The Complete Guide to Cloud Migration for Law Firms

by | Feb 7, 2022

As more and more law firms move to remote or hybrid settings, cloud migration becomes an industry standard. Still, some legal professionals are hesitant about fully embracing cloud technology due to the lack of sound cloud migration strategy, security issues, and the hustle of the transition process.

The good news is that most cloud security challenges the lawyers face, created by inadequate security practices and a lack of efficient planning, can be easily avoided. Cloud migration for law firms can be facilitated by automated solutions and specialized service providers who focus on working with legal professionals. 

The cloud migration process is similar to moving to a new office which requires careful planning, choosing the right provider, and implementation. Here is more on how to plan cloud transition, address cloud migration challenges and implement cloud transition for law firms.

Set Up Your Migration Goals and KPIs

Setting up your migration goals is essential to measure success and identify failures to make necessary changes in the process of transition. When migrating to the cloud, most law firms are motivated by the following KPIs:

• reducing time spent on administration of the law firm’s on-site server

• lower maintenance costs

• scalability of the legal software depending on needs

• accessibility of law firms’ databases and better collaboration with clients

Create an Inventory of Your Data and Software

Moving a law firm’s databases and software to the cloud is similar to moving an office to a new location. Like moving out to a new physical space, cloud migration takes a detailed inventory of all data and software to have everything accounted for, backed up, and tracked to ensure nothing is lost during migration.

Before your cloud provider starts the migration, you will need to create a list of your software’s license codes and passwords and provide it to the migration team, along with the inventory of the databases and systems. When fulfilling migration, you will have to double-check if everything was accounted for in the list, letting the migration team plug into your law firm’s server and supplement the data if something was missed.

Choose the Right Cloud Provider

Similar to how location is important to a physical office, choosing the right cloud provider is crucial for a law firm’s growth and scalability. Meanwhile, many legal professionals risk getting vendor-locked when migrating from one cloud to another should they wish to switch providers due to technical and other limitations.

When choosing a cloud provider, one should keep in mind different aspects of public and private clouds. The public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platforms, provide virtually unlimited scalability and extensive functionality while sharing their infrastructure with multiple users.

On the other hand, private cloud solutions with proprietary infrastructure reserved for each client provide the highest level of data safety and security. The American Bar Association made it clear that private clouds are preferable for data safety concerns while offering the full range of cloud benefits sought by law firms.

Prepare for Transition and Arrange Backup

After defining KPIs, creating an inventory of data, and choosing the cloud provider, now is time to prepare for the transition. Moving to the cloud presents several challenges, including the security risks when exposing large volumes of data during the migration and configuring access controls. Meanwhile, a safe transition always requires a backup plan to recover data from backup storage should things go wrong.

The transition itself involves several processes collectively known as the “6 R’s of migration,” which include:

Rehosting or cloning the law firm’s server and moving it to the cloud,

Replatforming, which is transitioning the software to the cloud while adapting some of its components,

Refactoring or modifying the code of law firm’s software to benefit from cloud capabilities,

Repurchasing aka “drop and shop” or switching to cloud-based applications,

Retiring or skipping ineffective software,

Retaining or keeping some on-premise applications without moving them to the cloud for various reasons, for example, when an app is not supported by cloud environment or can be operated better when staying on-premise.

An experienced cloud provider can address each of these processes, selectively applying those which work best in each case. Meanwhile, the migration team must ensure safety and security during the transition, organizing for safe data backup storage and migration.

Implement Migration

When all the planning, preparation, and backup are done, the cloud migration team will proceed with the transition. Since the law firm’s server is usually shut off during the transfer of data and systems to the cloud, it is necessary to plan the migration processes after the main office hours to avoid work disruption.

With well-planned transition strategies, processes, and backups in place, the migration can be implemented smoothly with a law firm’s software and databases up and running the next morning. After all systems are operational, the migration team will link all the hardware, scanners, printers, and other devices and ensure access for all users, providing necessary assistance through the help desk.

Summing It Up 

With most law firms transitioning to remote or hybrid settings, moving to the cloud becomes an industry standard. Meanwhile, cloud migration can be greatly facilitated with the help of a professional vendor, offering automated migration tools and processes and secure private cloud service solutions.

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