Hosted vs. Web-based Legal Practice Management

There’s more to the cloud than just web apps:
You don’t have to sacrifice functionality to take advantage of the cloud.

At Uptime Legal, we talk to scores of law firms that are contemplating their overall legal technology plan. A recurring theme during these discussions is confusion about what a “cloud-based” solution actually means, and what kinds of options live under that umbrella.

Many law firms hope to make their current on-premise servers the last servers they’ll ever own… but don’t necessarily understand all of the options available to them to make that dream a reality. For instance, a law firm of 20 total people may rely heavily on their robust practice management solution… and the current web-based alternatives may seem to lightweight or basic to truly be a viable replacement.

Add to that, the world of cloud computing is full of buzzwords with vague or overlapping meanings. The problem this creates for law firms: misunderstandings that we’ve seen lead to frustration in choosing a cloud solution, or missing great opportunities to leverage the cloud altogether.

All too often we find that firms feel they must choose between the mobility and ease-of-entry of a web-based app and the functionality and robustness of a traditional, premise-based practice management application (and sacrifice one or the other).

They don’t.

Not Just Semantics

We’re not looking to pick apart terminology just for sport. There are key differences in the cloud options available to law firms; in this article we’ll clearly define hosted practice management, web-based practice management, the differences, and which is best suited for what kind of law firms

Cloud-based and Web-based are not the same thing

First: Let’s quickly clarify some fuzzy terminology. Cloud-based and web-based are not synonymous. Describing something as cloud-based is unhelpfully borad, and generally just means hosted on another company’s infrastructure. There are a number of applications or implementations of cloud computing, one of which is a web-based application. While web-based applications are the most commonly understood uses of cloud computing, it’s certainly not the only one, and not the only implementation of cloud computing that can bring a lot of advantage to a law firm.

Web-based Practice Management

Since it’s likely the one you’re the most familiar with–we’ll start with web-based practice management applications.

What is Web-based Practice Management?

A web-based practice management solution is one that you access from a web browser. Unlike traditional (non-cloud-based) software there is no software to install. The software publisher periodically will provide updates and new features that also don’t require installation. All of the storage and processing happens on the provider’s computer systems. Web-based practice management applications are relatively new, tend to be simple, light-weight and favor ease-of-use over robust functionality.

Popular Web-based Practice Management Applications

Popular web-based legal practice management applications include:

About the Author: Dennis Dimka
Dennis Dimka is the CEO and founder of Uptime Legal Systems, North America's leading provider of technology, cloud and marketing services to law firms. Under Dennis’ leadership, Uptime Legal has grown organically and through acquisitions to become the nationally-recognized legal technology company it is today. Uptime Legal continues to innovate and disrupt the legal technology space, and has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private for the past six consecutive years. Dennis was also an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.

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