Small-firm lawyers are increasingly likely to use cloud-based services, but they remain concerned concerned about the security and confidentiality of their data in the cloud, according to a survey released today by LexisNexis Firm Manager.


Mobility was the top-cited benefit of the cloud. (Click to enlarge.)

The survey — conducted in December of lawyers in firms of no more than 20 lawyers — found that 39.4% of small-firm lawyers are already using the cloud for legal-related work. That is roughly in accord with the most recent ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, which found that 31% of lawyers overall were using the cloud, but that between 36 and 40% of solo and small-firm lawyers were using it.

Even so, a slight majority of small-firm lawyers, 50.2%, said that they are more likely to consider using a cloud service in 2014. When asked if their law firm was more likely to use a cloud service in 2014, the percentage who said “more likely” jumped to 72.4%.

As other surveys have indicated. concerns about security and confidentiality remain the greatest barrier to cloud adoption among small-firm lawyers. Even though security was the top-ranked barrier, the survey nonetheless found that 41% of small-firm lawyers believe that the cloud is secure and only 9% say it is unsecure. Roughly 36% fell in the middle — saying they were unsure whether it is secure.

Notably, when asked why they believe the cloud is not secure, a significant number of respondents cited fear of access by the government or the NSA. They also cited fear of hackers and rogue employees of the cloud vendor.

Other top barriers to using the cloud, the survey found, were:

  • Ethical concerns.
  • Uncertainty of stored data location.
  • Data ownership.
  • Cost to switch services.

Of small-firm lawyers who say they are already using the cloud, the most common purpose is for document storage and management (60%). Other common uses were:

  • Backup and disaster recovery (56.4%).
  • Email (53.6%).
  • File sharing (46.4%).
  • Practice management (23%).

Thirty-nine percent of small-firm lawyers believe that cloud-based tools will overtake premises-based applications within 3-5 years. Just 15% believe this will happen within three years.

The full survey report is available at the LexisNexis Business of Law Blog.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.