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Most attorneys don't practice in a massive firm, but go it alone or work with a few partners. That's about 84 percent of us. That's right, four out of five lawyers (plus change) are having to handle a significant amount of our own law firm functioning.
But fear not, it looks like the demands of the market have created a solution that might give some smaller players in the game some hope. Legal tech is starting to take small firms seriously, to the small practitioner's benefit.
SaaS, the Cloud, and You
If you've never heard of SaaS before, you can be forgiven. After all, we're living in an age where about ten percent of our substantive communication is made up of abbreviations and acronyms.
SaaS stands for "software-as-a-service." The basic model of SaaS involves a company licensing software by subscription on a monthly or yearly basis. The programs can be tailor-made to be delivered on various cloud services, meaning you can access them from pretty much anywhere.
No More IT People?
"Great," you say. "So what?" Well, the idea is that SaaS is essentially the purchase of a service, not the software itself. This means that many technical problems that arise are the problem of the licensing company, not yours.
This is a grand departure from the IT model of yesterday where an IT team would be sited on the premises ready to be deployed once something went wrong with the company machines. But of course, only really loaded BigLaw companies could afford that sort of expenditure.
What this means is that technological solutions that had previously only been available to the big kids on the block are slowly becoming more accessible to smaller firms who don't need to worry about the gigantic up-front expenditure of IT people. And since SaaS applications are on the cloud, they can be accessed anywhere, almost any-time and are virtually upkeep (from your perspective) free.
Of course, this "anytime-anywhere" talk should already be prompting caution. Law firms are (and should be) deeply concerned about the security ramifications of SaaS and cloud tech. Due diligence is always a must.
Nonetheless, the cloud can free smaller firms so that they can actually practice law -- not get bogged down in the day to day busy-work of running an office. Frankly, you know that the industry is moving in this direction so embrace the change. Ready your client files and caseload for a change -- you're gonna be practicing soon.