Lawyers and law firms will always run up to the question of cost-savings and administrative costs. One of these areas is the overuse of email by employees. This does not only raise costs of storage in the server/back up, but also raises costs of lawyer billing time lost. With this said, lawyers and law firms need to be wary of the ways that these cost-savings approaches bring. This article will discuss one of the cost-savings ideas and discuss the risk of this idea.
The Harvard Business Review had a very interesting article discussing the high prices when “calculating average typing speed, reading speed, response rate, volume of email, average salary, and total employees.” Tom Cochran, the author of “Email Is Not Free,” revealed that in his case, they were looking at a 7 figure price tag.
If you think about the emails and the paid storage for documents and emails, the price that a lawyer/law firm pays can really start to drain their financial resources. In fact, the overuse of email comes from a system where there is no perceived cost. Emails will be sent out regarding lunch invitations, short status updates, confirmations of receipt of the prior email, and so on.
When a typical email contains an average of 140 words, or roughly 3 paragraphs, is there a better way to reduce these costs? By the use of cloud computing, an organization can significantly reduce these costs. The article discusses the use of cloud apps, such as Skype, GChat, Dropbox and so on.
So is this the way to go? I think that in the balance of short emails (with no confidential information), it makes sense. Instead of sending an email stating that you are ready to go to lunch or that you will have to change a meeting time, it makes sense. The message has no confidential or attorney privileged information.
However, the law firm and lawyer must be wary of using these services for case-related confidential and privileged information. These cloud computing applications are not secure.
Keeping in mind that cloud computing often stores messages in a number of systems, which you may not be aware of, there might be a breach of security.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you know if the cloud computing app will save the messages in their cloud computing service?
- Do you know where is the cloud server located?
- Do you know what contract does the company offering cloud computing services (third party) has with the company that provides the server storage in the cloud (another third party)?
- Do you know where the company that provides the storage is located?
- Will these messages be stored in the computer or mobile/tablet device?
- If so, will the mobile/tablet carrier save these messages in their own cloud computing system?
- Do you know how safe is the cloud transfer of information?
- Do you know how safe is the cloud computing storage?
In other words: Will it be cost-saving? Yes. Can you use it for all communications? No.
So does using these cloud computing services worth it for information that is not privileged or confidential? As a lawyer or law firm, you must evaluate the situation.
First of all, you must provide adequate training and warn your employees of any misuse of these apps.
Second, you must think of the risk that employees will breach this policy. Will adequate and regular training reduce this risk?
Third, you must balance the cost-saving costs with this risk.