Choosing On-Premise vs Cloud Law Firm Software
Law firms looking to modernize their legacy practice management software have choices to make. While there are pros and cons to on-premises servers and cloud servers, most law firms today are migrating to cloud platforms. Modern case management systems provide significant benefits, including more efficient workflows, increased productivity, lower operational costs, and increased top-line revenue. AdvoLogix is the premier cloud-based legal software platform for modern legal firms.
- On-premise legal software is stored on company servers and accessed locally, while cloud-based legal software is hosted on the vendor’s servers and accessed through a web browser and subscription.
- On-premise servers offer complete data control but higher costs; Cloud servers provide predictable costs, scalability, accessibility, and enhanced collaboration.
- Many legal teams choose to switch from on-premise to cloud-based case management software for efficiency, productivity, and cost reduction.
- You can opt for public, private, or hybrid clouds, each with varying security, accessibility, and cost.
- AdvoLogix is a premier cloud platform offering centralized information management, workflow automation, security, compliance, and expert support for legal teams.
Today, nearly every company is doing business in the cloud, and the legal industry is no different. Thanks in part to significant strides in data privacy and regulatory enforcement, nearly two-thirds of law firms in a 2022 study said they are increasing their cloud use.
As legal departments look to upgrade their current management system, the majority are migrating from on-premise to cloud-based legal case management software. New cloud-based tools and software, such as AdvoLogix’s legal management solution, are making it easier for law firms to conduct business, enhance mobility, and back up critical resources.
There are pros and cons to both on-premise and cloud-based legal software, and knowing what your needs are can go a long way toward choosing the right technology for you.
The Difference Between On-Premise and
Cloud-Based Legal Software
On-premise legal software resides on company servers and is accessed locally. Cloud-based legal software is hosted on the vendor’s servers and is accessed through a web browser and subscription.
As many law firms find that their legacy case management system no longer provides the flexibility they need in today’s connected environment, they are currently evaluating other solutions. Inefficient client intake, qualification, and processing is hindering efficient workflow in many legacy systems, which may not have been updated to current technology.
These issues only became more apparent during the last few years as the global COVID-19 pandemic forced firms to find virtual solutions to replace many of their basic office-based functions. As law firms were forced to work remotely, many systems broke down. Others adapted to remote access but offered clunky interfaces or did not allow for full functionality on mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. The best modern practice management solutions have overcome these challenges.
Here are some of the key pros and cons when comparing cloud vs. on-premise for legal case management software.
With an on-premise server, you have complete control of your data but also have the high costs associated with installing, configuring, and maintaining it.
- Can conduct business without internet access
- Full control over resources
- Highest level of security due to limited access
- Requires much greater IT support, usually with dedicated in-house IT staff
- Increased operating and maintenance costs
- Higher up-front capital investment
- Less flexibility
Cloud servers provide predictable costs, greater access, and high levels of security in fortified data centers. However, you need a solid internet connection for access.
- Eliminates capital expenditures
- Easily scalable
- Accessibility from anywhere
- Enhanced collaboration
- Access is limited by internet connectivity
- Reliance on cloud service providers
- Subject to localized data protection laws
Types of Cloud Solutions for Legal Teams
One of the biggest advantages of a cloud-based platform is the elimination of data silos, which pose a significant problem in every industry. When data is trapped in different systems, it can make it difficult to find a single system of record—also known as a “single source of truth.” In the legal profession, data often resides in servers and databases, laptops, workstations, and cloud servers. This can make it difficult to get a complete picture of data. Cloud migration enables such a single system of record, ensuring that all stakeholders have access to the most recently updated and accurate data.
Legal firms have options for cloud solutions, including public, private, and hybrid clouds. While the underlying legal software will remain the same, the method of delivery and access will differ.
Public cloud solutions use the public internet for access. They are fast and simple to deploy, providing an efficient way to enable mobility. They are also useful for law firms with multiple locations. Public cloud solutions are pay-as-you-go, so you are only paying for the number of resources you use.
However, because tenants share computing infrastructure, it’s critical that you meet security regulations.
With a private cloud, law firms have access to the cloud infrastructure that is not shared with anyone else. Typically, businesses deploy their own software applications on the cloud behind a firewall that is accessed via the company’s intranet using encrypted connections.
Private clouds are often the choice for law firms because of enhanced security and compliance, but do have a higher operational cost than public cloud solutions.
With hybrid cloud, workloads are split between public and private cloud infrastructure. While sensitive data is stored in the private cloud, other applications take advantage of lower costs via the public cloud. This provides a best-of-both-world approach by maintaining high levels of security in a private cloud while minimizing storage costs for non-sensitive applications.
How To Choose the Right Technology Provider
Law firms will benefit from modernizing their legal matter management, providing more efficient workflow, productivity gains, and tight cost control using the latest technology. This is especially true for law firms that are using legacy software.
When you are evaluating technology providers, you need to do your due diligence. It requires a structured approach to technology selection and adoption. At AdvoLogix, we recommend establishing a cross-functional team to handle an initial needs assessment and develop an evaluation strategy. This ensures the representation of different work groups that will need to interact with the system. We believe this helps ensure buy-in from stakeholders at each level of the organization, including senior business leaders.
Consider drawing participants from several different areas, including:
- Practice management
- IT and governance
- Billing and accounting
- Knowledge management
Here are some of the key areas you need to investigate to find the best legal practice management platform for your firm.
Compliance and Security
The American Bar Association reports that 27 percent of law firms surveyed have experienced a security breach, including lost or stolen computers or smartphones, physical break-ins, or hacking.
In any field, a security breach can be crippling. But because the legal profession adheres to an ethical code requiring the utmost confidentiality of client information, a security breach can be devastating, exposing the firm to ethics code violations. Law firms need to ensure they provide the highest levels of security to protect client information. Thus, the choice of a reliable technology provider is critical.
A big advantage of using a cloud environment for data storage is that it remains off-site, protecting your practice from physical access on-premises. Look for a provider that deploys cutting-edge security measures along with robust access control and user authentication.
You need to look at how information concerning each matter is organized and managed with the tech platform. A good matter management system will include the tools you need to track matters efficiently, including call logs and emails, meeting schedules, participant tracking, critical date alerts, and more.
Timekeeping and Billing
You also want a system that has seamless integration for timekeeping and billing, enabling automated tracking within workflows. With AdvoLogix, you can reduce the amount of time spent on these tasks, while identifying areas for improvement in efficiency and profitability.
Document management will be an integral part of your legal operations and need to be integrated with your case management system. When evaluating a tech partner for legal software, you want to consider processes, including:
- Document workflow
- Volume and content processing
- Document processing capabilities
- Storage requirements
- Collaboration requirements
- Business process automation
The best solutions will also provide reliable backups for business continuity and disaster recovery in a secure environment. This allows you to continue working even in case of business disruption as long as you have secure internet access.
Security and Privacy Compliance
Law firms today have to comply with a complex web of ethics, compliance, privacy, and data storage regulations. When looking for a legal case management platform, you need an understanding of how a provider handles each of these areas.
Depending on where data is stored, you may also be subject to local jurisdictions for data and privacy. The best providers, such as AdvoLogix, will provide the tools you need for compliance.
Legacy Data Migration
If you are using legacy software, it may seem daunting to migrate to a new system or cloud-based solution, but choosing the right technology provider can help you overcome these concerns. The best providers can migrate your data into a new platform to ensure continuity.
Law firms use more than just a legal practice management system to do business. Email clients, word processing, calendaring, bookkeeping, and other specialized legal tools are common, each with databases. Look for a cloud-based legal solution that integrates with your other software applications for a smooth workflow.
The American Bar Association’s most recent mobility report revealed that 87 percent of lawyers say their workplace allows them to work remotely. While in the wake of the pandemic, there has been a push to move back to more in-office work, it is obvious that the old office-only model is a thing of the past. Law firms need the flexibility that cloud-based solutions offer, allowing team members to work wherever they are.
Technology providers need to enable high levels of mobility, allowing for access and full functionality on any connected device.
Training and Support
You need access to training and support to streamline onboarding and keep your practice running efficiently. This is especially important as you bring on new associates or support staff.
You also need available support to handle any problems that arise. Downtime is a productivity killer, so make sure there is support available during business hours and electronic ticketing systems available 24/7. The best providers will offer target response times of four hours or less for mission-critical escalations.
The right technology provider will have tools you can use to securely collaborate with colleagues and external parties alike as part of your case management system. Find a software solution that centralizes documents and allows for real-time team collaboration.
Ease of Use
Many legacy practice management software applications are difficult to use. Modern cloud-based systems that were developed specifically for the legal industry are much more intuitive and integrate more naturally with other technology. Look for a platform that is easy to use and fits your workflow.
Data Analysis and Automation
You also need robust tools for reporting and data analysis. Look for a solution that offers customization of reports, so you can see data the way you want to see it.
You also want to leverage automation wherever possible. The right data analytics can help you determine what tasks are candidates for automation. Reducing manual work with automation makes everyone at your firm more efficient and enables team members to focus on higher-level tasks.
Such insights can help you streamline processes, reduce error rates, and uncover the core activities that generate revenue. When you know the factors that contribute to success (or detract from success), you can make your law firm increasingly more efficient.
With any product or service, pricing is always an important consideration. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the pricing structure and how it will be used. For example, most cloud-based platforms work on a subscription basis with a predictable monthly fee. Depending on the service, this may be priced on a per-user basis or a flat fee.
If you choose to purchase software and host it in-house, you also need to consider the costs for hardware, maintenance, and future upgrades. Staying on top of evolving technology requires frequent updates to hardware, software, and firmware.
Ultimately, you want to evaluate the total cost of ownership to understand the pros and cons of on-prem vs. cloud-based legal platforms.
Look for a Partner, Not Just a Provider
Finally, when you are evaluating law firm management software platforms, it’s crucial that you work with someone that views you as a partner and not just a customer. A customer sells you a product, but a partner will work with you to ensure the solution meets your firm goals and business objectives. Look for a technology partner that will take the time to understand your business and help you customize the platform for you.
AdvoLogix Is the Premier Cloud-based Legal Software Platform
Migrating to a highly-effective case management system provides significant benefits, including:
- More efficient workflows
- Improved employee productivity
- Better client service
- Lower operational costs
- Increased top-line revenue
A careful evaluation of the options and functionality of case management tools is essential to finding the best solution for your law firm.
AdvoLogix is a cloud-based legal software platform that is built on Salesforce with industry-leading security and compliance. AdvoLogix centralizes all of your information related to cases, automates workflow, manages key dates, and enhances team collaboration.
The AdvoLogix platform offers both physical and network security, disaster recovery, and third-party validation for data security. AdvoLogix also offers comprehensive configuration and integration with thousands of add-on applications to help you work efficiently.
If you’re trying to decide whether cloud vs. on-premise legal case management software is right for you, the experts at Advologix can help. Reach out today to talk with one of our specialists to see firsthand how we can enhance your capabilities.