While most law firms understand that cloud-based practice management is an option for them, many still hesitate when it comes to adopting new technologies, according to the 2021 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report. Twenty-five percent of the lawyers surveyed said their firm doesn’t use cloud services. Those holding out are talking the talk but not walking the walk.
Benefits of Cloud-Based Legal Practice Management
One of the areas highlighted by the survey was the use of cloud services. Many attorneys routinely use Office 365, Google apps, Dropbox and other cloud applications and find them reliable, safe and maintenance-free. A seamless, cloud-based law practice management (LPM) system can improve firm productivity and efficiency with integrated client intake, billing, workflows, calendars and correspondence.
Upgrading to a cloud-based LPM allows law firms to:
Support a distributed work team. With talent in high demand, cloud-based law practice management enables firms to recruit from anywhere and support remote and home offices. Lawyers can securely access client files and documents and collaborate easily over a secure internet connection. Native iOS and Android apps help attorneys practice while on the road.
Offer clients greater convenience. Zola’s cloud-based practice management offers a secure portal where clients can upload documents and receive files and communications from attorneys, all from the convenience of their home or office. Attorneys can also easily send invoices to clients which can be paid through the portal.
Reduce IT support costs. There is constant upkeep when it comes to on-premises software. Between physical maintenance and having to hire IT professionals to purchase hardware, support upgrades and maintain servers, it can be taxing on both your staff and your budget. By purchasing a legal case management subscription, you eliminate the extra costs of having to purchase or upgrade servers and hire IT staff for ongoing maintenance.
Improve cash flow. Choose an LPM system that includes automated payment processing. The ability to receive and pay invoices online is a convenience that clients expect, and they pay faster: 57% of electronic payments get paid within the same day they are billed and 85% get paid within a week.
Read more about Cloud-Based Practice Management Software Benefits
The Trust Cost of On-Prem Software
Whether you’re exploring cloud-based or on-premises solution options, cost will inevitably be a huge factor in your firm’s final decision. Here’s how the two compare:
|PRO’s of Cloud-Based Software||CON’s of On-Premise Software|
|No software licensing fees. A cloud-based application is
a ‘pay as you go’ model, so there is no software license purchase required.
|Licensing fees. There are constant changes to both hardware and software, and each time the software is updated, which usually occurs every one to two years, a new licensing fee is often required.|
|Support and IT labor costs included. Cloud-based applications include managed IT services, user support, and help desk staff. Firms can eliminate IT consultancy fees while working with top-tier support staff and reallocate their time to billable hours.||Hardware costs. A typical business server including backup and system software can cost $5200-$8,000 and it’s an up-front capital expense.|
|Remote work support. Remote work is here to stay, and cloud-based solutions provide the secure platforms firms are seeking to connect with their tasks and clients on the go, at no extra cost.||Lack of remote access. Attorneys today need and want the ability to work remotely, so extra technology is required to provide at-home employees with access to the on-premises server applications.|
As you research the options, keep detailed notes on all these costs. You’ll find that a full-featured cloud-based legal case management platform like Zola is less costly than on-premises alternatives and doesn’t require costly hardware or the purchase of regular updates.
Features and Integrations
Once you decide to make the move to the cloud, ask potential providers about any third-party relationships or affiliations they have and if you will be required to enter separate agreements or pay for subscriptions with them, too. So, your costs for that system need to be factored into your total costs.
Zola Suite is an all-in-one practice management system that includes complete business accounting, legal matter management, document management, CRM, and automated payments. With all these features built-in, you don’t need to pay extra for clunky add-on features at an added cost.
Is it Time to Move to the Cloud? Legal technology expert Caren Schwartz offers tips on recognizing the right time to implement a cloud-based legal practice management system.
If your law firm wants to improve efficiency, support a remote or hybrid team and lower costs, don’t wait any longer to make the move. Talk to other lawyers and read reviews of different cloud providers. Choose a software partner that focuses on the legal industry, has stellar ratings, delivers all the services described above and whose verbal and written communications are provided in clear, no-nonsense ways everyone on your team can understand.
Check out Zola Suite’s whitepaper for more information on adopting a cloud-based legal practice management system into your practice.
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