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This Is What Happens When You Scare Solo and Small Firm Lawyers Away From the Cloud

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Many solo and small firm lawyers are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, reports the New York Law Journal.  Power outages of a week or more, left many solo and small firm lawyers unable to access files or communicate with the court.  What’s most unfortunate, is that the after effects of the storm could have been avoided if bar associations had encouraged – even compelled lawyers – to transfer files to cloud-based servers instead of frightening them away.  At least three of the solos quoted in the article weren’t able to get into their buildings to get client files.  Had those files been online, lawyers could have plugged in at a local library or Starbucks (I know, the horror!) and accessed information for clients.  Or they could have had a colleague or contract lawyer located in a jurisdiction unaffected by the outages to check on the files and contact clients.  The article adds that the courts were not entirely sympathetic to solos who couldn’t make it to court prepared, noting that other lawyers hadn’t been affected. As a result, solos who couldn’t keep pace come across as incompetent and unprofessional.

Sure, data breaches are scary. But as I’ve emphasized repeatedly, no documents are 100 percent safe.  What’s scarier is that clients’ cases were compromised because their lawyers didn’t have the tools in place to ensure continuity during severe weather conditions.

Running man photo courtesy of Shutterstock

  • Perhaps, but remember, their files have to be in digital form to upload in the first place.  Your argument assumes a fact not yet established.  Are lawyers avoiding cloud storage because the bar associations are being overly cautious?  Or are they avoiding them because they would have to digitize their practices and learn to work in a whole new non-paper based way? 

    All of the folks in the mentioned article appeared to still have a paper-based practice.  So their ability to practice law was tied to their ability to physically touch the one paper copy of the file that they have. 

    If their documents were digital, they may not have even needed the cloud at all.  They could have just put a copy of the digital file on a thumb drive or laptop and taken it with them somewhere else (where there was a computer and power).  Not internet connection necessary.

  • myshingle

    Good point. I assume that most documents generated for a case at this point are in digital format. But, I think that bard have been very slow to promote the benefits of digitizing, the biggest benefit of which in my view is mobility which in turn is enabled by the cloud. So while I dont think that the bars are telling people not to digitize because of the cloud, the lack of appreciation of the cloud’s benefits as well as the fears has made digitizing a lower priority

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