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Bar News - August 23, 2013

Tech Talk: Practicing Law in the Cloud: Easier Than You Might Think


Rob Howard
The NH Bar Association’s first computer was a Wang server that managed the membership database, using “dumb” terminals to access the central processing unit (CPU).

Personal computers and Apple brought computer power to the desk, and now, “The Cloud” is taking it away again.

A recent NHBA Ethics Committee opinion advises New Hampshire lawyers that it’s OK to store files in the so-called Cloud, as long as certain precautions are heeded.

Transferring your legal practice from a server in the office to the Cloud is fairly straightforward. As with the Wang, the software and the data are stored on a remote host. Instead of using an internal network, you access it with your web browser – Internet Explorer, for instance. You pay an annual or monthly fee for use of the software and the storage of data, such as file information, calendar and documents.

There are some benefits to making this transition. You and your paralegal (etc.) can access your entire practice from any computer, tablet or smart phone. Because the software and data are on the remote host computer, all patches and upgrades are installed by the host as developed and at no extra charge. Tech support is included. You never have to worry about backing up your data. Their virus protection is better than yours. The monthly cost is generally less than your office server/desktop version.

You can check out some Cloud programs online. For instance, with a license from Microsoft for Office 365, you always have the latest version of Word and Excel available at any computer, tablet or smart phone with any operating system, and all documents, spreadsheets, etc. are stored there. Amicus Attorney and CLIO have Cloud-based practice management subscriptions.

For my practice, I am waiting for the next generation of software and Internet access with more reliability and speed. Some features that I use all the time, like document generation, are absent or clunky in the Cloud version of Amicus. But I expect that my entire practice will be in the Cloud within two years.

For additional discussion about the ethics of cloud computing and legal practice, read this month’s Ethics Corner article.

Suggest a Topic: If you have a question or a topic you would like Rob Howard to address in this column, please send an email to

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