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3 Modern Trends: Facebook, the Cloud, and Security

Based on trends in technology over the last few years, it appears there are three technological trends that I predict will be increasingly utilized by the legal profession in the years to come. These trends will take place in social media, the cloud, and in security.

Facebook – a major marketing tool.
Let’s take a look at the statistics as supplied by https://www.attorneyatwork.com/2017-survey-results-lawyers-use-of-social-media-marketing/. In a short period of time, social media has become a marketing tool to the majority of lawyers. In 2017, 70% of attorneys use social media as a marketing tool. Of those, a strong majority believe their social media use is either “somewhat or very responsible” for bringing them new clients. When asked, “which platform is most effective for bringing in new business,” 31% stated Facebook, 27% stated LinkedIn, and 26% reported no platform as being effective. As for solo practitioners, 94% report using Facebook and 75% report using it as a part of their marketing plan. Lastly, 40% of attorneys report using social media for paid marketing ads, and 20% or attorneys report taking out paid advertisements on Facebook.

What do the stats mean? The numbers show that specifically Facebook is being increasingly utilized as a marketing platform for law firms, both big and small. The stats also demonstrate that Facebook is believed to be the most effective social media outlet, despite LinkedIn being an employment-tailored application. As Facebook becomes increasingly more universal in American culture, so too will lawyer’s attempts at connecting with their clientele on that very platform. Due to its cost-effectiveness, return on investment, and outreach capabilities, Facebook will continue to grow as a marketing tool for law firms.

The Cloud – it only gets bigger.
As the legal profession makes the slow and steady diaspora from paper to the digital world, the cloud will continue to play a big role. The overwhelming majority of lawyers use smartphones for law-related tasks at almost 80% as of 2015, up from about 70% in 2011. (https://www.legalitprofessionals.com/legal-it-columns/8775-lawyers-cloud-computing-and-mobile-technology-in-2016) Additionally, over 59% report personally using online storage for law-related tasks in 2015, up from 45% in 2012. Of those respondents, 62% are from firms of 2-9 attorneys (up from 40% in 2012), 61% are solo practitioners (up from 43% in 2012), 56% are from firms of 10-49 attorneys (up from 44% in 2012), and 50% are from firms of 100 or more attorneys (up from 52% in 2012).

The Cloud offers cost-effective services to centralize a firm’s legal information. Whether it be using a calendar, Google Docs, or the iCloud, the Cloud offers a “convenient and affordable alternative compared to traditional premise-based systems.” It’s true that an attorney or firm could elect to spend its time to assemble one’s own management system, but in many cases the time expenditure simply doesn’t rival the low monthly costs of utilizing the Cloud. The top-cited reasons attorneys are making the switch to Cloud is that it offers 24/7 access from anywhere, it has a modest and predictable monthly cost, and it has a robust data back-up and recovery system. In a fast-pace legal profession, the Cloud offers a user-friendly and reliable experience for attorneys that enables them to most efficiently manage loads of information. The Cloud will only continue to grow and be relied upon in the years to come.

Security – a must.
As digital records are increasingly incorporated into daily life in the legal profession, the need for adequate cybersecurity measures also increases. Law firms are the safe keeper to highly sensitive and personal information. Pursuant to the ABA Rules 1.1 and 1.6, attorneys have contractual and regulatory obligations to protect client information. However, the legal field appears to be relatively behind in taking adequate measures. (https://www.natlawreview.com/article/law-firm-data-breaches-big-law-big-data-big-problem) In 2016, a survey from the aforementioned website highlights some concerns. 37% of survey respondents cited loss of billable hours, 28% reported hefty fees for correction including consulting fees, 22% reported costs associated with having to replace hardware/software, and 14% reported loss of important files and information. The threat is real and experts agree that encryption is a basic safeguard that should be widely deployed, however only 38% of overall respondents reported use of file encryption and only 15% use drive encryption. Email encryption has become inexpensive for businesses and easier to use with commercial email services, yet overall only 26% of respondents reported using email encryption with confidential/privileged communications or documents sent to clients.

The combination of an increasing reliance of Facebook and the Cloud with the current suboptimal cross-profession use of adequate security measures leads me to predict that cybersecurity will be increasingly relied upon by law firms of all sizes in the coming decades.

-Zack Sobel