Peer to Peer

June 2009

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 99 16 Peer to Peer BEST PRACTICES The Benefits of the Cloud: Taking a Cue from Small Law Firms W hile law firms of all sizes are tightening their belts, the recession is hitting larger firms the hardest, driving staff reductions and capital expense cuts at the same time "megaclients" are demanding higher levels of responsiveness. But the recession presents an opportunity for large firms, and those willing to embrace structural and technological innovation can remain lean and agile once the economy rebounds. Large firms might be well served to take a cue from their small firm counterparts who leverage technology-enabled services to off-load their administrative services, streamline their ability to provide niche legal advice, and in effect, change the legal value proposition. CLOUD COMPUTING AS A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE Large firms used to have the IT advantage because they could afford to buy, build and staff an inhouse data center. Cloud computing, also called software-as-a-service (SaaS), levels that playing field. In a clouded environment, the software provider invests in technology and infrastructure, and subscribers access the utility online. Subscribers have the advantages of ownership without the costs of licensing, maintenance and support. For small firms, cloud computing delivers the agility needed to compete in an evolving marketplace. When you compute in the cloud, industrial strength encryption, back-up, disaster recovery, and network monitoring are typically part of the package. The real opportunity for savings, however, will come from putting people into the cloud. These people might include software developers, support technicians, call center agents, lawyers, paralegals, accountants, content developers or Web designers. Call it clouded resources., the world's largest virtual call center, is a great example, as is industry giant Amazon with its innovative Mechanical Turk service. (See sidebar.) SMALL FIRM TAKE-AWAYS FOR LARGE FIRM CHALLENGES Large law firms that embrace cloud innovation sooner than later will come out of the recession faster, stronger and leaner. CIOs need to look at their small firm counterparts and: concentrate on what makes them strategically different • from everybody else, and commoditize, template or outsource the rest. focus on tasks and efficient process flow instead of • head count and reporting structures. stop adding head count for work that a virtual team can • perform, Reduce capital expenditures and support obligations • without compromising the completion of mission critical tasks and technology projects. start experimenting with ways to move people into • the cloud to maximize collaboration and eliminate confusion, rework and administrative overhead. A recession is the best time to get agile, and agility will be especially important in the future. ILTA Ed scanlan is founder & cEo of total attorneys, a chicago-based technology- enabled services provider servicing more than 1,000 small firm and solo practice lawyers nationwide. total attorneys uses cloud resourcing to provide small law firms and solo practitioners Web-based solutions for marketing; call center and answering services; research; and case support. Ed can be reached at

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Peer to Peer - June 2009