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TechReport 2020: Cloud Computing


The largest story within the 2020 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report isn’t a lot the 2020 outcomes. It’s the not-yet-written story of the 2021 outcomes as we see the impression of COVID-19 and “work from home” on the way in which the authorized career works.

The 2020 outcomes are primarily based on pre-COVID data. They promise to be very attention-grabbing as a historic doc and a baseline.

Nonetheless, there’s much to be taught from the 2020 outcomes and what they inform us about find out how to transfer ahead into an period that, in each a part of the authorized system, guarantees to be way more cloud-intensive within the close to future than it’s now. Were you desirous about Zoom conferences and on-line courtroom hearings in January 2020?

The Cloud: Background

What is the cloud? The phrases “cloud” and “cloud computing” have change into way more acquainted to attorneys in the previous few years, however there can nonetheless be some confusion about definitions and acronyms. In the enterprise IT world, you will discover public, non-public, and hybrid clouds, and plenty of flavors of “as a service”: software program (SaaS), infrastructure (IaaS), and platform (PaaS), to call the three most typical.

To preserve it easy, the 2020 Survey has centered on the fundamental idea of a “web-based software service or solution,” together with Software as a Service (SaaS). In sensible phrases, you possibly can perceive cloud computing as software program or providers that may be accessed and used over the internet utilizing a browser (or, generally now, a cell app), what place the software program itself isn’t put in regionally on the pc being utilized by the lawyer accessing the service. Your knowledge are additionally processed and saved on distant servers reasonably than on native computing systems and laborious drives. Cloud functions may also be known as “web services” or “hosted services.”

Cloud providers may be hosted by a 3rd celebration (mostly, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure platforms) or, extra generally within the authorized career, by a supplier working its providers on Amazon, Microsoft, or one other cloud platform. It’s additionally potential, although unlikely, {that a} legislation agency might host and supply its own non-public cloud providers.

The cloud approach has change into fairly in style within the enterprise world (e.g., Salesforce.com, BaseCamp, Microsoft 365, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Slack) and for people (e.g., Dropbox, Gmail, and Evernote). There are additionally a rising variety of legal-specific cloud providers, similar to Clio, Rocket Matter, NetDocuments, Practice Panther, MyCase, TimeSolv, and plenty of extra.

Many folks additionally use cloud functions day by day of their private lives, from Gmail to Dropbox to Netflix. According to a report by Skyhigh Networks, the typical variety of cloud functions utilized by every worker in giant enterprise enterprises has been estimated at 36 apps.

In the authorized career, it’s nonetheless a much completely different story. Legal is a lagging trade in cloud use. In 2020, the reported use stayed flat. However, that’s not the large story. In 2020, the poor, and worsening, cybersecurity approaches attorneys are taking to using cloud functions continued to be the important thing take-away from the 2020 Survey. It’s troublesome to reconcile the moral responsibility of expertise competence with the reported behaviors.

The 2020 Survey outcomes once more show attorneys nonetheless utilizing the cloud much lower than the remainder of the enterprise world. The 2020 Survey stories that cloud utilization (pre-COVID-19) stayed flat at 59%. Those saying they don’t use any cloud providers dropped barely–from 31% to 28%. The “don’t know” class became greater barely to 14%. In a shocking “flip” from final yr, bigger companies took the lead in cloud adoption, with the bottom reported adoption in solo companies (52%, down from 60%). Solos and small companies topped the checklist beforehand within the 2019 Survey.

The 2020 Survey highlights a significant concern that, whereas attorneys speak the speak about safety considerations in cloud computing, to a surprising diploma they don’t stroll the stroll. As I emphasised final yr, the poor ends in the cybersecurity class must be a significant concern for the authorized career. If you’re taking just one factor from this TechReport so as to add to your 2020 expertise agenda, it must be to up your game on cloud safety, on your sake and, much more so, for the sake of your purchasers.

The key cloud computing advantages have remained fixed through the years. Lawyers and legislation companies see the cloud as a quick and scalable manner to make use of higher level authorized expertise instruments with out the necessity for a considerable upfront capital funding in parts, software program, and help providers. Cloud providers are usually made obtainable within the type of a “subscription,” with a periodic charge (sometimes month-to-month or yearly) per person.

A well-liked instance of a cloud service is Dropbox, a cloud service for file storage and sharing, that 67% of attorneys reported that they’re already utilizing. That makes Dropbox probably the most commonly-used cloud providers for attorneys by a substantial margin. In reality, 5 occasions as many respondents used Dropbox as the preferred legal-specific cloud instrument.

The customary Dropbox enterprise account presently begins at $150 per yr for 3 customers. Microsoft 365 for enterprise now begins at $5 per person per 30 days or $12.50 per person per 30 days for Business Premium. Many conventional software program suppliers have moved to cloud fashions and provide hosted variations of their merchandise, becoming a member of many firms that focus solely on the cloud. The EXPO Hall at ABA TECHSHOW 2020 once more had a noticeable improve within the variety of exhibitors with cloud merchandise over prior years.

Despite the sluggish progress and wariness of attorneys, cloud computing seems to be transferring towards turning into a normal approach in authorized expertise, with greater than half now utilizing cloud providers, even earlier than the modifications introduced on by COVID-19.

Survey Highlights

  • Cybersecurity has handed the disaster level in attorneys’ use of cloud providers within the COVID-19 world. The 2020 (pre-COVID-19) survey outcomes confirmed additional slippage within the already lax compliance of attorneys with even probably the most primary cybersecurity practices. Although attorneys say that confidentiality, safety, knowledge management and possession, ethics, vendor fame and longevity, and different considerations weigh closely on their minds, the employment of precautionary safety measures is kind of low. No greater than 31% (down from 35%) of respondents had been taking any one of many particular customary cautionary cybersecurity measures listed within the 2020 Survey query on this matter. Eleven p.c of respondents (up from 7% in 2019) reported taking none of the safety precautions of the kinds listed. Only 45% of respondents report that the adoption of cloud computing resulted in modifications to inner expertise or safety insurance policies. These are disturbing numbers.
  • Cloud utilization stayed flat from 2019 to 2020 at 58%. In a little bit of a shock, solos and small companies, who historically have led the transfer to the cloud in authorized, dropped to final place as bigger companies moved ahead.
  • Despite some reservations, attorneys continued to make use of in style enterprise cloud providers like Dropbox (67%), Microsoft 365 (49%), iCloud (19%), Microsoft Teams (18%), Box (13%), and Evernote (12%) at increased charges than devoted authorized cloud providers. Clio and NetDocuments ranked the very best among the many legal-specific cloud providers.
  • Lawyers have gotten extra aware of cloud applied sciences and are attracted by anytime, wherever entry, low price of entry, predictable month-to-month bills, and sturdy knowledge backup. Notably, solely 27% point out that cloud providers present the good thing about giving higher safety than they will present on their very own. This confidence in mild of their precise safety practices reinforces the considerations round cybersecurity.
  • Concerns about confidentiality/safety (60%) and lack of management over knowledge lead the “biggest concerns” checklist about cloud providers by a large margin. Almost 94% of attorneys price the fame of the seller as necessary (very, 74%, and considerably, 20%) of their decision-making course of.
  • The 2020 Survey outcomes additionally recommend that client-focus isn’t a driving issue for attorneys utilizing and contemplating using cloud computing. The consideration of shopper wants, expectations, and wishes must be a key goal space for revolutionary attorneys and companies.
  • Only 13% of respondents indicated that they highly anticipated to interchange an current software program instrument with a cloud instrument in 2019. 40% don’t have any plan to take action and 48% don’t know. Again, these are pre-COVID-19 numbers
  •  More than a 3rd of attorneys are at companies with extranets. Extranets are used primarily for agency attorneys (84%) and far much less doubtless for purchasers (33%) or exterior collaboration (23%).

1. Cybersecurity: At a Crisis Point?

Although attorneys have a whole lot of considerations and wariness about cloud providers, particularly safety, confidentiality, and management points, their reported habits about precautionary measures merely doesn’t mirror what they specific their degree of concern to be. In reality, the outcomes are surprising and mirror little, if any, sure motion prior to now yr and even prior to now few years. The lack of effort on safety has change into a significant trigger for concern within the career.

Of 13 customary precautionary safety measures listed within the 2020 Survey, solely 31% of the respondents, down from 35%, employed the measure mostly used (utilizing safe socket layers aka SSL). The subsequent most widely-employed precaution was making native knowledge backups (30%, up from 27% in 2018). Given the emphasis on knowledge privateness in 2020 due to the European Union GDPR, California, and different knowledge privateness laws, the lower from 28% to 27% of respondents reviewing vendor privateness insurance policies is alarming. Only 27% reviewed moral guidelines and opinions on cloud computing and simply 24% reported that they reviewed phrases of service. Would attorneys advocate that their purchasers take these approaches?

The numbers solely worsen from there.

Twenty-five p.c sought recommendation from friends and solely 21% evaluated vendor firm historical past, regardless of the said significance of vendor fame (94%) in deciding on distributors.

At the very backside of the outcomes are issues that attorneys ought to do fairly well. A mere 9% (up from 4%) negotiated confidentiality agreements in reference to cloud providers, and, in subsequent to final place, solely a surprising 5% negotiated service authorized agreements (SLAs). If safety and confidentiality are attorneys’ largest considerations about cloud computing, does this habits make any sense? What questions does this elevate about assembly expertise competence moral necessities?

2. Usage Numbers

The proportion of the 2020 Survey individuals answering “yes” to the fundamental query of whether or not they had used web-based software program providers or options stayed flat at 59%. 28% stated “no,” a small lower. “Don’t know” responses made up the opposite 14%. In a change from earlier years, companies with 500+ attorneys (66%) and 50-99 attorneys (65%) said they’d used web-based software program for law-related duties. Solos had been final when it comes to use at 52% (down from 59%). However, these general outcomes may be complicated given solutions to different questions, suggesting the chance that precise utilization may be increased than the reported utilization. For instance, many cell apps are additionally primarily front-ends for cloud providers. Many attorneys who don’t assume that they’re utilizing the cloud might in truth be utilizing it daily, particularly via cell apps, Again, these numbers characterize pre-COVID-19 outcomes.

3. Consumer Cloud Services More Popular Than Dedicated Legal Services

The 2020 Survey requested respondents what cloud providers they’d used. Dropbox topped the checklist at 67%. Microsoft 365 (previously generally known as Office 365) was in second place at 49%. Other shopper or small enterprise cloud providers additionally remained in style (notably, iCloud at 19%, Microsoft Teams at 18%, Box at 13%, and Evernote at 12%), regardless of a whole lot of dialog about encryption and different safety considerations about shopper cloud providers within the press and amongst attorneys. Zoom was not even on the radar.

Legal-specific cloud providers haven’t reached the identical ranges of recognition as shopper providers. Clio continues to be the preferred authorized cloud service named by respondents (13%), adopted by NetDocuments (11%), and MyCase (5%). These outcomes may mirror each the difficulties attorneys and others have with figuring out what precisely is a cloud service and the became greater variety of authorized cloud service suppliers, particularly within the case administration class. Note that providers that many would take into account “cloud”—WestLaw, LexisNexis, FastCase, to call a number of—don’t show up within the outcomes, besides probably as small parts of the “Other” class (14%).

In the previous few years, the collaboration instrument Slack has change into extraordinarily in style in small companies and expertise firms. As of now, there’s nonetheless no indication of its uptake within the authorized world, though Microsoft Teams, a aggressive product, got here in on the 18% degree.

4. Where is the Client-Focus?

Largely lacking in motion within the outcomes had been purchasers and shopper considerations. Here are a number of numbers to think about. Extranets are in all probability the traditional instance of a safe cloud instrument that may assist purchasers and assist collaborate on initiatives with exterior events; 38% of companies have extranets, 41% don’t, 21% don’t know. The outcomes show that 84% of companies permit entry to their attorneys and 62% to their employees. Access to purchasers, who probably profit probably the most from extranets, was solely supplied by 33%. Collaboration for “friendly” outsiders was permitted by 23%.

5. Cloud Benefits

There was not a whole lot of change within the perceived advantages of cloud computing proven within the 2020 Survey. Anywhere, anytime entry is the largest perceived good thing about cloud computing for attorneys. Low price of entry and predictable month-to-month bills are additionally extremely rated advantages. Other financial advantages, similar to eliminating IT and software program administration necessities and fast start-up occasions are additionally seen as necessary advantages by virtually half of the respondents. Only 27% of attorneys see “better security than I can provide in-office” as a good thing about cloud computing—a putting quantity, particularly to anybody aware of knowledge middle safety procedures as in comparison with customary safety practices in legislation companies.

6. Biggest Lawyer Concerns

Lawyers continued to precise reservations and considerations concerning the cloud. When present cloud customers had been requested to establish their largest considerations, they cited “confidentiality/security concerns” (60%, down from 65%) and considerations a few lack of management over knowledge (46%). Concerns about dropping management over updates (28%) and vendor longevity (24%) had been different important considerations. Only 12% listed shopper considerations about attorneys utilizing the cloud. The modifications from 2019 weren’t important.

There had been comparable considerations amongst these attorneys who’ve but to attempt the cloud. When requested a query concerning the considerations that had prevented them from adopting the cloud, 47% cited confidentiality/safety considerations, 41% cited the lack of management over knowledge, and 28% cited the price of switching. “Unfamiliarity with the technology,” was listed by 34%. Again, the modifications from 2019 weren’t important.

7. Name and Reputation of Cloud Vendor

Ninety-four p.c of respondents utilizing cloud providers thought-about the title and fame of the cloud vendor as both crucial (74%) or considerably necessary (20%) to their resolution. However, solely 21% of respondents reported that they evaluated the seller’s historical past and solely 25% sought out peer recommendation/experiences in reference to the seller. This space is unquestionably one during which attorneys can enhance their due diligence efforts.

8. Replacing Existing Tools with Cloud Services

Even although interest in cloud providers is excessive, the interest doesn’t appear to translate into substantial motion at this level, no less than when it comes to changing current software program instruments. Only 13% of respondents indicated that they highly anticipated to interchange an current software program instrument with a cloud instrument in 2020. Lawyers may be seeking to the cloud just for new instruments or to complement current instruments. They additionally may not be considering of cell apps as cloud instruments. Again, the outcomes mirror pre-COVID-19 solutions. Presumably, using Zoom for on-line conferences has dramatically modified this quantity already in 2020.

9. Internally-focused Extranets

Extranets are the premier instance of a client-facing instrument. Lawyers, maybe satirically, have centered on extranets as inner instruments. Extranets are non-public web sites for which a person—inner or exterior—should have authorization to make use of. A legislation agency extranet could possibly be used to permit a shopper to entry recordsdata or achieve different data on issues. Firms primarily both use a customized answer (38%) or Microsoft SharePoint (38%).

More than a 3rd of attorneys are at companies with extranets. Extranets are used primarily for agency attorneys (84%) and employees (62%), however much much less for purchasers (33%) and outdoors collaborators (23%). These numbers recommend possibilities for attorneys to open up these instruments for purchasers and outdoors collaborators.


The 2020 Legal Technology Survey exhibits that, for a small, however slowly rising, majority of attorneys and companies, cloud providers at the moment are a part of the IT equation. Overall, reported progress in cloud use stayed comparatively flat. However, the persevering with lack of precise consideration to confidentiality, safety, and due diligence points stays a critical and disturbing concern, particularly with the expansion in cell apps working on cloud providers. The outcomes on safety procedures will proceed to gas shopper considerations about their outdoors legislation companies making sufficient efforts on cybersecurity, and the numbers point out that they need to be frightened.

There is way that legislation agency IT departments and expertise committees, authorized expertise distributors and consultants, company legislation departments, purchasers, and all authorized professionals showing interest within the adoption of expertise by attorneys can be taught from these outcomes. They give us much to consider and a few indications what place companies may wish to transfer their expertise methods within the coming yr and past. Applying primary widespread sense, diligence, and became greater consideration to cybersecurity efforts may be the largest lesson to be taught for the upcoming yr. In quick, cloud cybersecurity have to be on the prime of the checklist of questions for purchasers to ask their legislation companies. The present state of cloud safety amongst legislation companies is a prepare wreck ready to occur, particularly given the modifications introduced by responses to COVID-19 and the transfer to working from residence.


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