Why Law Firms Must Embrace ‘The Cloud’
In analysis / By Nasstar Marketing / 29 June 2016
There is a huge dichotomy between the typical law firm IT Director struggling to ‘keep the lights on’, commissioning more and more storage as the demand for data grows exponentially while under pressure to justify spend by managing partners determined to get better value for money, and industry commentators predicting an imminent shift in the role of lawyers driven by the adoption of AI, cognitive computing and other new technologies.
Neither position in isolation is wrong. Law firms must have reliable and secure infrastructures on which to run their personal productivity and business applications, while it is clear that new technologies like Ravn ACE must be exploited in order to develop the industry and meet the demands of law firm clients.
So how do we bridge the gap and shift the focus of IT departments ‘180 degrees’, away from being internally focused, to one that is market facing constantly seeking to add business value through technology, while still maintaining reliable and secure IT infrastructures?
Firstly, recognising the capability of technology is only half the story, “lawyers could be replaced by robots” is an unhelpful headline – it simply reduces the debate to a series of ‘soundbites’. Secondly, it has to be understood that IT budgets are finite and throwing money at the issue isn’t desirable or sustainable.
For most firms the investment in technology infrastructure is a continuous process, often with large-scale re- investments every 3-5 years.
This has a number of consequences:
• unless drastic action is taken the trend of operational IT costs only go one way – up
• the cost of IT investment is fixed, and doesn’t flex as the firm changes shape
As a result law firm IT departments typically spend their time focusing on keeping the lights on, with around 80% of spend and 85% of resources concentrated in operational activities. This means that only 15% – 20% of the focus of an IT function is directed towards activities that will exploit technology to generate business value.
This is a fundamental reason why law firms struggle to achieve real innovation through technology.
Cloud based IT services offer the opportunity for IT departments to fundamentally change the above model and shift the focus of their teams to where their firms want it to be – finding ways for IT to make their lawyers more productive.
By adopting a cloud approach and accepting that infrastructure is commodity and can be delivered as a utility, more IT resources can be allocated to creating business value, understanding business need, and aligning IT to legal requirements.
Instead of being experts in servers, operating systems, storage and email, the IT department can become experts in the way lawyers need and want to work.
Utility delivered secure and reliable infrastructure The critical point to recognise is that cloud computing will enable this re-focus while reducing the cost of IT infrastructure, improving the quality and enhancing security. Until law firm leaders embrace the opportunities offered by cloud computing it seems inevitable that the more radical promises of new technology will continue to fail to materialise.