April 20, 2014

Get Your Head in the Clouds: Cloud Computing for Solo Lawyers

Everyone at CBA-CLE is extremely excited that Larry Port is coming to Denver next week to present on cloud computing at our Hanging Your Shingle program – a comprehensive, three-day event designed to walk you through the process of going solo. Larry is an expert in the field and co-founder of Rocket Matter, a producer of legal productivity and practice management software. He also edits and writes for the Legal Productivity blog, providing a wealth of useful tips for all legal professionals.

Larry’s presentation for Hanging Your Shingle will introduce you to the cloud, describe the benefits (and some concerns) of cloud computing, and look forward to the future of legal technology and how it can best serve lawyers, especially those looking to start their own practice.

Larry has been kind enough to let us share with you a few teasers from his presentation – but don’t miss the real thing!

In the technology world, “the cloud” is an apt name for a murky topic with a hazy definition.  Originally a computer science term, technologists and non-technologists alike have used “cloud computing” loosely, casually, and confusingly.  Even among software experts, the exact definition of the cloud varies considerably.

Despite this confusion, cloud computing ultimately has a simple purpose: it allows people to leverage the Internet for application use, data storage, and other tools.  This capability is what most consumers think of when they use the word “cloud” and it permits us to come up with a reasonable definition:  A collection of utilities built on Internet technologies for on-demand services.

From the perspective of the small law firm, the cloud eliminates typical IT expenses, management, and headaches. “If I go to a cloud provider that has a Tier 1 data center, I get physical security, redundancy, and backup far better than I could do on my own,” said Dennis Kennedy, legal technology expert and author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies.

These are the early days of cloud adoption in typical law offices, though momentum is clearly heading in this direction.  Online backup services offer cost advantages over local storage and are already in use.  Software as a Service providers have tackled the problems of legal practice management, time and billing, and knowledge management, delivering zero-install applications over a web browser.  The ABA Legal Technology Resource Center and some state bar associations have advice for lawyers with questions about online services.

Even though we’ve come far with Internet-based computing, we’re only in the beginning phases of a massive movement towards increased usage.   Economics already drives this adoption, as more businesses, especially smaller ones, recognize that their bulky client-server networks, security and backup practices, and software licenses are better handled via Software as a Service companies or other Internet computing providers.  As familiarity and confidence increases with the emergent cloud, so too will adoption.  And data centers – those gigantic, windowless, modern fortresses – will power it all.

Larry has also compiled a useful list of Cloud Resources that attorneys may find particularly useful in developing their practices. Here’s a few from his much larger list:

  • Dropbox: Allows you to synch your files across multiple machines, including laptops, desktops, and mobile devices.
  • Evernote: Comprehensive note taking and digital organization system.  Works on laptops, desktops, and mobile devices.
  • MindMeister: Online mind mapping tools, great for brainstorming and organizing thoughts for complicated processes and cases.
  • Phone.com: Online virtual PBX (phone routing system).
  • MyFax: Online fax service which eliminates need for a fax machine.
  • Rocket Matter: Online client management, case management, billing, task management, calendaring, phone messaging, and other critical law office operational needs online.
  • FastCase and Casemaker: Online legal research – alternatives to Lexis and West with good case precedent visualization tools.
  • Square: Easily collect credit card payments with your mobile device.

There’s still time to register for this must-see program with Larry Port, which also features a keynote presentation by Carolyn Elefant, who has been a resource, an advocate, and an inspiration to lawyers around the country who are either currently solo or considering solo. Her blog, My Shingle, is one of the most popular resources for solo lawyers online.

Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to learn more about cloud computing and law practice management!

Larry Port is the Chief Software Architect of Rocket Matter, a cloud legal practice management software and time tracking solution as well as editor of the Legal Productivity blog. A speaker and award-winning writer at the crossroads of the legal profession and cutting edge technology, Larry frequently discusses marketing, efficiency, and quality techniques in the software industry that can be leveraged by law practitioners. He has been published extensively in legal publications, including Legal Management, Law Technology News, Law Practice Today, ILTA’s Peer to Peer, Lawyerist, FindLaw, Chicago Lawyer, and others.

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