ARTICLES

A Cloud for Lawyers

San Diego-based AbacusNext provides a software and security package that was designed with law firms in mind. It’s called AbacusLaw, and it has some impressive features. It has, for example, a calendar that allows billing by the firm and by individual lawyers. It’s easy to update case records and to sort and retrieve documents. It offers smartphone apps, and the legal products integrate seamlessly with accounting and database software, as well as Microsoft Office 365.

But those features are not what makes it so special for lawyers, said Tomas Suros, AbacusNext’s Global Product Marketing Director for Legal. AbacusLaw gives companies the option of a private cloud service, Suros explained. And it was this cloud-based option that prompted our team of TAG Cyber analysts to request a briefing. We know that lawyers are moving to the cloud, and we hoped to learn from the AbacusNext team how this was being supported.

During the discussion, we learned first that AbacusLaw is not just providing a traditional private cloud—but rather one built specifically with tools to maximize compliance and control. Suros, who is an attorney himself and a former solo practitioner, explained that their compliance-ready cloud is designed for a highly regulated industry like the law. The data centers are geographically bound in the United States. Equally important, Suros said, law firms know who is controlling and maintaining the data. If they use Amazon’s AWS cloud service, for instance, then they will get generic security and will need to create a layer of supervision.

But AbacusLaw’s private cloud is a different experience. It includes a checklist for law firms that covers the subject matter they’re monitoring. Moreover, Suros continued, the software itself affords companies multiple levels of control over their data. Everything can be encrypted. And the keys are controlled by the firm, not by Abacus. The firm can also control access to data. Its administrator can allow or deny access, and can limit it (to Read Only, for example). Administrators can create an “ethical wall,” Suros explained, that restricts access to the law firm’s client data to the lawyers involved.

Malware protection is behavioral-based in the platform. The software is always looking for unexpected changes in patterns, which could be evidence of an intrusion. When a suspicious change is detected, the affected files can be frozen. The software can either repair them, or return the settings for the affected files to their status before the change.

During the discussion, we asked Suros if law firms are a hard market to crack. Suros agreed that firms are rarely early adopters of new services. They are often slow to adjust to the software as a subscription licensing model. That is thus a hurdle. And cloud adoption is now the next big leap, but apparently law firms are starting to understand the value of cloud. (As TAG Cyber analysts, we see this transition every day.)

This learning process for law firms has actually worked to AbacusLaw’s advantage, Suros asserted. The package he described has been available in some form for the past three to five years. For law firms that had been hesitating and were “behind the curve,” it’s proving a quick and easy way to catch up.

This is just the thing to make current—and recovering—lawyers smile.