Legal & Law Articles

Is Your Data Really Safe in the Cloud? — Tips From Nicole Black, Legal Technology Expert

by Christophe Primault
Published on 25 May 2012

Cloud computing has "unique attributes that require risk assessment in areas such as data integrity, recovery, privacy and an evaluation of legal issues," Gartner says.

Now that businesses are increasingly tapping into the cloud, they need to pay close attention to these risks more than ever.

In line with such concern we had an interview with Nicole Black, a lawyer and legal technology author.

In this post, Nicole introduces us to the world of legal technology and addresses the topic of data safety in the cloud.

Can You Describe Yourself Briefly And What Attracted You To The World Of Legal Technology?

I am a Vice President at MyCase, a cloud-based law practice management platform for lawyers. I am also a lawyer, ardent legal technology evangelist and author. I co-author, along with Judge Karen Morris, a Thomson-West treatise, "Criminal Law in New York," and, co-author, along with Carolyn Elefant, an ABA book, "Social Media for Lawyers." I am also the author of a recently published ABA book, "Cloud Computing for Lawyers" and write a weekly column in the Daily Record which is distributed across Dolan Media's national newswire. I started my first legal blog, Sui Generis, in 2005 and that's when my fascination with the intersection of law and technology began.

Do You See A Clear Transition From Traditional Law Practice Management Platforms Towards A Future Of Cloud-Based Legal Applications?

I think the transition to cloud-based platforms will be a very gradual one for lawyers. Lawyers are, generally speaking, reluctant to embrace change and as a profession, the legal field has not been particularly welcoming toward new technological innovations. That being said, cloud computing is becoming ubiquitous and many lawyers use it without even realizing it, such as in the form of cloud-based email, whether used by a lawyer or a client. Over time, as cloud computing becomes more familiar and the unique security and ethical issues it presents for lawyers are worked out, it will become commonplace in the legal field.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Cloud Computing Applications In Law Practice, And What Are The Drawbacks?

The benefits are the convenience of being able to securely access data stored in the cloud from anywhere, at anytime, as long as an Internet connection is available. Cloud computing offers an affordable, secure and flexible alternative to traditional server-based legal software, the implementation of which can be extremely expensive, between purchasing the software, paying for annual licensing fees, paying for technology consultants to help set up the software and train the staff, and paying IT expenses for maintenance of the servers, among other costs. Cloud-based software, on the other hand, is essentially hassle-free. Businesses or lawyers pay a monthly fee to access the service and are up and running, with no need to pay costly annual licensing fees or IT costs.

Can You Give Some Basic Tips About Cloud Security And Legal Issues, Like Data Portability, Location And Privacy, Etc., That Any Business Or Professional Has To Consider?

When moving your data into the cloud, it is important to ensure that it will be safe and secure.

It is important to determine, among other things:

  1. How often the data is backed up
  2. Whether it is encrypted, both in transit and while in storage
  3. Which employees of the provider will have access to the data and under what circumstances
  4. Whether the data can be extracted from the system should you choose to stop using the service and in what format it will be provided to you

In my book, "Cloud Computing for Lawyers," I provide a list of 18 security-related questions that businesses and lawyers should ask cloud computing providers to aid them in vetting the provider and deciding if the service is secure enough for their law practice or data privacy. That list is useful for any business owner considering using the cloud to store their data and can be found here.

Thanks for your great advice Nicole and we wish we can comment on new updates of cloud computing security issues in the future. You can also connect with Nicole on Twitter @nikiblack.

Additionally, check this link if you want to compare Law Practice Management Applications.