A Unique Decision For Every Law Firm
LAWFUSION is available either as a hosted solution for the cloud or as a traditional on-premise installation.
To help firms decide between cloud and on-premise Select has produced this coffee-break sized video which features interviews with 4 law firms – all users of LAWFUSION – talking about the decisions they have made and why.
There is also a Practical Checklist re cloud computing for law firms that should be reviewed by any Practice considering a move to the cloud.
For more information about the four firms featured in this video, please follow these links:
Cloud Video Transcription
Below is a verbatim transcription of Select Legal’s Cloud Vs On-Premise Video For Law Firms:
Rod Hughes – Partner – H & R Hughes The cloud on it’s own enables the smaller firms who want to flourish to move forward. Marshall Flockhart – Commercial Manager – Pepperells Solicitors The best advice would be firstly, take your time, there is no rush, it’s major strategic decision. Steve Gelsthorpe – Partner – Cartwright King We’re not shutting or eyes to cloud technology, it will happen. Douglas Macduff – Solicitor – Silver Fitzgerald If I could give one piece of advice to a firm considering moving to the cloud, it would be do it. Narrator The cloud versus on-premise dilemma has certainly got everyone talking, not least the legal profession, a sector that probably has to consider data security and client confidentiality far more carefully than most. Quotes from the legal profession
“A question for the law firms out there: What’s your primary reason for either going to the cloud or staying with an on-premise server.”
“We have found that the best answer for us is to do both. We have the local server which is what we normally use, the data is also replicated.”
“We are staying with on-premise for now, mainly due to more granular control over storage performance, there are many other factors.”
“We have just migrated over to the cloud primarily for business continuity and disaster recovery reasons, I’m reluctant to let go.”
Narrator Like many senior people at law firms today, you could well be considering the merits of cloud computing. As cloud technology picks up momentum globally across all industries, not just the legal profession, hype is rife, scaremongering is plentiful and debate is healthy. For some law firms it appears that the cloud offers a very attractive silver lining whilst for others an on-premise infrastructure seems to fit their needs better. The fact of the matter is, this is a unique decision for every law firm. Steve Dixon Hello, Steve Dixon Narrator Select Legal Systems is a specialist software supplier to the legal profession offering both cloud and on-premise options. Select has hundreds of satisfied users in both camps, relying on their flagship product LAWFUSION to run and grow their businesses. To help you decide between cloud and on-premise this film features interviews with four law firms all users of LAWFUSION talking about their reasons for choosing either cloud or on-premise. Marshall Flockhart – Commercial Manager – Pepperells Solicitors Pepperells is probably one of the first law firms to move to the cloud fifteen years ago so we have had many years of experience operating with a cloud based system. Essentially we were still happy with the cloud concept. It had worked well for us, however, we had found our existing supplier at that time had not moved on, we were looking for a supplier who offered a more comprehensive range of facilities and services in order that we could respond to changes in the market place and after a careful selection process we decided to proceed with LAWFUSION and as a result we now have case management, accounts, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Outlook on our system on the cloud. Rod Hughes – Partner – H & R Hughes We’ve been using LAWFUSION since we started actually, back in April 2009 and we went for a cloud solution because really there is no alternative, we weren’t big enough, we didn’t have enough money so a cloud based solution was really just what we wanted and it came around just at the right time. Douglas Macduff – Solicitor – Silver Fitzgerald As a firm Silver Fitzgerald decided that a hosted system was the way forward. It presented a number of benefits, not least that we wouldn’t then be responsible for the day-to-day hardware upkeep of our IT, which as a small firm we cannot have an internal IT department all the time and if something went wrong with the computers, that would distract from the fee earners actually earning money and bringing income in for the firm. Rupert Hawke – Managing Director – Cartwright King Cartwright King is an on-premise set up, we have a central server in our Nottingham office and then we have servers that feed into that from the different offices that we have, there are six offices in total. So it is all centralised and people can then work from anywhere in the world. Steve Gelsthorpe – Partner – Cartwright King If your question is would we rush to introduce a cloud based system now, the answer is emphatically no. We’ve got a perfectly good system as it is, but as our hardware falls to be replaced then I think we would certainly be looking at replacing it with a cloud based system. Narrator The smaller law firms have certainly lead the way with the adoption of cloud computing, quickly taking advantage of it’s many cost saving benefits. Whilst for the larger more established firms who have already invested significantly in their own IT infrastructure it’s often better to stick with on-premise. Of course cloud computing as such, i.e. the provision of computer services over the internet is nothing new. Remote application hosting has been available for many years and some LAWFUSION users are very experienced in this area.
Marshall Flockhart – Commercial Manager – Pepperells Solicitors Well firstly I would say to any law firm considering a move to the cloud, this is a big move, this is an important strategic move for you to make. So the first thing is, in my opinion, is to do a careful analysis of your requirements. What are the extra benefits you can get from the cloud, write them down, make a list. Also money is always important, do a cost benefit analysis, fixed system against the cloud, look at several suppliers, ask awkward questions, go and see lots of demonstrations, and see how these meet the requirements list you’ve drawn up for a potential supplier.
Rod Hughes – Partner – H & R Hughes The first consideration is whether you’ve got a decent broadband in your area, and if you haven’t, cloud based solution just isn’t going to work for you. When we set up in a different town from where we now practice the broadband was not good. The cloud based solution worked for us because we were a start-up firm with only two or three users, but within six months we’d grown to eight users and at that point we found that the broadband capacity in the area was not meeting our requirements.
Marshall Flockhart – Commercial Manager – Pepperells Solicitors The cloud offers several advantages, now these are some that you should think about. There’s mobility, staff have the ability to move around, to work outside the office, to work from a café whilst they’re having a coffee, perhaps, to work at home, to work from a hotel. Rod Hughes – Partner – H & R Hughes You can work on your boat, you can work on the train, if you’re really, really sad, you can even work on holiday. And it’s great to be able to work out of the office, log in, see what’s there and be able to run my business remotely. Douglas Macduff – Solicitor – Silver Fitzgerald If you have a business partner who you can trust to provide all your IT infrastructure for you and you can access that not only from the building, but also fee earners working from home or on the move including at court, that provides great gains in terms of flexibility and productivity. Narrator Remote working and having connectivity to case files is a key consideration to most lawyers today, and with the cloud the benefit of absolute mobility is a given. But on-premise LAWFUSION clients can expect excellent mobility too. Steve Gelsthorpe – Partner – Cartwright King This is the way forward. Remote access is what we encourage all our solicitors to do. I’m available, because I’m on e-mail, I’m on mobile, and I’m communicating through the messaging service on LAWFUSION.
Narrator It is overwhelmingly clear that security, in terms of client confidentiality has to be the main concern for the legal profession in their move to embrace cloud computing and it has been perceived as a barrier for many. Rod Hughes – Partner – H & R Hughes One of the things for any firm looking to move to cloud solution has got to understand is that data is going to be held off-site and they’ve got to be confident that they are happy with where that data is going to be stored, it’s going to be compliant with SRA requirements and that if there is a disaster at some point with the holder of that data there are back-ups elsewhere that are highly secure. The cardinal thing for any firm of solicitors is that their data is kept confidential. Narrator Many of the bigger firms it seems are more comfortable looking after their own data. Steve Gelsthorpe – Partner – Cartwright King Because we have the main server, and that we have the systems that we have in place, we have the back-up support that we have in place, we’re entirely confident that our back-up systems work and we have absolute control over our back-up systems, whereas if it were all to be in the cloud, so to speak, I’m not necessarily sure that that would be the case. Narrator Many law firms however, have found that worries about security are not insurmountable. Marshall Flockhart – Commercial Manager – Pepperells Solicitors Client data is very important to all law firms so it’s important the confidentiality is maintained of that data. Ask your supplier or potential supplier how they intend to do that, and the standards that they operate to. Ask how often files are backed-up, is it on a regular basis, once a day, once a night, every hour, whatever, and ask about the security of the data centre that they are going to use. Is it protected from floods and fire and electrical interference? Ask these awkward questions and put your supplier under some pressure and ensure that they can offer you the highest levels of standards and performance. Narrator Choosing the right IT partner is clearly a critical decision in order to achieve peace of mind. Douglas Macduff – Solicitor – Silver Fitzgerald You have to be confident that the person you host that information with meets all the legal requirements that you have to make sure are met and having a company who you know and trust makes all the difference. We chose Select Legal because they did everything. We wanted to make sure that we were working with people who we knew and trusted for the whole delivery of the hosted system. Narrator The decision to hold your firms confidential data on your own on-premise servers, or with a trusted supplier on the cloud is a major one for every firm it is a decision that must be based entirely on what makes you and your firms stake holders feel most comfortable.
Marshall Flockhart – Commercial Manager – Pepperells Solicitors Business continuity should the mains office have a disaster for any reason, god forbid and you had a fire or a flood then it would be relatively easy for staff to move from the office and work perhaps from a hotel or alternative offices or from home and still be able to access the clients bills and client data, information that’s required because it’s held in the cloud.
Marshall Flockhart – Commercial Manager – Pepperells Solicitors Cost savings are another possible advantage of the cloud, because you’re not paying for fixed IT infrastructure, or additional IT infrastructure, or the cost of IT professionals in-house in the firm, and in fact there may be savings on licence cost for software also. Rod Hughes – Partner – H & R Hughes You will still need to have people to supply and fit your equipment, but in terms of software, you haven’t got that expense of employing an IT Manager who’s got to keep up-to-date with all the Microsoft fixes. Douglas Macduff – Solicitor – Silver Fitzgerald Even with slightly ageing computers, we have got state of the art IT solutions in the cloud. Narrator Small to medium sized law firms are clearly benefiting from the switch from up front capital investment to a regular competitive monthly fee for a hosted solution.Depending on the age and condition of their hardware, many larger firms may be better advised to protect their existing investment for the time being. Rupert Hawke – Managing Director – Cartwright King We’re a long way down the line now, and certainly for a smaller firm the start up costs would be sufficiently lower using the cloud system, but for an established firm with the in-house capabilities then we are fine as we are. Steve Gelsthopre – Partner – Cartwright King I agree entirely with Rupert, I can’t see any cost benefits in rushing to cloud at this moment in time, bearing in mind the significant investments that we’ve been making as it is.
Narrator Whether a firm is on the cloud or not, in the ever changing legal market place, scalability is a key consideration. Particularly for firms who are keen to expand, merge with others, or planning to combine their branches or departments. Rupert Hawke – Managing Director – Cartwright King Having the cloud option certainly deals with the issues of capacity and growth for any firm, however, Cartwright King have considered scale in their growth on their servers and their systems etc. so we can deal with that growth internally, so the cloud thing isn’t an issue for us in that respect, although we can see the benefit for other firms in having that. Narrator Through twenty plus years experience helping law firms, Select Legal can provide solid advice on scalability.
Focus on Core Business
Douglas Macduff – Solicitor – Silver Fitzgerald Most legal companies nowadays either want to specialise in a particular area of law or they want to be able to offer a wide breadth of legal experience to their customers. They don’t want to be spending time and resources making sure their IT works, that your computer talks to your printer. Rod Hughes – Partner – H & R Hughes Lawyers don’t want to be involved in IT and they like the idea of being able to delegate that to someone trustworthy elsewhere, and I know I’m like that, there’s nothing I hate more than having to try and understand concepts about IT that I’m not familiar with. So leave it to the experts.
Narrator You only have to look at the global IT world generally to see that cloud has well and truly arrived whether any of us like it or not, and for many of the big players, it is evident that cloud forms a major part of their strategy for the future.Although the consensus of opinion for the legal profession is that cloud will overtake on-premise in the next ten, perhaps fifteen years there is no doubt that a move from server based applications to cloud computing is providing law firms with flexibility, agility and convenience in an increasingly mobile world, making cloud computing more and more appealing to large and small firms alike. Douglas Macduff – Solicitor – Silver Fitzgerald If I could give one piece of advice to a firm considering moving to the cloud, it would be, do it, but choose carefully who your working partner is going to be. Narrator However, for the moment, for some firms there are also many solid reasons for sticking with on-premise. Rupert Hawke – Managing Director – Cartwright King At the moment with our size, we are keeping our conventional servers, we are happy with that, but I think things will change in the future. I personally believe that everyone will be on the cloud in due course and Select Legal are leading the way on that basis in the legal industry. Rod Hughes – Partner – H & R Hughes There’s a choice for firms who want to flourish today, they’ve either got to go niche or they’ve got to go very large and the middle firms are the ones who are going to really struggle. If you’re a niche firm and you want to flourish, you’ve really got to go for a hosted solution. Marshall Flockhart – Commercial Manager – Pepperells Solicitors Pick a supplier you can work with, you’re going to be with that supplier, quite likely for many years to come, so the relationship is very important. Douglas Macduff – Solicitor – Silver Fitzgerald It’s as much about the people working together, as it is about the technology supporting you in your day to day work. Steve Gelsthorpe – Partner – Cartwright King All I can say is that we’ve had the product since 2009, we think we’ve been ahead of the game working with Select Legal and the team there. It’s been a terrific relationship . We’re not shutting our eyes to cloud technology, it will happen. So the answer to your question is, thanks, but no thanks, but we’ll certainly be thinking about it and we’ll be working with Select Legal over the years, no doubt to achieve a very happy state of affairs. Paul Good Afternoon Select Legal Support, you are speaking to Paul, how can I help? Narrator LAWFUSION is available for the cloud or on-premise from Select Legal Systems Limited, specialist software suppliers to law firms since 1992.