Attorneys have unique needs for the storage of information while needing to access data on clients and cases from remote locations. That’s why cloud computing has become such a popular option for lawyers. However, the value of cloud computing needs to be tempered with concerns about security and privacy.
Below is your 2019 introductory guide to cloud computing for lawyers.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is web-based, off-site storage of software and data, and is often referred to as software as a service (SaaS). It allows for access to files and software applications from most mobile devices if there’s an available internet connection.
Among some of the most popular commercial cloud-based storage solutions are Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and iCloud. Some of these services are provided for free and others charge a nominal monthly or annual fee, usually based on the amount of storage required. Housing applications in the cloud usually is best done via a managed IT services provider that can configure and monitor the solution on your behalf.
What Are the Advantages to Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing helps busy attorneys stay connected to information critical to their work. Here’s a closer look at some of the core benefits of cloud computing for lawyers:
How Is Information Secured in Cloud Computing?
Keeping information protected is a moral and legal obligation for attorneys. With cloud computing, you have added security functions and peace of mind.
Lawyers are obligated to provide “reasonable care” to prevent unauthorized disclosures or access to information. However, states have different definitions of “reasonable care” but generally include the following:
Cloud security features can ensure that data is encrypted while in transit or at rest, access is limited and suspicious activity is detected, quarantined and addressed before any serious damage occurs. Some law firms need to meet mandated guidelines for work with government agencies like the Department of Defense or the Central Intelligence Agency. In such cases, cloud security solutions are available that address those mandates through threat detection, machine learning and automated monitoring of data and applications.
What Are the Ethical Concerns Regarding Cloud Computing for Lawyers?
U.S. state ethics commissions have ruled that cloud computing is ethical, as long as the “reasonable steps” and conditions are met. According to a recent article by the American Bar Association, the Iowa Committee on Practice Ethics and Guidelines issued suggested questions attorneys should ask themselves and service providers:
Attorneys can gain considerable benefits with a cloud computing solution. Knowing the benefits, security provisions and due diligence to be done will help attorneys make an informed decision that keeps information accessible and safe.