The ever-widening scope for a modern lawyer to take on new work brings with it a set of challenges that will be unfamiliar to even the most technically adept members of the industry. Staying competitive within the legal sector undoubtedly requires industry knowledge, as well as experience, but getting ahead of the competition may require less obvious skills, such as a proficiency in IT.
In today’s working world of broken barriers between the corporate and the personal, mobile devices – not just phones, but tablets and laptops – present the opportunity for people to be more flexible. However, with this flexibility comes an element of increased risk.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and remote working
The ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policies, which are filtering through corporate environments, have obvious cost reduction benefits. Allowing people to use their own devices means that everyone wins. Your people get to keep the products that they are comfortable with, and you save a small fortune on hardware and phone bills each month.
However, without appropriate device management tools, the policy can do more harm than good. A lost phone which then needs wiping can lead to a tricky decision for a firm, stuck between upsetting an employee by deleting their personal content, or risking the integrity of their own data by leaving a now accessible device out in the wild.
Avoiding the untravelled road
Gartner’s Prediction that 9 in 10 organisations in the legal sector will use cloud solutions by 2018 isn’t so difficult to believe. Apple’s release of the iPhone almost a decade ago was the catalyst for technology’s remarkable journey to being bigger, faster and more capable. In the same way that a phone which serves as a television, a music player, a GPS system and a newspaper, on top of its primary service as a communication channel, was hard to imagine in 2006, law firms embracing a new age of always online, digital working may be daunted by the apparent size of the task. But should this be the case?
Although the uptake of Office 365 and its counterparts is growing exponentially, the legal sector’s understandable wish to be sure of each move they make, and to conduct all the appropriate research into their options, is leaving it falling behind the early adoption curve. Organisations who have moved to the cloud already are overwhelmingly seeing the benefits, with 88% reducing IT costs and 56% seeing direct profit boosts, but the overriding concern for legal companies seems to be cloud security.
Despite almost every organisation that is now partly or fully cloud based being unable to cite a security issue, IT progression for legal firms may have to be something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. It would appear from the outside, and from conversations we’ve had with our own legal customers, that only successful migrations from like-minded organisations will give law firms the confidence to make the move themselves.
One small step
There’s no doubting the opportunity that cloud presents to the legal profession and beyond for skillsets to grow, and for profits to do the same thing. Being able to work without restrictions, moving from office desk to living room to airport lounge, always having the same experience on any device, is a game changer for those who depend on mobility and uptime.
However, we know from our own experience and from the market’s research that the process of getting there is where the challenge lies. The fact that Morgan Stanley’s survey of 100 CIO’s found that more than half claimed their company was entirely absent from the public cloud is evidence enough that this journey isn’t being widely taken at the moment. However, as the early adopter curve shifts to a state of widespread usage, law firms want to be especially wary of falling into a group of latecomers.
In our experience, a carefully managed transition to the cloud, in which the first phase is usually an email migration, is the best compromise between familiarising yourself with a cloud environment and being in total control of the process, ensuring that your people are comfortable with taking new steps at the right pace.
Find out more about the challenges and opportunities of BYOD, remote working and cloud in the legal sector in our whitepaper: A guide to cloud for legal professionals.