As more of our lives, and more of our work move into the digital realm, a Legal IT Professional’s survey indicates a split in the profession over whether firms should move key technology functions into “the cloud”. The survey’s sample size was fairly small (there were 438 respondents), yet 45% of lawyers and paralegals were in favor of the shift, with the slightly larger 46% opposing it (the remaining 9% very diplomatically had no opinion on the issue). Small to mid-size firms were more likely to be in favor, with 57% of firms boasting over 1,000 fee earners opposing the move. This is unsurprising, as larger firms tend to have in-house IT departments that might suffer from the move.
What is surprising is that such a high level of the profession seems so willing to embrace what would doubtlessly be a huge change for the field. On one hand, it would certainly make remote access easier, which may explain the high number of lawyers in favor of the move. Yet increasing the technological complexity of day-to-day legal work will involve training staff in the new processes, taking risks with a lot of the firm’s documentation, and ultimately, opening up a large amount of confidential information to the risk of hacking.
It is likely that none of these problems will ultimately prevent the shift from occurring, and 81% of those responding indicated they thought it would likely happen in the next decade. The willingness of such a large swath of a generally conservative, risk-averse profession to make the leap already is still worth noting however. In a profession that tends to eschew development for stability and to prefer precedent over novelty, the fact that these numbers are so high already may tell us a lot about the way all of society has embraced technology over the past few decades, and how much larger a role it is likely to play in our lives in years to come.