Cloud Computing

Out of all the professions out there, attorneys are some of the most notoriously bad with tech. There are a few times I’ve walked into a law office that isn’t having some type of tech-related problem; it just seems to be part of the trade.

And the problem with all these tech issues?

They cost your firm money!

IT issues cost capital to fix, create costly downtime, and lead to inefficiencies that drain money over time. And in the digital world, where things are constantly shifting, now is a better time than any to take a look at your options for upgrades.

Back in the “old days,” Windows XP was practically the only choice for law firms. After support got cut for it, plenty of law firms spent a pretty penny on upgrading to the next OS.

And when Microsoft continues to upgrade their OS, the costs will continue to add up for these firms.

That’s why I recently decided to look at how law firms can save on the up-front costs of tech.

Is Chrome OS a Viable Option for Law Firms?

Chrome OS isn’t the most popular operating system for lawyers, so you might not have heard about it already.

It’s Google’s browser-based operating system, and it’s been out for a while now. 

And while Microsoft still tends to be the primary choice for law firms — Google’s Chrome is picking up speed.

For law firms, there’s a whole new list of pros and cons when it comes to switching to Chrome OS, so let’s look at those now.

The Pros & Cons of Chrome OS

The first upside for a firm considering Chrome OS is cost. 

Desktop systems (called “Chromeboxes”) can be purchased new for under $200. Likewise, Chromebooks can also be purchased for under $200 too. 

Since the operating system is browser-based, it doesn’t require high-end hardware to run. This means you can buy a well-performing system for dirt cheap. And last time I checked, attorneys hate spending money on technology that they don’t need to.

The second upside of using Chrome OS is security. It seems that plenty of law firms have problems with malware, spyware, viruses, etc. 

There are two kinds of security issues. The first is the person sitting in front of the keyboard who responds to every scam email they get. Which, unfortunately, is a problem that will always exist. 

However, the second type of security issue is the kind that doesn’t come right from the users — luckily. Chrome OS eliminates most of these as all the security is handled at the cloud level.

A third-upside of a browser-based OS? As long as your internet connection is working, you won’t have any software problems. (Though admittedly, this can be a downside too, more on that in a sec.)

The downside of Chrome OS is simple. It’s a browser-based operating system. In other words, virtually all of your computing gets done in a browser and requires an internet connection to work. 

Not only that, but a lot of the desktop programs you traditionally relied on won’t work on Chrome OS, and you’ll need to migrate to alternatives.

Sound unappealing? You’ll be surprised how many viable (and much cheaper) software web-based alternatives can be found for Chrome OS. 

Testing Chrome OS for Law Firms

I love a good ol’ fashioned challenge. Over the next 30 days, I won’t be touching my Unbuntu/Windows dual boot machine and will rely solely on a Chromebook to get work done. 

I’ll also test several alternatives for various software programs that attorneys will need in their practice. 

Along the way, I’ll post articles on how the challenge is going. Areas I’ll pay special attention to will include:

  • Productivity tools – Will attorneys miss programs such as Outlook, Word, Excel, Skype, and Quickbooks? We’ll find out.
  • Law Office Productivity – What about billing and case management software? Several options are actually available on Chrome OS, and we’ll see how they stack up.
  • How well does Chrome OS work with your existing products? What about printers, scanners, etc.?
HP Chromebook

I’ll be conducting a 30-day trial run with the HP Pavilion Chromebook

In the end, we’ll look at how viable an option Chrome OS is for law firms and whether they should consider making a switch. What are your thoughts on practicing entirely in the cloud? 

Feel free to chime in on the comment form below!

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