Practice Management


Practice Management:

A lawyer's 4 best options for cloud-based document storage

Chad E. Burton
Columbus, OH

Most lawyers would argue that documents rank in their top three most important assets, along with their brilliant critical thinking skills and eloquent oratory abilities. With the legal profession becoming more and more mobile, the need to access documents on the go is necessary. Whether lawyers need to review files in court or during client meetings, the ability to pull up a client file on a laptop, tablet or smartphone is not just convenient but a critical part of one’s practice.

Some cloud-based document management systems have existed for several years and have robust features to help organize information. Others are created to be very simple. Even though the user is storing documents on a third-party server, systems such as Box and Dropbox allow the user to sync documents to a local computer. The following are several of the options for cloud-based document storage systems:

1. Box (
Box has been in the cloud-based document storage world since 2005. Box’s market is targeted towards enterprise use. While most of its features are available through a free account, more robust security and functionality is available for a monthly license fee. Box integrates with a growing number of online applications, such as Google Apps, EchoSign, Salesforce, and Yammer. Documents can be synced locally, or the user can upload and download information through the web-based platform. Box allows tagging of documents to increase organization and has robust collaboration features.

2. Dropbox (
Dropbox is one of the more popular ways that lawyers save their documents online. Dropbox, which originally was a consumer-grade product, has been integrated more and more into the business world. Despite some public hiccups on security, Dropbox maintains that documents are secure on their system. Dropbox can be used on a PC or Mac computer. Like Box, it has apps for the iPad, iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Documents sync locally to the user’s hard drive. Dropbox also recently rolled out a Dropbox for Teams product that allows multiple licenses to be purchased for one account.

3. SpiderOak (
SpiderOak is a competitor of Dropbox in that it provides a simple online storage system where you can store up to 2 GBs for free. Additional space can be purchased and synced to unlimited devices. SpiderOak has mobile device apps for iOS and Android systems. SpiderOak markets itself as the sole “zero-knowledge” data privacy product. In other words, data is encrypted on SpiderOak’s server and cannot be viewed by any SpiderOak employees. This puts the control of remembering passwords on the user to keep a true “zero-knowledge environment.”
4. NetDocuments (
NetDocuments is another good online document management systems. NetDocuments is one of the more comprehensive ways to store and work with documents online. If you are a Windows user, you can save documents directly from Office applications straight into NetDocuments, including Outlook. NetDocuments also has collaboration features, and, like some of the other products such as Box, has the ability to monitor online status of documents and whether they are being edited.