Questions for law firms to ask when considering the cloud

What Law Firms Need To Consider About The Cloud

Cloud solutions have largely disrupted and improved processes across nearly every industry. Many organizations have waited to migrate to these online platforms to ensure stability and invest appropriately. There are a number of options out there, which can make it hard to know where to start with your cloud evaluation journey. Let’s take a look at some of the top questions that law firms should ask when considering the cloud:

1. Are your legal specific applications supported in the cloud?

Attorneys rarely work in one place, making it necessary to access critical business resources online, from any location, on any device. However, legal specific software might be more complex to shift than other programs, especially if your IT partner is not an expert in law firms and their applications. Your firm’s applications must have the proper support, and users should be able to securely access all of the apps’ data.

Look into how well your software can integrate with the cloud, and how much it would cost to move these assets. There might even be some cloud-based tools available that work alongside your current systems. It will be important to ensure that apps in the cloud will receive appropriate updates and will continue to scale according to user needs.

Law Firm Cloud solutions for critical applications_www.afinety.comCloud solutions should support all of your applications.

2. What cloud features are available?

Cloud vendors are constantly stepping up to the plate to improve their offerings by providing more valuable features and security measures for business use. Legal practice leaders verify that the provider has flexible solutions that can be easily provisioned. This means that if there’s higher demand for a feature, it can be spun up right away. These types of plans also often involve pay-for-use models, meaning that organizations only pay for what they use at a given time, rather than a bulk contract.

When looking at the cloud, there are a few major features that should be required. Login portals, two-factor authentication, password protection, back-end improvements and enterprise management can be beneficial for law firm use, according to Above The Law contributor Jeff Bennion. The cloud vendor should regularly release patches and updates to handle evolving threats and improve functionality. Cloud platforms should also have features that improve productivity, enable collaboration and generally streamline operations. Employees can use this functionality to become more efficient and complete tasks.

“Legal professionals must take reasonable steps to minimize the risk to confidential information.”

3. Does the cloud meet ethics and security requirements?

Lawyers are under strict confidentiality agreements regarding client information, making it important to protect it effectively. Being able to access everything associated with a case from one location would be invaluable for law firms, but only if it can comply with industry and federal regulations. Above The Law contributor Bob Ambrogi noted that legal professionals must take reasonable steps to minimize the risk to confidential information, including access control, encryption, data backup and storage options.

Afinety’s cloud platform runs on AWS, the most secure network available and includes the most certifications in the industry, including HIPAA and ISO 27001.  The US Department of Defense as well as other governmental agencies use AWS cloud services due to the high level of security.  In addition, AWS is favored by firms with financial institution clients due to its best in class security features.

Afinety’s record uptime enables lawyers to access their critical data at any time, all from a convenient, protected platform that’s configured to your legal practice’s needs. In addition, the Afinety Cloud Platform features unlimited support to help bolster ethics and security adherence in the cloud.

The cloud is becoming more reliable and protected for business use. As more organizations move their processes online, law firms should ask some key questions before choosing a cloud option. By verifying the cloud solution has the security, features and support you require, you’ll be able to streamline migration. For more information on what to look for in a law firm cloud, contact Afinety today.

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Why The Cheapest Cloud Isn’t Always The Best [Video]

Cheaper Cloud Networks Aren’t Better

One of the cloud’s biggest benefits is that it can save you money on overhead expenses. However, the cheapest cloud isn’t always the best option for your law firm.

While one cloud platform might cost less than others, patterns of use can drive up expenses. Applications require compute and storage resources to run effectively, and user demand can necessitate more of these services. Eventually, cost creep will cause you to lose the savings you gained, and you’ll end up paying more in the end.

Rather than focusing on the cheapest available option, use cloud governance and metrics programs to monitor usage patterns and their direct impact on your bills. This will eliminate any surprises from your services and ensure you’re using them effectively. Stay tuned with Afinety to learn more about your cloud options.

Security Considerations When Moving To The Cloud [Video]

Cyber Security For Law Practices On The Cloud

Law firms are increasingly looking to move to the cloud to reap its benefits and improve operations. While this technology has competitive advantages, legal practices must factor in protection capabilities. There are a few security considerations lawyers should think about when moving to the cloud.

Confidentiality is a major part of legal practices. This means that any client information must be protected according to compliance and security standards to prevent it being compromised in a breach. Encryption, intrusion detection, vulnerability scanning and two-factor authentication can help deter data loss.

Teaming up with a capable cloud provider that understands your industry will help implement the protection and features that your law firm needs. Afinety is well-versed in pain points and compliance needs within the law industry, ensuring your cloud environment will be configured to your team. Stay tuned for more information on the cloud with Afinety.

Why now is the best time to migrate to the cloud [Video]

 

Why Law Firms Are Moving To The Cloud

Cloud adoption was once hindered by security and service concerns, but with technology advancements, the cloud is becoming more viable for businesses. Now is the best time for your organization to migrate to the cloud to reap its benefits and keep up with the competition.

Vendors are helping to expand the use of the cloud by reducing risk and improving resiliency. Cloud vendors offer capabilities that surpass on-premises strategies, including strong security functions, lower cost investments and higher value, making great cases for businesses to go digital.

More business leaders are beginning to realize the benefits of cloud platforms. In fact, 90 percent of polled CIOs are planning to move to the cloud within five years. Stay tuned with Afinety to learn more about how the cloud can improve your operations.

Top 3 Key Performance Indicators For Cloud Value

3 Important Cloud Performance Indicators

The cloud brings a number of benefits for law firms, but how do you know that your setup is being used to its fullest? Moving to the cloud can take considerable time and resources to execute, and it’s essential to ensure that your investment was well-spent. Monitoring cloud usage and behaviors will help make critical decisions for improving workflows and maximizing the technology’s capabilities. There are three key performance indicators that legal practices should watch to measure cloud value:

1. Costs Before vs. After Integration

One of the cloud’s main selling points is the fact that it promises to cut down operating expenses. On-premises management can be pricey for a law firm, as it must find individuals skilled enough to support the technology, not to mention the hardware and software to set up the infrastructure. Moving these functions to a capable cloud provider takes a considerable amount of pressure off of the legal practice.

Law Practice Cloud Costs Cloud costs are a main KPI to monitor.

Your vendor should make all the necessary investments in maintenance and updates for within their cloud, whether it’s just a data center or a true cloud network. CIO contributor David Spark noted that cost differences associated with reduced resources and consolidated data center functions will significantly decrease operating expenses upon migrating to the cloud. Law firms should monitor bills before and after integration to determine cloud value and how much it’s saving them.

2. Improved User Experience

Cloud solutions should be directly beneficial for workers who are using the platform. Law firm staff members are increasingly seeking to use mobile devices and work in locations outside of the office. This means providing access to business resources when meeting clients, in court and other areas. According to Sparity, mobile users are five times more likely to abandon tasks if the resource isn’t optimized for their device. In addition, 83 percent of respondents note that a seamless experience across devices is important to them.

With support from the cloud, firms can easily provision features and support resources digitally. Lawyers no longer have to walk around with arms full of case files, but can simply access these documents safely and securely through their cloud portal. This not only saves on paper usage, but also provides employees with the flexibility that they demand with mobile devices. Legal practices should track user experience through productivity metrics and behaviors. If a staff member shows higher throughput after migration, the cloud could be a direct driver of this change.

“Legal practices can capture new leads, share outcomes and define next steps”

3. Speed For Response And Development

Faster time to market and quicker issue response times are major benefits that law firms can measure upon transitioning to the cloud. When an issue comes up, it can take a long time to research and fix it manually, particularly when physical files or servers are involved. With the cloud, legal practices can instantly capture new leads, share outcomes and define next steps, Spark stated. These firms should also establish a KPI for the average time between a bug report and solution deployment. The cloud can provide a 30 to 80 percent increase in IT responsiveness for these instances.

Law firms will also want to take into account how long it takes to develop and provision applications on their networks. This KPI will evaluate not only that the practice is establishing something that enriches customer experience, but also is being done quickly enough to benefit the bottom line.

Cloud computing is an investment, and it’s important for law firms to ensure that they are making the most of it. By monitoring KPIs associated with provisioning speed, user experience and costs, legal practices can gauge the value of their cloud setup. Contact Afinety today to learn more about how the cloud can work for your law firm and how to track its value.

Why Cloud Should Be Part Of Your Mobile Strategy

 

Legal practice staff members rarely work in only one location. Lawyers might meet up with partners, consult clients and go to court, leaving behind the desktop at the office. Traditionally, lawyers would be required to carry stacks of files with them pertaining to each case, making it easy for these documents to be forgotten, lost or stolen somewhere along the way.

Mobile devices were introduced as a means to provide flexibility, but this hardware alone isn’t enough. Cloud platforms make up for necessary functionality within mobile initiatives. Let’s take a closer look into why the cloud should be part of your mobile strategy:

1. Greater accessibility for business resources

Mobile devices alone can’t guarantee access to necessary information, particularly if it’s only stored on a desktop. CIO noted that the cloud ensures that lawyers have a resource platform wherever it might be required. Paired with a robust mobile strategy, users can have access everywhere possible, solving challenges of scale, platform support and updating. Cloud and mobile technologies provide greater value when used together and actively rely upon each other to produce benefits.

Mobile devices and cloud enable lawyers to access resources from anywhere_AfinetyMobile devices and cloud enable lawyers to access resources from anywhere.

When integrating these tools, legal practices must gauge employee operation requirements. Mobile needs will largely guide cloud strategy to serve as an enabler to stay connected and engaged. Ensure that mobile apps will work even with poor connectivity to provide true anywhere, anytime accessibility.

2. Better security through centralized management

In bring-your-own-device environments, maintaining governance is a considerable challenge for many businesses. Without being able to manage mobile hardware, it’s uncertain that users will follow data best practices, download appropriate applications, regularly update systems and use security capabilities. Wrangling all of the potential devices and enforcing BYOD policies have posed significant problems for organizations, particularly in heavily regulated fields.

The cloud solves a large number of these issues by offering centralized management for security, data access, computation and storage. Computerworld contributor Bill Claybrook noted that with the cloud, organizations can rely on security of the mobile device to get to the app, but will need to authenticate against the back-end system in the cloud to view critical data. This will ensure that even if a phone is lost or stolen, malicious parties can’t access business resources or information.

“Look for cloud providers with uptime records of 99.999% and 24/7/365 monitoring.”

3. Improved recovery strategies

Mobile devices could be a key part of bolstering disaster recovery strategies. If the office, your desktop or critical files are inaccessible, mobile hardware can easily allow work to continue, provided the information has been backed up. The cloud acts as a centralized storage platform that regularly syncs with essential documents. This ensures that the most recent versions are available to continue operations and reduce downtime.

With a capable cloud provider, law firms can quickly recover during disaster situations. ITProPortal contributor Kevin Scott-Cowell noted that cloud vendors keep systems up and running, enabling you to go through your normal operations. Look for uptime records of 99.999 percent and 24/7/365 monitoring to quickly catch and address issues before they cause damage. If something happens on your end, the cloud vendor is available to guide you and restore critical systems as fast as possible.

Mobile initiatives are critical to bolstering law firm capabilities, but the cloud adds extra necessary functionality. The cloud will enable greater accessibility, improved security and better recovery options across mobile hardware. These features will significantly benefit lawyers as they look to operate in more places and view critical documents on their devices. For more information on how law firms can take advantage of the cloud in their mobile strategies, contact Afinety today.

How The Cloud Can Boost Your Disaster Recovery Plan [Video]

 

Increase Disaster Recovery Rate For Law Practices

More organizations are creating formal disaster recovery plans to ensure business continuity and minimize downtime during emergencies. Implementing cloud technology as part of this strategy can boost your disaster recovery efforts and yield significant benefits.

Reliability is the number one priority when choosing a disaster recovery solution. Cost and speed of recovery are also critical considerations. The cloud takes care of these needs with accessibility on any device and pay-per-usage plans.

Cloud solutions ensure that if your office or hardware is inaccessible, important files can still be accessed. Organizations can also use the cloud as a backup and archive tool. If data is lost or corrupted, it can be easily restored from saved online versions. For more information on how the cloud can boost your disaster recovery plan, stay tuned with Afinety.

Productivity Benefits Gained From The Cloud [Video]

 

Afinety Demonstrates Cloud Law Firm Productivity

Cloud environments bring considerable advantages, but the productivity benefits from using this technology might be the most significant. There are a number of productivity benefits that you can expect by embracing the cloud.

Investing in a tool like the cloud enables workers to access relevant files anytime, anywhere, increasing productivity as much as 400 percent. Nearly three-quarters of businesses noted that the cloud gives them a competitive advantage due to its flexibility to capitalize on opportunities more quickly.

Cloud users have seen real productivity improvement results. In fact, 59 percent of organizations using the cloud are more likely to see productivity benefits like better flexibility and efficiency. To learn more about how the cloud can bring productivity benefits to your law firm, contact Afinety today.

How law firms can use cloud to drive IT transformation

 

Legacy operations are no longer viable as organizations strive to keep up with customer demands and competing businesses. While tried-and-true systems might offer a familiar pattern, they are becoming much harder and more costly to maintain and support. Current solutions also might not have the necessary features or capabilities for scaling and performing effectively in the future.

Organization leaders must take action to transform their IT infrastructure into a system that will meet long-term goals. Cloud computing, in particular, will be a key piece of making this effort a reality. There are a few ways that law firms can leverage the cloud to drive IT transformation:

“A strategic partner understands your industry and how cloud technology can solve your pain points.”

1. Use the provider as a strategic partner

Your cloud provider should take on the role as a strategic partner that understands your industry and how cloud technology can solve your pain points. A recent study by 451 Research revealed that 80 percent of organizations will require moderate or significant transformations to their IT environments within the next five years to keep pace with business requirements. As a result, many businesses have increased spending in cloud technology, and 22 percent have adopted a cloud-first approach.

With this much investment and focus on cloud-based solutions, you must ensure that your provider is by your side as a strategic partner. A capable vendor will position infrastructure and technological innovation alongside meeting business requirements. This includes meeting delivery expectations for uptime, security and technical expertise. With a strategic cloud partner, law firms can leverage the technology to drive IT transformation and yield benefits.

2. Enable mobile through cloud accessibility

Traditionally, legal practices have managed cases through a system of physical file folders. The problem is, lawyers don’t just operate out of an office – they go to the courthouse, meet clients and do other fieldwork. Files can easily get lost during transport or might be forgotten in the office. Lawyers then don’t have the necessary information for their case, leaving them unprepared. Clients expect lawyers to give the best advice possible, but lawyers require easy file access in order to make informed decisions.

The cloud’s biggest advantage is arguably its ability to be accessed from anywhere on any device. This means that lawyers can view necessary files on their computer and then have that same information accessible on their mobile phone or tablet when they go into court. As caseloads get bigger and more complex, digital versions also will cut down on the paper and keep all relevant documents in the same place, Digitalist Magazine stated.

Afinety Cloud Platform will enable mobile functionality for law firms.Cloud will enable mobile functionality for law firms.

3. Ensure disaster recovery capabilities

Law firms host a significant amount of sensitive data in physical and digital forms. What happens if this information is inaccessible, corrupted or stolen? Disasters come in a number of forms and it will be important to ensure that all data is backed up effectively to minimize downtime and resume operations within your law firm.

Cloud technology is a great addition to business continuity and disaster recovery strategies. Changes to files are seamlessly synced with cloud versions to ensure that you have the most updated information. However, industry regulations will dictate how this data must be protected. You must ensure that data is securely transferred and stored and identify how users are authenticated, TechTarget stated. If possible, two-factor authentication should be implemented to keep sensitive information safe.  The Afinety Cloud Platform offers Multi-Factor authentication for added protection and security.

Law firms can utilize cloud to innovate their IT infrastructure. The disaster recovery capabilities, mobile functionality and strategic presence of a cloud vendor will help legal practices optimize performance and better serve their clients.

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3 ways to take advantage of ProLaw (Video)

Is your practice management system limiting your law firm? ProLaw offers major benefits and improves on current processes. Legal teams can take advantage of ProLaw in three main ways.

First, they can use it to streamline their workflow. Customized reports offer critical analysis on revenues and transactions. Secondly, Afinety is fully certified ProLaw partner, offering consultation, training and support. We help ensure ledger reconciliation and advanced reporting capabilities for these environments.

Lastly, ProLaw can run from the Afinety Cloud Platform, enabling a safe and reliable way to access your system from any connected device. For more information on how you can leverage ProLaw, contact Afinety today.