Do Lawyers Have Their Heads In the Clouds?


Sometimes, as a heavy duty user of cloud tools and a vocal advocate of same, I take for granted that others have the same awareness of and comfort level with them as I do. Not necessarily so, it appears. Less than a year ago, Citrix published a study that revealed that most people were a bit confused about the topic. Their blog post reporting on the study posted a few somewhat humorous highlights, such as:

  • 95% of those who think they’re not using the cloud, actually are
  • 3 in 5 (59%) believe the “workplace of the future” will exist entirely in the cloud
  • 40% believe accessing work information at home in their “birthday suit” would be an advantage
  • More than 1/3 agree that the cloud allows them to share information with people they’d rather not be interacting with in person
  • After being provided with the definition of the cloud, 68% recognized its economic benefits
  • 14% have pretended to know what the cloud is during a job interview

So, how do lawyers measure up against the more general population of cloudless masses? The ABA conducts a Legal Tech survey every year, the actual results of which I admittedly don’t read because the multi-volume set is a bit pricier than I would like to fork over. So I tend to depend on the reviews and reports by those more in the legal tech know than I, such as bloggers Bob Ambrogi and Nikki Black.  I encourage you to hit the links to get more details on the results of the latest survey. But I can summarize for you that attorneys’ use of the cloud has grown significantly over the past year, with the  larger percentage of respondents assigning the greatest importance to time and billing and case management applications. Interestingly, though, the top four most used applications by lawyers are not legal-specific apps but are consumer apps – Dropbox, Google Docs, iCloud and Evernote, in that order.  As it appears, lawyers are ahead of the curve on cloud awareness and adoption. Yay, us.

But maybe you need a bit more information and guidance on the cloud and what it means to you as a lawyer. Well, I have the goods for you. Or, rather, MyCase – a cloud-based case management software company – has them, in the form of a nice slideshow. Check it out and be informed!


5 comments on “Do Lawyers Have Their Heads In the Clouds?

  1. Hold down the YAYs until the end. I’m not sure that attorney awareness of the cloud is anywhere near where it should be. All those lawyers using “Dropbox, Google Docs, iCloud and Evernote” need to be extra careful about what they’re uploading. Anything confidential is probably a no-no, meaning a potential breach of ethics and loss of client confidentiality protection.

    The 1986 ECPA says users “lose the expectation of privacy” for data stored online more than 180 days. And the standard terms of use for Dropbox et al gives them the right to reproduce and share user contents. Also, what goes up never comes down. You can’t delete all traces of any file uploaded to public cloud services. They keep backup copies forever, even if you delete your files and close your account.

    I think these issues pose a real threat to public cloud providers and will fuel the rise of private cloud providers like Cloudlocker ( It’s new products like this that will challenge the old-line public cloud services, which have always suffered from fatal flaws in privacy and security. The private, personal clouds like the Cloudlocker eliminate these flaws, and that’s why I see them taking over this space.

  2. Right on, JT. Attorneys do need to be careful of what they use the consumer cloud for and I am a vocal proponent of knowing exactly what the terms of service and protocols of the various cloud tools are are before deciding to use them for a given task. I would also direct readers to my prior post about Workshare, which also is targeted at attorneys’ use of the cloud with an emphasis on security for sensitive materials. And there are others as well that are more tailored to attorney-client tasks. There certainly is room in an attorney’s workflow for use of consumer tools for non-sensitive materials and no doubt there are many recipients outside the firms using these same consumer tools. At this stage, for confidential materials or anything else that needs those high level security controls, attorneys and clients will need to be using the same tools so that encryption and protection can be maintained. Thanks so much for offering your thoughts here – excellent points.

  3. The Legal Profession has especially sensitive info to store, access and retrieve. I do not think that using public cloud services like iCloud is intended for the legal profession. Good service, not for lawyers. It amazes me how an attorney will skip reading the terms and conditions, and in the interests of time, just click the “I accept” box and start their subscription to shared cloud applications.

    This does not mean that buying space from a cloud provider and having one’s own software on the cloud is a bad move, however. But it should be a self managed cloud with tightly configured services, firewalls and access.


  4. If they are using for confidential information and aren’t reading the terms of service, they may be running a risk of ethical violations. It’s true that these services weren’t principally designed for lawyers, or Sarbanes Oxley compliance, or any other similar standards. Hopefully, informed use will catch up to those who simply click that box. Thanks for your POV.

  5. Pingback: Lawyers and The Cloud: 5 Things to Consider - The Cyber Advocate

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