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Cloud Computing Challenges Among First Topics Discussed in New Legal Tech Survey  

The American Bar Association has begun the piecemeal release of its ABA TechReport 2021, which takes a comprehensive look into how lawyers use technology in their everyday practices.

The first segment of the report was released on Wednesday, Nov. 10. In total, the publication will provide observation, analysis and predictions on a number of topics from leaders in the legal tech space, according to the trade association.

The report will be separated into eight different segments with the first portion of the report focusing on cloud computing. One area of particular note is with respect to data protection while engaging with the cloud.

“The 2021 Survey highlights a major concern that, while lawyers talk the talk about security concerns in cloud computing, to a shocking degree they do not walk the walk,” reads the report. “The poor results in the cybersecurity category should be a major concern for the legal profession. If you take only one thing from this TechReport to add to your 2021 technology agenda, it should be to up your game on cloud security, for your sake and, even more so, for the sake of your clients.” 

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Among some of the other topics covered in the report, which was compiled by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, include the impact of COVID-19, budget allocations and employee wellness.

For example, according to information in the survey, 26% of respondents reported a decrease in access to print materials as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This decrease was most obvious in firms of 100 or more, as 44% of attorneys in those firms reported a decline in access to print materials. Only 4% of those asked reported an increase in access to print materials, notes the tech resource center.

Further, the report also indicates law firms have increased their attentiveness to technology, and as such are budgeting for it at a higher clip than ever. The report points out 65% of firms are now setting aside funding for technology, while that number was only 62% in 2020, 60% the year before and even lower in 2018. As has been the case traditionally, larger firms tend to be more inclined to budget for technological changes than smaller ones.

According to analysis from technology consulting and research firm Gartner, in-house legal departments have been hesitant to shift toward new technological paradigms like automation, but COVID-19 might have accelerated the need to adopt such changes.

“The new pressures brought about by the coronavirus pandemic certainly have acted as a catalyst for this shift,” said Zack Hutto, a director at Gartner. “Legal and compliance teams have rarely been frontrunners to modernize, digitalize and automate. The pandemic has flattened staffing budgets and increased legal workloads; technology is the most obvious solution for many legal departments.”

From Twitter

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According to information from the ABA, the remaining segments of the report will be posted on Wednesdays through Dec. 29. The other topics are as follows:

  • “Websites & Marketing”
  • “Practice Management”
  • “Budgeting & Planning”
  • “Technology Training”
  • “Solo & Small Firm”
  • “Cybersecurity”
  • “Life & Practice”
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