Meeting of Minds – Law Society Cloud Event
There’s nothing better than marking real change with a landmark occasion to pinpoint that moment when a new innovation comes along that changes the way we do things and on Wednesday 9th November 2011, The Law Society of Scotland hosted such an event at The Hollyrood Hotel in Edinburgh focusing on the Cloud Computing for law firms in Scotland.
The event was intended to be informative and to stimulate awareness of Cloud and around the Law Society of Scotland’s soon to be released Cloud Computing paper, a set of advisory notes for the profession and which is currently in draft form.
The event really was a meeting of minds and with over 80 delegates attending from wide ranging backgrounds (almost a third of the delegates were IT technical experts in their fields advocating Cloud), the balance of lawyers in the room had real wealth of expertise to draw from.
Paul Motion, bto & John Craske, D&W opened the event by setting the scene and attempting to define and demystify exactly what the Cloud is and what it means for lawyers in Scotland. This proved to be a challenge and it was clear that fixing a single definition proved too limiting for such an expansive and developing subject area. Craske went on to conclude that Cloud is a trend and a move from self-ownership and management of own systems, to subscribing to a set of services supplied and maintained by experts in that field. He compared this to the historical move from cottage industries to scalable services from national corporations such as the move from generating your own electricity as was not uncommon, to plugging into the national grid. Examples of current systems in the legal sector were presented and exhibitors including LawCloud had stalls set out alongside the event.
The Law Society’s own Neil Stevenson followed with an enthusiastically presentation on the main key benefits of Cloud focusing on opportunity, innovation and the future. This was followed by a more technical presentation from Iain Stevenson who presented a thought provoking variety of concerns, unintended consequences and risks surrounding the Cloud. Iain went on to quote Larry Ellison from Oracle, who in the early days stated that Cloud was the latest fashion trend and even more fashionable than women’s fashion, however, he soon “Cloudified” his own systems when the seriousness of Cloud was fully appreciated and this is now a pinnacle of his business.
A series of round table case study based participant workshops followed the morning speakers with a facilitators from technology, legal and risk backgrounds stimulated interesting discussions surrounding the legal cloud environment.
All in all, the event was informative and engaging and there was a real energy about the place. For a conservative profession, the willingness to embrace this new form of technology experience was refreshing.
The penny seems to be dropping that access to sophisticated systems needn’t involve ownership any more nor be as expensive or daunting as it used to be when. When management is delegated and compliance assurances are guaranteed by a responsible service provider, risks are minimised.
Cloud represents one of the newest turning points in the never ending mission of technology, to facilitate change and improvements in the way that we work, communicate, live and play and to me, that means happy days.
The Law Society’s guidelines are a welcomed piece of collateral for the profession at a time when guidelines are well needed and I look forward to working alongside these advisory notes to offer the comfort that practitioners need in order to make the most of emerging innovations and trusted technologies…
It is anticipated that The Law Society’s advice will be focused around a number of key areas including
- Understanding arrangements with Cloud providers such as SLA’s
- System availability, accessibility, licensing
- Provisions for your Data
- How safe it is, where is it stored, who owns it
- Compliance & assurances
- Are you unknowingly breaching any laws such as data protection
- What can go wrong and what happens if things do go wrong
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