Is cloud migration the key to unlocking your law firm’s potential?

Moving to the cloud can dramatically decrease costs for firms but the process of migrating data is a pain, say law firm leaders 

Suzanna Hayek|Deputy editor at LPM|

In LPM Frontiers 2024, over half of law firms said they prefer their solutions cloud-native, or will go cloud-first, when it comes to new tech. At a recent virtual roundtable held by LPM and OneAdvanced, SME law firm leaders discussed their experiences migrating to the cloud.

They agreed that the efficiencies, agility, and return on investment provided by cloud systems are compelling — but they are not without challenges, particularly when it comes to data migration. “The sooner you make the change, the more money you will save, and the more efficiently your firm will work. I think making the case for shifting to the cloud is quite easy. The burden on a law firm to migrate can be a daunting task, considering everything you’ve got to trust and provide to make sure it’s all done properly,” said one law firm leader.  

Agility and a significant boost in productivity  

One key advantage of cloud-based systems, as highlighted by a participant, is the ability to operate more dynamically. A cloud infrastructure allows secure access and information-sharing across the firm, regardless of geographical barriers. This feature supports collaboration and flexibility, facilitating productive remote working, which is particularly beneficial in today’s work environment.  

The group heard that using cloud-based case management systems allowed one firm to generate documents automatically, manage case files, and update them without manual input. This significantly reduces time spent on administrative tasks, offering an immediate boost to productivity. Having a unified system also ensures everyone uses the same templates and follows consistent workflows.

Participants also highlighted that cloud systems enable firms to scale their operations up or down, without the upfront costs associated with physical servers.  

A dramatic decrease in cost 

Indeed, perhaps the most quantifiable benefit of moving to the cloud is the cost reduction it could potentially offer. A business leader at one firm noted a dramatic decrease in some of its technology-related expenditure after switching to a cloud-based system — going from £60,000 when it used on prem servers to £20,000 the year that it started using cloud systems. 

The move to the cloud allowed the firm to automate routine document handling and other administrative tasks, the reducing the need for paralegal support. This allowed the firm to halve the number of secretarial staff, providing significant cost savings. 

The firm’s system switch has also resulted in better work allocation: “The software allowed us to capture more time, whether it was chargeable or not. We could measure performance, not necessarily in a micromanaging way, but we could see where lawyers were spending less time because of automation, and we could assign them other tasks.” 

The pains of data migration   

Attendees generally agreed that, despite the allure of new cloud-based systems, the biggest and most off-putting challenge is data migration. They believe it’s a messy, disruptive, and burdensome process.  

Some firms had adopted a strategic approach to migration, such as moving only essential data and maintaining an accessible archive of old records to simplify the transition. One firm opted to move only current balances, client names, addresses, and details of services provided. This meant it retained necessary information for ongoing operations and compliance needs without overloading the new system with redundant data.  

The OneAdvanced representative suggested that firms should work directly with vendors’ migration teams, not just their account managers, to reduce the complexity.  

The potential benefits of cloud migration for SME law firms are significant and numerous, including increased agility, efficiency, and cost reduction. Despite the challenges of data migration, which can’t be ignored and require careful planning and execution, it’s a worthwhile consideration. 

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