The Benefits & Ethics Surrounding Use Of The Cloud
Law firms throughout the U.S. are rapidly moving to the Cloud. It provides numerous benefits when used correctly. The key to doing this is to find an IT provider who knows what the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) requires when it comes to using cloud services. For example, did you know that using certain free cloud services may be prohibited by Bar Association guidelines?
There are key benefits to using the right cloud service. The ABA says that “lawyers and law firms see the Cloud as a fast and scalable way to use advanced legal technology tools without the need for a substantial upfront capital investment in hardware, software, and support services.”
What Are The Main Benefits Of Cloud Computing For Law Firms?
Low Cost: Most cloud computing services can be obtained at a low cost. Law firms are discovering that it’s less expensive to procure these services from a cloud provider than it is to run and maintain applications on their own server.
Maintenance Is Included: Cloud providers typically include maintenance in their services. As an attorney, you and your staff are is too busy to have to worry about taking care of software updates. Your cloud provider will automatically install these updates for you.
Accessibility: As a busy attorney, you’re always on the move. Cloud computing services are accessible from any computer with an internet connection, regardless of your location. When you want to work from home, or when traveling, you can access your files and IT resources securely and easily.
Scalability: Cloud computing services are provided on demand. When you purchase cloud services, you can easily add storage, computing capacity or new features. You can also quickly delete services that you no longer need. You won’t waste money on IT solutions that “sit unused on the shelf.”
Security: Most cloud providers employ stringent security measures. Plus, their staff is trained and experienced in the implementation of security measures that align with the most current security risks.
Data Backup & Recovery: The redundancy of cloud backups is essential for law firms. If you save your data in local devices, you risk losing them if your office is flooded or if a fire occurs. Your data will always be safe and recoverable when it’s in the Cloud.
What About Ethical Rules & The Cloud?
Your law firm is subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct as stated by the MSBA. This can sometimes make it difficult to decide what cloud services you should use.
Ethical rules vary from state to state. But they all follow the same basic principles:
Confidentiality: When using cloud services you must ensure the privacy and integrity of your data.
Third Parties: If you’re assigning responsibilities to a cloud service provider, you must verify that they abide by the same confidentiality and professional conduct that you do. Rules typically contain a duty for you to supervise third parties in this respect.
Communication: Do you have your clients’ permission to store and transmit their data via a third-party cloud? Rules of Professional Conduct typically say that you must communicate with clients and seek their consent regarding the transmission and storage of their data.
Safeguarding Data: Does your cloud service guarantee the safeguarding of your clients’ confidential information and documents? It’s up to you to make sure they do.
How Can You Maintain Client Confidentiality In The Cloud?
Using cloud computing provides many benefits, so you shouldn’t let these concerns keep you from using cloud services. However, you need the assurance that your data and your clients’ will remain secure.
Your IT service provider is the best resource for this. They understand the risks and benefits of different cloud services and the types that would best serve your needs.
They can work with you to review proposed contracts to ensure:
- Confidentiality, security and protection from unauthorized access or modifications.
- You’ll have a robust backup and disaster recovery plan.
- The cloud service provides alternative access to data in the event of a service outage.
- The cloud service will inform you about any security breaches that may affect your data.
- Compensation in the case that actions by the cloud provider result in a security breach.
- The contract acknowledges that your law firm owns your data.
Your IT service provider is a trusted source when it comes to using the Cloud. They will also offer recommendations for additional security measures to ensure client confidentiality.
Remember, as the ABA says, “lawyers and law firms see the cloud as a fast and scalable way to use advanced legal technology tools without the need for a substantial upfront capital investment in hardware, software, and support services.”
For more information about the benefits and ethics of using cloud services, you can reach out to Jon Johnson at Integris in Owings Mill, Maryland.
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