And, The Results Are Unanimously “In Favor”
Many firms are concerned about their SRO’s (Self Regulated Organization) opinions regarding the ethics of cloud computing and moving their IT to it. Fears, negative anecdotes and general lack of information tend to keep many well-run firms from making good decisions.
In an online research publication, the American Bar Association reported on the opinions given by 19 state legal bodies:
- All 19 Opinions stated “YES” firms are allowed to use the cloud at your service.
- All 19 also stated that a “Reasonable Care” standard was expected.
Various Requirements & Recommendations accompanied these opinions, providing a good framework against which to assess your firm’s transition to The Cloud. The specific requirements & recommendations included the following:
- Monitor and ensure the confidentiality agreement between the firm and the cloud provider is followed.
- Periodically review the security measures being used to safeguard data.
- Consult with a cloud expert to assist with evaluating different providers’ offerings.
- Ensure ownership and jurisdiction of the data are established and protected.
- Secure segregation of each firm’s data needs to be in place.
- Ensure cloud provider’s technology is up-to-date and maintained.
- Review Terms Of Service & Service Level Agreements.
- Vendor obligation to preserve confidentiality / security must be enforceable.
- Require notice if data is accessed by any other party outside your firm.
- Review provider’s security procedures periodically
- Conduct ‘due diligence investigation’ of any proposed cloud service provider.
Reviewing the most common recommendations, it is a “common sense” guideline for data protection and confidentiality in-line with the ethics of business. The fact that almost all states offered opinions citing these concerns, shows how significant the potential threat of data loss or theft is.
What You Can Take From Their Recommendations Regarding the Ethics of Cloud Computing for Law Firms:
Although each reporting body had different ways of phrasing their concerns, they all evolved around “Accountability”, “Security” and “Predictability”.
Most firms who have migrated to The Cloud have experienced the positive benefits you see in the many pamphlets:
- Reduced cost for I.T.
- Increased efficiencies
- Greater reliability
- Access to data anywhere, anytime
- Reduced downtime
- Increased security
- Constant it support
- Off-site backup that is automated
- Reduced software licensing costs
The lists go on and on, however looking at the recommendations above, how can you move forward to achieve all these benefits, without exposing your firm to the risks and other issues of business ethics?
- Track Record: you need to deal with a firm with a solid track record of working with firms just like yours. Beware firms who are “generalists”. You are likely to end up spending a lot of money both in transition and in ongoing maintenance of your cloud work environment.
- Transition Teams Who Specialize: make sure the firm you are considering has teams who do nothing but deal with firms in your industry… you will have very specific needs and data protocols that may not exist in other industries.
- Nothing beats seeing “peer reviews” of the company’s performance with other firms in your industry… It is proof that they know what they are doing and have gone through many of the steps your firm will take when moving its operation to “The Cloud”.
- Make sure you are not “locked-in” through contracts that bind you regardless of performance. If things are not being handled appropriately, you need the flexibility to “move on”.
- Industry Applications: Look for a supplier who not only says they “understand your industry” but demonstrate that understanding by supplying key software applications used by your firm. This kind of a firm will know how you can increase productivity and decrease overall expense… because they do it for others in your industry every day of the week!
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