Peer to Peer Magazine

June 2010

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 34 of 111

CASE STUDIES Head in the Clouds, Feet on the Ground: The Evolution of Cloud Computing by Sean Scott and Deepak Massand D ateline: June 15, 2020. Though it’s been 20 years, the new millennium began by shaking our industry to the core. Precipitated by the events of 9/11, the early years of the new millennium reinforced the importance of disaster management, security, replication, backups and off site locations. The years 2003 to 2007 were the heyday for lawyers, as they were for many others. Business was booming, growth was exponential and a plethora of new technology helped us be more productive in less time. But, by the end of the decade, everything had changed. During 2008 and 2009, the impact of the economic recession had trickled down through the corporate world and was felt in the legal arena. Clients were no longer accepting the billable hour as the standard, demanding instead fixed- fee arrangements for legal services. At the same time, the technology that increased our productivity at the start of the decade had begun to hamper the efficiency of our end users. THE TURBULENT DESKTOP If you took a look back at the typical computer of a lawyer or paralegal in 2010, you’d see a desktop overloaded with add-ins and multiple applications forced to integrate with each other. This scenario often led to conflicts, slowdowns and error messages for the end user. More pain came from the fact that key applications like MS Word and Outlook became more sluggish. In other words, our end users and fee earners — our lawyers, paralegals and other legal professionals — were feeling the pinch of computing environments that were not optimized to help them succeed. Indeed, CPU processing power was being drained by the processing requirements of the same software that at one time fueled productivity. Legal IT departments were suddenly charged with finding next-generation enterprise solutions that would help fee earners increase their productivity. Somehow, we had to 36 Peer to Peer find a way to extricate ourselves from the mess that had been created, the spaghetti junction of add-ins that were the bane of our users. However, despite our best efforts, we ended up spending the majority of our time providing ground-level product support. It took nearly all of our time just to maintain the status quo, which was utterly counterproductive to any level of real growth and utilization of technology to improve workflow and user efficiency. TEST FLIGHTS IN THE CLOUD Legal IT professionals across the board agreed that what was most needed was a more efficient and cost-effective way to improve both the accuracy and the productivity of fee earners. The significant driver of our decisions was whether a technology solution would increase efficiency at the end-user level. Enter the cloud. It’s well known that adversity inspires innovation, which was as true for our industry as any other. As we dealt with establishing more secure infrastructures and implementing the disaster recovery plans we started in the early part of the millennium, many of our vendors had begun to innovate and offer cloud computing. By 2005, CRM, document management, helpdesk and other platforms began to move online. By 2010, there was a great deal of excitement in law firms about the possibility of moving some, if not all, of software applications to the cloud. Cloud computing delivered the alternative solution that many of us in management roles (the ones responsible for choosing and managing the software and technological infrastructure that power our legal professionals) were looking for. Cloud solutions meant fewer installation issues, fewer integration problems, fewer add-ins and less need for the provision of never-ending support. For early adopters, those willing and able to challenge end users to rethink the way they relate to technology, the cloud delivered a plethora of benefits. Each time we

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