IP lawyers today are confronted with specific logistical problems they have difficulty solving on their own and with ordinary office resources. While law has always been a field where mindfulness is a compulsory part of the job, IP law especially requires a respect for deadlines and procedure that is not only difficult to beat, but also notably different in every country. Filing dates, renewals, registrations etc. are so crucial that an error or missed deadline can be catastrophic and extremely expensive to fix, if it can be fixed at all. Working on a dozen Excel spreadsheets is a risky and disorganised way to run an IP firm or department, big or small, and the chances for human error go up exponentially.
IP attorneys, like all attorneys, dislike risk and the idea of housing data elsewhere is uncomfortably unappealing to them. As an INTA exhibitor myself this year I noticed that a lot of the people who stop by, hoping to adopt a nice and easy solution, drill you on security and then leave anyway, promising themselves that they would look into it later.
A lot of lawyers wish they had a better system but remain afraid of change because it is hard to start trusting something other than oneself. The profession wants it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right?
It is a shame, because cloud-based systems are infinitely more efficient. They are also more secure, benefit from better protection, free up space previously occupied by archives and insure that your data does not get lost. It is odd that IP lawyers remain so distrustful of technology when more than half of these benefits are susceptible of offering a much better guarantee against liability. On the contrary, we would think IP lawyers should be rushing toward the safest option.
But it isn’t surprising. Lawyers are not the most tech-savvy people out there. In fact, quite the opposite. They are the last ones to entrust their peace of mind to software about which they do not know enough to be comfortable, making the idea of transitioning to cloud-based solutions particularly painful.
A lot of law firms today have already purchased traditional docketing systems. These docketing systems with on-site servers are privvy to overheating, accidents, can entail exorbitant costs and might not be worth the investment for small boutique law firms or one-man shows. Cloud-based systems are much cheaper and cost-effective, as in-house infrastructures are becoming more and more obsolete. Getting rid of archaic and antiquated processes is also one of the perks of switching to a cloud-based case management system. Manual input is being replaced by automatisms, saving support staff and attorneys hours upon hours of time. Less mistakes are made, guaranteeing better protection against liability. Information is downloadable directly into the system instead of having to be manually entered.
Data migration is also something attorneys tend to enquire about. Most lawyers who came to see our booth to look into our products have enquired on this very subject. The truth of the matter is that data migration, depending on how information was stored, can represent an additional and unexpected cost. Sometimes the data is hard to export out of a preexisting system, and the unknowing user is forced into superfluous expenses. The idea of having to migrate data can be a real and serious deterrent for lawyers fearful of poking and prodding sensitive information: in the same way that we are unwilling to change our ways because we know our own way around our own stuff, even if we are the only ones who do, a lot of business owners are reluctant to reorganize their system because they already know their way around it as it is. It makes it somewhat painful to update to a different system, let alone a new and improved cloud-based system with different access mechanisms.
The inherent fear that can be felt about losing data to a virtual cloud, the workings of which a lot of people still do not understand, can be terrifying considering the sensitive nature of the information that IP lawyers handle. But what is important to know is that cloud-based systems have better processes for disaster recovery than some of the most high-tech and conscientious law firms. Cloud-based case management tools are, in fact, the safest and best protected tools on the market. If they are as serious about data protection as cloud-based solutions like IPzen, they will be monitored 24/7, they will have multiple backups in multiple locations and they will save automatically every 15 minutes.
Also, the fact that cloud-based solutions allow access with only an internet connection gives law firms the possibility to grant controlled access to their clients. Solutions such as IPzen allow for lawyers to put their clients in front of an interface with all necessary information pertaining to their case, just by logging on. To the client, this new option adds value to the service he gets from his lawyer or consultant and avoids extensive administrative work and waste of time for all those involved. Indeed, the client only needs to log onto an interface in order to have an update on his case, and this is considered in his perspective as augmented customer service even though it is entirely due to technology.
Lawyers should not fear technology. Technology is the future. It is time to embrace cloud-based solutions, and your clients will thank you for it.