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Cloud computing is among the fastest areas of growth for law firm technology. Forty-seven percent of those polled for the “2016 ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey” predicted that over one-quarter of their firm’s software and service offerings could be cloud-based in the next one to three years.

Presenters at Legaltech New York, part of Legalweek: The Experience, will tackle the topic on a panel titled “Cloud 2025: The Truth About Cloud Technology.” Microsoft director of strategy for cloud and enterprise Larry Persaud; Thomson Reuters Legal chief architect Mick Atton; and a yet-to-be-announced panelist will discuss the ways that cloud computing could expand law firm technology strategies. Eric Sugden, CTO of Thomson Reuters Elite, will moderate the panel.

TR’s Atton projects that the increasing scale and adoption of cloud technology is likely to push forward an influx of applications in machine learning and other emerging technologies, as cloud technology can be accessed by as many servers as users need.

“Technology that was limited by the amount of computational power, that’s effectively been removed with the injection of appropriate dollars,” Atton said, adding that while additional computing can be channeled, it does carry a corresponding price tag.

Sugden looked to some of the potential applications of that computational power within the cloud, especially as it pertains to applications enabled by devices composing the internet of things (IoT)—internet-enabled wireless technologies that can communicate with one another. Offering new computing power could allow cloud providers to offer massively expanded services to firms.

“Cloud providers have discovered that machine learning is a good way to sell computing power, the ability to scale without the capital impact that it used to be,” Sugden said. Of cloud servers, he added, “You used to have to buy this stuff; now you can rent it.”

Atton predicted that these advances in machine learning in the cloud could enable law firms to power machine-driven “assistants” who could prepare research, maintain calendars, or collect contact information for attorneys.

Security ranks highly among attorney concerns about public cloud storage, but Sugden hopes the upcoming panel discussion will help educate attorneys on how to address these issues, as well as on instances in which they may want to rely on their own in-house (not cloud) servers.

“There is a misnomer that, ‘My law firm is more secure than a cloud provider,’ I think a lot of CIOs are recognizing that now. They believe the cloud is going to be more secure than a law firm, [but] they just don’t have the resources to invest” in the same standard of security cloud providers have, he said.

Atton and Sugden suggested that law firm rates of adoption around cloud technology are only likely to increase in coming years, especially as technologists shift their product development over to the cloud. “In 2020, there’s not going to be anyone building on-promise software. It’s all going to be cloud,” Sugden predicted.

“By 2025, there’s going to be massive bandwidth,” he added. “Thank about what will be possible with that. That’s sort of an impediment today.”

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