Law Firms and the Cloud: What MSPs Can Learn From the ABA Survey (Part One)

Tactics Benefits-of-Legal-Solutions-in-the-CloudWe’ve said a lot over the past few months about cloud computing in a number of verticals, but not much about the professional services sub-vertical known as law firms. That is, until now. The American Bar Association (ABA) 2016 Legal Technology Survey Report is out, and there’s a lot that MSPs that offer cloud-based services in this arena—or want to—can learn from the findings in the document’s cloud chapter.

Lesson One: Cloud is the Rule in Some Firms (But Trepidations Remain)

Seventy-four percent of law firms that utilize cloud services are willing to continue doing so, the report reveals. Only four percent of respondents fell into the “no” category, with 22 percent in the “maybe” category. Law firms that have not jumped on the cloud bandwagon cited as rationales security and confidentiality concerns, concern about loss of data control, previous bad experiences with the cloud, perceived inadequacy of current software, cost, and lack of perceived need. MSPs can use some of the other lessons in this and our next blog entry to turn the negative tide.

Lesson Two: There’s An Additional Audience Out There

Admittedly, quite a number of respondents that don’t use cloud services—42 percent, to be exact—said they would not do so in the next year. However, 31 percent stated that they may do so, and the remainder responded, “Yes, sometime,” down from a respective 46 percent and 36 percent in 2015. So there’s even more of a law firm audience into which MSPs can potentially tap, and that piece of the pie may be getting bigger.

Lesson Three: Many Benefits Resonate

Law firms and lawyers see a multitude of benefits to cloud computing. MSPs can and should tout these benefits to prospects, pointing out that these advantages are being afforded to their colleagues. “Anytime, anywhere” access to files and other data ranked as the most significant perceived benefit of cloud computing for lawyers. Other benefits that seem to resonate—all of which were cited by nearly half, if not more, of firms queried for the report—encompass low cost of entry, predictable monthly expenses, the ability to eliminate IT and software management requirements, and quick start-up times.

Interestingly, just 32 percent of attorneys queried said they believe cloud services offer better data security than they can provide internally—which is obviously a misconception. So when selling law firms on the benefits of cloud services, talk up data center security procedures and how they are far more airtight than those that can be followed in most, if not all law offices.

Lesson Four: Firms are Bullish on Functionality

What type of core functionality do attorneys and law firms want from cloud services—and by extension, what functionality should MSPs be sure to emphasize in a move to sell these services to new and existing clients? Continuing a pattern of recent years, time and billing functionality topped the list, with 59 percent of users deeming it a “must-have.” A respective 56 percent, 55 percent, and 53 percent of respondents to the ABA survey named case and matter management, scheduling and calendaring functionality, and document management to the list, up all slightly from 2015.

These are the first four lessons we can take away from this year’s report. See our next blog for the others—and brace yourself for some scary stuff.