Cloud computing continues to enjoy immense popularity amongst all types of businesses due to its major benefits of flexibility and low-cost deployment.
It can also decrease risks to a practice by reducing or entirely eliminating the need for backups. Disaster recovery of the IT infrastructure becomes significantly easier if most of the services are cloud based and there are significant gains in terms of management time and money spent on on-premise servers.
When selecting a software supplier that uses cloud storage you need to be mindful of compliance with the SRA regulations if you operate in England and Wales or the local Law Society Rules governing data compliance in other areas of the UK. No matter where you are in the UK, you must ensure that both you and your supplier abide by the terms of the current Data Protection act and the future GDPR.
As well as the need for compliance it is also prudent to ask the following;
Is there a policy in place to access the software and data should the software supplier cease trading?
What are the processes to retrieve the firm’s data should you chose to move to another supplier?
The later question is one that very few people ask but is of vital importance. We all know that over time, firms move to different suppliers. For the most part on-site systems have established migration paths that are followed by the new supplier in order to obtain the relevant data from the old platform. However, accessing that data when it is located off-site can present some real issues, particularly when the supplier is not happy about you leaving.
If the supplier is a member of the Legal Software Suppliers Association for example, they are bound by the rules of that organisation which state that access to the data should be given. Before signing with a new supplier it would be sensible to include within your contract that your software supplier will give you a backup copy of the database, should you wish to leave.
Along with the data, your supplier may well also be storing documents. Your case documents are no less important than your client and case data and you should also ensure that your supplier has a process for you to retrieve all of this information as well. Downloading files individually would be impractical and highly time consuming.