Even 10 years ago, you could hardly imagine that all of your information could be stored in one place where you can reach it anytime and from any device. Now it is a reality. Cloud solutions services help companies to keep their data in one place where every employee can reach it, no matter where they are located. Cloud-based storage proved especially effective during the pandemic when employees were forced to move their work processes to remote locations away from the office. While being in the different locations, they could work in collaboration and proceed on their tasks with a very few inconveniences.
Legal professionals, who must manage a great scope of information, that, in many cases, is highly confidential to their clients, were the most reluctant to migrate to the cloud. Recently, we spoke with Alicia Pierre, a Google Cloud certified specialist and the founder of the consulting company Legally Techie, to understand why the cloud migration process is important and the best way for law firms to begin their own migration.
Google Cloud certified specialist and
the founder of the consulting company Legally Techie
An introduction to cloud services: What is cloud migration?
‘Cloud services’ refers to the platforms, software, or technologies that store data and make it available to users via the Internet. All of the information stored on cloud technology can be accessed with the Internet and a computer, without requiring any additional application or software to be downloaded and then used. Companies use these cloud services to make work processes more efficient, especially when many employees may not have access to the office and need to be able to proceed with their work remotely.
To no surprise, law firms are one of the last enterprises to take on cloud data migration. Lawyers must manage a great deal of information, from contracts to the client profiles. There is a natural fear that the information stored on a cloud service can be accessed by competitors or the wrong parties. However, with the start of the pandemic and the necessity for remote work, lawyers had to adjust.
I believe that the legal industry was not late, but right on time. The pandemic gave it the push and the reasons it needs to use cloud services. Evermore, they’ve not only seen the benefits of cloud services, but how necessary it is in a time of many uncertainties. For example, when a pandemic or natural disaster strikes, having your data on the cloud allows you to still have things saved. If a natural disaster were to hit your office and your servers are in there, you have the possibility of losing everything. Cloud services can help with disaster recovery, as well. Moreover, it is easier to manage the law firm once it is on cloud, because when your firm expands and gets new employees, having information cloud-based allows you to not only hire outside or remotely, but allows you to do it more efficiently.
Why cloud services are transforming the way lawyers work
Once law firms accepted the idea of cloud migrations, they began to see its many advantages. Alicia explained how it has transformed legal processes.
Cloud services allow cases to move along more efficiently and also promote collaboration. The relationship between a paralegal and attorney requires a lot of back and forth, well cloud allows both to work on a file simultaneously. Also allows annotations and corrections to be saved while you draft a legal document. Also, when you’re in court and you need to quickly check or reference a client’s file, having a cloud based firm allows you to access that information from your device. These are just some of the examples.
The main concern lawyers have about the cloud environments is the security of their information. Cybersecurity is an extremely important aspect of the modern workplace that must be minded properly. However, the use of cloud services is not as unfamiliar to companies as they may think as many lawyers already use them.
Many lawyers are already using cloud services but are not aware of it, (e.g., Google Workspace, DropBox, Clio etc.,). Nonetheless, they doubt how secure cloud services can be, liking the idea of having an inhouse server locked away in a room. The first thing I keep in mind when deciding on a cloud service provider is its reputation. This requires a bit of research to look up the security statistics and reports available for that provider. Check how many different layers of security they can provide to you. When law firms come to me, I present them with the advantages of using cloud services and after they choose to move forward, I present them with the safe cloud migration strategy.
Cloud services you can use
While there are many types of cloud services available on the market, undoubtedly the most popular ones are Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure.
1. Google Cloud
Google provides the cloud service that Alicia chooses to use and recommends to her clients. In 2021, most users chose to work with Google for cloud computing migration, making it the leader in the segment.
I choose to work with Google Workplace because I found it to be lightyears ahead in terms of cloud services and tools. The main advantage of Google Workspace is all the amazing tools you are provided to build a successful virtual law firm.
Advantages of the service
- An important advantage of the Google Cloud is its pricing structure. It is always nice to use a service that provides great quality for an accessible cost.
- Important features of the Google Cloud and Google Workplace where the whole remote work processes that take place are its high adaptability to technical changes. When you use data storage, you want it to be able to take on all the data easily without difficulty.
- Google is dedicated to expanding its services to all locations where clients could use their help and support, without the restraints of distance.
Challenges you may encounter
The main struggle Alicia has found in using Google Workplace is in the beginning of the use of the cloud provider itself.
Many struggle with simply setting up their business Google Workspace account. Once they get their domain with their domain providers, like GoDaddy, then what? Well, website hosting providers, like Squarespace or Wix, do not provide the proper edition of Google Workspace. They do not provide the edition with Shared Drives and Google Vault for eDiscovery. Regarding the firm’s email security, I’ve noticed that their SPF, DKIM and DMARC are not set up. These security steps help prevent spoofing, phishing, and spam. There are many different things that have to be considered and these are only basic security steps you can take.
For those who struggle with accounts, but choose not to have long-time support from us, I provide a step-by-step guide. It covers all starting points, from setting up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to setting up branded URLs for Google Workspace Services.
2. Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon introduced their cloud services in 2004, with more than 1,000,000 users worldwide. It provides different advantages to other available options.
Advantages of the service
- When it comes to security, AWS possesses features that protect user’s sensitive data. AWS has a team of professionals from the security team located in a local data center to take care of the security processes of the cloud.
- AWS distinguishes that its main advantage is its approach to innovation. It is dedicated to aligning with current updates in technology.
- The cloud service contains a lot of information and guides on its website so users can easily set up their accounts.
Challenges you may encounter
It is only natural that the AWS has an educational base on the website for first users. Despite these guides, setting up an account and taking advantage of all the features may be hard when you first start to use it. Using AWS may also be expensive as the monthly costs for support are relatively high.
3. Microsoft Azure
Another one of the three leaders in cloud services is Microsoft. Many companies use its service Microsoft Azure for migration in cloud computing because of the benefits and decades of functionality.
Advantages of the service
- Microsoft endeavours to improve scalability of the service. The company has cloud-centers worldwide that can communicate with clients and provide them support and help.
- Microsoft prioritizes the importance of disaster recovery and dedicates resources to improve this process.
- While using Microsoft Azure, you can use its data analytics feature and access your data performance.
Challenges you may encounter
No wonder that Microsoft Azure puts many efforts into scalability, because so many users are registered for the service that it is struggling to support all of them. Even in 2021 there were reports that the service was down for some users, therefore it is important to do your research before making a decision to use it.
Technology projects innovation to all of the industries and it is hard to resist. Hard and, also, unnecessary. You will hardly find a...
How to move your data to cloud
Cloud computing migration is not an easy process so you should consider all the necessary steps and have a clear strategy. We asked Alicia for her advice and how she explains cloud migration strategies to her clients.
My strategy is very similar to moving into a new house. Most homes are already divided into a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and so forth. So, when you move your data into a new environment, I advise having it already organized into which Shared Drives or folders the data belongs in. Data dumping when migrating is not efficient and may lead to a data leak.
Apart from organization, setting up the accounts, and understanding the service’s features, it is important to mind the security of the data. Lawyers are not the only people that approach cybersecurity as the last thing to be concerned with.
Our mind can only pay attention to so much at one time. Sadly, it is mainly when something bad happens is when attention is drawn and awareness is made. It is absolutely necessary to have a cybersecurity strategy and plan in place prior to a potential hack attack or data breach. So it isn’t if it will happen but when, so investing in your security strategy allows you to be proactive and not reactive.
We also asked Alicia for her advice on how to include security in your cloud migration planning.
The first thing we have to consider is what data is at risk and how we want to protect it. I love to see when firms have a policy in place for data security or access control. Once a policy is in place, we can implement the guidelines and enforce the security measures within the Google Workplace. We have to take into consideration who is at risk, what is at risk, and how high of a risk they are. It takes time but it is worth it because it is a lot easier to alter a policy or plan than trying to recover data loss.
Cloud migration is an inevitable process that many companies still have to undertake to be up to date with technological development. However, it is not only the process that will put you at the technological forefront, it will also make your work processes easier and faster. Overall you will find out how useful it is to have all your information accessible in one place. As Alicia explained, the most important thing is to have a strategy and understand how to set up your work in the right way, and you will most certainly succeed.