There are so many benefits of cloud computing for small law firms and solo practitioners. Trust me, I know from experience. My family law firm transitioned to the cloud in 2016, and we have never looked back.
The term “cloud computing” has a wide and broad breadth. Technically, your Gmail account is a form of cloud computing because you work on a remote server or network hosted on the Internet. This network (or remote server) offers the advantage of minimal to no equipment at your location so that you can process your data, store it, keep it secure, and manage it however you wish with ease.
Is cloud computing another example of too much, unnecessary technology? (If you’ve ever asked this question, you were probably born around the same year as I was.) I suppose we can all give up our smart phones, laptops, and tablets, and we can stop texting and return to using typewriters. However, the reality is none of us want to do that. When I think of technology as a potential asset, I think of two things: Will it allow me to do what I do better? Faster? Or both? When you are done reading this article, ask yourself those same questions.
So let’s look at why cloud computing is so great for your firm:
Benefit #1: Say “Goodbye” to servers and your IT person.
You know that server you have in your office, the big one that is loud, has many wires attached to it and seems to go down at the most inopportune times? Imagine it’s gone and you never need it again. Oh yeah, and that IT person to whom you pay thousands of dollars every year to fix the server when it crashes and to update your various licenses for the programs you use? Say “Goodbye” to him or her too.
Cloud computing means you hopefully no longer need a server to store and manage your data. You use your cloud provider’s server to do so. Typically, you are buying space on a massive server shared by others. How much space you need is, of course, dependent on your practice.
Benefit #2: A ton of storage.
You will outgrow your server if your practice continues to grow. You will simply run out of storage space on it. In addition, your server will probably be obsolete after a few years as technology improves. All that adds up to getting rid of the old server, migrating information from it to the new server, and thousands of dollars you may pay for your new server.
With cloud computing, you do not have to worry about running out of storage because you pay for the storage you need. For a small or solo practice, it is doubtful you need much. But with a quality cloud provider, the moment you need more gigabytes of this or that, your provider should be able to upgrade you. While cost does vary, our experience is upgrading storage capacity comes at a minimal cost, if any.
Benefit #3: Remote access.
I remember a time that I had to go into the office if I wanted to get work done. Back then, I used to long for the day where I could sit in my living room and work as efficiently as I do sitting at my desk in the office. That day did come, but not until our firm switched to cloud computing.
Now, I can be anywhere and work as if I am sitting in any of our offices scattered around Orange County, California. I move through files and applications just as quickly remotely as I do at the office, and I’m able to communicate just as effectively with my team.
Benefit #4: Cost.
Cloud computing can be very affordable if you’re a small practice. Consider this: The cost will increase for servers, storage, and that IT person as your firm grows. Of course, even with cloud computing, it will become more expensive the more complex your practice gets, the more intricate your security needs become, and the more users you have using the software. However, you’re getting so much more for your money. Plus, practice management software can actually save you time and money.
Benefit #5: Room for growth.
Next to remote access, this may be my favorite benefit of cloud computing. It is so easy to add a user when you hire a new employee and just as easy to remove a user when employment ends. Simply call your cloud provider and give them the updated information, and they do the rest.
So long as you have clear communication with your provider regarding the types of access your new employee will need and have created a checklist for adding and removing employees, there is little to no administrative hassle in the growth process.
So, what is the answer to the question?
Earlier, I wrote: “When I think of technology as a potential asset, I think of two things: Will it allow me to do what I do better? Faster? Or both?” Do your research and then see if you can answer these questions about cloud computing. I certainly know my answer.
B. Robert Farzad is the president of Farzad Family Law, APC, that is based in Orange County, California. He has been a California licensed attorney since June of 1996 and helped grow his multi-attorney and multi-office firm from the ground up. Please note, this article is not intended to be legal advice or any other type of advice.