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Want to Threaten Big Law? Work in the Cloud

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Author: Thomson Reuters

Small firms have never been better positioned to threaten big law and you can thank the cloud.

Consider Roeder Smith Jadin, a Minneapolis-based firm focusing on litigation, real estate, construction, insurance, and community association issues. In just three years, they have quadrupled their size thanks to making their office virtual.

“I can access the entirety of my office from anywhere, and that gives my clients more accessibility to me and ultimately drives down the costs,” says partner Alex Jadin. “When you’re efficient at your work, you’re ultimately saving that client money by spending less time getting the same amount of work done.”

The cloud drives opportunity by allowing lawyers to:

  • Work from anywhere there’s internet access; cloud-based storage ensures the files they need are at their fingertips. Instead of putting in long hours at the office, they can use every second of their day more efficiently by working any time from anywhere there’s internet access like at their home or the courthouse. They can easily read, download, upload, edit and save documents and files from their smartphone, tablet or computer, without having to connect to a virtual private network.
  • Stay connected with others in their firm. Cloud-based practice management software makes collaboration a breeze. This software makes it easy to edit and share document revisions and assign tasks to other staff at the firm which spares lawyers the tedium of sending multiple emails, and manually tracking drafts and edits.  It also updates calendars real time so everyone at the firm is on the same page.
  • More easily take on new clients. When new opportunities arise, small law firms don’t have to invest in additional physical infrastructure. Instead, they take advantage of cloud-based legal practice management software that allows them to do more in less time through automating tasks like:
    • Billing and expenses – Every minute can be instantly tracked even from a smartphone. Cloud-based billing can automatically generate and send detailed invoices, or run financial performance reports ranging from time by matter to expense by matter to accounts receivable.
    • Calculating deadlines – Automated calendaring alerts them when they need to act, and prevents them from overlooking or miscalculating legal deadlines.
  • Keep up with jurisdictions that are moving to paperless courtrooms. In fact, some are already there. Consider the Massachusetts Small Claims Court in Orleans, which has been paperless since July 2016. Clerk-Magistrate Marion Broidrick explains the digitalization makes people feel more comfortable “because they see I have all the information related to their case.”
  • Save money. Going paperless decreases file storage and upkeep costs, including personnel to organize and retrieve them. Cloud-based legal practice management solutions index documents so they can be found in, literally, a click.
  • Adhere to ABA ethics mandates. This May, the ABA’s Committee on Ethics and Legal Responsibility issued an opinion which states, in essence, that it’s unethical when law firms do not take reasonable measures to protect client information from hackers. However, they don’t precisely define what those measures are, they just ask lawyers to consider them on a case by case basis. That’s why smart law firms now use law practice management software, like Firm Central, to take advantage of the same stringent security measures as global banks and brokerages. Secure law practice management software provides:
  • Secure portals used specifically for client communication. Instead of sending information to a client’s Gmail account, for instance, the portal is used instead by attorneys and clients to communicate, upload documents, and complete, review or leave comments on existing ones.
  • State-of-the-art technology and cloud security standards to keep information safe, confidential, and accessible.

This gives small law firms the same access to the very best IT security of Big Law.

Want to find out about how a virtual office can benefit your practice? Take a minute to check out Mobile in Practice: The Benefits of a Virtual Law Firm.

  • I think these types of “cloud” services will soon lead to another type of “big law.” It would be relatively easy for an attorney to open offices that handle simple uncontested/transactional matters in all fifty states. These practices could handle things such as uncontested divorces, drafting stipulations and orders in family matters, drafting simple wills, etc. I expect to see a firm, that looks similar to HR Block, handling these issues on a large scale throughout the US due to advancements in technology.

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