“You can’t fight gravity.” That’s what Andy Jassy says about moving to the cloud. And as the guy who’s taking the Amazon CEO reins from Jeff Bezos, he knows a thing or two.

But for legal professionals, adopting cloud-based tools is easier said than done. With constant competing demands most lawyers and in-house counsel face, you might be thinking, can any software actually make a difference?

Our answer: absolutely. But don’t just take our word for it.

Instead, we aim to help demystify the cloud, give tangible information and help navigate your understanding of the cloud.

Ready? Let’s get started.

What is cloud document management?

Generally, document management systems (DMS) refer to the tools and processes your organization uses to store and manage documents. Historically, companies have used on-premises systems, file shares, and even their email inboxes to locate, organize, and share important documents.

Unfortunately, these outdated and ad hoc approaches often lack the security, functionality, and ease-of-use that modern business users need.

But thankfully, there’s a better way.

Cloud-based document management offers law firms and legal teams the best of both worlds: robust productivity-boosting tools with increased security and governance controls.

Cloud-based versus ‘on-prem’ document management systems

Before we go any further, it may help to clarify the difference between on-premises solutions and cloud document management.

The key difference is that on-prem solutions require you to purchase and maintain in-house server hardware, software licenses, security systems, and IT personnel. You have control (and responsibility) over every component.

Cloud solutions (a.k.a. software-as-a-service, or SaaS) take care of the heavy lifting for you. There’s no hardware or software to purchase. You pay monthly user fees and access the DMS platform via the internet. The additional advantage? A dedicated support team, versus needing internal IT bandwidth and resources.

Be warned: Some cloud DMS platforms are actually on-prem systems in disguise. Make sure you understand the core architecture behind any DMS you consider.

Is using cloud computing in law ethical?

Given the often-confidential nature of legal work, you may be wondering whether it’s even ethical for legal professionals to use third-party cloud providers. Check out what Bar Associations and Law Societies within the US and around the world have to say in their ethics opinions on cloud computing.

Some skepticism is understandable, the reality is that cloud solutions can be used as long as you do the appropriate due diligence and choose a provider that complies with your ethical duties.

Common misconceptions about cloud DMS

Although cloud-based software is quickly becoming the norm for most businesses, there are still some common misconceptions that keep legal teams from claiming all the benefits it offers.

Myth #1: The cloud is less secure.

Just because it’s called ‘the cloud’ doesn’t mean it goes soft on security. Cloud document management can actually be more secure than on-premises solutions.

Myth #2: It’s too expensive.

We get it: switching to a new system might seem like a big investment. But the truth is, not switching to the cloud could be even more costly.

Myth #3: The cloud won’t be as important after the pandemic.

Let’s be clear: Remote work is here to stay. Flexible work is a top priority for in-demand professionals, and the growing younger workforce. It’s a perk you can’t afford to drop.

While we’ve given you an introduction to the cloud, there’s much more to understand about the benefits cloud-based DMS provides, the problems and challenges it solves, and how to ensure your firm is getting the best cloud document management solution.

Get to know the cloud.

If you want to solidify your understanding of the cloud, check out our recent webinar on this topic, What Is the Cloud Anyway?featuring cloud experts Kelly Plunkett and Scott Barnhill who break down the foundational elements of cloud technology —and how it can advance your team’s competitive advantage.