Updated: Dec 21, 2021
A guest blog post by Uptime Legal Systems
LEAP Legal Software is used by thousands of law firms across North America and for good reason: LEAP helps law firms streamline their practice, streamline their technology, and move to the cloud.
Law practice management software serves as the hub of your law firm’s technology. But there are other technology elements your firm relies on that also benefit from being moved to the cloud. If your firm uses LEAP Legal Software or is considering a move to LEAP, this article is for you.
LEAP is a great first step towards eliminating servers, reducing IT headaches, and moving your law firm to the cloud.
We’ve seen many law firms move some of their technology to the cloud but leave certain pieces on-premise, which undermines the benefits of the cloud, and gives the law firm more things to manage (not less). Sometimes a legacy premise-based app stubbornly remains on-premise. Other times we see a local file server that hasn’t been moved to the cloud.
In this article, we’ll show you how to Complete your Law Office in the Cloud.
Let’s get started.
Why Law Firms Should Be in the Cloud
First, a brief overview of why a law firm should aspire not just to move to the cloud, but to make a complete move to the cloud. Compared to managing in-house, on-premise servers and using premise-based legal software, cloud-based platforms are:
More Reliable. Cloud-based solutions, like law practice management software and cloud storage, are orders of magnitude more reliable than a single, on-premise server (even a well-maintained one). Cloud-based solutions are often backed up to multiple servers within multiple data centers across the US.
More Secure. Cloud-based software and solution providers are in the business of keeping your law firm data secure. Most cloud-based solutions include complete data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and 24/7 security monitoring.
More Scalable and Flexible. On-premise servers and premise-based software licensing are inherently inflexible; adding more users (or storage or other elements) requires an up-front purchase. And if you need to downsize for a time—too bad, you’re stuck with what you purchased. Most cloud-based solutions, on the other hand, allow you to scale users and resources up and down as needed.
More Accessible. Obviously, cloud-based solutions are inherently accessible. Your entire firm can access your cloud-based systems (such as LEAP, OneDrive, or QuickBooks Online) anytime, from anywhere. This supports today’s evolving hybrid workplace.
More Economical. Cloud-based solutions may save you a little money each year, but more importantly: a suite of cloud-based services comes at a predictable, fixed fee. With no servers to maintain and no software to renew annually, you’ll know your exact technology costs each month.
Related: Cloud Cost Calculator
Introduction to LEAP
Now that we’ve demonstrated why the cloud is the best path for nearly every law firm, let’s dig into the specific cloud-based tools that your law firm can use to build a Law Office in the Cloud.
Starting with LEAP Legal Software.
LEAP is true-cloud law practice management (LMP) software. LEAP provides rich tools to manage your cases and your firm, and securely stores your data in the cloud on servers powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is the largest cloud platform provider in the world, with 99.99% uptime. LEAP provides a broad range of capabilities, in contrast to other cloud-based LPM applications in the market today.
There’s no doubt that web-based software is easier to use and maintain than installable, desktop/server-based software. The trade-off, however, is usually software speed, performance, and functionality.
LEAP Legal Software aims to give law firms the best of both worlds: There is an installed desktop application that is installed on your Windows desktop. However, the data is stored in LEAP’s cloud servers, which eliminates the need for on-premise servers and IT support. In this way, LEAP provides:
· A centralized database or “one version of the truth”
· The speed and functionality of desktop-based software
· The ease, simplicity, and mobility of cloud-based software
Complete Your Law Office in the Cloud
With LEAP as the hub of your law practice, let’s talk about how to complete your Law Office in the Cloud by working through cloud-based options for each of the key technology elements within a typical law practice.
Cloud Storage for Documents & Data
Your files, folders, and other data should live in the cloud where it’s secure and accessible to your entire team. For this, we recommend one of two options (or possibly, a combination of the two):
1. LEAP Document Storage
LEAP has built-in cloud storage for your matter documents and offers document assembly and document management capabilities. One of LEAP’s stand-out features is its comprehensive library of local and federal court forms, which you can generate on the fly and store securely in LEAP.
2. OneDrive Cloud Storage
Alternatively, or in addition to LEAP’s integrated storage, OneDrive is a great cloud storage platform for law firms. It’s simple, intuitive, secure, and cost-effective. OneDrive can effectively replace your on-premise file-server and network drive (EG: “The S:\ drive,”) giving your firm anytime, anywhere access to all of your documents.
Productivity & Email
Next up in building our Law Office in the Cloud: productivity software. Specifically, we’re referring to:
· The Microsoft 365 Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)
· Email (Exchange, Outlook)
· PDF Documents (Adobe Acrobat)
This may be an element that you’ve already moved to the cloud. If not, read on.
For most law firms, we recommend Microsoft 365. The Microsoft 365 Suite includes:
· Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote and Outlook
· Exchange Email
· Microsoft Teams (more on Teams below)
· Microsoft SharePoint (Intranet)
· Microsoft OneDrive
LEAP integrates directly with Microsoft 365, as do countless other general-purpose applications.
To build a modern law office in the cloud, you’ll need modern tools to communicate and collaborate with your coworkers, your clients, and other third parties.
COVID forced us all to adopt video calls and virtual meetings, and we’re better for it. Even when the Pandemic is behind us, hybrid work is here to stay, as is virtual face-to-face meetings (over traditional phone calls). To stay connected with your team and your clients, your Law Office in the Cloud will need to include remote meeting and communication tools.
For collaboration, we recommend Microsoft Teams, Slack, and/or Zoom.
Zoom is the face-to-face video call system that gained popularity during the early stages of the Pandemic (and remains highly used today). And for good reason, Zoom is easy to use, fast and effective. Zoom is a great way to facilitate one-on-one calls or a group meeting with multiple participants. Zoom provides the (now classic) tile of faces, with a focus on who’s currently speaking.
Slack is also an excellent communication tool, primarily for chat and messaging. Slack allows you to create groups (called channels) for specific teams, functions, or practice areas. Slack also supports direct person-to-person messaging. Ultimately Slack helps your team stay in touch, and dramatically reduces email clutter (think of the quick notes back-and-forth that you send by email currently).
Microsoft Teams is a sort of combination of both Zoom and Slack. It supports video calls (individual or group) as well as chat and direct messaging. What’s more, Teams is part of the Microsoft 365 suite and included in most editions. Naturally, Teams integrates tightly with Microsoft Office and OneDrive, making it an unofficial hub of your law practice.
Finally, you’ll need some level of IT and technology support to tie everything together and to provide general, technical support when your team needs it.
Ideally, you want one team that can both support your LEAP software, and know the ins and outs of supporting a law firm… and one that can support the “vanilla” elements of your IT. Your ideal legal technology support team should be able to support your firm’s:
· LEAP Legal Software
· Microsoft 365 & Email
· Your Other Cloud-based Tools and Apps
· Desktops & Laptops
· Printers & Scanners
· Network & Internet Connectivity
We recommend getting IT support from a company that has deep and extensive knowledge of the law firm software your firm uses.
If you don’t, you’re very likely to find that your IT consultant/company is eager to help you with the generic elements of your technology (computer support, networking, Microsoft 365), but resists supporting your legal software (or worse yet: blames the software provider when things go wrong).
Complete Your Law Office in the Cloud
If you follow the playbook outlined in this article, you’ll be able to effectively build on the hub that LEAP is for your firm and develop an end-to-end Law Office in the Cloud.
If you’re looking for a ready-made, battle-tested Law Office in the Cloud: Take a look at Uptime Practice Next.
Practice Next is a suite of essential law practice management and cloud tools, developed and optimized for law firms like yours. Practice Next includes:
· Implementation & Support for LEAP Legal Software
· Microsoft 365
· Exchange Email
· OneDrive Cloud Storage
· Support for Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom
· Expert IT Help Desk
· Support for Your Desktops, Laptops, Printers, Networks & more.
· Tools for enhanced Data Security & Compliance
Learn more about LEAP + Practice Next. We wish you and your law firm the best of luck, whatever path you decide.
Onward and Upward!