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If you’re taking the much needed plunge into the cloud, you may be wondering how to evaluate cloud service companies.

What is it that separates the wheat from the chaff? Not only in terms of the core technology, ease of use, and productivity and other gains – but specifically with regards to the legal community can use cloud, and all the additional rules and concerns that come with it?

Because, as you know, lawyers don’t always have the same freedoms when it comes to choosing their technology providers. Unlike firms in other fields that may be able to take more risks, you are bound by strict compliance rules concerning client data that mean whatever you use has to be totally watertight. And whatever cloud service companies you consider working with need to be well versed in these specific requirements.

Here are three questions that you absolutely must ask when choosing a cloud provider for your law firm

1. Are They Certified by the Cloud Industry Forum Code of Practice?

Any cloud service providers courting contracts from law firms should be able to show that they are following best practice models for the industry, and that means adhering to the Code of Practice for Cloud Service Providers

The point of the COP is, in their words, to set the standard for transparency, capability and accountability across the cloud technology industry. They push for the highest quality services and have strict guidelines and benchmarks for how certified companies operate. Only companies that are certified – and many cloud technology providers are not – are monitored and held accountable by the Cloud Industry Forum.

In order to gain certification, cloud service providers have to show that they are capable of doing what they promise, and that the information they share with clients is complete and accurate.

What’s more, they have to demonstrate high levels of capability in their level of service and supplier management, as well as, crucially, information security management – including data protection. All of which are absolutely essential for operating a reliable law cloud solution.

2. Will Your Data Be Encrypted as Standard?

Given the ever-growing threat of hack attacks, you’d be amazed at how many cloud service providers are unable to answer “yes” to this question.

If your data is not encrypted, it is not safe. You need to be sure that all files and documents, emails, contact details and information stored in apps are locked away behind stringent security measures, including high levels of encryption and multi-factor authentication before anyone can get anywhere near the sensitive stuff. If a cloud technology provider can’t promise this, they are not fit to run cloud for a legal firm. Walk away.

3. What is Their Backup and Disaster Recovery Procedure?

And, specifically, does it meet the needs of your and your regulatory authority’s business continuity requirements?

Any cloud provider worth your time will have a rock-solid solution in place for data recovery. They’ll backup on multiple servers in different locations (although, of course, all in the UK, in line with your compliance requirements), keeping your vital assets safe in case of a fire, theft, crypto-locker virus or natural disaster.

They’ll be able to provide your regulator with the access they demand should this be required under law.

And, ideally, they’ll also have a solution in place that allows you to maintain seamless, uninterrupted access to everything you use need, even if you suffered a disaster or technical meltdown in your own office.

When it comes to choosing the right cloud service provider, there is no scope to cut corners. Make sure you’re asking the tough questions you need to ask to get your choice of partner right from the very outset, and you’ll save yourself some serious headaches further down the line.

Have questions or want to learn more about using the cloud to grow your firm without compromising your security? Click here to get in touch.