Securing clients’ files and communication documents
The ABA reported that Lawyers continued to use popular business cloud services like Dropbox (62%), Microsoft Teams (41%), Microsoft 365 (48%), iCloud (20%), Box (11%), and Evernote (11%) at higher rates than dedicated legal cloud services. Clio and NetDocuments continue to rank as the highest among the legal-specific cloud services.
According to another report, 23% of lawyers use online platforms to create and share documents, 23% use online services for messaging and communication, 17% for invoicing and bill payment, and 15% for scheduling and calendaring.
Some law firms have adopted Google Drive which does not provide client-side encryption, making it a poor choice for law firms dealing with a lot of sensitive information.
Some benefits of moving to the cloud include stronger security, increased flexibility for remote work, and more scalability. But having all files stored on premise is usually preferred by lawyers. However, new options are emerging that could allow lawyers to have it both ways: have files stored on premises but accessible remotely.
First, it should be noted that choosing an on-premises product means you can guarantee your clients that data never leaves your company and remains 100% confidential. Powerful server and client-side encryption options provide ultimate protection for sensitive documents.
This where the open source cloud applications come handy. For example, Nextcloud, an open source cloud storage software, allows lawyers to back up and store files to the cloud from anywhere. Think Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud, except that you have complete control over where and how your files are stored.
Moreover, end-to-end encryption is another added feature that is appealing to lawyers. For added privacy and security, Nextcloud offers end-to-end encryption (e2ee), which means that lawyer would encrypt their own files locally before uploading them to the cloud. They can then only be decrypted inside apps for which they have the key.
E2ee can be enabled on a per-folder basic and synced across. In addition to the actual content, file names and folder structure in e2ee folders are hidden from the server.
So what is exactly Nextcloud and how can lawyers and law firms use it?
Nextcloud is a file syncing and sharing solution that is redefining how organizations work and users collaborate with one another. Easily upload, access and share important files, calendars, contacts and much more, as more apps are added to hook this sofware. Nextcloud offers users privacy because all of their important files are hosted on a server that only they control. They are in complete control of who they share their files with and whether they share the files at all.
There are many options, and each can even enhance security to files. Nextcloud can be purchased installed on servers that will be housed in the office. This could be a good option for mid-size or large firms that might have the benefit of IT support.
Small or individual law offices can “lease” servers or server space from a hosting provider. They can select the option where the provider will manage the server and the software or they can handle those tasks themselves. Either way, this option, of hosted own-cloud, is a good one even for large firms. There are some hosting companies that provide Nextcloud services; A2 Hosting, seem to have many options that fit many budgets. Once you are their site, search for “Nextcloud” and the search should return many up-to-date options and deals.