Cloud computing has opened up opportunities for conveyancers to work from anywhere, writes Peter Mericka of Lawyers Conveyancing.
It might seem strange for a Victorian conveyancer to oversee the minor details of his client’s files from Vietnam. But that’s exactly what I did recently, using my conveyancing practice’s cloud-based practice management software.
A fully equipped office anywhere in the world
I know a lot of people would probably claim they already work from anywhere without the cloud because they use their smartphone to catch up on emails. But what I was able to do went well beyond that.
Using just my Microsoft Surface Pro and Ho Chi Minh City’s secure airport Wi-Fi, I logged directly into my practice management software, saw where everything was at, figured out which documents needed my attention and got to work. In short, I had exactly the same level of control over my files and my workflow as I would have had sitting behind my office desk. It was just that I was almost 7000km away.
In the ‘old days’ before the cloud (because that’s what even a couple of years ago seems like now), having anything like this level of control would have meant downloading a version of my practice management software to my computer. The sheer size of that program would have meant my experience was clunky enough. But combined with the age of the software and the traditional need for constant file updates (they tend to happen automatically with the cloud), it would have been very difficult to get anything done at all.
Then there would have been the security risk. If someone stole my Surface Pro they could have had direct access to all my practice data. That’s not the case with the cloud, where a decent password makes it almost impossible to break into an account, even from my own device.
Protection against business interruption
It’s not just my new-found mobility in the cloud that has revolutionised the way I work. It also gives my practice a level of risk protection and business continuity that traditional software doesn’t.
Our office recently suffered from a terrible blackout, during which our internet connection went down. I simply returned to my home office and was able to get everything done in exactly the same way.
That’s because, rather than storing data on a physical server based in your office, cloud computing tends to back up your data automatically and store it in multiple locations. This also offers a much higher level of security because there’s a much lower risk that fire or theft will destroy the data.
That level of security is reflected in the fact that all major Australian banks have moved their internet banking to the cloud and the Law Institute of Victoria provides cloud-based trust accounting software for its members.
A more efficient practice
Perhaps where the cloud has changed things most dramatically for me is in the way it’s made our practice so much more efficient.
Conveyancing naturally requires a lot of paperwork and traditionally you’d just accept a certain level of double-handling. Now, because our cloud-based systems talk constantly to each other, it rarely happens at all.
For instance, once we’ve verified someone’s ID correctly, our cloud software immediately brings up a photo of that person’s face beside their contact. I can process the verification of identity wherever I might be, and so long as that photo appears, everyone immediately knows the task has been done and no further action is needed.
In short, cloud computing has transformed the way I work and the way my practice operates. It makes us more mobile, more efficient and a whole lot more secure. Which means it’s no longer a matter of lawyers waiting until the cloud becomes essential to running their practice; it already is essential.
Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B — Property Lawyer — Lawyers Conveyancing