Getting Law Firms’ Heads Into the Cloud (Part 2)

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The first part of this two-part blog post featured four lessons MSPs can learn from the American Bar Association (ABA) 2016 Legal Technology Survey Report. Here are four more.

Lesson 5: Reservations rule

MSPs should be prepared to address a wealth of reservations about cloud services and their use when approaching law firms that have yet to take the bait. Among survey respondents that do not currently utilize cloud services, 63 percent—compared to 59 percent in 2015—pegged data confidentiality and security concerns as an obstacle to adoption. Fifty-four percent deemed loss of control an obstacle, up from 47 percent in 2015, while 24 percent pointed to a perceived lack of ethics guidance. It seems that a lesson or two in how the cloud and cloud technology work may also take the edge off, as 50 percent of attorneys and law firms queried said “unfamiliarity with the technology” has kept them from embracing the cloud.

Lesson 6: Even the converted have reservations

More attorneys and law firms reported using the cloud in this year’s survey than in last year’s—but that doesn’t mean they don’t have reservations and concerns about the cloud that should be addressed in a move to keep them in the “MSP fold” and sell them more cloud services. What are these concerns? Confidentiality and security concerns, for starters (cited by 72 percent of respondents, up from 69 percent in 2015) and concerns about losing control of data (57 percent of respondents, up from 45 percent in 2015). Concerns about losing access to and ownership of files was ranked as a reservation by 41 percent of respondents (the good news is that this is down from 57 percent last year), as were vendor longevity (27 percent of respondents, down very slightly from 28 percent last year and perceived lack of ethical guidance (24 percent of respondents, up from 23 in 2015).

Lesson 7: Precautionary Measures Appear Largely Off the Radar

Okay, attorneys and law firms have significant concerns about and wariness of cloud services—particularly security, confidentiality, and control. But the scope of precautionary cloud-related measures they’re presently taking doesn’t reflect these concerns.

Of 13 precautionary measures listed in the 2016 survey, the most commonly leveraged measure—reviewing privacy policies—is used by a mere 38 percent of respondents, with no change from 2015. Just 36 percent of respondents utilize only services with SSL/encryption , while 35 percent make local data backups and 30 percent employ cloud services only for non-confidential purposes. A paltry 30 percent of attorneys and law firms participating in the survey said they review terms of service, down from 33 percent who said the same in 2015. Only 29 percent of respondents stated that they review ethics rules and opinions; 25 percent evaluate vendor company history, and 26 percent solicit advice from their peers. All of these numbers decreased from 2015.

As trusted advisors, it’s MSPs’ place to advise that these measures be implemented—along with negotiating confidentiality agreements in connection with cloud services (a measure now practiced by just seven percent of survey respondents) and negotiating service legal agreements (SLAs) with cloud service providers for their own protection (a precaution just two percent of survey respondents take today).

Lesson 8: Everything’s In a Name

Don’t expect attorneys and law firms to embrace just any cloud services vendor or provider: MSPs (and any vendor whose product they endorse) have to have a good name and a good rep. Seventy-four percent of survey respondents that utilize cloud services consider the name and reputation of the cloud vendor to be “very important” (up from 70 percent of respondents in 2015) or “somewhat important” (20 percent of respondents, down from 22 percent of respondents last year) to their decision.

There you have it. MSPs have every reason to pursue cloud service engagements with attorneys and law firms—but heed these lessons when you do.