Any platform that is cloud-based – including legal case management – opens new avenues of collaboration, flexibility, innovation and mobility that are much less available when your law firm or corporate legal department is operating with traditional on-premises software and systems. PaaS is a specific computing model that exists within the broader realm of cloud technology. Unlike other cloud-based products, PaaS technologies are built directly on a cloud platform (like Salesforce, IBM, Oracle or Microsoft) that is hosted by the PaaS provider. This means users simply access the tools over the internet while they remain on the provider’s own infrastructure. This offers a greater depth of service than other cloud technologies, because the vendor is providing everything you need to run your firm all in one place. Cloud technology has long been known for offering users increased agility, along with the ability to innovate faster and compete better. That is far from the end of the story, however. Utilizing cloud technology, and PaaS in particular, for legal case management offers many important benefits that are difficult to realize using on-premises software.
- Greater Security. Despite unfounded concerns by some users that cloud technologies present increased threats to security, the cloud is safe – likely safer than your firm’s on-premises systems. When you operate in the cloud, you are use someone else’s data center, rather than your own. Why is that a good thing? PaaS vendors have billions of dollars to put into the security of their data centers, as opposed to the limited funds law firms have to devote to this purpose. By using their data centers, you get a more secure environment for running your applications without incurring the cost.
- Increased Compliance. When you operate in a PaaS environment, you will be able to better map and implement your internal governance and data security policies to specific technologies. Large PaaS vendors have already obtained a majority of the technical and policy certifications required in the industry, meaning your firm does not have to spend a lot of time and money to meet your security objectives.
- Non-Obsolescence. The cloud comes with automatic upgrades that don’t impact your customizations, so you will always be on the cutting edge and using the most current version of all your software, rather than falling behind on upgrades like many firms do with on-premises software. As technology evolves, certain technologies will inevitably fall out of favor or get identified as security risks. These developments are typically addressed in new releases of software. If your platforms are in the cloud, you maintain access to the latest capabilities.
- With a traditional on-premises legal case management software package, you are reliant on a single vendor to deliver the functionality you need for that particular software. You may request an enhancement, but you will be on a list with all the vendor’s other clients and will have to wait for a response. With PaaS technology, built-in development tools come as part of the platform, so any enhancements you do are independent of release upgrades. You have the option to create the functionality you need without depending on your vendors.
- As the saying goes, there’s an app for that. A cloud platform comes with an app store, giving you access to many certified third-party applications that integrate easily to provide you with additional capabilities. These apps are already compliant, tested and on the platform, which significantly reduces integration costs and adds capabilities you need to run your business. With on-premises software, you would have different products running in different environments, which would require you to spend a lot of time going to multiple vendors and buying a series to products to integrate into your system in order to develop the business solutions you need.
- Client-Side Integration. Communicating with clients is a central part of working in a law firm, so you want to be sure that your software easily integrates with the tools your clients are using. Whether you work with Gmail, Outlook, Word, Excel, local calendars or some other program, integration with personal productivity tools needs to be seamless in order for your representation to be productive. Making that happen is typically a large project for internal IT teams. With PaaS, however, there are many integration options as part of the supported environment.
- Beyond simply communicating with your clients, you will likely need to share data and documents with them on a regular basis. One of the easiest and safest ways to do that is through client service portals, and PaaS environments have them built in. Legal case management platforms like AdvoLogix were conceived based on the idea that clients, partners and other third parties will need access to data. These platforms were constructed with all the necessary licensing to allow all parties to access the information they need in a secure and authenticated way with a robust and well-defined security model.
- Unrivaled Access. Today’s lawyer is a mobile lawyer, needing access to case files anywhere, anytime. When your firm operates in the cloud, you have unlimited, controllable access for all your employees, partners and clients – all they need is an internet connection. As a bonus, cloud-based case management also comes with built-in mobile device support, which is critical when you’re on the go.
- Better Availability. Loss of access to data can be severely detrimental for a law firm. From widespread natural disasters to localized outages, it is always possible that your system could go down when you least expect it or most need it. This is why it is important to know that you have backup plans you can count on. PaaS vendors can afford to spend a lot more on availability measures than most law firms can. Their platforms are highly redundant, with features like failover capabilities and hot backups that provide highly increased availability during outages.
- Better Workflows. In traditional on-premises environments, you need a separate business process management tool that orchestrates across systems and integrates between siloed applications in order to create convenient workflows. In contrast, in PaaS environments, you get an integrated workflow builder as an automatic part of the platform, so you can seamlessly orchestrate workflows across the environment without needing any additional software.
- Consultant Pool. Because they are very highly used facilities, PaaS vendors have a large pool of certified consultants on staff that can be dynamically added to or removed from your project to meet the demands of the moment, eliminating the need to build an IT staff for each project. Simply access the large pool of professionals to install, build and configure what you are looking for on the platform. When the project is over, the people are gone as well, so your firm does not have to worry about how to reallocate staff to retain profitability.
- Technology Scalability. Like the consultant pool, the technology itself in a PaaS environment is entirely scalable. Because most software and applications are subscription-based, you can scale up or down dynamically as needed, rather than investing large sums in software that you might never use. Simply put, cloud-based technology allows you to grow according to your firm’s individual needs.
Firms and companies that are truly innovative and focused on using cloud or PaaS technology to improve their capabilities are rewarded with the ability to drive down costs, improve client service, mitigate risk and grow practice areas. Download our entire articles on the benefits of cloud-based matter and legal case management now to help your firm achieve these goals. Why Corporate Legal Departments Want Cloud-Based Matter Management Why Law Firms Want Cloud-Based Case Management