided to include law firms, as her Chicago-based clients are in urgent need of guidance.

“What makes us essential is this virus has lots of legal issues associated with it,” Holmes told ABA Journal. “Clients need help.”

No clear direction from feds

The federal government, through the Department of Homeland Security, has also issued guidance regarding essential and non-essential businesses. Among those considered indispensable to consumer needs include pharmacies, big-box stores, supermarkets, daycare centers, hardware stores and auto-repair shops. But the list has no clearly delineated references to law firms or legal services as being essential or non-essential, leaving it up to the states – specifically governors – to decide for themselves.

Among those governors believing law firms ought to not be given clearance is Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. In her executive order that went into effect March 24, the only businesses deemed essential were those who dealt with “critical infrastructure or whose services were “necessary to sustain or protect life.” Law firms, in her view, did not meet that test.

Opinions have run the gamut, from attorneys themselves as well as the public at large, as to what does and does not qualify as an essential business. In New Hampshire, for example, hair and beauty salons are not permitted to accept new or long-standing clients during the shutdown, but they’re free to do so in Arizona, NBC News reported.

Firms erring on the side of caution

But even in states where law firms have been given the green light to continue with business as usual, many are taking precautions to stay safe and avoid exposure. Holmes told ABA Journal that most of her firm’s attorneys in their Chicago offices are working from their homes and communicating via the internet and telephone. The same goes for Linda Doyle, partner and general counsel for McDermott Will & Emery. The only exception, in Doyle’s case, are those attorneys who drop by the office to pick up important documents, memos, or correspondences.

As previously referenced, the federal government has generally left it up to the states to decide what businesses’ products or services are too important not to have readily available. But in the event that the White House issues a nationwide stay-at-home order, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez believes legal services should be exempted in all 50 states. She indicated as much in a missive written to Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs.

“People need access to essential legal services during an emergency,” Martinez wrote. “Lawyers help ensure that our nation’s foundation of laws remains strong, especially as fast-changing orders, directives, and laws are issued … [L]awyers can help Americans as they address unexpected challenges and solve problems surfacing in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus.”

What is the end game?

These are unsettling times for everyone, regardless of their industry. Perhaps the biggest question mark of all is when life will return to normal. Health officials are encouraged by the fact that social distancing seems to be working, but at the end of the day, business owners – and the public at large – are longing for some level of certainty.

Afinety offers the cloud network solutions that you can rely on in tumultuous times like these. Our cloud network delivers fast, dependable, secure and reliable connectivity so partners, associates, and paralegals can get just as much work done from their home bedroom as they would from the law firm boardroom. In short, if your office doors are closed, your work can go on with the Afinety Cloud Platform. Contact us today to learn more.

How Cloud Technology Can Make Your Firm More Efficient


Legal professionals are always busy with time-sensitive work for their clients. In a fast-paced industry, any time saved is valuable. Here’s a guide to how you can make your firm more efficient using cloud technology:

Law practice benefits in moving to the cloud

The leap from traditional filing systems to cloud technology can seem large and daunting, but with a proper plan of action in place, it can greatly improve your firm’s operations without interrupting workflow during the implementation process.

Increase your law firm’s efficiency

There are multiple ways cloud technology can make your firm’s operations simpler and faster. CISCO found in a survey that companies which invest in collaborative technology saw productivity increases of up to 400%. This spike can be attributed to the ready availability of files.

When data is stored in the cloud, it can be accessed from anywhere. This allows employees to conduct business from the office, the road and their homes with the same resources. The firm also saves time with reduced and often fully eliminated need to email documents between coworkers. People can act on issues and assignments instantly with all the materials they need just a click away. This means firms with cloud technology can capitalize on opportunities more quickly than those without, winning business and pulling ahead of competitors. This is a key advantage for smaller firms and independent practices.

TechNative reported on the changing psychology of the workplace, noting this new “gig economy” of freelancers and startups who don’t need large office spaces or storage facilities has created a new era of working. While change can be scary, it’s not always bad: TechNative found employees who actively seek out the flexibility the cloud can provide have better relationships with their supervisors and an increased feeling of satisfaction. A stronger sense of trust is established when employers know the work will get done regardless of an employee’s physical location.

Cloud technology also streamlines communication. Using a single system for phone, messaging, conferencing and scheduling helps everyone stay on the same page and reduces the natural human errors that come with needing to manually loop people in. Some cloud platforms even have workflow management systems built in, according to Business.com.

Cloud technology makes analyzing big data easier, an advantage especially relevant to big firms hoping to sort through large masses of data.

Law practice benefits in moving to the cloud_cash image_Afinety, Inc.Cloud technology doesn’t just improve efficiency of operations.

Save your firm time and money

When it comes to practicing law, time is money. And cloud technology can save your firm a significant amount of both.

The cloud eliminates the need for an in-house IT team. Outsourcing your operational IT work means an outside provider like Afinety can handle all updates, security and maintenance needs for the system, saving you both the trouble and the manpower needed to do it yourself. Your energy is better spent elsewhere.

Other benefits of cloud technology 

Cloud technology can also assist Human Resources in their daily tasks. It can be used to file and share hiring documents, CVs and personal details, tax forms, payroll information, and more.

Apart from the increased efficiency which comes with the adoption of cloud technology, there is another reason you should consider it: everyone’s doing it. Your firm must adapt to survive in the ever-evolving business market. Contact Afinety to see how our cloud platform can serve the needs of your firm.

Tech wish list for law firms


It’s that time of the year again; you’ve got your list and you’re checking it twice. This holiday season, you may be wondering how you can prepare your law firm for the new year, and we have a collection of tech that will certainly bring joy — or at least, convenience — to the office. Here’s a holiday wish list for your firm:

Video Conferencing Tools

Being able to video chat is a valuable tool in your personal life, especially during the holidays, when travel is not always an option. But video also has a place in the office, keeping your law firm in the present day with videoconferencing. This can be used for client meetings, lawyer conferences and out-of-town depositions. Being able to communicate face-to-face, or close to it, can feel more personable. It’s important to consider what is most practical for your firm, as there are various tools out there for videoconferencing. The American Bar Association recommends considering the amount of privacy you need on a case-by-case basis, but that unencrypted conversations may not always be sufficient enough. Common tools, like Skype and Google Hangouts, use Voice Over Internet Protocol, which prevents eavesdroppers but doesn’t guarantee that providers aren’t listening in. Cases involving sensitive information may require end-to-end encryption, which is built into GoToMeeting, another video conferencing tool. Skype for Business offers end-to-end encryption, but it just needs to be enabled. Regardless of what your firm needs, there’s a videoconferencing tool out there to satisfy.

Reliable Scanners

As law firms make efforts to become paperless and move toward the route of e-filing, a useful tool is a reliable (but affordable) scanner. The digital route of storing files is not only mandated in certain jurisdictions, but it’s also useful for minimizing paper clutter, improving storage space and preventing the security risks associated with unorganized paper files. The Fujitsu Scanscap iX500 is specifically hailed as being a quick and consistent scanner for an affordable price and does about 25 color pages per minute. For larger firms, you can opt for the Fujitsu fi-5530C2, which is capable of 50 color pages per minute.

Law practices cyber secure technology wishlist_Afinety, Inc. This holiday season you may be wondering how you can prepare your law firm for the new year.

The 2019 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide

You might be thinking the obvious — this is a book and not a piece of technology — but it can be an incredibly important guide in the current technological landscape, and determine all your future investments for the upcoming year. Written in clear and understandable language, it provides a neutral view (no vendors involved) to recommend a wide variety of tech used by law firms. It spans computers, servers, networking equipment, legal software, printers, security products and more. It is a comprehensive guide to law firm technology and can be a great tool when looking to build up a firm’s technological infrastructure.

Cloud-Based Technology

As the world becomes more digitally focused, it has become hard for most professions to avoid a shift to cloud-based technology. You may look to start by focusing on a document management system for your firm. iManage, which boasts industry-leading security and seamless document sharing, can assist in eliminating paper waste from your office. If you’re considering committing to the cloud for your firm, the Afinety Cloud Platform runs smoothly with iManage, proving a robust system of document management, as well as the benefits of cloud computing — designed specifically with the needs of law firms in mind. While cloud computing may come across as a big shift from traditional IT resources, there are benefits to turning to the cloud. It provides reliability, like data back-up, eliminates many time-consuming IT management chores, like software set-up. Using the cloud, over a single corporate datacenter, can provide smoother performance overall. Afinety is built on Amazon Web Services, which is the largest cloud platform in the world, providing your business with a consistent 99.999% uptime.
You can evaluate your law firm’s needs on an individual basis, but consider what tech will be vital for bringing your firm into the future (or the now).

Key Takeaways From The 2019 Cloud Computing Report By The ABA


On Oct. 2, 2019, the American Bar Association released its 2019 Cloud Computing report highlighting the changing relationship between law firms and the cloud. From concerns and questions to moving towards the future, we have summarized some of the most important and surprising information obtained from the ABA 2019 Legal Technology Survey.

Cloud Technology Is Slowly But Surely Becoming The Norm For Law Firms

Some of the most promising news from the survey is more law firms are using cloud services. The number increased from 55% in 2018, to 58% in 2019. Surprisingly, this technology is being utilized more often by individual and small firms, at 60% of those surveyed, while only 44% of larger firms with 50-99 lawyers have adopted it.

Though this increase is small, it’s a move in the right direction.

Security Fears And Loss Of Control Are Holding Law Firms Back

Cloud users and nonusers had similar reservations about the still relatively new technology. The survey found that 65% of current cloud users identified “confidentiality/security concerns” as their biggest concern. Similarly, 50% of nonusers reported not having tried the cloud due to the same concern.

Considering the cloud is one of the most secure ways to store data due to its redundancy, security and safe sharing methods that Forbes outlines, these numbers come as a surprise. If law firms are not adopting the cloud, what are they using? There should always be multiple copies of important documents, ideally stored in different locations. Unlike hard drives and physical paperwork, the cloud will always store duplicates in multiple places, so even if the worst case scenario occurs, your data will most likely still be accessible.

On the same note, lawyers are also concerned about losing control of data. This was the second largest pain point for both users and nonusers. The results from this portion of the survey did not change much from the prior year, which is disappointing. There’s a long way to go when it comes to educating law firms about how beneficial cloud technology is for securing sensitive documents without losing control.

The majority of law firms have reservations about using the cloud due to cybersecurity threats_Afinety, Inc.The majority of law firms have reservations about using the cloud due to cybersecurity threats.

Law Practice Contradictory Behavior On Cloud Computing Is Alarming

One of the biggest, and most concerning, pieces of information gained from the survey is the contradiction between lawyers’ understanding of the cloud and their actual use and implementation of it.

Even though more law firms are now using the cloud, they are dropping the ball surrounding cybersecurity. Considering security and control are their top concerns, it’s odd that their behavior does not reflect this.

The ABA does not hold back with their dissatisfaction with these results, and considers the lack of effort on security to be, “a major cause for concern in the profession.” To give more context, the survey listed 13 standard precautionary security measures. The most commonly used was by only 35%, and it was using secure socket layers. Beyond that, the numbers get more dismal.

Only 28% of respondents reviewed their vendor privacy policies, down from 38% that did last year. Again, if security is a main concern, reviewing privacy policies should be the first thing law firms do with their cloud provider. Numbers for security measures were down across the board, a fact that the ABA is explicitly upset about.

Another interesting point the ABA highlights is the lack of legal formality that lawyers take with their cloud vendors. A meager 4% of respondents negotiated a confidentiality agreement with their provider, and barely 5%, arranged service legal agreements. These disappointing numbers around these actions lawyers should be well-versed in leaves the ABA questioning technology competency requirements.

Finally, the overwhelming majority of law firms (94%) consider vendor reputation to be important when selecting a cloud provider. When looking for a cloud service provider for your firm, consider the Afinety Cloud Platform.   ACP is a cloud network designed for law firms by law firm experts.  With a focus on the legal industry since 1986, Afinety understands the unique challenges law firms face when it comes to data protection and proper configuration of a cloud network.

With An Overabundance Of Digital Evidence, The Cloud Can Help Law Firms Stay Organized

The cloud is the best tool for keeping digital evidence organized and protected.

Case Study – AlvaradoSmith Reaches the Cloud With Afinety

AlvaradoSmith Saw 25% Cost Reduction With Afinety Cloud Platform

The legal world has changed a lot over the years, notably in how legal professionals do their jobs and interact with clients. Cloud platforms have impacted virtually every industry and promise to bring a multitude of benefits to those that adopt the technology. The question for law firms is, how can they take advantage of the cloud in a secure, productive way? Law firm AlvaradoSmith experienced the viability and the power of the cloud first-hand.

IT Network Changed To Afinety Cloud Platform To Achieve Goals

With 3 offices and 57 users, AlvaradoSmith represents defendants and plaintiffs with respective civil litigation, corporate and intellectual property cases. The firm handles employment and mortgage matters as well, supporting businesses of all sizes as well as individuals. With so many different kinds of clients and cases that could come through their doors, it was important to keep files confidential while also ensuring that AlvaradoSmith staff could easily access necessary information.

File cabinets and large folders are no longer viable for modern law firms. Papers can easily be misplaced, stolen or destroyed. The cloud has increasingly become the answer to these issues, providing an online platform for accessibility, mobility and flexibility. Office Coordinator, Gianna Stover, noted that data security is a major concern in the law industry, particularly as ransomware becomes a more prevalent threat. Clients want to ensure that their documents and information are protected, making it necessary to adopt a platform that can meet these needs. That’s where Afinety has made the greatest impact.

Migrating To Afinety Cloud Platform (ACP)

When it came to upgrading the existing on-premises network, AlvaradoSmith wanted to increase mobility for attorneys and ensure security across the board. Many AlvaradoSmith attorneys travel, and the fact that they could get on a laptop outside of the office without an on- premises network was a major advantage. Stover and the firm’s partners met with the Afinety team and discussed what life would be like once the Afinety Cloud Platform Network, powered by AWS would be implemented. They believed it sounded too simple and too good to be true, but once the solution was rolled out, their perception changed.

“The nicest part, which was one of our key selling points, was that we didn’t have to reinvent how we were practicing and what we were doing,” Stover said. “Our programs translated over into the Afinety Cloud Platform seamlessly. We were able to function as we did in the on-premises network and we didn’t have to change every piece that we used.  We just simply transitioned over.”

With Afinety, AlvaradoSmith was able to maintain and improve productivity. Afinety experts walked the organization through the migration step by step, and with diligent, methodical planning, the project progressed to completion without a scramble to get everything done. With their previous network, Stover described how each person was connected to the onsite servers. If one computer was affected by an outage, all users would be affected, creating an issue in rebuilding the workstation and getting everyone back online. The Afinety Cloud Platform runs on Amazon Web Services and provides a separate cloud workspace for every user, thus eliminating the possibility of one workstation affecting another.  If issues do arise, Afinety’s experts provide faster troubleshooting support to eliminate lag time and enable easier login processes.

Measurable Results Gained From ACP

Seeing the benefits of the Afinety Cloud Platform first-hand demonstrates the technology’s true power and serves as an example for how other law firms can reap these same advantages. Stover noted that the solution is more cost-effective than their previous setup, saving the firm over 25 percent compared to an onsite network! In addition, productivity has noticeably improved. Legal professionals at AlvaradoSmith now have faster, more secure remote flexibility that wasn’t available before. They can work remotely when they need to, not even thinking about the network. That’s the true experience of a solid cloud network.

The Afinety Cloud Platform runs on Amazon Web Services, making it a turnkey, secure solution for law firm needs. Storing data on this platform helps put minds at ease since AWS uses batch encryptions and other security parameters to protect sensitive data effectively. This ensures that client confidentiality can be upheld and that industry regulations are in compliance. Afinety has strong track record serving law firms since 1986, with more and more clients moving to the cloud each day.


What’s Holding Law Firms Back From The Cloud?

Why Are Law Practices Reluctant In Going To The Cloud

Outdated technology can be a burden on companies in any industry, and law firms are no exception. The abilities to keep information secure, recall important data at a moment’s notice and operate consistently, without miscommunication or downtime, have become universal needs for modern organizations. Law firms that can’t operate on this bare minimum level of performance may find themselves falling behind others’ capabilities. By failing to consider tech upgrades, firms may be causing these problems for themselves.

The good news for law firms that have been too resistant to updating IT systems thus far is that the solution for such problems is relatively simple and self-evident. When organizations adopt new technologies on a cloud model, they can skip the large capital expenditures and intense demands on employees’ time that come along with such in-house changes. The main obstacle keeping businesses from making such an upgrade may now be psychological.

Confronting Doubts And Hesitation

Being bound by tradition and age-old practices can be a great burden on companies, one law firms may be dealing with as they consider getting their technology in line with modern standards. Organizations dealing with large server rooms and decades of specialized applications may feel trapped by the infrastructures they’ve built, unable to jump into the cloud waters. Fortunately, the situation is not actually that desperate. The way to the cloud may prove surprisingly smooth.
Contributing to National Law Review, Jaliz Maldonado suggested there are mistaken assumptions circulating about the cloud. For instance, internal IT teams may be suspicious of the cloud’s security capabilities, or assume that cloud service providers are major causes of data breaches. Those facts don’t line up with the market as it exists today, however. Indeed, top cloud provider employees have extensive security training, while their products are carefully monitored and approved for use in regulated industries.

Furthermore, Maldonado called out the assumption that cloud technology is still immature. This opinion isn’t so much wrong as outdated. The cloud has spent more than a decade maturing into its present form, and solutions that may have not passed muster in the past have become essential and respected parts of companies’ digital tool kits. Failure to keep up with development could be keeping companies from achieving peak efficiency.

Another common suggestion from internal IT workers is that there’s no need to replace present infrastructure. While these employees may believe they’re hewing to a sensible “If it isn’t broken” mentality, yet a refusal to consider the cloud may leave them stuck with greater costs in the future. As Maldonado pointed out, a switch to the cloud enables rolling updates rather than the capital expense of changing systems whenever they become outdated.

An aging computer from the 90s to represent old technology_AfinetyOld technology can hold companies back.

Watching New Firms Thrive

According to The Legal Intelligencer, there are numerous examples of newly formed law firms embrace cloud technology and reap the resulting benefits. Rather than obscure cases, these are instructive examples for organizations of all sizes and ages. There’s a universal need for the upgrades these young businesses are making, and their new status quo is sure to be the envy of any law firm stuck with an overcomplicated or weakening legacy system.
The overhead costs of using in-house IT made the cloud a more palatable options to the boutique firm founders who spoke with The Legal Intelligencer. Dealing with traditional record-keeping, whether that means servers, filing cabinets or both, calls for massive investments in space, physical infrastructure and constant oversight. The cloud’s operational expense structure can take some of the pressure off of companies, as can reduced computing power needs – when applications aren’t running on premises, PCs don’t have to have as much processing might.

The news provider added that there’s a clear path to similar cloud-based savings for established firms as well as the startups making the leap. The main challenge may be the complexity of moving over years of systems and the fact that ingrained practices and technologies can create inertia among staff and management alike. Organizations that overcome these factors can achieve the same efficiency and cost benefits experienced by today’s forward-thinking founders.

As time passes, conventional wisdom about the need to keep old servers may be changing. The money being poured into these systems can be seen as a sunk cost rather than a true investment. Endlessly maintaining and replacing outdated hardware eventually costs more than it’s worth.

How Law Firms Can Go Paperless

Benefits Of A Paperless Office

Experts and industry analysts have been touting the benefits of a paperless office for some years. While part of this movement has been driven by the shift toward environmentally friendly practices, digitizing workflow produces a multitude of additional benefits. Law offices can save time, money and improve security through making the switch from paper to digital, to say nothing of reducing carbon footprint.

While the idea of digitization can sound intimidating, especially with an older law firm, the process doesn’t have to be a painful. Going paperless has been attempted and refined by various legal enterprises over the years. Firms today can learn from past examples, as well as more properly understand the documented benefits of a digital office workflow.

Preparing To Go Paperless

The American Bar Association recommended that law offices, no matter how eager, not simply launch into the digitization process. While newer firms can establish a digital workflow on day one, older firms likely have many physical files on location. These contain confidential information on active and past clients. Before the paperless environment can be fully realized, these documents must be scanned into the network.
Digital documents can exist in a multitude of places, including on a computer, a server, a flash drive or in the cloud. When legal firms begin the digitization process, they should already have a chosen data receptacle in mind.

Organization methods should also be determined before a legal firm begins to go paperless. One of the largest drives behind the move to digital is increased productivity, but that won’t happen if various lawyers and legal assistants are all filing data in different locations without consulting one another. Before scanning begins, have a meeting and outline the categorization methods that will be utilized.

Once this is done, a naming structure should also be determined. Law firms want to be professional and orderly so having a system where any employee can quickly find the information needed is a benefit. If one attorney is naming case files as “client documents” while another labels them “case documents,” the potential for confusion greatly increases.

Lastly, a secure paper disposal process should also be in place once the files have been scanned. Legal documents contain confidential information and should be properly shredded before being placed in recycling bins. Law offices looking to be especially careful can place shredded documents into multiple recycling stations to reduce the risk of the papers being reassembled.

Afinety takes law practices digital on the cloud_Afinety Cloud PlatformFile digitization should be treated with the same care as traditional paper organization.

Redesigning Office Space To Reduce Costs

Once a law firm begins the digitization process, it must understand just how transformed the workplace environment will be. It won’t be a simple matter of replacing the filing cabinets with server racks. Depending on the data storage solution, the file archives space can be completely repurposed into offices, an employee rec area or some other functional room.
Copier machines and printers will also be downsized. Without paper, the need for these machines drops dramatically. Legal firms can absorb the savings of reduced equipment needs, maintenance costs and supply ordering.

Going paperless may be an investment, but it’s one that generates value quickly. According to Nitro, 28 percent of businesses report a full ROI within 6 months. This number climbs to 84 percent after the first year and a half.

“Cloud solutions save the most room and can assist in file organization.”

Digitizing Fully With A Cloud Solution

As stated earlier, there are several options for data storage when digitizing office workflow. A cloud solution arguably represents the best option, especially for law firms worried about cybersecurity and technical support. Cloud providers help monitor their software against unauthorized access, keeping confidential data secure.
Cloud solutions, especially those tailored for the legal industry, can also assist in organization and interface for file storage.

Why Legal Firms Are Switching To Cloud Computing

 What’s Driving Law Firms’ Need For The Cloud

While many sectors have been quick to embrace cloud computing, law offices have traditionally lagged behind. Part of this has to do with regulation concerns governing case data and another aspect is the lack of technical expertise not infrequently present within a law firm. However, according to a recent article from Big Law Business, legal firms are finally starting to make the shift away from in-house data centers.

This move is being prompted not just by the advantages of cloud computing but by shifting international laws and data regulations. Larger legal offices that deal with clients from around the world are finding it easier to rely on cloud technology.

Help With GDPR Adoption

A large factor driving this change is the deployment of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union. This law was written to better protect user privacy rights within an increasingly digital world, setting clear definitions as to what information can and cannot be discretely collected and used without the user’s informed consent.

While much of these new regulations link back to the growing prevalence of social networks, even basic communications like email and instant messenger fall under GDPR review. As such, many tech companies that service international clients, including cloud service providers, have updated their solutions to be in full compliance of the GDPR. By making the switch to the cloud, legal firms save themselves the time and energy that would be needed to ensure their data infrastructures follow the new EU law.

Reduced Storage Needs

Another large benefit of cloud solutions is the reduced need for space. Traditional filing systems included filing cabinets and, typically, an off-premise third party storage provider. This infrastructure, while solid, was easily impacted by lost or missing information, in addition to piling up sizeable annual costs – even for smaller legal firms.

Switching to a cloud solution relegates the majority of data, especially archived cases, to digital only, freeing up space and eliminating third party storage costs.

Even on-premise, digital storage requires devoting a room to servers and other hardware_Afinety, Inc.Even on-premise digital storage involves devoting a room to servers and other hardware.

Secure Data That Is Readily Available

However, space saving is not the primary reason to digitize confidential information. As the American Bar Association pointed out, cloud platforms offer a variety of benefits including improved mobility and, more importantly, data security. The vast majority of cloud solutions are designed to be transparent, letting administrators keep an eye on each aspect of the system. This reduces the time needed to detect malicious data breaches, allowing the cloud security to crack down on the problem before it is severe.

Most cloud software builds in automated responses, working to close breaches as soon as they’re detected. Storing data on the cloud also allows it to be encrypted and stored behind multiple levels of authentication, including at least one password. In addition, cloud infrastructures tend to utilize the principle of least privilege. This means that the average user has their permissions restricted to only the files they need. Doing this lowers the risk of accidental change and makes it so that, if a cybercriminal gains access to an account, the whole system does not have a chance of being compromised.

As digital laws continue to shift in response to the GDPR and other regulations, expect even more legal firms to adopt cloud platforms. A modern world calls for innovative solutions.